Smart show in the SMT cluster

Like so many space-proven technologies, surface-mounted electronic components (surface mount technology, SMT) has also landed on Earth after its Apollo missions. Currently, it is decisively advancing the megatrend mobility here, because it enables the manufacture of devices such as smartphones, tablets and co. in the first place thanks to a drastic reduction of size, weight and production costs. Meet the key players of the SMT industry in halls A1 to A4, at SMT speakers corner or at the special show “Smart Data—Future Manufacturing” at productronica 2017. productronica will take place in Munich from November 14 to 17, 2017.

Many areas of the electronics industry are faced with demands for more functionality and complexity as well as a higher degree of miniaturisation with lower production costs, and last but not least short time-to-market. And everything that surface mount technology contributes to their fulfillment has a bright future. Global industry analysts predict sales of USD 3.9 billion with an average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7 per cent by 2022 for the global SMT equipment market. MartketsandMarkets with USD 5.42 billion also by 2022 and Stratistics MRC with USD 6.21 billion by 2023 are even more optimistic.

Printed electronics in a continuous process

The analysts still see the main growth driver in miniaturised consumer electronics. The automotive sector is in second place, because SMT boards best fulfill the requirement profile “zero error” for critical systems and stability over a long period of time. Electric mobility is increasingly making a contribution here, because weight and space of all electronic components must be reduced further for it.

However, other areas such as LED lighting and flexible circuit carriers will also ensure future growth. For example, Fraunhofer IPT (Hall B2.317) will show a combined procedure of roll-to-roll printing and automated placing of SMD components on foils. This cost-efficient manufacturing of large quantities of flexible electronic components opens up a wide range of applications and products.

SMT goes “Industry 4.0”
The changes in the entire electronics sector in increasingly shorter intervals is forcing manufacturers to make continual adjustments. Consequently, “Industry 4.0” has long since become a hot topic for the SMT branch. The prerequisite is the networking of the entire production process, for example, by a manufacturer-independent interface for communication between all the machines in a line. An example of this can be seen at the last innovation award-winner Rehm Thermal Systems (Hall A4, Booth 335) as well as at Viscom (Hall A2, Booth 177) and ASYS (Hall A3 booth 277). With the new, open “Hermes Standard”, printed circuit boards can be seamlessly tracked and logged through all production stations. The tool is to replace the previous SMEMA standard.

The trade fair exhibit of ASM Assembly system (A3 Hall, Booth 377) is also devoted to the smart factory. The SMT equipment supplier will present various SMT lines with SIPLACE machines. They include one for the rapidly growing market segment of “advanced packaging” with a mixed assembly of wafers and conventional SMT components. Visitors can also find out the state of process integration in their own production in the “Quick factory check” and identify optimisation potentials in ASM.

In the same hall, Heller Industries (Hall A2, Booth 461), will present a recent award-winner, an SMT reflow soldering system with Industry 4.0 support and predictive analytics. The American company’s innovation was recently distinguished with the “Global Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year Award 2017”.

Such new production concepts inevitably provide large data volumes, which typically come together in a Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Intelligently linked, they form the basis for safe decision-making and process optimisation there. iTAC (Hall A3, Booth 140) has enhanced its MES with a smart data analytics platform, which contains predictive maintenance service and automated root cause analysis in SMT production.

Vision zero errors
Among other things, automatic inspection systems supply the data for this after every process step. They play a vital role in the SMT industry and are therefore also one of the fastest growing equipment areas, because errors must be detected before each next step in production and repaired if possible. The inline-capable 3D-AOI (Automated Optical Inspection) and 3D-AXI (Automated X-ray Inspection) from Viscom (Hall A2, Booth 177) demonstrate how SMT inspection masters increasing product changes and production volumes, miniaturisation and “Industry 4.0”. Generally, however, the trend is away from pure error detection to error prevention.

Robot co-workers
This is one of the main features of robots. They increasingly also ensure higher productivity with high quality in SMT lines. Man-machine collaboration proves to be particularly economical when there small batch sizes in many variants. For example, the lightweight robot (LBR) iiwa (intelligent industrial work assistant) from KUKA (Hall A2, Booth 540) has already been put to work as a stationary robot in a setup area and on a wheeled platform as KMR iiwa during ongoing production with a SIPLACE from ASM.

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