Unless you have been hiding in a cave or under a rock for the past several years, you have probably been inundated by claims of devices and products being “smart.” For some, this means that these systems must contain some type of artificial intelligence or AI. That is sort of true, but not exactly. More often than not, smart simply means the system can perform some autonomous action(s) based on data or information that may vary. And the means of accomplishing these feats is invariably linked to electronics or a printed circuit boards, typically with a processor.
Although circuit boards are the key drivers of smart systems, the process for building boards in most cases is not smart. Times are changing, however, and more and more contract manufacturers (CMs) are following the lead set by industry 4.0 smart manufacturing facilities. For automated production operations, this translates into the use of more advanced equipment and instituting IoT principles to improve quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Let’s see how and why printed circuit board construction is also getting smart.
How is PCBA Manufacturing Getting Smart?
The manufacturing of circuit boards has been automated for quite a while. In fact, it has been several decades since the PCBA was first automated. Automation in itself is not smart manufacturing. However, when combined with the ability to make “decisions” based on a set of conditions the process can be said to exhibit intelligence. At the heart of smart printed circuit board construction is software, which allows for better automation, augmentation, and connectivity, as discussed below.
Software-Based Smart Printed Circuit Board Construction
The integration of software and automation allows for more advanced functions, such as using automated inspection equipment to avoid counterfeit components, and the ability to monitor operations and extract data that can be used to improve the automation process.
Greater automation allows for augmentation of work previously done by humans, which frees personnel to focus on and resolve higher-level issues quicker.
The ability to connect various principles and equipment that were formerly isolated is one of the greatest advantages of smart PCBA manufacturing. For example, software enables the following connections:
- Designer to factory
- Vendor to factory
- Equipment to equipment (within the factory)
As shown above, software is not only improving the processes of printed circuit board construction but also opening the door for better monitoring and control of operations.
Can You Benefit From Smart Printed Circuit Board Construction?
Now that we know what CMs are doing to make the PCBA manufacturing process smarter, the obvious question is why? Or even more pertinently, how does this advancement aid board development? The answer is that there are distinct benefits for your circuit board development process, as listed below.
Benefits of Smart Printed Circuit Board Construction
✅ Higher quality construction
A primary benefit to a smarter process is a higher quality final product. This is due in part to the reduction or elimination of errors because of advanced automation and the increased speed of manufacturing.
✅ Faster turnaround times
By replacing manual processes with automation and using software to transfer data between principles and equipment, the overall process is faster.
✅ More agile manufacturing
Increased software control translates into an easier implementation of design changes and the ability to institute changes in-process as opposed to having to start from scratch.
✅ Better risk management
Another bonus is the ability to identify risks throughout the process, which can then be addressed as needed by appropriate control actions.
|Tempo‘s Custom PCB Manufacturing Service
Circuit board manufacturing is getting smarter. By employing advanced technology and software, your CM can produce better boards, faster and respond to change requests quickly. Tempo Automation employs a smart factory to lead the industry in fast, high-quality prototyping and low-volume PCBA manufacturing and by engaging early in the development process, we can ensure that you will get your boards in the most efficient manner possible.
And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.