For a small PCB prototyping business intent on serving some of the best-known and most respected tech brands on the planet, quick transformation is regarding green marketing device — it’s a promise. PCB prototype assembly is by no means a simple activity, and small, time-consuming hang-ups be capable of turning into lost orders and angry customers in an industry where 48-hour turnarounds are the convention.
To become able to reliably produce results on such small amount of time frames, PCB assembly plants need to improve virtually every area of their electronics glue. workflow for speed and consistency. At the heart of this need is an inherent conflict between exploiting the assets and resources you already own or adding additional assets and resources to your environment.
Essentially, what fast-turnaround PCB assemblers want to know is whether or not they should hire additional help and make more use of their machines, or buy newer, better machines that may let them make the most of their current staff.
Imperfectly Optimized PCB Planning Systems
Before jumping into the issue of whether manpower or machine power really generates fast turnarounds, we need to be sure that the PCB planning system itself has already been performing optimally. As William Ho asserts, component placement is the bottleneck of any PCB assembly line.
There are nearly boundless methods PCB component sequencing and feeder arrangements can be greeted. Finding the truly most efficient solution is simply not feasible in a business context — not, at least, with current computational technology, and certainly not within a two-day time schedule.
PCB assemblers on a tight timeline use ancestral algorithms to determine near-optimal planning systems without getting lost on the way to the “perfect” solution. While this is not a problem that can be sorted with modern tools, it’s important to remember that no current PCB assembly process is perfectly efficient. This becomes an increasingly complicating factor for high-volume PCB prototype companies.
Since SMT machines can encounter nearly boundless production possibilities on a single run, and are often tasked with making multiple runs per day, any change time is downtime. A UIC shows in a simple set of charts according to SMT machine revenue generating time, every second counts — an hour of downtime for a line that generates $10 million yearly costs $5000.
While there are always ways to increase the efficiency of a PCB assembly line, there is no way to be the cause of $5000 in unnecessary losses. Considering some SMT machines can take up to four hours to set up for a single run of a prototype PCB, making the most of each workday is by far the better option.
Moreover, installing additional production lines does not affect the productivity of each individual line. Whilst it can take place to improve PCB assembly transformation, adding more lines and workers may cost more than its worth if overall production volume doesn’t as well as increasing. For this reason, keeping workers late or even hiring an extra shift is by far the better option.
Night Changes Can Generate More Value
Exploiting the amount of time that all machine can run is the best way to ensure efficiency on short-turnaround PCB assembly projects. Finding workers willing to include overtime — or hiring an entire night shift — is one of the best ways to ensure that you consistently meet assembly deadlines and minimize downtime.