Tracking circuit board components

Johannesburg, 07 Apr 2020
Read time 2min 50sec

Large electronics manufacturers are continuously looking to improve efficiencies and optimise the use of available resources. One of the biggest challenges they face is being able to track any printed circuit board they produce throughout its lifetime.

What manufacturers require are reliable traceability systems that can track and trace any printed circuit board during and after production. In addition, complete traceability is also a requirement from customers in diverse markets.

Manufacturers face several challenges around traceability, and require the following capabilities from their solution:

  • Automatic traceability during manufacture.
  • Real-time alerts to anticipate and address production issues.
  • Immediate assessment of delivery capability for new orders.
  • The ability to quickly isolate defective components.
  • Integrated product authenticity.
  • Connect supply chain with manufacturing visibility.

However, how do you properly identify millions of sometimes very tiny electronic components that are produced at great speed, in extreme temperatures and with the use of specific chemicals?

One approach is to deploy durable product labels that remain legible throughout entire production cycles, that are in turn applied by accurate, automated print and apply systems, says Tom Bieseman, Brady EMEA Product Manager SFID and Specialty Systems. “A fully automated printed circuit board labelling solution can enable traceability and manufacturing data analysis without human interference. It’s key, however, to deploy the right automation solution for your specific requirements.”

At the core of any traceability solution are extremely reliable polyimide labels that stay attached and remain legible in high temperature, pressure and chemical environments. These labels need to stay in place to enable users to identify any component throughout its life cycle.

The labels need to be accompanied by a reliable print and apply system that can keep up with modern, automated printed circuit board surface mount technology lines. The system needs to be able to print accurate prints on tiny labels and automatically place them with great precision and speed on printed circuit boards in production.

“An automated traceability solution that can identify printed circuit boards and other components with accuracy, speed and reliability will be able to generate smart manufacturing data about your surface mounted device production lines. It will connect every circuit board in production to your smart factory set-up. This will enable circuit boards to generate data and send these to your manufacturing execution system, to other machines and production cycles, or to your supply chain both up- and downstream,” says Bieseman. This data can then be correlated and analysed, and then acted upon to improve efficiencies.

Traceability enables the manufacturer to isolate a problem, down to the exact point in the process, although benefits can extend beyond manufacturing to the entire life cycle. In fact, service, warranty and recall costs could all be reduced.

With the right kind of print and apply systems in place, the electronics manufacturer will achieve greater production and material efficiency while also enabling reliable traceability for even the smallest printed circuit boards. The end result is reduced costs and increased revenue through production efficiency, as well as fewer product recalls.

Find out more about traceability solutions here.

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