As part of the overall €1m investment at the TDK-Lambda plant in Ilfracombe, Devon, UK, the company will replace its three placement lines with Yamaha YSM-20 placement machines.
“The equipment replacements, including the new Surface Mount Technology (SMT) placement line and Automatic Optical Inspection (AOI) equipment, will enable us to increase capacity and maximise uptime,” said Phil Scotcher, Joint Managing Director at TDK‑Lambda UK. “However, we are also investing in new leading-edge technologies, such as additive manufacturing equipment [also known as 3D printers], laser marking and an experimental robotic arm, which will help reduce cost and time to market for new product introductions.”
The new machines provide placement accuracy of +/- 25µm @ 3 Sigma, compared to 50µm for the existing machines. However, the accuracy of component placement is not solely dependent upon how well the machine can repeatedly find the placement location.
The new machines use ‘vision centring’, imaging the base of the picked device prior to placement to determine the location of the important features, such as the component’s terminations, and uses this information to determine the component’s centre. This technique ensures that the device leads are always placed accurately onto the pads on the PCB, irrespective of the shape of the device’s body.
Placing the part accurately is of no use if the wrong part is picked, so TDK-Lambda has developed software systems to guarantee that the right reel is loaded onto the machine on the existing lines, but it does rely on operator discipline to ensure that they stay in the correct place during reel changeover. The new machines have intelligent feeders that will recognise if a feeder has been removed during a run and not returned to the correct location, preventing any further production until the feeder set-up is corrected.
The intelligence in the feeders is also used to identify which feeders require maintenance and prevents them being used on subsequent machine set-ups until they have been through the specified maintenance procedure. This feature reduces the likelihood of incorrect component feeding, which can itself contribute to poor machine placement.
The machine needs to ensure a good vacuum can be applied to the component to enable it to be handled securely throughout the ‘pick – centre – place’ process. Key to applying this vacuum is the condition of the placement nozzles. Whilst the current machines will warn if the vacuum levels associated with particular machine spindles are not sufficient, the new machine automatically performs its own maintenance on the nozzles to optimise the vacuum levels.
The first installation of the new lines is planned for May 2020 and the other two lines will be added over the next three years.
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