December 16, 2006
A contract manufacturer specializing in electromechanical and PCB assembly was searching for a means to strengthen their leadership position in the highly competitive printed circuit board industry.
Knowing that their end customers valued quality, reliability and low cost in equal measure, the manufacturer viewed an investment in manufacturing process improvement as a low cost, high-return means of increasing their competitive value.
Specifically, the manufacturer evaluated the use of real-time statistical process control (SPC) software to actively monitor key characteristics of their product quality at their two U.S. based facilities. After a thorough search and review, the PCB manufacturer selected WinSPC as their real-time SPC solution.
In order to satisfy the requirements of a diverse and demanding business that includes highly technical, world class customers, the technology company applied WinSPC real-time process feedback software to the production processes most vital to their business. Arguably the most critical process input for the company’s surface-mount technology lines was the stencil printing of solder paste during the surface-mount assembly of the circuit boards.
The height of solder paste has a significant impact on assembly yields, as well as product reliability, requiring a highly accurate and repeatable process. WinSPC helps ensure that an in-control process is maintained by providing real-time alarming when paste heights deviate from specified control limits. This allows timely action to be taken that prevents production of poor-quality circuits.
In addition to the individual circuit boards themselves, the technology company develops specialized sensors used by several civil agencies to detect toxicity levels, such as measuring methane levels in sewers. Due to the conditions in which the sensors are deployed, monitoring the sealing process known as potting was a key consideration for the company in moving forward with a real-time SPC solution.
PCB circuit boards are mounted into the sensor casings prior to undergoing the potting process that entails the mixing and application of an epoxy and catalyst combination. If the mixture ratio is off, the epoxy may not properly cure, causing waste and/or returned defective products. WinSPC is utilized to measure the pre-mix weights of each individual ingredient and controls the process by launching a message box to calculate the required mix ratios of epoxy and catalyst. WinSPC then records the final ratio weight while alerting the production staff to out of control situations that may cause inconsistencies in the outcome of the potting process.
Environmental conditions that affect the potting and stencil printing processes, namely temperature and humidity, require real-time monitoring and alarming as well. In order to monitor the environmental factors that may impact quality control, quality personnel actively monitor fluctuations in plant-wide conditions utilizing WinSPC’s Plant Monitor dashboard views. Beyond tracking temperature and humidity, the Plant Monitor also allows the manufacturer to determine the state of control for all of their production processes from a single, bird’s eye view of their operations.
WinSPC also allows the company to quickly perform historical analysis across all of their process data, and present the data back in a meaningful, visual manner. Previously, all historical data and reports generated from the data resided in paper. WinSPC has now provided the manufacturer with a centralized system to manage their process data electronically, effectively eliminating the time and expense of maintaining a manual paper process.
Beyond being an investment in process improvement, the technology company views implementing WinSPC as an important part of its corporate commitment to deliver superior product quality and maintain a leadership position in the highly competitive electronic manufacturing services industry.
About DataNet Quality Systems
DataNet Quality Systems empowers manufacturers to improve products, processes, and profitability through real-time statistical software solutions. The company’s vision is to deliver trusted and capable technology solutions that allow manufacturers to create the highest quality product for the lowest possible cost. DataNet’s flagship product, WinSPC, provides statistical decision-making at the point of production and delivers real-time, actionable information to where it is needed most. With thousands of installed facilities worldwide and distributors across the globe, DataNet is dedicated to delivering a high level of customer service and support, shop-floor expertise, and professional Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing services.