Printed Circuit Board Assembly & PCB Design SMT Electronics Assembly Manufacturing Forum

Printed Circuit Board Assembly & PCB Design Forum

SMT electronics assembly manufacturing forum.

Dream Machine


Dream Machine | 24 June, 2001

I was dreaming about a real easy to use assembly machine. The software was written for operators and did not require more than a few hours training. Machine operations and board programming was written in clear language, icons, pictures and machine errors understandable ( no �error 57 in line 13675� or worse �fatal error� ). The machine was politely answering, why the component was rejected in the reject bin and not placed on the board. It displayed � the component 01324-78 in placement position C43 was measured outside the tolerance. Tolerance will automatically increase upon the next pick�. The machine was differentiating between running a new job the first time, which required some tweaking on pick positions, adjusting the vision parameters or the vacuum, but it was kindly fixing the problems by itself. In my dream the monitor displayed �Component 01324-78 could not be picked from feeder location 43. Pick position will be checked with camera�. I did not mind the extra time the machine took to run the first board and displaying all these messages. I did mind quitting the job, go back to the feeder editor, correct the pick position ( with a 50% chance to do it right the first time ) and try again. After the machine had learned all its parameters, components were placed flawlessly, the monitor went blank, maybe there was a screensaver or something else which sued my mind. I did not get hypnotized by displaying all the components the machine puts through the vision, or an advertising screen from the machine manufacturer. Once in a while, the machine displayed a message when a component is going to be emptied as well as a picture of the feeder table and the location of the component.� I am eagerly fulfilling my task. Please replenish components in displayed location�.

Programming the board is another story and was not part of my dream.

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Dream Machine | 25 June, 2001

Much of the focus of pick & place machine supplier development efforts seems to directed towards either: * Head location detection, adjustment, and control. OR * Component location prior to pick-up. OR * Component position error correction after pick-up. Other issues appear to be forced to the back ground, possibly because of the sheer force of interest in getting down with resistors and capacitors.

Having said that, there seems to be little sense in making machines as dumb, as they appear to be made. [Can you spell "machine intelligence"? No, how do you spell � ] Though, I�m not so sure that we have to go so far as the "eagerly fulfilling" thing.

Pausing to think for a moment after opening my BIG mouth, maybe a variety of machine personalities with scripts for this interface would be coo. I not talking printed text on a tube. I�m talking pump-up the volume audio, saying "Listen bone head, if you don�t get me some parts at feeder XX, I gunna stop placing part YY, until I get finished with everything else. You have about ZZ seconds to get me those parts or my efficiency number is going to drop from 8 to 5, and it�s gunna be you that looks bad, not me!!! And don�t try to pass this off as a Purchasing problem, I just checked inventory, the parts are available, and I�ve printed-out a rek for you to sign at the stock area. And if you think I�m taking the rap for your incompetence and worm-like motivation, you�re wrong, buster. Don�t forget that I can make it come-out any way, I want it to come out!!! I�m thinking about e-mailing the production manager, your boss, and your mom telling them just how lame you are, how you should get a pathetic perfrev, and no cookies. Now, get those stubby little legs moving and get me my blanking parts, you sniveling pile of toad excrement!!!" See, the various machine personalities [e.g., accommodating help mate, nasty drill sergeant, sultry whip cream purveyor, whip toting dominatrix, etc.] could be selected by the operator or may be they would just be selected "casually".

Actually, I believe that customers, given the choice [and recognizing limited supplier resources], would rather their suppliers [of popular placement machines ] focus on mechanical, positioning issues, rather that machine intelligence issues. This seems to imply two possible alternate tacks for those desiring a more active machine: 1 Someone shrewd in computer programming could create either a machine intelligent overlay or a replacement machine operating system for an existing placement machine. 2 Someone shrewd in raising money could create an intelligent placement machine.

I too dream about placement machines, but my dreams invariably takes completely different tenor than yours. In my Kafka dreams, the machine usually mutates into some long legged beast with fangs and intents on doing me bodily harm. It also has the capability of firing phosphor tipped pellets at high rates, usually 10,000 pph book and 6,667 pph in actual kill Dave situations.

Strangely, the machine, regardless of its pph, never succeeds in killing me. It often meets its end by careening headlong onto a pot of molten lead tin solder with just a token amount of silver. Although there has been more than a few times that it has avoided the solder pot, leaving no room for complacency.

The machines with heads that move east / west, then north / south are easier to disable than the ones with heads that can move diagonal. Darn scary, no matter how you cut it. Burrr.

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CC to myself


Dream Machine | 27 June, 2001

I just fell off my chair laughing, reading the above... If I may add my two cents, I would give the customer the option of remote controlled collars for the operators. When they are too slow or make a mistake, ZAP! short burst of high voltage... Same if they are absent from their machine for too long, no more time lost chatting in the washroom! But you could also have a reward distributor on the machine, to encourage good attitude and efficiency, a beer fountain comes to mind...

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Michael Parker


I had a nightmare | 27 June, 2001

Having read about your "dream", I can sympathize but gotta ask why did you feel compelled to write about this on a Sunday at noon?

could it be that Chorizo enchilada with pickle sauce, downed with a jug of Ouzo on Saturday night have something to do with your epistle?

A similar thing happened to me a few years back after some sweet and tender rubbed my chest with mayonnaise and spilled rancid Budweiser all over my beard.

Artificial Intelligence can go only so far before the machines start taking over, I sure don't want to loose my job to some Borg collective!

The way things are now, it keeps us engineering types active and paying attention to the process, yes, even watching for when parts are running out or being inordinately rejected.

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I had a nightmare | 28 June, 2001

I visit customers on a contract base to get the machines in a status, that an operator can take over. These customers are usually small shops, who can not effort an engineer to set up the machines. I am not afraid of my job, if it does not require any special knowledge to handle all these different user interfaces.

If I compare the different chip shooters and pick & place machines with CNC tool machines, there is much more to learn, when you are used to, let�s say a Siemens machine and try to operate a Fuji machine, but CNC machines are pretty much all alike, if you know the G and M code. This does not mean that anyone can mill a part on a CNC machine. The one who sets up the machine usually has a higher ranking job function than the one operating the machine.

I know, my dreams make no impact to the machine manufacturers, if I don�t reach out to the �big� ones. Consider how much money the entire industry has to spend getting the engineers trained, because some software developers put in their personal touch into the user interface.

Set up engineers may not stay with the same company all their life. If they learned to operate only one brand machines their value is only high if the proceeding company has the same brand machine. Even that may not mean much, if he has to deal with a different revision level of a newer software.

I think there is something wrong with the approach to make the machines so difficult to operate, that it requires special training. The manufacturing process has plenty of other challenges to master than to learn which nozzle number for example is the 0402 nozzle on one machine, but has a different number on the other machine.

Look at your machine. Turn it on. I guess, the main reason you turned it on, is that you want to make boards. Most likely it is the same job you did yesterday. How long does it take to get your machine doing just that and how many different buttons you have to press on how many different keyboards? Does your user interface guide you directly to the main task of the machine? This may be quite entertaining, but is not very productive.

Michael, I do like German beer, brewed in North Germany, which I can�t enjoy here at the work place.


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nightmare???? | 28 June, 2001

Borg Collective?????......7 of 9 is almost worth half my S&*% (Stuff) and becoming a drone.

Guaranteed, I ain't dreaming of any Pick and place machines.If it were to happen the machine would be smattered with Hottie female operators willing to load my feeders.

Stefan, As well as you know industry dictates the direction manufacturers are going. If a machine manufacturer was to enhance there machine to meet customers needs what would win out: 1) Convenient operation interface OR 2)on the fly testing and alignment of Optical (Photonics) devices. I think 2 would win out every time. I am not trying to minimize your effort but have to think advancing Technologies will dictate. Also, as you stated it you deal with small shops - and Equipment manufacturers typically do not cater to small shops. I think your effort is commendable and needed but relying on EM's to do this is grandiose.

I will be the first to tell you....being able to eliminate a line computer would make life easier.

Keep up the good work Stefan - your customer commitment is Noble.

Thumbs up on the Pick and Place Beer Miester retrofit. I can hear the sales guy now"...and Yes Our machine comes with Dual head, full vision, Linear motors, and a Keg Attachment. In fact the on board refrigerated atmosphere prepares the liquid medium for perfect consumption"

Bavarian Pils - Thumbs up!!!

Prost, Cal

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nightmare???? | 28 June, 2001

MY dream machine prints 100$ bills and I pay someone to interface with it!!!!!

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I had a nightmare | 28 June, 2001

I�m with Stefan � no booze, drugs, or chewing tobacco in the shop!!! [I�d like to ban facial make-up, but am still limping from the last time I tried.]

Stefan, how are you going to get the P&P manufacturers to agree on a common nozzle design, when they can�t even agree on how to run a speed test to gauge component placment rates?

Actually, BIG in-circuit ATE is the same way. Regular people don�t even consider programming the machines. They contract-out the programming and test fixture development for each board design. The test heads [in large companies] don�t want a machine that a trained chimp could program. They want an open-ended, open back-ended, screamin� momma bear that makes your toes curl-up when it goes by and can be programmed and debugged off-line [so they don�t have to leave their desk with the internet connection]. This becomes a complicated machine to the person without substantial training and operating time. Actually, it is a fast, flexible machine to the everyday user.

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Dream Machine | 29 June, 2001

Imagine shopping for a machine like an automobile. Your able to go for a test drive with out a week long class and the gas mileage they advertise is realistic and comparable from machine to machine. All machines have similar options that weren't just gimics and aftermarket companies with usefull products were plentyfull.

How about feeders that worked in any machine like putting a casette into the radio? Ok maybe the other machine has a CD player but I can still pull that unit out and put an old radio I had in my attic. Imagine industry standards that forced manufactures to build not just a good machine but quality attachments or they would loose that part of the sale.

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Dream Machine | 30 June, 2001

I would highly recommend that you test drive your vehicle before you buy it. Buy a test kit from Topline and have a stencil made. Make an appointment with the machine manufacturer and let them know that you come with your own boards and components. You want to test: setup time ( programming and feeder set up ), over all placement time ( board in and out ), placement reliability ( defect rate ). While your purchasing colleagues are invited to Hooters for lunch, you can resist the temptation to join them. You pick a wear item out of the spare part catalog and call the manufacturer�s service number for price and availability.

You may be surprised to hear that most of the customers don�t even take the opportunity to test drive their $ 300,000 vehicle and the dealers don�t like these type of test drivers either.

On the generic feeder, Murata has a cassette for bulk components, which fits on all mayor machine brands. I wish to contribute to a common tape feeder design myself


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