Bigger challenges. Bigger perspectives.

How data-driven production is redefining tomorrow’s workflows

Text: Grant Baldridge

Photo: Magnus Elgqvist

New product mixes. New innovations. New perspectives. As electronics assembly grows more complex, Mycronic and its customers are expanding their visions for the future. It’s all about leveraging bigger data and actionable insights to take broader control of fast-changing industry demands.

Smarter workflows are just around the corner. Imagine sitting down at your desk in the morning and opening a new ECAD file. It’s intriguing. The substrate is stretchable. A few of the components you’ve never seen before. And the customer wants a prototype tomorrow. She also wants the first 10,000 board batch optimized, manufactured and shipped for assembly in Hanoi at the end of the month. It’s all attached under the subject line: “Can you handle this one?”

Anticipating change through deeper insights

In the near future, this simple question will reveal powerful new business insights. Your software might predict the new job’s effects on ongoing production and purchasing, simulate the first run and adjust key parameters to the board design. It might tell you if you can meet the deadline, your overall equipment effectiveness throughout the job, and signal key staff to tell them where and when they’re needed most. Before you even start, you’ve simulated the product’s DPMO based on millions of points of past production data, and you know your line utilization will be 85%.

“These are some of the things we think about when we think about putting our customers in control,” says Thomas Stetter, Mycronic, “and this scenario isn’t as far off as you might think. In fact, we’re investing heavily in making all of these capabilities possible.”


Preparing for tomorrow’s opportunities

Ask industry experts what challenges tomorrow’s electronics manufacturers will face and the list is bound to be wideranging. On the technology side, the trends continue toward miniaturization and higher material variability. On the business side, average PCB sales prices are on the decline, and customer expectations for faster time-to-market are on the rise. Simply put, the pressure is on to unleash bigger gains in quality and efficiency throughout the assembly process.

Taking performance to the next level

Together with customers, Mycronic is leveraging its end-to-end expertise, software and solutions to unleash new levels in quality, flexibility and productivity throughout the factory. This means delivering not just higher-performance machines, but more actionable data flows, more compatible interfaces and more adaptive, predictive information loops. All of these are part of the company’s vision to enable the zero defect assembly line with the highest possible utilization for any product mix.

We are striving to put our customers in control of future demands.

A new mindset for a new era

To achieve this ambition, a new mindset is needed. A perspective that looks beyond individual process steps and ideal machine speeds to proactively identify and address actual efficiency leakages – wherever they might occur. This involves better measurement, control and anticipation of process variations to reach new levels in product quality and process automation. It requires smarter data flows to minimize working capital and boost delivery output. And above all, it demands a clear vision for tomorrow’s agile manufacturing – a vision that is quickly becoming reality.

Charting the course ahead

Guiding the course for this development are six key process pillars that Mycronic believes will unlock significant new gains in quality, productivity and flexibility in the years ahead. Although individual machine capabilities remain important, advances in these six key areas will redefine the industry’s previous conceptions of production performance.

Quality, productivity and flexibility redefined

Where quality was once considered a final verification step, in the smart factory it is about producing fewer defects in the first place with the help of powerful in-line inspection systems, factory-wide sensors and advances in deep learning algorithms. Productivity, once viewed as machines and people performing at full capacity, is now seeing significant gains thanks to enhanced machine-to-machine, machine-to-human and collaborative robotics interfaces. And flexibility, previously defined in terms of machine capabilities, is now being expanded to include adaptive factory-wide systems with unprecedented levels of visibility.

All of this is becoming possible thanks to intensive collaborative innovation between Mycronic and its customers. “With multiple global R&D and application centers, together with process and integration engineers near our customers worldwide,” says Thomas Stetter, Mycronic, “we’re now able to bring our process expertise closer to the rapid new application developments in a number of key industries. Whether it’s automotive, medical or consumer electronics, we’re constantly learning and adapting to their needs.”

Where can we give you better control?

This brings us back to our original scenario and the question faced by every electronics manufacturer today: Can your factory handle the challenges that the future might bring? A future that demands zero defects and higher line utilization, even in the face of fast-changing product mixes, complex design for manufacturing collaborations and constantly smarter data management?

“At Mycronic, we believe the answer is ‘of course you can,’” continues Thomas. “According to our product roadmap, at least, we’re moving quickly to a production that’s more predictive, more adaptive to dynamic changes and far more data-driven. Because our customers work with innovative products, it’s our responsibility to give them innovative production solutions, together with deeper, more useful insights into their processes.”

“What this looks like on the factory floor will vary enormously depending on the customer’s business strategy, supply chain, cost structure, and so on,” he concludes. “What we aim to do is bring the system-wide perspective, the process expertise and the right technologies. Then it’s just a question of looking together at potential performance gaps to ask: Where can we give you better control?”

Text: Grant Baldridge

Photo: Magnus Elgqvist

Published: 4 November 2019

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