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When it comes to making a printed circuit board (PCB) as part of a new product introduction, to reduce costs, you tend to save money by choosing the best offer from PCB panelization manufacturing and assembly suppliers. But saving on suppliers is not known to be a forward-looking approach.
An OEM today can achieve very significant savings by focusing rather on the cost of materials. Panel optimization is the activity that allows you to do this, provided that the PCB client himself takes care of it directly, rather than waiting for the manufacturer to do it.
The OEM typically has several suppliers for manufacturing, assembly, and prototyping. Each of them has its own standards and constraints as far as paneling is concerned. Therefore it often happens that information is exchanged with each of them in a repeated and inefficient way. This makes it clear that the responsibility for the costs of materials for the production of a PCB is to a large extent in the hands of the OEM.
On the concept of panel and paneling, there can sometimes be confusion even among professionals. The assembly panel is the product that the OEM expects to be delivered by the PCB manufacturer, intended to be inserted in the pick & place machines of the assembly lines, as in this example:
The panel is a PCB with an optimized size for assembly because it must be large enough to fit into the machines of the manufacturer's SMT lines. But its characteristics should also take into account the needs of manufacturing, where it can be convenient to work panels containing several printed circuits, even of different types, in order to make the most of the material.
So in reality a panel looks like in the following figure, in which the same PCB design is repeated several times, as many times as it is possible to fit into the dimensions of the panel itself.
A version of the panel is already made in the prototyping phase, but - we point out - when a PCB, and its panel, are considered acceptable for assembly, it does not mean that it is also optimized for its assembly. manufacture.
In addition, the typical flow of DFM consists of the use by the OEM of the guidelines provided by the assembler, at a later stage than the design stage. At that point, the project is sent to the PCB manufacturer, who configures it through their CAM software, and then sends feedback to the OEM. The latter can only realize at this stage how many panels are needed and therefore the actual production costs.
On the other hand, it would be essential for the OEM to have a software tool capable of including the manufacturer's and assembler's guidelines right from the design stage. In this way, the project can also be optimized for paneling, with obvious economic savings.
For example, it might be convenient to slightly change the shape of the PCB, to make more pieces fit into the panel area. But in general, this allows you to anticipate as much as possible any production problems, where it is the panel and not the single PCB that is processed.
To this list must be added the possibility of carrying out DFM checks relating to the problems of the panel, which cannot emerge if the DFM analysis is carried out only at the board level. The following figures show three examples of production problems related to the paneling.
Currently, the software for Manufacturing Analytics is the most advanced frontier in the digitalization of electronic production and the factor that really makes the difference in terms of competitiveness. But what is Manufacturing Analytics? It is simply "Data Analytics" applied to production. Data Analytics is the process of analyzing data sets that allows you to draw conclusions about the information they contain.
When we talk about Manufacturing Analytics software and therefore how to apply Data Analytics to production, our main goal is productivity. In other words, the question is how we can increase productivity in the production process. In general, productivity can be defined as the ratio of the quantity of production to the weighted average of the inputs used in the production process.
The most important answer to the question of increasing productivity lies in the data generated within the factory. A “digital twin " of operations may be able to analyze and understand what is happening, why it is happening, and how to improve it. Research shows that while the amount of data generated by manufacturing operations increases exponentially, only a small portion of it is actually collected and an even smaller portion is analyzed.
Our goal is to change this state of affairs with a practical approach that focuses on multiple levels of data analysis in manufacturing (Manufacturing Analytics).
Manufacturing Analytics provides added value in 4 different business areas:
We have an advanced Manufacturing Analytics platform in our solution portfolio. It is a Big Data platform for the collection, storage, processing, and analysis of production data, which allows you to provide meaningful insights. It is an "Enterprise Solution", which means that it allows you to define basic plant planning, manufacturing, material use, delivery, and shipping, as well as determine inventory levels.
Our platform for Manufacturing Analytics is also an Enterprise Solution because it allows control over multiple sites. If a company has several plants, regardless of their geographic location, it enables a central implementation, which allows for the collection, review, and comparison of data across multiple sites. Real-time data is available everywhere for decision-making.