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The advantages of one inspection vendor

Case study: streamlining test and inspection equipment
The advantages of one inspection vendor

Matthias Müller, Public Relations Manager at German provider of automated inspection solutions Göpel Electronic details how his company’s systems helped Dutch electronic products manufacturer AME simplify its test and inspection programming processes in the middle of a global pandemic.

Located in the technical district of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Applied Micro Electronics (AME) specializes in the development and production of high-quality electronics and complete products. The company combines electrical, mechanical, software, and industrial engineering to provide innovative products for its customers. In-house electronics manufacturing is an important part of its operations and short communication paths between design and production assure high flexibility. Around 70% of the company’s product output is its own designs, the rest is EMS business. Between 250 to 300 different products in a high mix / low volume range are manufactured simultaneously on 3 SMD and 3 THT lines. A variety of assembly, soldering, and inspection systems are involved in the software-controlled processes, making it a fully automated factory.

The Dutch electronics specialist has long placed special emphasis on quality assurance in its manufacturing processes. Until recently, it focused on a combination of ICT (In-Circuit-Test) and 2D AOI (Automated Optical Inspection) for its testing and inspection requirements. Over the past few years, however, the company’s strategy has evolved into a combination of 3D AOI and functional testing. One reason for this was the ever-increasing workload in terms of ICT programming. Another was the fact that the performance of 3D AOI systems has steadily improved, particularly for solder joint inspection and short detection in the final stages of testing. Thanks to the high level of process control provided by 3D measurement of PCBAs, and the reliable data and clear detection of pin faults, 3D AOI became an essential part of the AME test strategy.

Time for change

A project which began in 2019 as some initial research in THT equipment ultimately led to the replacement of all the company’s inspection systems. Indeed, it was the Eindhoven-based company long-standing relationship with the German company’s local partner, Accelonix, that resulted in the company’s decision to evaluate SPI and AOI systems in addition to THT. With a total of 9 inspection systems now installed at AME, Göpel now covers a large part of its quality assurance for electronic assembly inspection.

Up until this point, the manufacturer had been using 3D AOI systems from another vendor. As several product changes are carried out on the systems on one day, however, it became necessary to find a less complex programming solution. The creation of component library entries had been particularly time-consuming on the former inspection systems since models had to be completely recreated for every small change in a component. The decision to change to Göpel systems was thus based primarily on the need to generate new test programmes.

“Our new AOI systems are superior with regard to their software architecture,” Joep Daemen, Manager Factory Innovation & Investments at AME, said. “The test programmes are more stable and after a short time we have fewer false rejects. And all of this with a much-shortened programming time and reduced programme debug.”

That different inspection algorithms can be used by different inspection programmes was another important advantage. The fact that all inspection systems have the same software has proven to be particularly helpful. This means that a THT system (such as the ‘THT Line 3D’) can use the same inspection algorithms as the SMD AOI system (Vario Line 3D) for the inspection of SMD components. Especially in cases where there are a larger number of inspection systems and inspection programmes, processes can thus be significantly simplified. The same user interface also gives the personnel greater flexibility and it is easy to re-use inspections of SMT components when required. If an operator does make changes to the programme, these are displayed clearly later when employed on other systems.

Removing the Achilles’ heel

With the large variety of products manufactured, AOI programming had previously been the „Achilles’ heel“ at AME. The significant advantages brought about by the introduction of these inspection systems changed this. The company has found that the low false reject rate, fast and simple programming, in addition to the high quality 3D images, have all exceeded its expectations. The AME operators have also reported that they are very satisfied with the project support and the entire implementation process.

“Looking back on the whole project, we are thoroughly convinced of the technical capabilities of Göpel,” a company spokesperson said. “Besides that, we were pleasantly surprised by its perfect service solutions as well as those of its local partner. The whole implementation was effortless. It was quite a complex project because it took place during the Covid pandemic. Because of the flexible support organization and the excellent remote communications capabilities of the AOI systems, the travel restrictions made very little impact during the whole project”.

SMTconnect, Booth 4A.222


Zusammenfassung Résumé Резюме

Ein Entwickler und Hersteller hochwertiger elektronischer Produkte legt besonderes Augenmerk auf die Qualitätssicherung während des Elektronikfertigungsprozesses und deckt mit 9 Inspektionssystemen eines Herstellers einen großen Teil damit ab.

Un concepteur et fabricant de produits électroniques de haute qualité accorde une attention particulière à l‘assurance qualité pendant le processus de fabrication et couvre une grande partie de ce processus avec 9 systèmes d‘inspection d‘un fabricant.

Разработчик и производитель высококачественной электронной продукции уделяет особое внимание обеспечению качества в процессе производства электроники и покрывает значительную часть с помощью 9 систем контроля от одного производителя.

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