In line with technological developments like the growing importance of big data in the building sector, today’s PCB factories have begun embracing robotics, which is a sensible fit in an industry like electronics manufacturing services (EMS). To keep up with the changing landscape enabled by technology, Eureka Magazine posits that smarter processes are needed as electronic components get smaller and smaller. In EMS, vehicles comprise the largest industry where industrial robots are of benefit. These industrial robots are now equipped with intelligent tools that can actually speed up the process of creating PCBs. Speed-wise, robots can outperform humans, and even improve the levels of accuracy and reliability that comes with human error. While PCB manufacturing is the usual undertaking of industry experts who have studied for years about the intricacies of the process, defects still abound.
Now, AI has widened the possibilities of what PCB manufacturing can accomplish. While AI will not entirely replace human intelligence, it’s the collaboration of these two that can vastly improve the efficiency of these systems. The design and manufacture of PCBs can be extremely complicated, subject to industry specifications, and even FAA aircraft certification standards. Taking the cue from these requirements could mean ensuring extra steps and care go into the process. Designing around the provisions will entail sourcing the proper components and mapping out the production process before documenting everything with the right management and design software that could easily adapt to a number of applications – avionics included.
Revolution is here
The industrial automation has applied automatic control to large-scale processes and systems. The explanation for this transformation in manufacturing’s digitization is what is now deemed as Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution. Elaborating on computers and automation, what we now have is enhanced with autonomous systems that are powered by machine learning and data. Smart factories are included here, with these becoming more productive and ultimately less wasteful. AI functions in optimizing operations and collecting sets of data from all kinds of existing systems and machines to be analyzed. There are still limits and technicalities when it comes to fully automating PCB factories, and so the process is slow but sure. We can see how this is first being incorporated into individual systems such as those for automated optical inspection (AOI).
All for optimisation
AOI is a technique needed in both manufacturing and testing PCBs, which have become more sophisticated than ever before. Surface mount technology, for instance, means that reductions in size among these boards make them far more complex than what we once had. With algorithms, machines are able to learn from previous errors, or as we mentioned, accommodate certain specifications. For PCBs, this type of machine learning could help grow the yield of products created since the fabrication operations and processes will be improved. Errors are immediately spotted and remedied to lower the defect rate of these PCBs which usually come from scratches, stains, nodules, incorrect dimensions, and wrong or missing components.