You think that you have seen it all before, but you feel the need to go to a trade show, just in case there is something interesting, right? Technology continues to evolve, but we wish it would go faster. Mostly you see things like minor machine enhancements, that are probably not particularly relevant to most people, or, you see yet another solution claiming to be the “ultimate”, having been “re-engineered from the ground-up”, again, which just seems to represent more variations on a theme in a world where needless change carries unnecessary risks. Where are the truly exciting and practical innovations for electronics manufacturing? Where are the really new technologies that bring a new and previously unachievable value?
The mission of vendors like Mentor Graphics is to bring true practical innovation into the market, and this year, at Productronica, we have some amazing things to show.
First of all, as those following our recent press release will know, we have announced our new Supply Chain enhancement solutions, “Valor Warehouse Management” and “Valor Information Highway”. When we surveyed the market for these tools, I was very surprised to find how significant a gap there still is in the electronics industry specifically between the supply chain and the shop-floor. Though things have been moving on significantly with respect to control on the shop-floor, the materials side has been very slow to develop. We found companies from all over the world, from every tier, from every segment all experiencing the same supply chain frustrations. There has been no “out of the box” supply chain solution that covers both the shop-floor and the warehouse. For many years, supply chain systems have tried to penetrate the electronics production shop-floor, but without success. This can in part be put down to the extreme competition between machine vendors each guarding their own data formats, or simply due to the nature and complexity of the SMT processes. Today though, as the leading innovators of the shop-floor management tools, we have found it quite natural to extend our tools up to include all materials storage and logistics functions over the whole factory. It means that now there is a single, accurate, mature and reliable live inventory record, bringing critical information to ERP and MRP through the Information Highway, which can be used to report material consumption and spoilage in real time. This is the perfect solution to provide the “missing link” that enhances ERP planning and allows the MRP engine to work in an accurate and timely way. It is a revolution. Do you agree? Come and see our presentation at Productronica this November, “Taking Control Of Materials” in hall A1-403 at 10:00 on Wednesday 13th. See the software with your own eyes anytime at our booth, A3-442.
There is more. This year we are also showing for the first time a true design through manufacturing Lean NPI flow. You can see a PCB layout being completed and then follow the process throughout the NPI cycle until you see the end product leaving the factory. This is the whole solution. Following the Best Practice, the PCB layout in the design tool needs to follow manufacturing and assembly requirements. These rules are built into the Valor NPI product level analysis tool, providing feed-back to the designer in a clear way to make sure that any issues that would have been overlooked requiring expensive countermeasures in production, can now be fixed in a couple of clicks. Once the design is completed, we show the complete manufacturing product model represented and transferred out to fabrication and assembly using the ODB++ format. At the production assembly site, we open the ODB++ file, find all the data we need, without the requirement for any data reconstruction, and are immediately ready to merge the production BOM, and then create optimised engineering outputs for all machines and processes. The work-order for the product is then set up and scheduled within the system, then triggering materials preparation and JIT delivery of materials to the line. The machines are set up, materials verified and production starts. We then collect traceability, performance and materials consumption information as well as tracking all of the PCBs through all of the processes. Paste, SMT, reflow, inspection, hand assembly, through to the quality and repair stations, repeated test loops, and final assembly. There is no other flow available in the market that represents such complete and detailed control and visibility of the creation of a product. For complete compliance, conformance, traceability and optimisation of design and manufacturing, this is a revolution. Again, come and see this for yourself at our booth, you will see the entire process that I have described. Come and see me present on this topic at Productronica this November at B2-345 from 16:30 on Wednesday 13th. You can also find me at our booth, A3-442, and see the full demo of design through manufacturing, the Lean NPI solution. I look forward to seeing you there!