Lean manufacturing processes and systems including 5S and Just-In-Time (JIT) have helped manufacturers, particularly printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) providers, trim down their supply chains and drastically improve operational efficiency. In certain industries and environments production processes can be volatile despite the adoption of lean programs – whether due to rapidly changing technology, complex chemical reactions, numerous production activities, or other variable factors. In these cases, manufacturers must seek data-driven methods of detecting bottlenecks and making process improvements to their production operations.
For advanced manufacturing processes such as printed circuit board assembly (PCBA), equally advanced analytics software is essential in order to to monitor and manage the data flowing through each phase of the supply chain. With advanced analytics, assembly managers can harness the power of big data to access critical information in real time, from anywhere on the floor.
Manufacturing analytics tools possessing the following features allow PCBA providers to identify patterns and potential process improvements:
- Data visualizations – Aggregations of previously isolated statistics such as defect rates, shipments vs. returns, and other quality measurements enable new interpretations and pattern identification
- Correlation analysis – Identifies relationships between different steps in the production process to help determine root causes and variability
- Artificial neural networks – Large input of variables used to predict possible outputs from a specific set of parameters
- Significance testing – Tests root cause hypotheses based on correlation analyses to identify the most statistically significant factors
For PCB design and assembly providers, specifically, there are a number of specialized data analytics tools available:
- Xpedition® Enterprise xDM – This data management suite creates a library of PCB system design information that can be easily integrated into electronic supply chain and enterprise-wide applications.
- KIC 24/7 Wave – This software automates the wave solder process with 24/7 monitoring and charting. By reporting defects and variations in real-time, the Wave tracks production traceability and aids plant managers in making critical cost and quality decisions.
- Valor Manufacturing System Solutions (MSS) – This platform provides PCB assemblers with a singular end-to-end management solution for on-time delivery, cost-control, and quality assurance, as well as the option of adding additional modules as needed.
Data analytics aren’t merely reactionary tools aimed at fixing broken systems or production defects; on the contrary, they are capable of also producing a number of insights for perfectly functioning processes. Even within seemingly optimal production operations, access to this information can help manufacturers spot improvement opportunities that they never previously considered.
Contract manufacturers (CM) are increasingly leveraging big data to improve their operations. Within the four walls of their facilities, contract manufacturers have a wealth of data that can be applied to design, pricing, shipping, tracking and other supply chain management decisions. CMs must not only invest in advanced data analytics software—a team of analysts responsible for aggregating data, identifying patterns and implementing data-driven solutions is also required. Using data management software, Syscom Tech’s analysts log defects in production, identify repetitions and exploit opportunities for process improvement. As a result, production yields and product quality are optimized on behalf of OEMs.