Electronics Manufacturing Service (EMS) providers should consider adopting automation standards already used in wafer fabs, and the IoT could play a part in making that link, explains Paula Doe of SEMI.
This is interesting in several respects. Firstly it goes to show how electronics assembly production is advancing. The idea of ‘board stuffing’ components onto PCBs is gradually giving way to far more advanced processes, making PCB assembly ever more like that for fabricating ICs. The requirement for increasingly specialist skills and equipment can only further drive the need to outsource in the future.
Secondly it’s an example of how production tools’ ability to communicate with each other can really blur the traditional boundaries in manufacturing. What might previously have been discrete operations can now be merged and integrated, leading to greater efficiency.
Finally this article highlights the need for a range of industries to come together and adopt common standards. As technology advances these need to be put in place with little delay, which is quite a challenge. Without it though there could be a danger that the full benefits of IoT won’t be realised.
The industrial Internet of Things is poised to take a step linking the wafer fab to the printed-circuit board factory. As contract manufacturers move beyond processes such as wire bonding to bumping, they are starting to buy equipment used in wafer fabs. The shift is motivating some vendors to call for the Electronics Manufacturing Service (EMS) sector to adopt some version of automation standards already in use in fabs. “EMS companies continue to increase their manufacturing volume of products with components such as bare die, MEMS, and optical devices, requiring more IC-like assembly equipment, precision placement processes, greater cleanliness, and two-way communications between tools and factory systems, blurring the distinction among EMS companies, OSATs and foundries,” said Dan Gamota, vice president of strategic capabilities, engineering and technology at Jabil Circuit.