Traceability at Semecs
Solid Semecs, headquartered in the Netherlands, is one of the largest electronic manufacturing services (EMS) providers in Europe. It is a leading total solutions company with more than 25 years of experience in the design and manufacture of rigid and flexible PCBAs and modules for some of the most complex applications in today’s global market.
In 2008 Semecs was requested by some of their major strategic automotive customers to implement a fully automated material tracking and traceability solution for their facility located in Vrable, Slovakia. The Semecs automotive customers were looking for a very high level of product tracking and traceability, from receiving to final packing. They required comprehensive information about the product history: when each product is produced and in which line/workstation, what the machine settings were, which material and component batches were used, and what inspection and test results have been recorded. In parallel with the traditional data acquisition process, the system also had to error-proof the assembly process as much as possible, including route control, setup validation of all machines and workstations and control of moisture sensitive devices (MSDs). After a thorough evaluation of the different quotes, Semecs selected the solution presented by sales and consulting firm pb tec and Cogiscan. The modularity of the Cogiscan platform allowed Semecs to pick and choose only the modules they really needed and as a result minimize costs in terms of the actual system purchase as well as the time and efforts required to implement it on the production floor. Cogiscan also provided a level of error- proofing not available from other system providers. The fact that Cogiscan had already successfully installed similar systems for other leading automotive suppliers provided another level of assurance for the project leaders. The Cogiscan material tracking platform has been deployed on the customer network with a central server holding the master database and a number of client PCs equipped with handheld barcode readers running the Cogiscan application.
- The first step in the tracking process of Semecs takes place in the warehouse. Here all incoming materials and tools are supplied with a barcode label for a clear identification.
- During setup, the Cogicsan application Cogiscan Line Setup Control scans the barcodes to check that all components, solder pastes, stencils, etc., have been setup correctly and that the machine calibrations fit to the product that will be produced.
- At each machine a Product Flow Controller (PFC) is placed. Before the PCB can enter the machine, the PFC ensures that the barcode is read and checked. If any failures appear, the PCB will not be released for further processing. The application Cogiscan MSD Control (which will be incorporated at Semecs in the next phase of implementation enables a permanent control and physical tracking of the exposure time (the time in which the component is exposed to the normal atmosphere) and the calculation of the remaining Floor Live Time (residual time in the atmosphere) of the moisture sensitive components. As soon as corrective action is needed, the operator is altered by warnings and alarms.
- Beyond the SMT line at Semecs, the panels are processed through several workstations and process steps, including electrical in- circuit test (ICT), functional test, manual assembly, wave soldering, coating, depanelization and final packing. Each product must go through a precise sequence of operations on specific workstations and machines.
PCs equipped with handheld barcode readers are located at each workstation, and the PCBs are scanned before and after each operation. The Cogiscan Route Control application ensures that each panel/individual circuit goes through the proper process steps in the right sequence. Also, at each workstation the Cogiscan Line Setup Control application validates that the right components and tooling are being used for each product. All relevant process information is again stored in the Cogiscan historical database. Defective products are automatically routed through a re-route loop.
SEMECS have selected and implemented a complete tracking and traceability system for their automotive customers. The system is designed to error-proof the complete assembly process and to eliminate the risk of human errors. Through effective project management, including a detailed scope-of-work and implementation schedule, the system was installed and functional in the expected timeframe and within budget to meet their customer requirements.