The electronics industry comprises organizations involved in the manufacture, design and development, assembling, and servicing of electronic equipment and components. They offer a wide variety of products that frequently depend on only one thing in common-electronic technology. Electronics is one of the fastest evolving and most innovative industries, comprising thousands of electronic products with countless applications, and also one with fierce competition. Organizations spend millions on research and development of innovative, new, better products to bring that technology ‘first’ to the market.
The electronics manufacturing industry can be divided into four primary, market specific, segments:
- Government products: Aircraft and Military products, as well as communication technology and medical devices.
- Industrial products: large-scale computers, radio and television broadcasting equipment, telecommunications equipment, and electronic office equipment,
- Consumer products: televisions, cell phones, home intercommunication and alarm systems etc
- Electronic components: Manufacturers that produce and sell electron tubes, semiconductors, and passive components.
According to a 2015 report published by IBISWorld, the global consumer electronics manufacturing industry was valued at $283 billion. The largest segment of the consumer electronics market is audio-visual equipment.
The Americas account for nearly 50% of the market value (cited by another market research group).
In electronics products, the two main focus areas are of Inspection and Testing are:
2. Touch screen or an assembly of the touch screen, keyboard, toggle switches etc
PCB Inspection and Testing
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) quality determines quality and reliability of end products. With the growing trends towards high density of components on the PCB, Surface Mounted Technology (SMT), environmental standards etc, professional and timely stage wise inspection and testing is the imminent need of the hour.
The four stages where inspection and testing techniques are used for quality control are shown below
Regarding the importance of quality control, one need not think twice. It is a paramount factor for the success of a product. Present inspection methods rely extensively on the use of dedicated test units, and on human vision.
A. Human Inspection
The human inspector cannot maintain a high level of error-trapping for long periods of time. The number of errors made will be influenced directly by the complexity of the task and the number of components on the printed circuit board, the time of day and the particular day of the week.
Major disadvantages of the human inspector:
a) Is affected by fatigue, time of day and day of the week.
b) Cannot maintain long-term consistency.
c) Needs breaks and rest periods from the task.
d) Can be slower than a machine.
e) Inconsistency between different inspectors.
The human inspector can make two types of incorrect decisions:
1. Accept a faulty item and allow the product to pass through the inspection station.
2. Reject a good item and return it for repair.
This causes the delay in production, loss of time, unnecessary expense and late delivery to the customer.
Visual inspection systems
The visual inspection system makes use of a video camera for data collection of the object under test and transmits it to a computer for processing. The software in the computer then analyses the image and makes a pass/fail inspection decision. This system can considerably reduce the task ‘of the inspector.
Major disadvantages of the visual system:
a) The lighting conditions must be well designed and implemented.
b) Software must be carefully selected and implemented.
c) Is intolerant of component variations on products.
d) Does not emulate the human inspector.
e) Has no real intelligence: follows rules.
B. Robotic Inspection and Testing
How Robotic inspection and Testing positively impact electronics manufacturing?
The proliferation of electronic products has entered a very rapid phase. This calls for higher production output /units but with almost zero rejection. Though Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is in place, the inspection and testing processes have to be equally fast and efficient, with reliability, precision and accuracy-without a compromise.
Robotic Vision Inspection and Testing (Quality control)
Vision (sometimes referred to as machine vision) based inspection and testing provide image-based inspection automated for your convenience for a variety of industrial and manufacturing applications. Design of vision systems can be customized to meet the needs of many industries .3D machine vision based technology is now commonly used for robotic Quality control.
How do they work?
Robots come equipped with multiple cameras, and even video and lighting and backed by AI. They are capable of measuring parts, recognizing the shape of parts. etc at high speeds. Computer software processes images captured during the process and the robot is intelligent enough to make decisions that impact the function being assessed, like in a situation of a pass/fail capacity or to prompt an operator to act.
Thus, many companies utilize this vision technology for quality control purposes.
Display / Touchscreen Inspection and Testing
An important interface with humans is the display/touch screen on the product.
Inspection of Display/Touchscreens.
Display quality contributes heavily to the overall quality and end-user experience of smart devices. Robotic display/touch screen quality inspection are available for checking the quality of high-resolution displays. Robots moving multi-vision matrix cameras utilize years of machine vision and image reconstruction methods to make the inspection at a single pixel level.
Touchscreen testing is of vital importance, as it may enhance or mar the product’s brand image
SR- SCARA Pro is specialized for the testing of HMI devices like touch screens and panels. It is the world’s fastest touchscreen testing robot. The robot comes with flexible and easy to learn programming options and is easy to integrate the robot with client’s existing testing frameworks. Various product fit, HMI testing platforms are available
that can test, with a high degree of precision and accuracy, various types of displays and touch screens of mobiles, aviation cockpits and even to the largest TV screens.
Far-reaching impact and benefits of Robotic Vision based Inspection and Testing
Don’t pay for defective components, as the inspection and testing and hence quality verification are done at the source itself. The level of rejection of input components can predict the new production rates and shipment delay times. Robotic inspection at every stage ensures product quality up to the end product packaging. However prolific the brand may be, the return of goods due to quality aspects can cause pitfalls in brand image.
The quality control budget thus is best utilized and optimized for robotic inspection and testing and is worth the investment as brand equity and image can be sustained or raised. A good product may enhance the brand image of a company while a faulty one could damage it. Robotic testing and Inspection delivers both speed and accuracy, consistency and reliability –all the vital ingredients that electronics manufacturing needs. With the advent of user-friendly software and lower costs of robots, the time is close when robotic quality control becomes a common sight on the shop floors of electronic SMEs (Small and Medium Scale Enterprises)
Applications of robotic automation are already in place in every industry. The time is “Now”! Get started right away with our customized product and service-based solutions.
Embrace the future. Contact us to save your time and money to deliver a quality product.