In January 2013, an automotive TIER 1 commissioned us with a high volume project for the IKOR Mexico plant. It was an illumination project for cars. In total, we had to manufacture: 26 different circuits that had to fulfil two main requirements:
On the one hand, make sure that each individual circuit only had the same bin of each led model and bring keep its traceability. On the other hand, we had to be aware that certain circuits needed to have the same bin for each led model between them.
In this way, we went from 26 different sets of circuits to 16 circuits, and from the concept of circuit unit to circuit sets.
In addition to this “Led Bining” and traceability requirement, we had to avoid performing a test if an earlier test had not been performed. We had to gather the test results, control the number of tests performed with each circuit, and ensure that the set tested together had the same bin.
These customer’s requirements and the increasing volume per year of the project forced us to go a little further in production concepts and standard process controls that we had set in-house. We also had to adopt other more automated processes, aimed at an increased rate and increased process control. To do so, we designed a fully automated process from the ICT in the panel to the circuit sets packing. Thus, the production method guaranteed the rate, data collection at each station and improved quality. Also, we went from having a conventional manual assembly line, with 4 people, to an automatic line only staffed by one person. At this point, the operator’s function is to load the panels and collect the packed circuit sets.
Once the process was designed, the challenge was to find a supplier or suppliers to put it into practice. The project was divided into three parts and a provider was assigned to each of them.
1. The first part, the in circuit test, was assigned to CHECKSUM.
2. Next was the automation, from unpanelling to packaging (through functional testing) and the integration of the ICT, which IPTE conducted.
3. After selecting the engineering firm that would manufacture the line, we still had to meet a third requirement: The traceability and/or process control. By then, IKOR was already undertaking a project to implement an MES (Manufacturing Execution System). An MES is basically a piece of software used as production control which is also capable of meeting the traceability requirements. Therefore, the next step was aimed towards the confirmation by the software supplier, AEGIS, that they would be able to meet the control and traceability requirements requested by our client. After confirming this, we had to ensure that AEGIS could communicate with the IPTE line and understand it. A fact that had to be agreed between them.
Once the providers had been defined and the requirements established, we can ensure that the line works, and it does so this way:
The panel enters the ICT and after being read, the datamatrix is tested. If it is good, the adequacy of the panel is registered in a DB and we move to the next station. If it is not good, it will be considered for rejection and sent to the NOK station, located at the back.
Once the panel has gone through ICT and the result has been satisfactory, it goes to the router, where the datamatrix is also read and unpanelled.
The router presents the circuit sets at the machine outlet so the circuit set can be tested at the same time in the FCT. A robot places them in a pallet or rack. By means of a conveyor belt, this pallet is transferred to the functional tester, where in addition to measuring current, it checks that the LED lights up at different voltages and that the LED colour is correct. The test result is saved and if it is OK they leave the tester, where another robot takes care of placing the circuits in custom thermoformed trays with the silhouettes of such circuits . These trays will be waiting off the line to be picked up by the operator. If the result of the functional test is NOK, as in the ICT, it is rejected and sent to the NOK station.