Case study: improving PCB (printed circuit board) traceability

06 June 2022

Traceability of PCBs is critical to improve production processes; however, it's increasingly difficult as technology advances, as boards become smaller in size & more complex to manufacture. To ensure PCBs meet the highest standards, medical devices & instrumentation manufacturer, Cogent Technology worked with electronics production capital equipment distributor, Altus Group on solutions for traceability of its multi-faceted PCBs.

With one of the largest smart factories in Europe, manufacturing for international distribution, Cogent Technology ensures all devices are produced to the highest quality standards and continually enhance its capital equipment investment to guarantee production runs effectively.

Paul Harrison-Rowe, Cogent Technology Engineering Manager said: “For a medical device manufacturer such as Cogent Technology, traceability of sub-assemblies is vitally important to both its clients and internal Cogent QMS processes.

At the moment, serial number labels are printed and fitted by hand. This was suitable for a low volume batch build process; however, this is now hampered by ever-increasing demand for volume products, as well as the ever-decreasing size of PCBs and therefore, the associated available space for labels.

Altus was able to offer a solution to the challenge with the YJ Link YLM Laser Marker. “As the production of highly advanced electronic assemblies increases, the importance of traceability has never been more important,” agreed Joe Booth, Altus CEO.

High-tech manufacturers like Cogent Technology are looking for ways to implement processes to improve manufacture. But they must also integrate seamlessly into a ‘lights-out’ production plan. Aligning with these processes is the YLM Series Laser Marking solution.

As one of the most affordable and technologically advanced laser markers available in the marketplace today, the YLM Series Laser Marking ensures manufacturers meet high production targets with ease.

Harrison-Rowe added: “The YLM Laser Marking machine can internally flip over the PCBs and mark the same serial number to both sides, as well as speeding up the application time and reducing cost. Also, since the Laser Marker effectively reduces the size of the serial number real estate, it could now be applied on PCBs where previously it was not possible.

The Laser Marker will allow some other new features to be introduced, such as marking the work order number onto the waste material of the PCB panel or having the ability to be able to mark logos, dates and so on, as required.

Cogent Technology made further capital equipment investments with the selection of an Optilia BGA Inspection System. With parts no longer available for their existing machine, the Optilia platform included many features that would fit in with the company’s demanding requirements, including a larger field-of-view, to see beneath low stand-off BGAs.

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