Unlocking Real-time Process Control with Machine Connectivity

The Conundrum

Big Data is the foundation for Industry 4.0, so advanced inspection systems must evolve from simply judging “Pass/Fail” tools into highly intuitive, dynamic decision-making systems, which emphasizes the need for reliable, traceable data. Artificial Intelligence (AI) engines can empower tools to help customers analyze and optimize the production process by managing process data from connected systems like Solder Paste Inspection (SPI) and Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), plus printers and mounters.

When we look at the optical inspection market growth trajectory, we can see how process challenges helped create innovations. For example, Solder Paste Inspection (SPI) has undergone a shift from 2D to 3D, because the 2D inspection technologies manufacturers traditionally used to collect solder deposit images could not solve shadowing problems. Thus, companies developed 3D SPI to capture the printed solder paste height to accurately measure the total volume of paste printed. Several years later, we see the same need for surface mounted component inspection with AOI systems.

As today’s board complexity is increasing with more components, more solder joints, higher density, and shrinking package sizes, 2D AOI technology using grey-scale image analysis or angled camera view of color images is no longer a practical possibility. Most decisions made are based on a “good-bad” comparison of reference images, which can easily be affected by variables like component surface finish, board condition, component proximity, and more.

Although 2D AOI is still a technology with application in the market, more manufacturers are adopting 3D AOI to increase board quality. The benefits are clear: solid results without constantly debugging or fine- tuning inspection programs. More importantly, the measurement data generated from 3D AOIs provides meaningful insights about the process and helps identify and eliminate the root causes of a defect. Combining 3D inspection with feedback to printers and mounters, enables manufacturers to accurately control and monitor the printed circuit board assembly process.

Turn Data into Insights

But with so much data, engineers are hard pressed to collect, process, and implement all the data using traditional techniques and software. Artificial intelligence and deep learning lay the foundation for machines to learn from the vast amounts of process data collected by adjusting the output based on the data inputs and performing tasks to help engineers perform tasks more intelligently. The many examples we hear about like computers playing chess or autonomous (self-driving) vehicles use deep learning to achieve tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns in the data.

This is ideal for volume PCB production and helps create a data set for a Smart Factory. From statistical process control to instant program refinements, AI-powered platforms can intelligently apply real-time data to improve production processes. Going beyond smart factory solutions, manufacturers can use the same technology to optimize the process by exercising complex machine-learning algorithms.

The Smart Factory

Realizing a smart factory means taking a practical approach to process and systems, while examining areas to improve productivity. Combining machine learning with 3D measurement data generated during inspection helps manufacturers define inefficiencies and boost line efficiency. Machine learning uses programmed algorithms that receive and analyze input data to predict output values within an acceptable range. As the line feeds new data to these algorithms, they learn and improve the process to improve performance by developing intelligence over time.

For example, some tools allow manufacturers to simultaneously deploy programs and inspection conditions across multiple lines, which enhances productivity and, more importantly, data integrity with consistent performance. Operators can further improve line maintenance with other tools for real-time monitoring to instantly display relevant process parameters at remote locations for immediate analysis and action. Additionally, combining multipoint views from SPI, Pre-reflow AOI, and Post-reflow AOI with real data management and monitoring allows operators to determine actionable insights to optimize the processes. However, the adaptation of AI-powered process tools takes optimization to a higher level.

Machine-to-Machine Connectivity

Converting all the data requires a simulation tool to review identified defects with accumulated historical data from PCBA lines, while avoiding unnecessary downtime. Software tools can reliably allow manufacturers to predict the effects from fine-tuning without stopping the line. Moving forward, an AI-powered platform can autonomously render complex process optimization decisions typically reserved for dedicated process engineers. Embracing the connectivity can create a smart factory. For instance, software modules can exercise complex algorithms to develop closed-loop process recommendations. The Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connectivity drives the smart factory vision one step further by enabling automatic SMT line maintenance. Finally, combining inspection with printers and mounters can enable the network tools to connect and simplify communication across the entire PCBA line.

Defining the correct parameters often requires a high degree of expertise, because of the various environmental considerations affecting the process. Using AI-powered systems and M2M connectivity, manufacturers can link inline inspection systems with the associated printer and mounters in the line to overcome the challenges.


Companies like Fuji and Koh Young have been at the leading edge of this technology, developing ways for factory lines to optimize their process, minimize downtime, and still perform prompt inspection that keeps products defect free and keeps factories online during peak hours. At the head of the efforts from Fuji and Koh Young lie several software and machine solutions, such as the “Fuji In-Line Process Quality Control Expert” or the “Koh Young Process Optimizer” (KPO) that allow your factory line to stay efficient. Because of how simply the machines can now integrate with each other, how easily feedback is turned into process revision, and how quickly these solutions allow solve defect causing issues, it is no wonder why inspection has become a staple of the modern Smart Factory.

Mounter Integration

Fuji’s Smart Factory software, “Nexim,” allows for the seamless integration of any Fuji machine and your SPI or AOI machines via its “IPQC Expert” software feature. Nexim’s IPQC Expert feature provides a direct connection between machines and the software, allowing for real-time information sharing between systems and easy diagnosis of the issues that you might be facing on your own production line. The IPQC Expert feature works particularly well with solutions like the Koh Young aSPIre3 solder paste inspection (SPI) and Zenith automated optical inspection (AOI) machines, which is why Fuji proudly hosts them in its state-of-the-art Tech Center.

The software integration allows for constant improvement as the SPI sends real-time feedback straight to the printer. The real-time feedback allows issues like solder paste smearing, deviations in printing, and low solder paste levels to be detected and quickly eliminated, allowing your factory to stay online and keeping your factory one step ahead of the rest.

Fuji’s IPQC Expert integration also allows for real- time feedback from your AOI machine to your mounter. As the AOI detects placement deviations or other defects, Nexim informs the mounter and automatically adjusts to ensure the mounter places components in the correct locations. Plus, Nexim consolidates data onto a single screen to make root cause diagnosis easier than ever.

The software also allows for “feedforward” communication among machines. When an inspection machine detects issues with a printed board, Nexim sends that information to the next machine in the process; thereby, allowing the process to skip the bad board. This critical step reduces waste and eliminates further rework efforts by ensuring the mounter does not place additional components onto a faulty board.

Mounter Feedback

With the increasing demand for reduced size and higher performance electronic devices, mounters provide more productivity and high-density placement. However, achieving defect-free production in that environment becomes difficult as the form factor gets smaller and smaller. Due to these challenges, defects during the mounting process are inevitable.

Using data from a pre-reflow AOI makes it possible to identify exact details about where the defect occurred and can identify the component number of the defective placement. Now, the operator can prevent defects by revising files based on the quantified measurement results from the pre-reflow AOI.

KPO Mounter can identify the correct head, nozzle, feeder, reel, or   component   that   is   causing production defects. Operators can monitor the mounting process in real-time to prevent defects with statistical process data from the pre-reflow AOI.

Based on Koh Young’s accurate True 3D measurement data and its proprietary deep learning technology, Koh Young Process Optimizer enables real-time mounting process optimization. It autonomously analyzes heads, nozzles, feeders, reels, and components to identify the issue, and then details the mounting parameters necessary to correct the fundamental problems.

Using on AI-based analysis, KPO Mounter provides users with actionable insights. KSMART Link Data Analysis helps operators easily correlate multi-point inspection results from SPI, Pre-Reflow, and Post-Reflow AOI to identify issues. KPO can enhance your production quality and maximizes productivity to minimize cost of ownership, increase product quality, and maximize productivity.

Unlocking the Future

These M2M communication standards, guided in part by Industry 4.0, are quickly altering the manufacturing process by improving metrics like first pass yield and throughput by applying autonomous process adjustments. Far beyond an automatic line changeover, this two-way communication with suppliers will allow the equipment to automatically adjust production parameters to increase board quality and lower costs by eliminating rework and scrap. As part of this mission, advanced process control with interconnected PCBA equipment will revolutionize process optimization and lay the foundation for the smart factory.

For many, the journey to a smart factory is well underway with investments in connectivity to use the data available. Moving even closer to Industry 4.0 will happen when that data is both holistic, connected, and complete. Once we combine the data from processes like SPI, printers, AOI, and mounter, we can truly build a smart factory that relies on data to make decisions, in real-time.

About Koh Young Technology

Established in 2002, Koh Young pioneered the market by launching the first 3D Solder Paste Inspection (SPI) system using a patented dual-projection Moiré technology. Since then, it has become the global leader in 3D measurement- based SPI and Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) equipment for the electronics industry. Based on its True3D™ measurement-based inspection technology, Koh Young has developed innovative solutions for challenges with Machining Optical Inspection (MOI), Dispensing Process Inspection (DPI), and Semiconductor Packaging Inspection (MEISTER Series). Through its technology innovations, Koh Young has secured thousands of global customers, and maintains the largest global market share in the SPI and AOI markets. Additionally, by adopting its user-centric R&D activities, it continues to use core competencies and develop innovative solutions for new and existing markets. Its activities stem from the corporate headquarters in Korea to its global sales and support offices in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. These local facilities ensure it keeps in close contact with the market, and more importantly, its growing customer base to provide access to an award-winning network of inspection and measurement experts. Learn why so many electronics manufacturers trust Koh Young for reliable inspection at kohyoung.com.

For More Information

Koh Young America, 1950 Evergreen Blvd., Ste 200, Duluth, GA 30096 +1.470.374.9254 www.kohyoungamerica.com Brent A Fischthal, Sr. Marketing Manager, Koh Young America brent.fischthal@kohyoung.com +1.704.651.2860

About Fuji America

In 1959, Fuji Corporation began as Fuji Machine Manufacturing (FMMC) producing electronic assembly equipment. Through the years, the company has remained committed to creating, developing, and manufacturing the surface mount (SMT) industry’s most innovative assembly solutions. The Fuji Corporation name is synonymous with reliability and trustworthiness. Not only is Fuji Corporation a global leader as a machine tool builder, but Fuji Corporation also ensures productive manufacturing of countless additional companies in every industry around the world. Fuji Corporation, is simply, the standard. Each one of us aspires to: Face challenges with vision and courage, imagine how to make a better society and a better company, forge links with each and every person, possess passion and pride as a professional, strive to overcome obstacles, create things that only we can, meet the call of “More” from the world, bring wonder and passion to the world, have tomorrow’s self, surpass today’s self, turn failures into strength for tomorrow, and value today over yesterday and tomorrow over today.

For More Information

Fuji America, 171 Corporate Woods Pkwy, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 +1.847.913.0162 www.fujiamerica.com Peter Marzza Peter Mazza, Marketing Specialist, Fuji America, peterm@fujiamerica.com