The major challenge for Automatic Optical Inspection (AOI) in today’s industry is one of protocol, improved track and trace and data logging for all the products coming in/ going out, including products which to date have rarely been inspected, like those still using thru hole components.
Pressure for increased inspection and traceability information comes from OEMs, wanting to protect their brand. AOI of course helps to reduce faults creeping through on the production line and traceability helps to facilitate product recalls should any issues arise.
Mek has seen a huge increase in the inspection of THT circuit boards, driven primarily by the move towards electric vehicles and power electronics. Henk Biemans, Managing Director of Mek commented, “With power electronics you can’t typically work with surface mount components only, you need THT components. And these need to be inspected, especially the solder joints, because with high power, high current and high voltages come very high risks should there be any faults.”
Until very recently manual visual inspection was the norm in THT production facilities, even when very expensive components were involved on complex assemblies. This is less and less permissible today. The automotive industry is driving the requirement for inspection of THT assemblies where inspection takes place not only from the top to ensure that the components are present, but also from the bottom to check that the solder joints are ok. Mek is a strong player in THT AOI with a whole variety of solutions.
Another challenge in AOI today is to reduce human involvement in the process. We are striving to make the accuracy and effectiveness of our AOI less and less dependent on the programmer. By using more and more software and artificial intelligence we can reduce the human element involved in the programming of a machine.
Last week at IPC Apex in San Diego, we introduced the American market to our new M1 AOI system, a full 3D AOI which can analyse not only the component bodies in 3D but also the solder joints, without programming them. So the machine takes over and analyses the solder joint using many more parameters than humans can actually grasp. It will combine all this data and basically use the statistics to program itself, so the results will be the same, whoever is managing the programming. Artificial intelligence takes away the uncertainty of programming your AOI and gives similar results across all products.
Watch the video of Henk Biemans being interviewed by I-Connect 007 at Apex where he discusses these challenges and the overall trends that are driving Automatic Optical Inspection.
Find out more about Mek THT Inspection capabilities.