An Industrial PC is used to control a PCB laminating press and remotely access a high-performance server that can perform a variety of tasks on data.
Taiwan’s printed circuit board (PCB) industry is one of the largest in the world. However, how to improve yields has been a critical issue facing PCB laminate manufacturers. This article demonstrates an example of how ITRI offers IT solutions to increase the efficiency and productivity of the PCB manufacturing process.
Lamination describes a process of building up successive layers of a material and binding these layers to strengthen, protect and waterproof a variety of substances. The routine of a conventional PCB laminate manufacturer would be like this: Managers formulate production schedule planning in accordance with the customers’ orders and production capacity. Then they analyze very large data sets of materials to generate results for different property values over a period of time. However, algorithm calculation relies heavily on human intelligence; without the use of computer tools, it takes time and labor. ITRI researchers were aware of this concern and decided to write programs with efficient algorithms that can perform mathematical calculations much faster to streamline the process. The calculator programming can help workers to place layers of materials into openings in PCB laminating presses and calculate materials consumption, saving significant time and effort. Moreover, in order to ensure the reliability and stability of the original PCB system, we propose a method for keeping the original stabilization system by using a high-performance server to perform a variety of tasks on data as illustrated in the image above.
The unintentional manufacturing failures and other undesirable issues caused by operators’ behavior are another challenge, which will break the empirical rules during the PCB lamination process. To offer best-practice advice for reducing the likelihood of human errors and product failure, ITRI created a system that is capable of identifying and correcting anomalies automatically; furthermore, ITRI provides machine condition monitoring by using artificial intelligence (AI) technology as a service. Seven-segment panels of an instrument of the PCB show decimal numerals to reflect the working status of the equipment. ITRI designed an AI system for recorded information according to the digits of its occurrence, and the digital readout provides a discrete output indication. This constitutes an alarm system which can detect an event when the digits fall outside the range of accuracy. When a human error or a machine breakdown causes the task to exceed acceptable limits, the alarm system will be triggered and sound an alert. Managers can then take appropriate action to fix the manufacturing failure promptly.
PCB laminate manufacturers who leverage technology to improve productivity are expected to gain a massive advantage over their competitors. This is why ITRI has been working relentlessly to assist the PCB industry in introducing AI technology into the manufacturing process to boost workflow efficiency and industrial competitiveness.
I would like to express my profound gratitude to technical manager Chang-Tzu Lin, consultant Li-Shen Chen, and technical supervisor Yung-Fa Chou. They gave me a golden opportunity to do this wonderful project to improve the PCB lamination process. Thanks to their inspiring suggestions and valuable experience, the project has made constant improvement and I am so proud to be part of the team.
Wei-Lun Liang is an engineer of the Chip Stacking Technology Department of the Information and Communications Research Laboratories at ITRI. Liang graduated from National Taiwan University. He specializes in optical system design and artificial intelligence and currently works as a senior computer programmer.