381 Electronic Definition or Meaning for component/equipment storage

Definition for component/equipment storage


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component/equipment storage

There are still to many instances of feeders scattered around the factory floor, stencil screens leaning against shelves and PCBs/components stored in cardboard boxes.
One of the reasons for this problem is that the search for feeder mobiles, reel racks and PCB trolleys can be a difficult task, simply because specifiers are unsure about what makes a good system. To overcome this, Mossman Tebbs` Peter Mossman uses this feature to provide readers with the facts they need to make an informed decision.

1 Investigate build quality
As with any electronics production equipment, build quality is vital. Storage equipment should enhance production systems, not hinder them through poor construction. A storage system should be strong and durable enough to stand up to the demanding requirements of an industrious production line which could be operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The important thing to bear in mind is that a feeder mobile, for example, is designed to hold thousands of pounds worth of equipment. It needs to be built to the highest standard using quality materials. Even the type of casters used is important, as inferior casters can lead to a wobbly trolley effect.
If engineers have to take production systems off-line because of failed storage equipment, the line`s capacity and profitability are reduced. Therefore, look carefully at build quality. Buying cheap is a false economy: it won`t be long before a flimsy system needs replacing. It is worth spending slightly more up front if it means that the system lasts as long as planned.

2 Determine the level of equipment protection
Replacement and repair of electronics manufacturing equipment costs most companies tens of thousands of pounds per year. Add the costs of rework due to solder joint fractures and bent/broken components, and the sum escalates ever further.
A well designed storage system can substantial- ly reduce the costs associated with damaged equipment, PCBs and components. Used correctly and implemented effectively, a good system can eradicate damage inflicted by careless handling. It should be designed to prevent contact between stored components/equipment which might damage one or other or both. It should also help reduce the damaging impact of pollutants, such as dust.
Good quality storage equipment can pay for itself in weeks by reducing damage costs. It can also contribute to the zero defect goal. Thus, investigate the way the system is designed and put it through its paces.

3 How securely is equipment supported?
A storage system needs to hold equipment securely and safely to prevent damage. It should also be engineered to ensure it can be transported aroand the factory without the danger of equipment falling out. A good system may incorporate specially designed lo.cking features that hold equipment securely and safety and/or features that keep the system itself stable, such as lockable castors.

4 Stored equipment should be easily identified.
One factor often overlooked when choosing a storage system is how well equipment can be identified once it has been placed in its rack or compartment. Easy identification, using a feature such as ticket strips holding labels or bar codes, makes the operator`s job far easier when searching for the correct component, reel or PCB. The right system can improve inventory control and reduce the time it takes to reload or changeover each machine. This means lower downtime, a more efficient production line and increased capacity.

5 Establish how easy the system is to use.
Regarding storage systems, ease of use is as important as functionality. An ergonomically designed system that is easy to transport and improves logistics by sitting conveniently next to the relevant machine can enhance production flow and save time in high pressure manufacturing environments. Flexibility may also be a consideration if the idea is to use the system for different purposes or with different sized equipment. If this is the case, look for a system with shelving thal can be easily and securer) altered.
Equipment should also be easy to place and remove from the system oi operators will quickly reject it. If operators finding system hinders their job rather than easing it, then it is likely to sit unused Ask the manufacturer for a trial: the company should recognise the importance of designing the system to suit the customer`s requirements.

6 Check ESD performance
Electronics manufacturers put huge efforts into eliminating the damaging effects of static electricity. Thus, it is equally important to ensure there is no build up of static electricity in the storage equipment. ESD can damage components, reducing product quality and increasing rework efforts and costs. A good quality storage system has static safe features designed in. These include elements such as quality conductive tyre castors that provide an electric path to the floor.

7 Measure the footprint.
It is a fact of modern electronics manufacturing that more production capacity means more floor space. Look at the way the system has been designed regarding the footprint. Does it include features such as angled shelves to save production floor space. If so, it goes without saying that the designers have considered footprint issues. Choose a system that is designed to be both compact and functional.

8 How easily can the manufacturer
accommodate specific design requirements
Ideal storage systems can vary greatly between electronics manufacturers. Even two manufacturers with identical production lines may need different storage specifications depending on their working practices. For this reason, it is important to deal with a storage equipment manufacturer with the ability to offer custom designs.
Plenty of off the shelf systems exist which may suit a manufacturer`s needs perfectly. However, if they don`t, the customer will need to deal with a company that can ascertain the equipment requirements and then design and produce a system to meet these needs. A good manufacturer will be prepared to listen to and understand a customer`s highly specific storage equipment needs and engineer a solution to suit. Once again, trial periods are invaluable.

9 Ascertain lead times
Always determine the manufacturer`s responsiveness and ability to accommodate your production requirements. As a guide look for a company that can deliver off the shelf items in days and build to order systems in a few weeks. Service level is also a vital consideration. Word of mouth is important when buying storage equipment, so it pays to track down existing customers and hear their views. Testimonials tell more about quality, functionality and company attitude than a manufacturer`s brochure evercan.

10 Identify value added features that will improve productivity
In conclusion, there is more to storage equipment than handling and damage limitation. A well designed system can add value to the whole production process. It can reduce scrap costs by limiting rework; increase quality by protecting components and equipment and reduce changeover times by making equipment and components easier to locate and faster to switch.
The most important thing to remember when purchasing storage equipment is that it is an investment. Choose a system that is balanced in terms of ease of use, functionality, security and logistical benefits and it will provide a pay back for years through improved safety, reduced mishandling, increased efficiency, reduced defects, increased capacity and ultimately, higher profits.

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