How Etratech Took SMT Line Production from Good to Great
Is your electronics manufacturing process chasing defects down the line? Etratech accepted the fact that defects in the manufacturing process were part of the price of doing business, until they decided to address the issue head-on. The Canadian-based company designs, develops and manufactures advanced electronic controls and control systems for OEMs. Two Etratech team members, Mike Renneboog, manufacturing manager, and Robert Clarke, process manufacturing engineer, recently discussed their most significant challenge to improving printed circuit board SMT line productivity and quality, and the lessons they learned along the way.
Etratech specializes in all aspects of electronic controls design and manufacturing for industries including automotive electronics, HVAC, medical devices, appliances, security systems and more. The company has been in operation for almost 30 years. Like many companies in its space, Etratech is very process-driven. It is a Six Sigma company with five resident Black Belts in its main facility, and bound by stringent ISO/TS regulations for which it is routinely audited. “We take quality very seriously. But, sometimes you need to stop, step back and re-assess the situation, and the challenges that have compounded in the manufacturing process,” says Renneboog. The company prides itself on a culture that strives for continuous improvement, and has multiple quality programs in place. That keeps the stakes high.
For Renneboog and Clarke, the main challenge of that manufacturing process was the struggle with solder paste mis-registration. “And we’re talking about the whole gamut of defects,” says Renneboog. “We’re talking about bridging, we’re talking about insufficient solder and open solder connections. Those were our three major detractors.”