Article by: Brett Brune
In an effort to overcome reflection issues encountered when inspecting PCB solder joints, Omron has upped the ante with its 3D AOI system, the VT-S1080.
To combat the shadowing and secondary reflection issues encountered by inspection systems when generating 3D profiles of PCB solder joints, Omron has taken its flagship VT-S730 3D AOI system and upped the ante, said Brad Ward, ttechnical manager of advanced sensing and inspection solutions at Omron Automation Americas.
“We entered a new era — 3D AOI — about 10 years ago. And there have been many lessons learned over the past decade, from a hardware and software perspective, about what is needed and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t” , he said, standing in front of the upgrade, the VT-S1080. , at the Omron Chicago Proof of Concept Center. “So this next generation was designed to take all those lessons and perfect the hardware within a 3D AOI system, so we can go beyond hardware and focus on software and AI in the industry 4.0.”
Solder joint inspection is known to be the most difficult part of AOI (automated optical inspection) on PCB assembly lines. Thus, Omron’s goal is to help manufacturers achieve “more stable, accurate and reliable 3D profiles for every solder joint,” Ward said.
Omron’s Inspection Systems Division, with 35 years of AOI experience, introduced the VT-S1080 to the US market about a year ago. “As we continue to overcome supply chain limitations and logistical challenges in the Americas, we anticipate that our local install base of the new platform will quickly catch up with the popularity we are seeing in Europe and Asia. “, did he declare.
“In the Americas, we are I’m just starting to see it start to take off. And it’s not really dedicated to any particular market or industry. We already have systems in use with OEMs and contractors,” he added. “We have them in the high-tech industry. We also have medical customers who use them. So everyone is interested, and we have a lot more installations going on, just waiting for those machines to arrive from Japan.
Go beyond the machine
The 3D AOI system is “entirely new hardware and technology designed to make everything better. So it’s a high-speed Omron camera combined with a whole new generation of digital projectors, and all of that combined with a much more sophisticated and flexible lighting unit, to allow us to better balance color inspection with white light inspection alongside all the 3D capability it does by default,” Ward said. “And then the processing of all that information – tons and tons of data – happens behind the scenes, through new software innovations and AI, to get a more stable, accurate and reliable 3D profile of every weld joint. .”
This translates into overcoming shadowing and secondary reflection problems encountered when inspecting PCB solder joints.
Ward describes these issues as “two different sides of the same coin: shading is where we can’t get into lighted areas as much as we’d like. And secondary reflection is the opposite: c is too much lighting, where it bounces around neighboring components and wreaks havoc with the 3D data we’re trying to collect.
The VT-S1080 was designed “specifically to overcome those things, and it does just that,” he said. “We are seeing exactly what we wanted to see and what our customers were hoping to see, which is an even lower false call rate and even better fault detection capabilities.”
False calls or over-rejects – “AOI identifying something it thinks is bad but really isn’t is wasteful,” Ward said. Fake calls require the intervention of a human operator. “And the more fake calls you introduce into the process, of course, the more inefficient the whole thing becomes and the less confidence you have in the AOI machine.”
AI upgrades shouldn’t be rushed
The VT-S1080 should “have much longer platform life,” he said. “It’s designed to be upgraded more easily and quickly as new vision hardware becomes available, for example. We can trade in the current-generation Omron high-speed camera for whatever comes next. »
“It’s also filled with many more Omron industrial automation devices. So we want to do everything we can do with Omron technology under control: predictive maintenance, better traceability, data extraction from the machine itself and better connectivity with other devices, including other inspection systems. Omron, of course. »
Finally, Omron believes that the new 3D AOI system will allow it to “stop focusing so much on hardware and spend our development time and resources on more software, especially more AI” to innovate and keep pushing the bar of the automated inspection process.
AI upgrades will be chosen carefully, Ward noted. “There are a lot of things we can do, but it becomes a question of what we should do and what is safe to do. We inspect critical products where failures can have disastrous consequences, so just because we can introduce AI to make decisions doesn’t mean it’s the right decision or the responsible thing to do. We take a very methodical approach when deploying AI and making these kinds of decisions. »
This approach includes deploying AI innovations at Omron’s own manufacturing facilities as beta sites, he said. “So it’s definitely happening, maybe not at a particularly blistering pace, but it’s by design.”
This article was originally published on EE time.
Brett Brune is editor of EETimes.com. He previously edited and reported business news for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. He has also served as editor of SmartGridToday.com, as well as Smart Manufacturing magazine.
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