EFA SmartSuite
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data validation

Match with library

Online search fails. BT

Joining with own item no.

Import customer data

work preparation
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Initial pattern check for fast line release

Manual assembly

Manual assembly

Optical test

Optical test

small series


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offer phase

order phase

EFA Smart Suite

EFA Smart Suite

EFA SmartSuite is the industry software for all PCB manufacturers. It has been developed in close cooperation according to the wishes and requirements of our customers for about 10 years.

EFA SmartSuite is based on the experience of more than 100 companies that manufacture printed circuit boards themselves or on behalf of others. Your problems in the quoting, work preparation and production were the starting point for the implementation of a variety of efficient solutions in these areas.

The EMS paver

There are a multitude of different procedures in the manufacture of printed circuit boards. They differ primarily in whether you manufacture on behalf of others or only for yourself. If you are only able to manufacture for yourself in the pleasant situation, the aim is rather to optimize the manufacturing process. Since you can influence almost all process parameters yourself, imponderables can be eliminated and the degree of automation increased.

The EMS manufacturer is faced with completely different requirements. His work begins in the offer phase when creating a competitive offer to achieve an order. Once that is done, it closes order phase on. In this phase, the customer must manufacture the printed circuit boards of his customer within the specified time within the framework of the calculated costs.

On the way from the preparation of the offer to the order phase to the delivery of the finished printed circuit boards, there are numerous difficulties that can quickly nullify a careful cost calculation.

And this is exactly where the EFA SmartSuite industry solution comes in!

The offer phase

This phase can be a real cost factor for any EMS company! According to surveys, the success rate for inquiries from a potential new customer for placing an order after submitting an offer is less than 20%. In 80% of the time the department works quoting therefore without corresponding proceeds from placing an order. The aim must therefore be to reduce the time to prepare an offer and to make the offer itself more competitive.

In order to reduce this time until an offer is submitted, you have to become aware of the actual problems and then offer appropriate solutions for them.

Many customers have extremely imaginative data formats and see it as a service of the EMS manufacturer to be able to import these proprietary data formats. Usually spreadsheet programs for data import are used here. These programs offer helpful functions for editing tables, but only rudimentary functions for the imaginative data formats. Here are other functions that can decide whether you need several hours or just a few minutes to import. Now imagine that you have to import your customer's data again!

How about if this import took only minutes?

If the customer's data has been successfully imported, there is still a risk that this data will be in the coordinate data Bill Of Material list and assembly drawing do not harmonize. The customer may have made the last changes before sending, but did not consistently enter them in all data files. It is then up to you, the EMS manufacturer, to detect these discrepancies and to inform your customers of them. Because no customer wants faulty boards. And in case of doubt you are inferior to the customer anyway.

How about if this validation of customer data was only a matter of minutes?

The basis of all further action is the close cooperation of the customer data with your own component library. At least the purchase price, the processing costs and the profit margin are stored in this library for each component. Without this data, offers can only be estimated but not reliably created. The search for the right component often requires the specification of specific parameters, such as the resistance value, the tolerance and the voltage in the case of a resistor. And often the search must also be extended to values that are smaller or larger than the search parameter. Most databases cannot do this because they have grown historically and do not provide for separation into entities such as resistance, tension, tolerance. Since the number of components per printed circuit board is increasing steadily, this search is becoming more and more complex and, of course, more prone to errors.

How about if this comparison of customer data with your own component library could be carried out in just a fraction of the usual time?

Of course, this problem occurs particularly often when inquiring potential new customers. But you are also not immune to inquiries from existing customers. However, it is always necessary to update the purchasing conditions depending on the reference quantity, because the component components market is too volatile for this. But since there is rarely only one provider that has the best prices in all areas, you have to contact different providers. The type of contacting often determines whether you can send your customer an offer within hours, days or weeks. If the competitor was faster then, it may well be that the customer has already placed an order. This means that the time until the offer is submitted can decide on the award of the order.

How about if you could reduce this time to just a few hours?

The departments of the offer phase and the order phase often work independently of one another, so that each department imports and processes the customer's data separately. Repeated reading of the same customer data within a department is also not uncommon. However, it is usually unnecessary and costs additional working hours. In addition, errors can of course creep in because the import was carried out incorrectly or the information chain was simply incomplete. Subsequent changes by the customer have e.g. B. not found the way to production.

How about if the import and all subsequent changes had to be carried out only once?

The order phase

The order phase begins with the placing of the order for a previously submitted offer by the customer. From this point on, the EMS manufacturer knows that he will also be paid for his work at the end of the order phase. The machines that are required to manufacture the actual customer order represent a major cost factor. The acquisition costs are usually very high and the lifetime is limited due to the progressive degree of miniaturization. The machines are therefore calculated for throughput and any unnecessary downtime should be avoided.

For this reason, the order phase is typically divided into the department of work preparation and the real one production on.

The work preparation

The work preparation includes all activities that are necessary for time-efficient and error-free production by humans and machines. It usually begins with the import of all customer data and their validation. If anything is unclear, the customer must be consulted and new, changed customer data must be entered. These changes can affect both the data and the layout plans. In any case, a validation must be carried out again after each change. Once all ambiguities have been resolved, the processing of this now valid data for the production machines can begin. Processes such as the creation of assembly plans for manual assembly are now also connected.

Any error that sneaks into this preparation process can quickly become a cost trap for this sales order. But if you are aware of when and where the problems can occur in the work preparation process, you can offer appropriate solutions for this.


Correctly prepared data are essential for production. Once in production, this data must then be further processed depending on the machine type. Since extensive machine knowledge is required for this step and the programming stations must be available, the creation of new machine programs for new products is an essential task in production.
Programming the placement machines in particular is one of the tasks with a high potential for errors. Because this is where the assignment between the alignment of the customer's components and the alignment of the components of the assembly's own library takes place. But even if this programming went correctly, errors in the actual production could again cause considerable problems. For example, the alignment of the components in the belt of the feeder could not match the alignment specified in the library of the assembler. Or the component supplier has taped incorrectly or the customer's components enclosed as bulk goods have been incorrectly assembled, etc.

A misaligned IC, which is only recognized after soldering or, in the worst case, only discovered during the inspection by the customer, results in extensive rework. Problems must therefore be identified in good time so that the repair costs can be kept as low as possible.

If a printed circuit board is manufactured for the first time, the potential for errors is of course particularly high. Without proprietary software solutions such as B. EFA SmartSuite errors can occur in every step of the order phase. In this case, it is often advisable to carry out an initial sample inspection against the original customer data. But then the operator of the initial sample inspection has to deal with the imaginative customer data at this unfavorable time. Or the process is carried out completely manually according to the 4-eyes principle, ie one person searches for the components on the circuit board and the other person compares the observation with the information in the customer's documents. Both processes are very time-consuming and unnecessarily delay line approval.

With EFA SmartSuite, on the other hand, errors will primarily focus on production, since the production data is mapped to the machine programs outside of EFA SmartSuite. Typical errors are more likely to be found at the very end of the preparation, i.e. errors in the programming of the placement staff or errors in the armor of the placement shop.

How about if the first sample inspection could be carried out in just 15% of the usual time with the 4-eyes principle with only one operator?

Correct armament of the placement machines is an absolute must for every error-free production. But sometimes even the components in their transport media are delivered in the wrong orientation or with the wrong label, so that a setup check of the first printed circuit board only reveals this after the restart of production. Although almost all other sources of error due to the restart can be excluded, the possible sources of error that are not in the hands of the manufacturer still require a 100% check from the first circuit board.

How would it be if the setup control could be carried out in just 15% of the usual time with the 4-eyes principle with only one operator?

The trend towards ever smaller series cannot be overlooked any more than the trend towards miniaturization of components. On the one hand, this trend is supported by demand-synchronized production and on the other hand by the ever shorter product cycles. The latter causes a significantly higher effort for the paver because changes in all existing machine programs have to be made at ever shorter intervals.

Therefore, only a reduced machine park is often used in small series. If the production line z. B. have an AOI for optical inspection after soldering, then this is easily avoided in small series. Because every modification of a configuration causes a configuration effort that should not be underestimated by specially trained personnel. This creates additional costs that the customer is reluctant to pay.

How would it be if the inspection of a small series were completed before the AOI had started a real automatic inspection?

The assembly of a printed circuit board without an automatic assembly machine is mainly used for THT assembly. It is often easier for people to pierce the drill holes with the component wires than for a machine. However, this manual assembly is also encountered in the SMD sector, particularly when it comes to prototype assembly or in the case of very small quantities with a small number of components.

It is particularly important here to actively support people in the assembly process. This can be done in the form of assembly plans, from which the order and the installation positions emerge, or interactively using the computer. The placement program then visualizes each placement position and, after confirmation of the placement process, jumps to the next installation position.

How would it be if the creation or modification of assembly plans only took a fraction of the time that would otherwise have to be estimated?

In manufacturing, these winged words probably mean more Sometimes it doesn't always contain what's on the outside„. Therefore, LCR measurements of the installed components are increasingly used. The components are often glued to the first circuit board or the relevant components are measured before soldering. To do this, they are lifted out of the solder paste and measured individually. However, if a circuit board has several hundred components, this measurement can clearly delay the line release.

How would it be if an LCR measurement were integrated into the initial sample inspection or set-up control and to a certain extent could run in parallel?