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PCB Assembly Process Planning

Key Takeaways

  • The assembly process can be subdivided into four stages: component placement, soldering, inspection, and testing.

  • The three levels of PCB assembly process planning are the strategic level, tactical level, and operational level.

  • PCB assembly can be done either manually or robotically – both have their pros and cons.

Assembly Process Planning

PCB assembly can be done either manually or robotically

Careful assembly process planning can prevent issues often encountered during the PCB assembly stage. Proper planning improves efficiency and ensures a cost-effective design. With assembly process planning, designers can more easily foresee mistakes before assembly actually takes place, preventing costly mistakes. 

The PCB Assembly Process 

The PCB assembly process can be subdivided into four stages, and each will need careful process planning to ensure manufacturing efficiency and design quality.

PCB Assembly Stages

1) Component insertion

The PCB is placed in the staging area and components are picked and placed onto the board.

2) Soldering

Components are fixed onto the board through the soldering process.

3) Inspection

The PCB is inspected for any missed components, quality of soldering, etc.

4) Testing

The final assembled PCB is tested to ensure it fulfills the electrical functionality assigned to it.

Components can be soldered onto a board either manually or through robotic technology.  PCB assembly process planning differs depending on whether the PCB is being manually or robotically assembled. 

PCB Assembly Methods

Manual Assembly

Robotic Assembly

A designer assembles components onto the board. Flexible functionality can be achieved with manual assembly. However, the reliability and speed of the assembly process are limited.

Robotic assembly uses the pick-and-place machine and is faster than manual assembly. Robotic PCB assembly can handle a variety of components while providing high reliability.

Example Time:

Consider a single-machine operation of PCB assembly. In single-machine PCB assembly operations, assembly process planning focuses on:

  1. Assembly operation and machines for different component allocations and PCB assignments.

  2. Determining the component assembly sequence and feeder arrangement to improve the time for assembly and assembly quality. 

Assembly Process Planning

The PCB assembly process can be long and involve a lot of operations. Assembly process planning gives designers and their teams a clear picture of the capital cost, time, and resources involved in assembling the PCB.

Optimizing product assembly is the most significant task of assembly process planning. When planning, it is important to consider the fundamental aspects of production.

The figure below illustrates the levels of planning involved in the PCB assembly process.

Levels of PCB assembly process planning

PCB Assembly Process Planning Advantages

- Ensures the PCB assembly process goes smoothly

- Prevents assembly delays and challenges 

- Prevents issues due to missing data or incorrect information encountered during the assembly process

- No-stock issues can be eliminated

Cadence Software Supports Assembly Process Planning

PCB assembly process planning helps manufacturing companies overcome the challenges of deteriorating quality, waste, long process set-up times, late delivery of finished products, etc. PCB assembly process planning should be initiated from the beginning of the PCB design stage, as it will help create an optimized assembly operation.

Cadence’s PCB design and analysis software can help you with PCB  assembly process planning with a DFM checker. Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. If you’re looking to learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.