Robots Deliver Accurate, Adaptable Electronics Manufacturing

Robots help electronics manufacturers optimize production and adapt their processes fast and flexibly to keep pace with short consumer product lifecycles. HT Choong, Sales and Marketing Manager, business segment Electronics at ABB Robotics, explains how.

From wearables and mobile phones to home entertainment systems and smart vehicles, modern consumers love electronic gadgets. That enthusiasm shows no sign of waning, with the global consumer electronics market forecast to exceed US$1.050 trillion by 2030*.

Yet the industry faces challenges as it works to meet growing demand.

Electronics manufacturing is extremely complex. High component density, multi-layered structures, and tiny, delicate parts require immense precision during assembly. Accuracy and repeatability are essential, while production solutions must also be fast, efficient, compact, and reliable.

Meanwhile, consumers remain hungry for the latest ‘must have’ device. This forces manufacturers to keep changing production lines to meet the constant demand for new products. Only the most flexible solutions are able to keep pace with evolving market needs and safeguard existing investments.

Robots support the consumer electronics industry at every stage of production – from component manufacturing and PCB assembly (print circuit board assembly) to testing and packing finished products. Better still, the latest generation of simulation software allows users to ‘teach’ robots new tasks virtually before making any changes to the physical production line. This results in a smoother rollout of new tasks and procedures, enabling manufacturers to adapt faster and more flexibly as needed.

Meet the Challenges, Seize the Opportunities

Robots are typically more flexible than traditional machines because they can be programmed to carry out new tasks as needed. ABB’s robotic planning and programming software, RobotStudio®, takes this adaptability to the next level.

RobotStudio’s best-in-class virtual controller technology uses an on-screen simulation (or digital twin) to mimic precisely how a robot will move on the line in real life. This model enables companies to build, test, and refine robotic installations in a virtual environment before applying any changes to the real production line. This accelerates commissioning, minimizes disruption, and can boost productivity by orders of magnitude.

But the benefits of ABB robots do not end there.

Electronic parts are tiny and any inaccuracy during assembly can impact badly on production throughput and failure rates. ABB robots are accurate and offer highly repeatable positioning and stability. Collectively, they act together to boost product yield, efficiency, and throughput. ABB’s TrueMove and QuickMove motion control technologies make this possible. Specifically, they enable high accuracy, speed, cycle-time, programmability, and synchronization with external devices.

Further, the pioneering High Speed Alignment software enhances speed and accuracy. It provides visual serving technology for six-axis robots. Developed for electronics manufacturing, this unmatched technology reduces cycle times by 70 percent while increasing accuracy by 50 percent. Thus, it enables high precision for applications including assembly, alignment of components, picking or placing a workpiece in a tool, and placing a part in a fixture.

Broad Robot Portfolio

ABB’s portfolio of robots includes models suitable for use in cleanrooms, where several features work together to minimize contamination risk. These include the use of tough exterior paint that does not degrade when exposed to cleaning agents and a design that minimizes crevices that could harbor bacteria. A particle filter and a fully sealed design prevent grease, oil, and particles from contaminating the products.

ABB also offers robots complete with ESD (electrostatic discharge) protection.

ABB’s range of space-saving small robots is especially useful for manufacturing smaller electronic devices. They include the IRB 1010, which handles payloads of up to 1.5kg and offers class-leading repeatability of 0.01mm. It’s also 30 percent smaller than previous models. Similarly, the IRB 1100 is optimized with a 10 percent smaller footprint. Also, it features more than 20 percent weight reduction for easier deployment in a tight space.

Global Service Support

As a leading global supplier, ABB Robotics offers global service support. Also, it has a solid product portfolio of robots, application cells, and function packages. These are designed to make specification and implementation easier. It is also possible to create specific service packages to ensure the highest levels of performance, uptime, and lifetime. It could be for a single robot, an application cell, or a complete system. A global support network of over 1,300 service specialists in more than 53 countries and over 100 locations ensures that any issues or questions are quickly resolved, with the reassurance of round-the-clock access to expert help and assistance.

* Global Consumer Electronics Market By Product Type (Home Appliances, Smart Devices, Handheld Devices, and Others), Application (Personal and Professional), Sales channel (Online and Offline), and By Region, Forecast Period 2023 – 2030, REPORTSINSIGHTS CONSULTING PVT LTD