High Volume PCB Rework
There are cases where the nameplate holder and or the contract manufacturer is limited by their capacity when it comes to the rework of a high volume of PCBs. In a majority of the cases this is caused by a poor design by the OEM and a part or parts need to be swapped out, an undetected manufacturing flaw or an installed component does perform as per the specifications of the part. For hundreds or even a few thousand of fully assembled PCBs there is generally enough capacity in terms of either personnel or equipment to get the rework project completed in the time frame required but when it gets in to the thousands or tens of thousands of units, capacity can be constrained.
One of the reasons for this capacity constraint is having the immediate availability of lots of hand soldering technicians. Typically there only a few soldering techs available as boards in higher volume are pushed to have as many components placed as possible by the automated assembly equipment. This means there only a few soldering technicians with the advanced skill set which are required in order to perform high quantities of the rework project. Hence these resources must be found within either the temporary labor pool (their number is steadily shrinking as the number of available positions in a high volume manufacturing environment has shrunk.
The other capacity constraint is the manual nature of a majority of the rework equipment on the market today. For example most BGA rework systems are of the “semi automated” approach where loading and unloading of the part and board is done via human intervention. In addition the printing of the solder paste as well as the site excavation and preparation is also done via a manual process. This slows down the process and again requires armies of highly skilled rework technicians in order to get through large volume projects.
One of the ways companies are solving this challenge is by outsourcing these very large projects. In this manner the responsible company can manage the logistics of the project (getting product from customers, the supply chain and the manufacturing location) and letting the outsourced rework service provider take care of the rework and repair of the printed circuit boards. One of the examples of such a high volume rework project and how a much higher throughput was achieved can be demonstrated by the following video.