Automated Pick and Place (P&P) Surface Mount Technology (SMT) has come a long way. Once a purely manual-meets-mechanical capability, this technology has advanced in lockstep with the demands of digital evolution, drawing its unparalleled power from breakthroughs in AI, computer vision, motion mapping, and IoT.

For high-volume electronics manufacturing, P&P SMT delivers a dramatically more cost-effective approach to production. It begins with stencils composed of a specialized soldering paste for adhering electrical parts and components (SMDs) directly onto the face of a printed circuit board (PCB). From here, robotic assembly devices (P&P machines) guided by leading-edge digital technologies pick these parts and components up and precisely place them on the board. Last, the boards are fed through a reflow oven to melt the solder and permanently adhere the parts and components to them.

At Pivot International, we are a global product design, development, and manufacturing firm whose extensive investment in digital evolution delivers next-generation P&P SMT solutions for our clients. With DFM expertise across fourteen industries, 320,000 square feet of manufacturing space across three continents, we are a premium partner to clients worldwide.

P&P SMT delivers applications across multiple product categories and is the undisputed electronics manufacturing solution for the medical, industrial, commercial, and consumer markets we serve. How does P&P SMT outcompete traditional manufacturing methods? To answer this question, we need to look at how this technology delivers fast, flexible, and flawless production to drive cost savings, accelerate time-to-market (TTM), and fuel ROI.

Next-Generation P&P SMT is Fast

“Fast” refers to P&P SMT’s ability to increase speed, efficiency, and productivity. If traditional (manual) SMT is the Wylie Coyote of Warner Bros. fame, today’s digitally-driven version is the Road Runner. The fastest P&P SMT machines can swap out modules and handle varying parts and components with lightning-like speed, processing as many as 136,000-200,000 components per hour (cph) — a feat no human worker could ever match.

Thanks to precision APIs and industrialized hardware design, automated P&P SMT can boost productivity by up to four to five times. This promotes exponentially greater efficiency, which cuts costs and expedites product launch.

Advanced P&P SMT also fuels efficiency and productivity by factoring in broader supply chain considerations, business operations, and growth objectives. It is uniquely suited to support strategic planning and resource allocation through analytics that inform process optimization and make organizations leaner and better prepared to manage risk.

Next-Generation P&P SMT is Flexible

This technology has such a wide array of applications across so many markets because it can be precisely programmed. This affords a level of flexibility unmatched by other manufacturing technologies, allowing P&P SMT to accommodate many different types of components and to perform highly variable operations.

This flexibility can be thought of as having both internal and external parameters. Internal parameters (covered above) relate to actual product specifications as programmed for a particular product. External parameters relate to the technology’s relationship to other manufacturing sites and the ability to scale production to market fluctuations or spikes in customer demand. A concrete example of this second sort of flexibility can be seen in Pivot’s investment in high-speed, twinned SMT lines. These lines are located in our Omaha, Nebraska, and Manila Phillippines facilities and enable our customers to flexibly shift and scale production between them to suit their domestic and global distribution needs.

Next-Generation P&P SMT is Flawless

This technology also provides for flawless execution with uncanny levels of accuracy, impossible to achieve with manual dexterity. The optical sensors that guide the robotic assembly devices enable picking and placement with margins of deviation less than 1/10,000th of an inch. (Measurements undetectable to the human eye by many orders of magnitude). For medical, industrial, and complex consumer products, flawless execution is not only a matter of creating superior products and reducing costly quality issues but also of ensuring regulatory compliance.

If you’re looking for a trusted electronics manufacturing partner with next-generation P&P SMT technology, Pivot brings 50 years of product development experience. With five out of our nine subsidiaries deploying this leading-edge technology (Avatar, DigitTron, Castle, EDM, and DCI), we are the go-to partner for your high-volume EMS needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your business!