Reel aMounts provides rapid counting, labelling, inventory control and traceability for tape and reel mounted electronic components. The system enables manufacturers like Qualcomm to count and re-label an entire reel of electronic components, of any package size, in seconds. It also eliminates the component losses and tape damage which can be caused by mechanical/optical counting solutions.
"Using Seratel's Reel aMounts, we are able to count and label an entire reel of parts in about 15 seconds as opposed to the 6 minutes it would take using an optical counter," says Roger Chance, senior manager for Qualcomm's manufacturing services. "The systems allow us to perform thousands of in/out transactions per day of tape and reel electronic components, enabling higher factory throughput for Qualcomm."
Production in San Diego includes prototype products to test and demonstrate the company's world-leading mobile technologies. As a result, line changeovers are frequent, individual reels are used many times and handling attrition can be significant. Leading edge production also means that new component types, sometimes in short supply, are common.
All this makes highly accurate and timely inventory control essential. Reel aMounts allows Qualcomm both to keep an accurate inventory of components and to label each reel with its new quantity after each use, yet without excessive use of employee time or delays in making material available for further builds.
The entire system is driven by bar code scans, thus eliminating errors in data recording and data entry. Human errors can typically affect 2% of all count results where an operator has to record and transcribe part codes and quantities for manual transfer from a reel counter to an ERP system. Additional errors and time delays are added to this, as the operator of a manual system has to determine and set the component pitch before counting begins.
Accurate inventory information in Qualcomm's IT systems is backed up by labelling on each reel, showing the current quantity, where and when it was last used, the quantity used, who processed the reel and more.
The initial installation in San Diego was for two counting stations. Those first systems have been continually updated, including the addition of Reel aMounts Reporting Centre, providing web based reporting and traceability for component usage. With assistance from Seratel, Qualcomm has also leveraged Reel aMounts' ability to track individual reels by unique IDs. These IDs are now also used to track exposure time for moisture sensitive material and to integrate with a new automated storage system.
Reel aMounts works by linking a computer, electronic weighing scales, bar code scanner, bar code printer and a database of component types. All this is backed by patented algorithms that allow accurate counting of material that cannot be dealt with by traditional weigh counting methods.
All count information collected is stored in a database. Reel aMounts Reporting Centre – an extensive, web-based reporting system – then provides both management statistics and detailed analysis of the data, including traceability by build, operator, production line, part code and down to the individual reel level. Any data produced can also be forwarded to an ERP system, printed as reports or exported to Excel for further analysis.