3D Inspection Solutions

ADCO Circuits: From Inspection Skeptic to Innovation Enthusiast

ADCO Circuits has grown steadily for over 40 years, and while situated in the heart of the Motor City Detroit, Michigan, ADCO is in no way dependent on the automotive industry. In fact, they have enjoyed increasing success in sectors like diagnostic tools and aerospace and they continue to diversify their portfolio of both customers and industries. They carry numerous certifications including AS9100d, ISO, and ITAR, as well as the certifications essential for the automotive and aerospace industries.

Some of their success can be put down to investing in the latest and greatest technology. As Marc Damman describes, “We have ERP, everything is bar-coded, and if you go on the plant, you don’t see a lot of paper because everything is electronic, including all the inventory in our vertical storage systems.” Marc adds, “On top of first-rate equipment, we have a really good manufacturing, engineering and test engineering team.”

Starting Out as Skeptics

At that time we first considered SPI (Solder Paste Inspection), we didn’t see there was any value to it. But after we had replaced a lot of our older equipment with newer machines, we decided to take the plunge.

Premium 3D Inspection Solutions Sponsor | Koh Young

ADCO Circuits’ Head of Operations is Kevin Barrett

That ‘plunge’ came when Koh Young offered to bring demo equipment in and let the ADCO Circuits team play with it. Koh Young also brought in their Customer Program Manager, Ray Welch, to help ADCO install, use, and understand the equipment.

Once that happened and we got past that initial stage, then it was a question of ‘how did we run so long without it?

Kevin Barrett

Adding Value with Optics

ADCO President Marc Damman shares how this was just one part of a transition to more optics, more inspection, and more measurement.

All this optics has helped us immensely, not only the Koh Young systems but also x-ray reel counting as well as a new system on incoming inspection to optically read the labels.

ADCO President Marc Damman

anything we can do, like the new Koh Young through-hole inspection system, will help. If we can automate it and make it more scientific, rather than relying on the human eye, it is a better system all around. We started with the SPI, then AOI (Automatic Optical Inspection), and now leveraging that to do the through-hole AOI, so it’s expanded capabilities and created efficiencies.

ADCO President Marc Damman

What makes the whole puzzle complete for Marc is the exceptional support he and the engineering team receives from Koh Young. Marc added, “Koh Young has that name recognition as being the best, and our customers appreciate that when they place orders. Customers see the Koh Young name and they turn around and say, okay, we’re good, I don’t need to see anymore. We’ve had that more than once.”

Adding Value with Data

What ADCO Kevin Barrett and his team noticed originally was that the inspection equipment gave them the security of running day-to-day boards. “We knew nothing was getting past it that didn’t have the paste position or volume that we looked for” alluded Kevin. 

From that point ADCO started to think more about what inspection could do on the front end of manufacturing. In other words, before they even built the board, including the design phase. Kevin added that, “It really allowed us to better understand how the printer worked, how the stencils worked in correlation with that, and then, with an engineering review up front, it allows us a better opportunity to understand what objectives we wanted to achieve, what certain parts need, what the requirements of the board are, and the requirements of the components on the board. Maybe you need a certain amount of paste in one area and a little less in a different area.” 

Kevin went on to say, “Now we’re actually getting measurements, we’re actually getting the data we need, very critical data, even on hidden joints like BGA or GFNs. It’s not just knowing if paste is there, but how much is there, what is there, and what it’s doing for us.”

Data that Drives Real Process Improvement

Inspection outcomes could be as easy as go-no-go, but that really doesn’t tell you what the issue is with the product or the process. What Kevin Barrett really appreciates is that the systems communicate between SPI and AOI. He explains that “If I know what’s going on the SPI, I can better predict what’s going to happen at the AOI. For me it’s a much better control of the front end of the process.” 

Some of our new products require intense engineering throughout the entire process, and the Koh Young solution really helps us. Some of the things that we use the Koh Young to do is verify the stencil, on the Speedprint printer and verify heights.” TJ is also able to make use of the data collected on the Koh Young machines, adding that, “it’s exceptionally good data. We have been able to see most of our problems in the screen printer, whether that be board support or something else. If we have seen line defects, we can trace them back to a specific problem with the screen printer and in some cases, we’ve actually found problems with the boards. Sometimes board-stretch is an issue, and the Koh Young can detect that for us.

TJ Peacock is a Manufacturing Engineer at ADCO Circuits

Kevin adds, “We get a bad reading. Not only do we understand exactly where it’s bad, we can then correlate it back to why it might be bad. It allows us to stop the line and gives us time to react, correct and proceed with only good boards.”

Great User Experience and Support

As Kevin underlines, “They’re easy to set up, easy to program, and the operators who use them learn very quickly and they enjoy it.” Senior Programmer John Westfall explains, “Koh Young machines integrate with the EPM software and then they install their own C editor on top of that. That translates the output from EPM to make it a machine program. It’s simple, quick, and reliable.”

Kevin appreciates that when ADCO closes at 3.30pm, if they send something out, like a query or challenge, when they come in the next day, there’s an answer, a new algorithm, or there’s a new thing to try. As Kevin says, “that means we can pick right up where we left off the next day and keep producing.”

A Lasting Partnership

ADCO Circuits and Koh Young have had much more than a customer-supplier relationship over the years. They have forged an intense partnership that is driving value in both directions. Most recently ADCO Circuits and Koh Young collaborated on developing an AOI solution for THT (Through Hole Technology). This has been a software and hardware project and both teams have pulled together to create a solution that has value to ADCO Circuits, and to Koh Young and the wider industry.

And it does not end there, as Kevin puts it, “We’ve looked at the conformal coating measurement equipment. We put down different levels of epoxy and we need to know how we measure that? And again, we need to be measuring the paste, which we never thought we would have to do. Now that we’re using the Koh Young equipment, we’ve found benefits beyond just the measurement and knowing if something is there or not there? Now we want to try to move those benefits to other areas and processes as well.”

Kevin finishes by remarking that, “Koh Young has really created a good partnership with us. They’ve been there when we needed them.”

Finally, ADCO Circuits’ President concludes, “our partnership is a good thing, and I don’t know how we would do what we do without it, because it’s just so challenging, and it still is. We still have challenges with all the dimensions, but I don’t know where we would be without it. The fact that we’re now not having the defects speaks volumes!”

ADCO Circuits has multiple Koh Young KY8030-3 SPI and Zenith Series AOI solutions connected with KSMART software. You can learn more about these products and the rest of the Koh Young portfolio at kohyoungamerica.com. For more information about ADCO Circuits’ electronics manufacturing capabilities, visit adcocircuits.com. You can watch the video case study at youtube.com/watch?v=VVXk1TQxemU.

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