The CCX began as an absolute world first. It has been patented in parts and simplifies the work of electronics production overnight. Today, three years later, the x-ray scanner is becoming standard equipment in SMD production and thereby creates a prerequisite in the direction of Industry 4.0.

 Four years ago, a small company at the base of Franconian Switzerland has provided excitement.

“We were most excited ourselves as we became aware that we were onto a path of development that was absolutely new”, smiled Wolfgang Peter, Managing Director of optical control and primary manager of the development team. “We even wondered why the idea had occurred to no one before us.”

Most of my ideas belonged to other people who never bothered to develop them.
Thomas Edison


From the electronics industry for the electronics manufacturing sector

Everything started with the sister company, elektron systeme. The electronics service provider manufactured high-quality electronic components and system ordered by industrial customers. In a full-service plant, determination of the inventory of SMD components on reels were part of the everyday routine of SMD businesses. Large quantities of electronic components were needed here, which required their own logistics and inventory data acquisition. Rejects were always part of the setup and dismantling of SMD lines. An exact, current inventory control in the product process cost far too much time with the existing technical solutions. For that reason, one decided to develop a new technology for stocktaking at elektron systeme – a brave decision for the small-to-medium-sized company.


Bravery and cautiousness: support from research at the right time

The technical challenge in this was the enormous multitude of electronic SMD components, from tiny chip resistors with an edge length of 200 µm to large plugs with a size of several cm, which had to be covered with one single technology and thereby should count them very precisely and very quickly. These challenges were mastered in collaboration with strong development partners, including Fraunhofer EZRT, and sponsored by BMWi’s ZIM program. A special x-ray camera was developed that permitted recording a large scan range of up to 50 x 50 cm2 with a high resolution. The created, highly resolved x-ray images with up to 100 mega pixels are assessed by intelligent, flexible and highly efficient software algorithms within a few seconds. The OC-SCAN®CCX was born.


Before – After

Before the OC-SCAN®CCX existed, electronics manufacturers always had to decide whether they should accept stops on the SMD lines and the associated additional costs due to imprecise material inventory counts or to build up high reserves of materials that would later have to be disposed of, if necessary. This had little to do with sustainable production as well as one solution or another.

Manually counting the SMD components during setup and tear down of the lines and end-of-period stocktaking caused immense personnel costs and required employees that could have been more productively employed – very unpopular! Today, one employee loads the reel (even when sealed) into the CCX’s opening for counting in seconds, which is contactless, saves materials and is environmentally friendly.


Save time and costs with the CCX

The first unbeatable argument for the x-ray scanner from optical control is time savings. Manually loading, rolling one SMD reel out and in keeps one employee busy for roughly five minutes (300 seconds). The current generation of x-ray scanner does this in less than 10 seconds. This means a time savings over 99% with unrivaled counting precision > 99.9%.

The second unbeatable argument follows from this: cost savings. One electronics manufacturer counting 200 reels per day needs only one half hour with the CCX instead of 17 hours. The saved costs amount to more than 50,000 euro per year so that the x-ray scanner will already be amortized after less than two years.

End-of-period stocktaking is now superfluous. The CCX is certified by an auditor’s expert opinion. It delivers a permanent inventory count recognized for tax purposes.


Efficient production planning thanks to real daily stock counts

Finally, a more efficient production planning can follow and erroneous inventory management belongs to the past. The CCX delivers real stock counts current for the day, which hike directly into the economics and warehouse systems and trigger ordering as needed. This is how Industry 4.0 works.

Certainty about inventory counts has an existential meaning for ETL Elektrontechnik Lauter, who manufactures complex embedded components for the industrial and medical sectors in with a high level of variety.

“Due to frequent setup cycles, we scan roughly 500 reels daily, which are stored by the four manufacturing lines in our automated warehouse. The OC-SCAN®CCX helps us with the exact determination of the stock count for the reel after use on the manufacturing line, which eases the work and logistics immensely”, declares ETL Production Manager, Alexander Wagner.


Development knows no stops

The OC-SCAN®CCX is only three years old, but optical control together with elektron systeme is bringing the third generation to market.


elektron systeme is an electronics service provider, who knows the requirements and the current demands that such a machine must withstand day for day. The service provider stands in close contact with optical control. Reports and requests for improvements have short paths and are processed almost immediately so that the software is in a continuous process of integrating the currently existing customer requirements.

Software and features are adjusted to the real needs of the electronics manufacturing sector. And, the big advantage is precisely here, when development and production have the same home in this area. Thus, the electronics manufacturing sector optimizes their services through their own force of innovation.

Continuous exchange with and for the customers makes optical control the competent partner for finding solutions. That is the declared company philosophy.


What is different?

The new generation, the CCX.3, is significantly smaller, fits through every door and has a positioning area of about 0,64 m². It can be operated while standing or sitting, but above all increased its speed and precision significantly.

Ulrich Anke, Production Controller, is happy about the “fundamental software improvement”, which led to “components in the 0201 size being counted in seconds with absolute counting precision. We were able to minimize our throughput times with returning to the warehouse in significant measure since the installation of the CCX and use our personnel at other places increasing production.”

Hella, a leading manufacturer of innovative lighting systems and vehicle electronics, sees the advantages in particular in the production of prototypes, into which a variety of different components are built. The simple operation of the machine and increased ability to plan projects eases the work significantly and naturally increases the economics of a company. “When checking the goods received, erroneously filed reels can be detected immediately and maintained in the system, whereby the check options and the ability to plan increased visibly before beginning production”, declared André Hasselmann from HELLA Elektronik Prototyping.


Transparency for the customers: re-calculation through correct stocktaking

By counting the warehoused rolls after the completion of a mounting order, consumed materials can be assigned to a customer’s manufacturing order. Re-calculation can be done immediately thereby and the arising costs for additional consumption are assigned directly to the order.

Naturally, the new CCX also guarantees comprehensive traceability per reel. If the reel has been scanned, its data can be traced at any time across months and years, for which customers from the automobile industry are thankful.


CCX on the march: automated learning mode

WITHOUT an online connection – Sensitive data always remains with the customer

All CCX generations deliver a pre-installed component library, which supports all standard designs so that counting can begin immediately with the insertion of the reel. If a component should not be created in the library, there was a simple to operate learning mode until now, in which the component would be measured manually in order to apply the appropriate algorithm.

With the CCX.3, this now occurs completely automatically – without any prior knowledge about this component.

Dr. Jan Richarz, Development Manager at optical control and primary manager for the high-precision counting algorithms and the intuitive operation of the x-ray scanner, declares how extremely user-friendly and suitable for the electronics manufacturing sector this new tool is to use. “The new CCX.3

software measures the component completely automatically based on any image and even parameterizes the counting software automatically. All of this in seconds. Thereby, an individual library can be quickly and easily extended with the customer-specific component. One problem that customers have repeatedly discussed with us is the reliability of the data. For our automated learning mode, we do not need any image database or online connection. All of the sensitive information remains with the customer.”

An additional feature, almost a side product of the automated measurement, is the identification of incorrectly labeled reels in the warehouse system. When CCX automatically measures a component and the value does not agree with those that have been assigned to the component in the ERP system, this is detected immediately and incorrect components will not be mounted.


Customers from the automobile and medical technology industries benefit from the new electronic manufacturing sector service

The individual component library is especially interesting for EMS service providers who have customers from the automobile and medical technology industries. Such as for Uwe Schulze, Managing Director of EPSa; he sees a significant advantage here. “We can even offer an extra service to customers who provide us with reels by delivering a precise assessment to them. This makes our customers happy and increases our service.”

At EPSa, 13,000 different SMD components, among others, are processed for medical technology. There, CCX helps to maintain the overview.

The proven service of optical control naturally also includes providing the pleasure of this new development to all existing customers. From the beginning, the software was designed so that all x-ray scanners in the field could be equipped with the latest software version and therefore also with the completely automated learning mode. Generally, all machine generations at optical control are running with the newest software version.


Radical customer orientation

The OC-SCAN®CCX contactless component counter can no longer be thought away since the market introduction from the modern electronics manufacturing sector companies. “In this, we had had an extremely good feeling. What began as internal innovation management has developed into a modern product with global possibilities for use. Large electronics manufacturing sector service providers have globally accepted this issue and are currently in the test phase. And, of course, there are competitors in the meantime”, stated Managing Director Peters with a sharp view on the market.

The component counter creates the prerequisites for Industry 4.0. It delivers the necessary information that is indispensable for fulfilling orders, creating offers and polished, efficient warehouse logistics.


Think with the head of the customers

optical control consequently set itself the tasks of thinking with the head of their customers in order to continue developing and achieving the ideal result for them. Even Apple guru Steve Jobs knew that customer motivation depends on the principle of the unexpected and needs an enormous portion of empathy from the manufacturer’s view.