Editor's Choice

Microtronix revives mothballed Anyview factory

28 July 2021 Editor's Choice Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services

A few years back I commented on how the DTI aided and assisted a large corporate company, Samsung, to enter the South African marketplace.

Samsung now operates a huge, automated plant in the Special Economic Zone in Kwazulu-Natal making TVs for the local market. This shift from local factories to a Korean manufacturing company led to the demise of a few hundred jobs and the closure of two established factories; one being PEM (Professional Electronic Manufacturing) and the second, Anyview Technology.

The Anyview Technology factory has stood dormant for a few years, but with all the equipment and the building maintained to the highest level. In June 2021, Microtronix acquired the Anyview factory with the intention of keeping the facility open for specific large-volume projects, such as future TV production and set-top boxes (STBs). This state-of-the-art production line is a dual-lane Panasonic line with 16 heads capable of running at well over 1 million placements a day.

Some of the advantages of a dual-lane line are having the ability to run top and bottom sides of the PCBs simultaneously, or to run two different PCBs within the same family which use common parts, as both heads on each module can reach either lane. The line is equipped with a laser PCB marker to uniquely serialise each PCB, allowing for 100% traceability of all products going down the line. Each lane has its own printer within a fully air-conditioned environment to keep the pastes within controlled conditions for perfect printing.

The line also boasts full inline SPI (solder paste inspection) with a reject conveyer, as well as full inline AOI (automatic optical inspection) at the end of the line. Full inline loading and unloading conveyers keep the flow of the line up to speed with almost zero human intervention. This particular line is a direct copy of the lines that were producing Samsung products in Malaysia and was one of the first concept lines moving towards ‘dark factories’, i.e., lines that could run continually without human intervention.

Historically, we at Microtronix have run Yamaha machines in our lower-volume, higher-mix factories and migrated to Universal Instruments in the early 2010s to fulfil the government rollout of set-top boxes. The Universals served us well and the total number of STBs produced for government and MultiChoice ended up at just under 4 million boxes – a relatively bright feather in our caps over the last three years. The new line is now Panasonic, and our engineers will have some good challenges and a break from the daily routine while they take the time to learn yet another operating system.

The aim with this new facility is to offer clients, and would-be clients, an expeditious turnaround time at competitive rates for medium- to high-volume runs, especially where clients want to, or are being forced to supply full or partial kits. Efficiencies are enhanced by feeder trollies, allowing for continual job setup while a current job is running. As soon as the new PCBs are sent down the line, the machine recognises the new part numbers and the program is automatically changed to accommodate the new type of board. Therefore, changeover times are alleged to be very low, allowing hasty turnovers on customers’ production times in the next few months.

Component storage is also automated in component storage cabinets that integrate into the line. These humidity-controlled storage cabinets help with inventory control and to avoid line stoppages – an in-time principle that allows an operator to remove a reel from the storage cabinet only a few minutes before the reel is needed on the line. Any wastage on the line is recorded and controlled, and then fed back to the inventory system, giving the operators a heads-up on any possible component shortages at the end of the run.

The Anyview factory is situated centrally just off the highway in Longmeadow East Park in Edenvale. Anyone considering moving their manufacturing offshore should consider having a peek at this factory before making that type of decision.

For more information contact Mike Goodyer or Shaun Rampersad, Microtronix Manufacturing,

+27 11 792 5322, info@microtronix.co.za, www.microtronix.co.za


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