Author Topic: Good AOI system to start with?  (Read 1399 times)

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Offline JonasUK

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Good AOI system to start with?
« on: February 23, 2021, 04:11:42 pm »
Hi All,
 first post here. We are a small (still) PCBA company based in San Diego. We have some experience in the PCB/Assembly process, but I am pretty sure we could be lacking of UPDATED knowledge:
What are the  most affordable AOI systems in the market for low/medium size runs? Any recommendation? When I say LOW, I mean, 100-500 medium size PCBAs to be inspected. MEDIUM: 500-4000 PCBAs to be inspected. Every batch should be inspected within 2-3 days (4 top)
Are they reliable? Are they good detecting short-circuits?
We have contacted several AOI companies but they all just tell you how good their systems are and how fast we will amortize the equipment.

Thanks!
Jonas
 

Offline SMTech

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2021, 05:03:53 pm »
There are too many out there to easily say for sure exactly which ones you should look at (must be 20+ manufacturers), it only takes a manufacturer to have released one since you were last in the market, or for an appropriate model to come out from someone who isn't linked to you via a distributor who has you on their list of sales leads and you are out of date. To be honest as I said in a different recent thread, if your are looking for something new, talk to the distribution get the pricing get demos, understand what the machine can do, what you need it to do and work from there. I for instance won't be choosing any system not supported by a UK agent with UK engineers and preferably on site training.

I'm on Blakell Europlacers list for instance so I have seen and had demoed the ALeader system they sell in the UK, the entry level model seems a decent price for what it can do, I haven't followed it up with any site visits or existing user opinion... yet.

I think you might be most comfortable in the desktop bracket, inline tends to be much more 100k+ and the number of options is still high. The trouble is without starting the conversation, unless you've picked info up elsewhere, you literally have no clue what tier or price these things are, they don't publish pricing and people don't share it.

I asked someone about their Mirtec unit when on their site last year, they seemed happy enough with the unit but they were of the opinion it was not worth it (full AOI in general) for batches under 500.

Shorts is a pretty trivial fault to look for, if that is your target, such low hanging fruit can be caught with low end products based on scanners or possibly the AgnosPCB service discussed elsewhere.

 
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Offline ANTALIFE

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2021, 10:57:47 pm »
 
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Online Mangozac

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2021, 03:56:05 am »
We're currently doing some evaluation with this (inbetween more urgent projects) https://bitbucket.org/guenterneust/examinator/wiki/Home

Early results are promising but it's still too early to give any useful advice. We're in the same kind of volume as OP but plan to use it in a semi-automatic process before and after the reflow oven (the board stops on an inspection conveyor, the software gives the operator a pass or fail and then the operator presses the "pass" button ton continue the board along the production line).
 
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Offline JonasUK

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2021, 08:54:36 am »
Thanks for all the comments. We will give Agnospcb a try, seems interesting and the price/service cost (if it works! Beats every other option)
Anyone has tried this Agnospcb neural network service before? Looks powerful, but I guess it is heavily dependable on the camera used, at least during the test stage where we are not willing to expend money on a new camera. Let's see how everything goes with a regular smartphone. At least, we can run the test not renting or buying any "infrastructure".
Again, thank you for all the comments  ;)
Jonas
 

Offline SMTech

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2021, 09:58:09 am »
Oh very dependent, with a smartphone I have issues with focus and interference from factory lighting, but with some suitable shielding and maybe a a selfie stick in a clamp & the right phone you should get the idea. Bandwidth is also a potential issue, those are potentially quite big images. The camera setup is cheap enough for a true trail IMHO, if it isn't you aren't ready for true AOI anyway, you'll spend that on travel going to evaluate units....

FAI machines share some capabilties (and shortcomings) with Agnos but don't need all that bandwidth. Some may come with extra handy features like fault tracking or little printers that can spew out a report you fix to dodgy PCBs for the rework technician etc. So far Agnos doesn't do that although I'm sure it will ....
 
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Offline JonasUK

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2021, 01:56:04 pm »
We're currently doing some evaluation with this (inbetween more urgent projects) https://bitbucket.org/guenterneust/examinator/wiki/Home

Early results are promising but it's still too early to give any useful advice. We're in the same kind of volume as OP but plan to use it in a semi-automatic process before and after the reflow oven (the board stops on an inspection conveyor, the software gives the operator a pass or fail and then the operator presses the "pass" button ton continue the board along the production line).
Sounds interesting!
 I just got the Agnospcb account credentials for the trial. I will post here what we got from this.
After reading your input, I asked Agnospcb for the possibility of using their solution in the same way you are using the Examinator: before and after the re-flow oven and I have been told that their neural network is perfectly capable of that, but it has not been "officially announced". Let´s see!
Thanks Mangozac

 

Offline JonasUK

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2021, 02:00:17 pm »
Oh very dependent, with a smartphone I have issues with focus and interference from factory lighting, but with some suitable shielding and maybe a a selfie stick in a clamp & the right phone you should get the idea. Bandwidth is also a potential issue, those are potentially quite big images. The camera setup is cheap enough for a true trail IMHO, if it isn't you aren't ready for true AOI anyway, you'll spend that on travel going to evaluate units....

FAI machines share some capabilties (and shortcomings) with Agnos but don't need all that bandwidth. Some may come with extra handy features like fault tracking or little printers that can spew out a report you fix to dodgy PCBs for the rework technician etc. So far Agnos doesn't do that although I'm sure it will ....
You are 100% right.
We will test tomorrow the Agnospcb solution. We just got the credentials. They told me that the internet connection speed is crucial for a fast fault detection, as the images to be processed are large, but I guess nowadays that should not represent a problem at all.
Thank you
 

Offline JonasUK

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2021, 10:14:14 am »
Well...We have been using the Agnospcb service a lot for the last 10 days (more than 550 boards inspected). And finally... we have adopted it.
We were skeptical about it, but it works very well (although not at first). It is fast and more important, reliable.

We had problems taking good pictures of the PCBAs during the trial phase (we are not photographers), but between the help of the Agnospcb staff and the fact that we finally switched to using a good camera (canon m200), the change has been spectacular. They offer an "official" inspection platform, but with our "DIY installation" in the factory - the mentioned camera and good and uniform light- we are just fine. We'll see if it's enough, but for now, it's working very well.

I have to point this out: they should not indicate that using a smartphone's camera during the trial stage can be an option. The difference a good camera makes is huge when talking about detecting faults. It is impressive how their system can work with low quality images, but a regular camera may lead to not appreciate the real capabilities of this AOI. The same applies to the EXAMINATOR software (commented below)

Nevertheless, we are going to check alternatives at this point, but I think we have found what we were looking for.

About the software "examinator": this is another kind of tool. We put it to work (it was not easy) taking pictures with our "top-notch" photography rig and... it is basically a pixel comparator.  It's not bad, but it takes an eternity to find out exactly what this software indicates as an error:  Many "false positives", and with our computer (i7) it takes too long to process the image of a panel.

We have seen an online demo of the ALeader ALD7120 system, and it looks powerful and may suit us. Waiting for quotation. I know what an "ONLINE DEMO" means, they will show you the best possible results but, well it looks good.

In short: for now Agnospcb (and its potential) is the winner for the small and fast runs we have in production. We have even tested it during the pre-oven stage, where the components are placed on top of the solder paste, and it worked! The missing / misplaced elements are a pain in the ass at this stage but all the defects were highlighted.

Agnospcb support told us that that was not the intended use (but that they are working on it and a new upgrade for the service will be released soon with this capability). From my point of view... it is already working.

If we find any other interesting service, I will point that out in this forum.

I have attached Agnospcb service detected faults examples. Screen captures from their inspection tool software. Top square image: reference board, middle: location of the fault. Bottom: the inspected board.
 The thing is:  minor geometrical differences are not taking into account, but the important defects are. Check the drill holes and the silk layer. They are never the same among PCBs, and of course, they are not pinpointed as faults.  :o
 
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Online Mangozac

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2021, 10:11:32 pm »
JonasUK, thanks for such a thorough write-up!

I think referring to Examinator as a "pixel comparator" is a little too simplistic (my understanding is that it does use fairly advanced vision techniques) but it's certainly not going to work as well or fast as neural net based system. What to you is an acceptable processing time? If our pick and place is doing 2 mins per panel it means taking 30 seconds to process the image shouldn't be a problem (unless of course the system is giving a lot of erroneous results).

All the AgnosPCB results I've seen shared here on the forum have certainly been impressive. What are your thoughts on their pricing? To me it seemed just a little too high to be a "no brainer" solution when relying on a third party and internet connection. Of course, this probably related back to the complexity of the panel being checked (and thus the value proposition).
 
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Offline JonasUK

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2021, 02:34:25 pm »
Hi
 No, thank you all for the info.
 Regarding the "examinator" software, don't get me wrong. It is more than a simple pixel comparator, but, as far as I know, the software compares the relative position of the SMT components, and we have been constantly getting inspection results highlighting some elements as faulty when, in reality, they are fine. Are they a bit rotated/ shifted? yes, maybe 1-2 degrees. But the solder paste is fine, and it will work as intended. Component "re-location" is a... common phenomenon in the reflow-oven process. That is the main difference  we have found between the Agnospcb and this Examinator software. The neural network seems to be smart enough to know what a real fault is.

Processing times:

The agnospcb is needing, something between 5 and 7 seconds to process a whole panel. Faster than a regular AOI system. The Examinator...36-42 seconds? I do not have the exact times but If we are checking the integrity of 200 panels during a working day, the difference is considerable.
I need to check again the Examinator times but it is,  slower. I am sure that that time is heavily dependable on the computer and GPU model but that is what we have here.

The agnospcb pricing:
it is worth the price. A technician (many times myself) to visually inspect a panel, needs around 3 to up to 5 minutes and be perfectly focused. When "getting used to the panel" more than 6 minutes per panel for sure. And that, working with low component density panels (Otherwise, it is a nightmare to try to not get lost even using tiny stickers as reference)
So, for a human, that makes 15 to 20 panels per hour==120 to 160 panels inspected by working day/technician.   That cost is way over the cost of using the Agnospcb, (20-ish pounds for 200 inspections according to our payment plan) and the complete integrity check carried out in less than an hour.
Well, theoretically, in the practice, a bit more, maybe 1.5 hours.
The projected annual cost would be...2500-5500 pounds for up to 60.000 inspections? More than reasonable.

The whole process is faster, in general, than programming the regular AOI system for low medium runs. Other thing is using it for very large batches...

Pros:
1)Fast and reliable. The service got upgraded a week ago. We noticed an improvement delimiting the faults contours and overall speed.
2)We are using the service to check the PCBA just after the pick and place process too. Working as a charm
3) The inspection software has a "batch processing" option, so we can leave the computer processing the photos taken to the PCBAs after work, and check the results early in the morning.

Cons:
1)
Sometimes the neural network does not fully highlight the fault itself but the "disturbance" around it: e.g: two resistors touching themselves: the fault can be indicated as a "touching point", not the resistor rotated. Not bad,even so, easy to spot. This is not a real complaint, but I had to mention it. Sometimes it works differently depending on the type of defect.
2) the quality of the photo will drastically determine the inspection results.

Maybe we will find some other Cons down the road. I will come back and comment about
« Last Edit: March 08, 2021, 02:42:33 pm by JonasUK »
 

Offline tszaboo

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2021, 02:38:45 pm »
This sounds like shilling to me. Probably the third account with 0 post in everything else talking about this company.
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Offline JonasUK

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2021, 02:45:54 pm »
Believe me: I have nothing to do with them. I have been lurking more than a year and decided to pop up asking for comments about AOI system. Check my messages. Never mentioned the neural network service myself
 

Offline tszaboo

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2021, 02:52:04 pm »
Believe me: I have nothing to do with them. I have been lurking more than a year and decided to pop up asking for comments about AOI system. Check my messages. Never mentioned the neural network service myself
You just happen to have the exact same typeface than the guy selling agnospcb, placing some words in bold , that nobody else does on this forum. Writing 1000 word essay on the subject. Aham.
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Offline JonasUK

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2021, 02:56:40 pm »
Believe me: I have nothing to do with them. I have been lurking more than a year and decided to pop up asking for comments about AOI system. Check my messages. Never mentioned the neural network service myself
You just happen to have the exact same typeface than the guy selling agnospcb, placing some words in bold , that nobody else does on this forum. Writing 1000 word essay on the subject. Aham.
Ok. I will not try to change your mind
 

Offline ThomasRR

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2021, 09:11:14 pm »
Oh very dependent, with a smartphone I have issues with focus and interference from factory lighting, but with some suitable shielding and maybe a a selfie stick in a clamp & the right phone you should get the idea. Bandwidth is also a potential issue, those are potentially quite big images. The camera setup is cheap enough for a true trail IMHO, if it isn't you aren't ready for true AOI anyway, you'll spend that on travel going to evaluate units....

FAI machines share some capabilties (and shortcomings) with Agnos but don't need all that bandwidth. Some may come with extra handy features like fault tracking or little printers that can spew out a report you fix to dodgy PCBs for the rework technician etc. So far Agnos doesn't do that although I'm sure it will ....

Your review has been on the spot. This forum should be consulted often to save you money and time.
Regarding the mentioned service:
 I have been using  Agnospcb for...4 months? And what I can say after this time:
1) They are continuously improving the service. To be honest, the inspection capabilities were good 4 months ago, now are impressive. Neural networks are scary.
2) For what I get, I (still) think, it is a bargain. Will they keep the current prices down the road?
3) The current software version provides some kind of basic inspection report and store an image of the panel/circuit inspected. Useful to consult afterwards.
4) It is FAST. 3-5 seconds per inspection.

I will come back soon with updated "impressions" after another months. So far, so good!
 
 

Offline jordi

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Re: Good AOI system to start with?
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2021, 08:47:43 pm »
I was also looking for an affordable AOI and found agnospcb as well. We tried the free version and seems to be impressively good, at least finding missing and lifted components. We used them to inspect boards that come from China, and because their quality is not very good, we used a sample that we know it works well and we compare them. Then we set aside the ones with missing or lifted components, to later complain with the supplier. =)
I was told by  Agnospcb that they are about to release a more robust setup with better repeatability for less than $1k, most of the price is due to the Sony Alpha Camera.
 


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