Maintaining Oven Performance while Reducing the Cost of Reflow
Electronics Production World - January 2015 - Fred Dimock discusses strategies to reduce energy and gas usage by taking advantage of system idle time. A software tool called, Energy Pilot, automates the process while ensuring product yield.
Reducing Reflow Oven Costs by Taking On Idle Time
Process Engineers are often given the task of reducing manufacturing costs. Even if the task is not “official” most engineers are aware that keeping manufacturing costs down is an important part of their job. In many cases the focus is on lowering the cost of materials and eliminating defects, but today we hear a great deal about using less energy. This is not only good for the health of the company; it is good for the environment.
One of the largest energy users in the SMT process is the reflow oven because it takes a significant amount of the electricity to obtain the temperatures needed to melt the solder. The functional time of a reflow oven can be divided into four categories: Setup, Idle, Hold, and Processing. A recent review of these times reveled that the non-processing time (setup, Idle and hold) can approach 50% in continuous operations and can be even higher in small shops where product is sporadically placed in the oven.
When the oven is in line with other equipment, users will turn the oven off or lower the set points during changeovers or down time, but the problem is they have to remember to turn the oven on before starting production. A few reflow oven manufacturers have begun to address these issues by developing “automatic” energy savings systems.