The key job preparation activity for assembling prototypes & small series is the Component Kitting & Feeder preparation. Reducing Pick & Place machine set up times is key for manufacturing many small jobs.

Efficient Component Kitting is the key to achieving this.

Watch the Video – Component Kitting & Feeder Preparation


Script – Component Kitting & Feeder Preparation

We received your order for one or more assembled boards, prepared the manufacturing data, produced the PCB’s, burned the stencils, sourced the components, and everything is ready now to start the assembly job.

This first action on the assembly shop floor is component kitting and feeder preparation.

First we separate the Through Hole and the SMD components. We can place only SMD components with automatic pick and place machines. Through hole components we place manually.

Parts arrive in different kinds of packing.

Most SMD components arrive on tape and reel, but are sometimes also delivered in tube or tray format.

The carrier tape is made of paper or plastic, and has cavities that contain the components. There is a transparent cover tape on top. Along the site there are feeding holes at fixed distances.

For a correct feeder preparation we need to know the specifications of the tape packaging. This information is mostly available in the datasheets for the part. Important specifications are:

  • Pitch between the cavity centres
  • Width of the carrier tape
  • Distance between the feeding holes

Components can also be delivered inside tubes or sticks with both ends plugged to avoid components falling out. Parts cannot rotate in the tube, but only move forward and backward.

Larger components such as bigger IC’s usually arrive on matrix trays that protect the parts from electrical and mechanical damage during shipment and handling.

(info about feeders from mycronic)

For each type of packing we have to select the corresponding feeder.

There are different feeders for different packaging. They can handle any component on tape from 8 mm to 152 mm wide.

Components in tube are placed in stick-feeders.

For components on matrix trays we use Tray Magazine.

The preparation of feeders is an offline process, it does not consume machine time on the Pick’n Place machines.

To prepare a feeder with parts on a reel, we strip off the cover 2-3 cm from the tape and thread into the rails of the feeder. The knife will separate the cover and move it away from the pick up position. Tape bins are used in the magazines to hold the tape reels.

In case of components in a tube we use a so-called “stopper” which is a little plastic positioner, where you put one end of the tube and the machine will shake the magazine to force the component forwards to the pick up position.

We can simply insert a tray in the Tray Magazine on the machine if the components arrive in this format.

Registration of parts in the system database. Our ERP system prepares carrier labels containing a barcode with manufacturing part numbers quantities and delivery lot information about a component.

This same information is also stored in the pick’n place system database. When a job arrives at the kitting area, the operator links the component to the tape feeder, tube feeder or tray with barcodes.

This way the system knows which feeder contains which component and where it is on the shop floor or on the machine.

Component tape reels, attached to feeders go into the tape bin and then the bin is placed into a magazine. Feeders can be placed in any empty feeder position.

Finally, the magazines are placed in a free slot on the Pick’n Place machine.

For full traceability, components are assigned to feeders, feeders are assigned to magazines. Feeders can be inserted into any position in the magazines.

Each feeder has a barcode with a unique ID number, which is stored also in an electronic part inside the feeder. The system uses this ID to identify the feeder and the magazine position during the placing process.

The parts are ready to mount on the machine, time to print the solder paste on the PCB.