Although every new circuit board design your company creates is unique, reproducibility is one of the most important attributes your PCBA manufacturing process can possess. Unfortunately, achieving this goal is most challenging when opportunities for human error exist. It is important to know the pros and cons of automation in manufacturing and how well your CM implements automation in order to minimize the chance for human error for your board build.


Pros and Cons of Automation in Manufacturing of PCBAs

Speed: An assembly line approach to board transportation enables a much faster turnaround than the manual alternative.
Accuracy: Pick and place machines, which are used for both SMD and through-hole technology, are significantly more accurate.
Material waste: Produces less waste
Cost: Automation saves you money in several areas and is faster, which lowers your development costs.
Cleanliness: Reduces opportunity for contamination, which is critical for some industries.
Quality: The use of robotics and software-driven equipment is highly reliable once a final design is attained.
Reliability: High reproducibility means better yield rates and more reliable performance.

Pros and Cons of Manual PCBAs

Speed: Manually placing components is significantly slower than automatic placing via pick and place machines. Transporting boards from stage to stage manually slows the PCBA process time as well.
Accuracy: Manual is woefully inadequate for today’s smaller, denser SMT boards.
Material waste: More errors produce more waste.
Cost: Manual assembly may be less costly for small, single-digit quantities; however, for medium to large board volumes, unit costs are lower with automated PCBA.
Cleanliness: Handling, soldering iron debris, and other manual activities create significant opportunities for contaminants on your boards.
Quality: The dependence of quality on experience and expertise makes manual processing tenuous and subject to unexpected fall-offs.
Reliability: Manual assembly will result in lower yield rates.