Circuit Board Fabricators Case Study Answers

Circuit Board Fabricators, Inc. Case Analysis Week 3

Case Summary
Circuit Board Fabricators, Inc. is a small manufacturer of circuit boards located in California. (Chase, Jacobs, and Aquilano, 2004) Large computer companies such as Apple and Hewlett-Packard hire Circuit Board Fabricators to "make boards for prototypes of new products." (Chase, et al., 2004) The case study suggests that Circuit Board Fabricators has a good business plan established within the organization. CBF has implemented a largely automated process using industry standard codes to produce the four circuit boards that have been developed to be able to give quick and high quality service.
There have been recent losses experienced by CBF, due to the system that is currently in place. The policy has changed and all orders placed now are being increased by 25%. The policy now places stress on the running system. On a highly-productive day, the plant produces 700 circuit boards, but "was designed to run 1,000 boards per day when running five days a week and one eight-hour shift per day." CBF has hired a consultant to discuss the reasons why they are not able to produce 1,000 boards per day as created. The following analysis will address the process flow structure, the capacity of the process, losses of the process, short and long-term recommendations for improvement opportunities.

Case Question #1: What type of process flow structure is CBF using?
CBF Inc. uses a job shop process flow structure, one of the four major process flow structures identified in the text. A job shop process flow structure is a "production of small batches of a large number of different products." (Chase, 2003). Further, job shop process "is a flexible operation that has several activities through which work can pass. In a job shop, it is not necessary for all activities to be performed on all products, and their sequence may be different for different products." (NetMBA, 2007)

Case Question #2: Diagram the process in a manner similar to Exhibit 5.15.
Operation No. Operation Description Dept. Setup/hr Rate Pc. Hr.
1. Order Acceptance Engineering
2. NC Machine Programming Engineering
3. Board Fabrication
a. Load Fabrication 5 0.33
b. Clean Fabrication 0.5
c. Coat Fabrication 0.5
d. Unload Fabrication 0.33
e. Expose Fabrication 15 1.72
f. Load Fabrication 5 0.33
g. Develop Fabrication 0.33
h. Inspect Fabrication 0.5
i. Bake Fabrication 0.33
j. Unload Fabrication 0.33
k. Drilling Fabrication 15 1.5
l. Copper Plate Fabrication 5 0.2
m. Final Test Quality Assurance 15 2.69
4. Shipping
Total per Part: 9.59

Case Question #3: Analyze the capacity of the process?
The capacity of the flow process is at an imbalance. It takes nearly ¾ of an hour just to load and unload the circuit boards. There is a significant amount of manual labor in this flow process in which human error must be taken into consideration. It appears...

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ENGG439/ENGG939 Assignment 2 – Circuit Board Fabricators (CBF) – Due: 4pm, 9


 October 2015

[Hard copy report must be handed in to EIS Central; Flexsim Models must be submitted via Moodle] CBF is a small manufacturer of circuit boards for companies such as Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard who then use these boards for building prototypes of new products. It is important that CBF provide a quick and high-quality service to its customer companies if they were to secure ongoing orders. The engineers working on the new products are on a tight schedule and have little patience with sloppy work or missing delivery dates. Circuit boards are a rigid flat surface on which electronic components are mounted. Electronic components such as integrated circuits, resistors, capacitors and diodes are soldered to the boards. Lines called "traces" which are etched on the board electronically connect the components. Since the electronic traces cannot cross, holes through the circuit board are used to connect traces on both sides of the board, thus allowing complex circuits to be built. These boards are often designed to hold 40-50 components that are connected through hundreds of traces on a small 4x6-inch board. CBF use four standardised board configurations and has automated much of its manufacturing process for making these standard boards. Fabricating the boards requires CBF’s numerically controlled (NC) equipment to be programmed. This is largely an automated process that works directly from engineering drawings that are formatted using industry standard codes. Currently, the typical order is for 60 boards. Engineers at customer companies prepare a computer-aided design (CAD) drawing of the board. This CAD drawing precisely specifies each circuit trace, circuit pass-through holes, and component mounting points on the board. These CAD drawings are used by a CBF process engineer to program the NC machines used to fabricate the boards. Due to losses in the system, CBF has a practice of increasing the size of an order by 25 percent. For example, for a typical order consisting of 60 boards, 75 boards would be started through the process. Fifteen percent of the boards are typically rejected during an inspection that occurs early in the manufacturing process and another 5 percent of the remaining boards are rejected in final test (also refer to process steps/descriptions below).


CBF purchases circuit board blanks from a vendor. The blank board comes from the vendor trimmed to the standard sizes that CBFs numerically controlled equipment can handle. These boards are made from woven fiberglass cloth that is impregnated with epoxy. A layer of copper is laminated onto each side to form a blank board. The following is a description of the steps involved in processing an order at CBF.


Order acceptance:

Check to verify that the order fits within the specification of boards to be produced with CBF equipment; the engineers at CBF works with the customer engineer to resolve any problems.


NC machine programming:

CAD information is used to program the machines to produce the order.


Board fabrication:

The board fabrication process involves 9 steps, as described below.



 Each board is manually loaded onto this machine by an operator. The machine then cleans the boards with a special chemical. Each board is then automatically transferred to the coating machine. b)


 A liquid plastic coating is deposited on both sides of the board. An operator then places the boards on a cart. Each cart, with a complete order of boards, is moved immediately to the "clean room." c)


 In the clean room, a photographic process makes the exposed plastic coating resistant to dissolving in the areas where the copper traces are needed. An operator must attend to this machine 100 percent of the time, and load and unload each individual board. d)


 Each board is manually loaded onto this machine. The boards are dipped by the machine, one-at-a-time, in a chemical bath that dissolves the plastic and the underlying copper in the required areas. After dipping, the machine places each board on a conveyor. e)


 Each board is picked from the conveyor as it comes from the developer. The board is optically checked for defects using a machine similar to a scanner. Approximately 15 percent of the boards are rejected at this point. Boards that pass inspection are placed back on the conveyor that feeds the bake oven. Two inspectors are used at this station. f)


 Boards travel through a bake oven that hardens the plastic coating, thus protecting the traces. Boards are then manually unloaded and placed on a cart. When all the boards for an order are on the cart, it is moved to the drilling machines. g)


 Holes are drilled using an NC machine to connect circuits on both sides of the board. The boards are manually loaded and unloaded. The machines are arranged so that one person can keep two machines going simultaneously. The cart is used to move the boards to the copper plate bath. h)

Copper plate:

 Copper is deposited inside the holes by running the boards through a special copper plating bath. Each board is manually loaded onto a conveyor that passes through the plating bath. Two people are needed for this process, one loading and another unloading. On completion of plating, boards are moved on the cart for final testing.

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