From PCB Assembly To Complex Systems

  • PCB Fabrication & Box Build Assembly
  • System Integration & Functional Testing
  • Electronics & Mechanical Parts Sourcing
  • Custom Cable/Wire Assembly
  • Small to Medium Volume Production
  • ISO9001:2015, ISO 13485:2016 Certified & UL Listed

What Is an Electro-mechanical Assembly?

A basic electromechanical device setup can be subdivided into three main systems: the electrical circuit, the electrical coupling system, and the mechanical system. The scope of electromechanical systems is vast, ranging from input/out devices, lights, PCBs, wire and cable, pneumatics, actuators, gears, sensors, microprocessors, switches, Hydraulics, digital signal processors (DSPs), enclosures and DIN rails and frames. Integrating and combining the functions of electrical and mechanical components allows sensing, processing, and reacting to variable inputs and conditions.

Electromechanical assembly involves the integration of electronic and mechanical parts into one functioning system. It assembles and electrically connects electronic, optoelectronic components, substrate PCBs, wires, connectors, and other parts according to the electrical diagram design using complete electronic assembly equipment.

Take the example of cameras which can be generally composed of rigid flex printed circuit board assembly, lens, imager sensors and camera housing. Electro mechanical assemblers combine and assemble all these parts together to form a fully function electronic product.

Electromechanical devices usually include the following parts:

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    The Process of Electro-mechanical Assembly

    Electromechanical assembly services are a highly complex task that can not be adequately done without an experienced team. Here at Viasion, we can meet all your Electromechanical Assembly demands using our 16+ years of experience and robust supply chain. Here is the normal process of electromechanical contract manufacturing:

    Industrial Applications of Electro-mechanical Assemblies

    Key Elements in Electromechanical Assemblies

    As we have mentioned above, a lot of elements are needed in electro mechanical assembly, such as PCBs, cables, rails, enclosure, power suppliers, pneumatics, input and output devices, displays, actuators, gears, sensors., etc.  Here, we will talk about the key elements that electro mechanical assemblers need in complete electro-mechanical assemblies.

    1. Cable and Wire Assemblies

    Cables and wires are used to physically and electrically connect components and equipment to allow transmission of energy and signals which are extensively used in aerospace, automotive and military applications. Computers are also used to generate cable assembly paths to improve design effectiveness. Cable assembly plays an important role in electro mechanical assembly. Engineering factors and material properties of the cable should be accounted for in designing the paths. The cable assembly can be done manually by an operator or gripped by a robot, depending on the order quantity and the capabilities of the electro mechanical assembler.

    2. Power Supply

    Power supply is a type of electromechanical product that is broadly used by all consumers. Almost one hundred percent of electricity is generated by electric machines that are capable of converting one form of energy into electric energy. The components of a power supply assembly include, but are not limited to, a transformer, rectifier, and regulator. Power supply is very important in electro-mechanical assemblies.

    3. Switches and Sensors

    An example of electromechanical assembly are switches and sensors which are widely applicable to any industrial environment. Some examples include linear limit switch which changes contact state when there is physical contact between an object and a switch, and rotary limit switches which allows or prevent current when closed or opened. Meanwhile, sensors are used to convert signals, like sound, heat, light, and motion into electrical signals. The sensor assembly would include the sensing element, housing, and transmitters. Any electro mechanical assembler should ensure all the switches and sensors are correctly placed.

    4. Printed Circuit Board Assemblies

    Printed circuit boards are prominently used in electronic devices as they serve as platforms for various electronic components which can serve various functions. The electronic components are picked and placed into the boards with a solder material to metallurgically join the component and the board’s conductive pads. A printed circuit board have several types like flexible or rigid circuit boards, one-layer or multi-layered. The PCBA is then integrated into the mechanical parts to produce so-called “box-build” assemblies. Printed circuit board assembly is critical in electro mechanical assembly services, as the electronic products will not be functional without a perfect PCB.

    5. DIN Rails, Frame and Enclosure

    When all these materials needed in electro mechanical assembly are prepared, they need to be assembled in plastic or metal enclosures with DIN rails and frames, to form a complete electronic device. Most times, custom enclosure, DIN rails and frames are needed. In the final assembly stage, all the parts like PCBs, cables, switches, sensors, power supply, input and output devices,  relays and safety components, and pneumatics devices are all placed and fastened properly in the enclosure with the support of DIN rails and frames by the electrical mechanical assembler.

    Electromechanical Assembly From Design to Assembly

    It is a very complex task for electro mechanical assembler to build a fully function electronic device, from concept to design, to component sourcing, to PCB and electronic assembly, and to final testing and inspections. An electro mechanical assembly company need advanced equipment and an experienced team to finish this task.

    1. Design Process

    The design phase of electromechanical products is governed by existing standards that provide certain standards concerning tolerances and design rules. An optimum design is one that will satisfy the functional requirements of the product while balancing cost and quality. Software and computer programs can be used to simulate the 3D design including the geometry and tolerancing and can be displayed statistically and graphically. Both design and assembly instructions can be compiled in a CAD system which enables automatic configuration in robotic cells like grippers.

     2. Sourcing of Parts

    All the parts needed for the electromechanical products are to be sourced and procured by electro mechanical assembler normally. Note that each material has a specific lead time that will affect the completion of the product. Each part and component should be visually inspected based on dimensional requirements. This quality check will help detect early if there are issues that may affect the subsequent assembly processes. The choice of materials, as emphasized in the earlier section, is very significant as it impacts the purchasing step. A preferred part is a part that can be purchased from several vendors and distributors.

    3. Assembly of Electrical and Mechanical Parts

    Electromechanical products are then assembled by integrating the electrical components and the mechanical parts by electro mechanical assemblers. The electrical components can be manufactured through printed circuit board assembly which is typically composed of SMT processes (Surface Mount Technology). In SMT, electrical components are mounted on the printed circuit board through soldering and reflow processes. The assembled printed circuit boards will also go through a separate testing process before integrating them into the final electromechanical product. This is to ensure that only a good part is moved to the next step.

     Electromechanical assembly is an important step and can be done either automatically or manually. Since the production of electromechanical products is difficult to automate due to various component types in the system, most automation is generally applied to high-volume, low mix/variety types of production. In automation, each movement of an industrial robot must be programmed with attention to orientation and tolerances.

    Manual assembly can also be done especially for low volume, high mix electro mechanical assembly projects. It has some advantages especially for quick conversions, especially with short product lifecycles. Assembly of electromechanical parts can include soldering and mounting of electrical components and screwing, insertion and fastening of mechanical parts.

    4. Inspection and Testing

    Quality inspection is very important in electro mechanical assembly. Electromechanical products can be inspected through hands-free and manual methods. Hands-free and automatic inspection by using image-based measurement systems and visual algorithms. The inspection of each part is compared to a reference image and values and when the measured or inspected values fall outside the limits, the part is rejected. An automated inspection system is composed of cameras, measuring software, a computer monitor and light source. This type of automatic inspection is very efficient and can fully meet the quality specifications. The inspection and testing methods can be designed by electro mechanical assembler or the brand owner.

    Why Electro Mechanical Assembly Come into Being

    We utilize electromechanical systems in our everyday activities. Familiar examples include laptops and camera hard drives which commonly consist of dual electromechanical systems, a drive, and a servo. Electromechanical devices employ the conversion of electrical energy to mechanical energy. Simply put, the conversion process allows for most systems to perform their intended functions like activating the start system of an engine and powering a fan of a car.

    • Below are the major drivers of the growth and expansion of electromechanical systems:
    • Rapid advancement in actuators, integrated circuits (ICs), microprocessors and power electronics.
    • Industrial and societal needs.
    • Affordability and superiority of electromechanical systems compared to other types of systems.
    • Cost-effective fabrication techniques

    For example, in industrial applications, electromechanical systems are equipped with actuators robotic and automation systems, goods-handling technologies and servomotors that control the opening and shutting of valves. Electromechanical systems can be generally categorized as conventional electromechanical systems and micro-scale electromechanical systems. Both of these are based on overall physics and analysis but differ in cost and fabrication techniques. Electro-mechanical assembly means the final assembly of electronic equipment by mechanical and electrical parts.

    Now that we have introduced the concept of electromechanical devices, let’s take a few steps back to learn some history of this type of technology. The 20th century started with the infancy of the electric power industry with the discovery of direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) by Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. The power industry further expanded from conventional power generation and utilization into innovation in sea, air, and ground transportation.

    In the mid-1900s, the birth of the computer and silicon-controlled rectifier---which is a device used to convert AC voltage to direct voltage--led to the advancement in the power area including smart grids, electric drives, aircraft, and ships. Further leaps in electromechanical systems were seen in the 1940s and 1950s with the world war event, propelled by the invention of power military equipment. Demand for consumer electronics increased post-war with the development of computers. Now the applications of electromechanical devices are limitless and are gearing toward miniaturization, with the introduction of Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).  And electro mechanical assembly suppliers play important roles in electronics manufacturing.

    Design Consideration in Electromechanical Assemblies

    Electro-mechanical assembly is a very complex process. To avoid problem in and after production,  electro mechanical assembler should think about the key factors at the design stage.  Please refer to the following details that a electro mechanical assembly company should pay attention to.

    1. Requirements Definition

    A product development roadmap starts with a set of requirements coming from the customer. The goal of the requirements definition is to come up with a project management plan, schedule, and technical reviews. Design documents contain these requirements, statements of work and product specifications. The product function is also described at this stage. Clear and detailed requirements and specifications will allow us to design and build the product accordingly. In reality, the scope of works, technical specifications and roadmaps are still vulnerable to revisions, especially during product design validation wherein there will be a need for several iterations to satisfy functional requirements, cost and quality or reliability standards. To understand the function and purpose of the electro-mechanical assembly is extremely important.

    2. Material Selection

    Material selection is a critical step in the design of electromechanical devices. The selection criteria will greatly depend on specific applications. Some aspects to pay attention to are corrosion resistance, price, machining properties and availability. The electromagnetic properties can also be critical, especially for solenoids and brakes which are mainly used for automotive applications. The components to be used should also be compliant with regulatory standards like RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) / REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals).

    3. Thermal Considerations

     The thermal characteristics of each component should also be considered during the design process of electromechanical assembly. These characteristics include thermal conductivity, heat capacity and material density. The thermal behaviour of the materials and the stress effects are simulated through sophisticated techniques like FEA software (Finite Element Analysis). The differences in the thermal expansion of materials can lead to delamination and warpage effects and be a source of failures during assembly and application.

    4. Manufacturability

    An optimum design of electromechanical devices balances out the final performance and cost impact. This can be done by employing the best practices and design rules which are integrated into the DFM process (Design for Manufacturability). To streamline the design, a useful strategy is to classify the design requirements into nice-to-have and need-to-have, the first being the secondary considerations while the latter as the more important aspects related to the function of the product. DFM assists engineers in considering ease of fabrication and assembly while meeting the functional requirements of the product. The design rules set to some limitations on dimensions and geometrical rules so that parts can be easily fabricated and assembled. In electro mechanical assembly design process, designers should always aware of the manufacturablities of each component, to avoid delay and troubles in future production.

    Top Factors to Consider When Selectrion a Reliable Electromechanical Assembly Supplier

    Electro mechanical assembly plays a critical role in electronic products, so we need to be careful when trying to find a reliable electro mechanical assembler.  Here are some insights to guide you in looking for a reliable electromechanical assembly supplier.

    1. Technical Capability

    This is the first in the list since electromechanical devices are complex systems requiring technical expertise from the supplier. A reliable electromechanical assembly company should be able to assist you with your design and engineering requirements. There will be a series of exchanges and communications about design, prototype and manufacturing and sufficient engineering judgement and decision-making skills are important in the success of an electromechanical assembly project. An electromechanical assembly company can offer a range of services like design, prototyping, fabrication, manufacturing, and box-build assemblies.

    The technical capability of an electro mechanical assembler also includes having advanced and automated assembly machines, superior inspection, and testing equipment to help with the efficiency of the processes. For manual assembly, a skilled workforce is important so that specifications are strictly obeyed through proper and systematic technical orientation and training prior to deployment. The electromechanical assembly supplier should have extensive expertise and years of experience to know that they can consistently and proactively meet the requirements of the customer.

    2. Cost

    A Request for Quotation (RFQ) is being sent to suppliers, together with the preliminary statement of work and design, to obtain the estimated pricing. A electro-mechanical assembler that can satisfy the requirements while offering lower costs will always be preferred. It is good to tabulate the costing of various suppliers to compare objectively the strengths and weaknesses in the quotation. The decision will be based on prioritization and business needs. Cost is impacted by several parameters like assembly processes and material cost. The complexity of the design like tight tolerances will also affect the final pricing since precise technology will be needed to manufacture the product.

    3. Quality

    A reliable electromechanical assembler should also prioritize quality. Certifications are important screening metrics for suppliers. ISO certification, as a global certifying body, should be available which helps guide the supplier to continuously improve their assembly practices. Other important standards in the electronics industry include UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and IPC. Aside from these certifications, a preferred supplier should have stringent measures to ensure that the products conform to the requirements, which include well-defined criteria and set-up procedures. Quality programs like continuous improvement programs should also be available towards achieving the elimination of defects.

    4. Customer Service and Responsiveness

     The electro mechanical assembler should also be committed to providing consistent and quality customer service. There will be frequent technical discussions between customers and suppliers with regard to the design, assembly schedules, improvement programs or changes. Active collaboration to openly communicate requirements, limitations, and risks is extremely important to be able to address concerns early and effectively. As electro-mechanical assembly is a very complex task, great customer service and quick response is critical.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    The main tools and equipment include: SMT pick and place equipment, reflow oven, AOI inspection equipment, electric drill, electric screwdriver industrial robotics, protective tools., etc. 

    Electro-mechanical assembly mainly involves assembling the electronic parts into metal or plastic enclosures, the commonly used parts include PCBs, cables, sensors, controllers, DSPs, pneumatics and frames.

    Yes.  Firstly, we need to make sure all the components like PCBs and cables are made from non-flammable materials. Secondly, relative tools and equipment, protective tools need to be used in electromechanical assembly, to avoid damage to products or workers. 

    Usually, it takes 2-4 weeks to complete a simple electro-mechanical assembly. However, more time is needed for complex electromechanical assemblies.

    Normally, there are following steps for electromechanical assemblies:

    1. Prepare the corresponding information, including total assembly drawing, component assembly drawing, parts drawing, BOM, etc. We must ensure the completeness and neatness of the drawing and the fullness of the process information record.
    2. We must carry out the placement of parts and Assembly of components in the specified workplace, and all workplaces must be kept neat, standardized and orderly.
    3. We should understand the equipment’s structure, assembly technology and process requirements before Assembly.
    4. The Quality Inspection Department must check the assembled parts carefully, and if any unqualified parts are found during the assembly process, workers should report that promptly.

    We think many years of experience and a skilled product and quality team are the most critical factors. Viasion has more than 16+ years of experience in electromechanical device assembly, with an experienced team to supply high-quality electromechanical assembly services.

    Normally, the following steps should be done for a typical electromechanical assembly: printed circuit board fabrication – PCB assembly – IC programming – PCB testing – enclosure assembly – final functional testing – labelling and packaging. Generally speaking, electromechanical assembly products will be fully functional when finished.