Hanover Displays

Automated PCB Testing – Hanover Displays

Hanover is a leading designer and manufacturer of LED display technology based in Lewes in the UK. It has two fully equipped production facilities, one in the UK and one in the United States. It manufactures monochrome and multicolour displays, audio visual passenger information, automatic vehicle location and fleet management, producing more than 45,000 units per annum.

Challenge

Hanover decided to move the production of printed circuit boards (PCB) from Malaysia back to the UK to save costs and allow their production cycle to be more flexible for ongoing product development. It invested in high-speed surface mount PCB production equipment, but the PCB assemblies still needed to be customised and tested. Hanover wanted an automated PCB testing solution that would require minimal manual intervention and that could test 450 PCBs a day. It also wanted the system to pay for itself in less than two years.

Process

Omron Techman cobot testing
Omron Techman cobot testing

Absolute Robotics was recommended to Hanover by HMK, the UK distributor for the Techman TM5 cobot. Some of the Hanover management team were initially sceptical about using a robot for automated PCB testing, so Absolute Robotics set up a demonstration to show the flexibility of the system. After seeing this demonstration where the cobot was used to visually locate and pick and place PCBs, Hanover were convinced it would work. The team presented their ROI to the board of directors and it was approved.

Absolute Robotics specified, delivered and installed a TM5 robot system, including gripper tooling, parts conveyer and PCB punch for automated PCB testing. It collaborated with automation firm HMK and the customer on tooling design. From the initial consultation through to completion the project took about six months.

Sean Winter, operations manager for Hanover, was impressed with the dedication and commitment of Absolute Robotics’ staff.

He explained:
“Absolute Robotics make business easy to do, simple and straightforward. They are always available to answer your questions and allay any concerns you may have. They are proactive in finding solutions to your challenges.”

Result

Hanover now has a flexible system, with a test line that can be adapted for multiple PCB variants. The cobot has been exceeding the target of 450PCBs per day, averaging more than 600. Hanover is now planning to start running the cobot unmanned during the night.

Sean Winter said:
“What would have been a mundane activity that could lead to mistakes is now an activity we can forget about as we know the Cobot will consistently test the PCBs.”

The project was so successful that Hanover is considering buying further systems for other tasks.

Bus route LED signage