Current industry trends, new technological developments, and exchanges among professional colleagues were unmistakably in the center of what was taking place at the Viscom AG campus in Hanover, Germany, on September 13 and 14, 2023. Having sent out invitations to its traditional Technology Forum, the manufacturer of inspection systems for electronics production was delighted by the tremendous response. The main topic of several workshops was artificial intelligence, with particular focus on its use in and with Viscom’s smart machines.
In his welcoming speech, Executive Board member Carsten Salewski covered a wide timeline, peppered with entertaining anecdotes, from the beginnings of Viscom AG to its current international positioning with several subsidiaries and worldwide sales. He emphasized: “Remaining young at heart, we’re keen to preserve our fresh vitality. We’re innovative and still have a lot in the pipeline.” The very first workshop introduced the latest possibilities that AI offers for reliable quality inspection in electronics manufacturing. Based on the vVision operating software, Detlef Beer, head of product development at Viscom, presented the autonomous detection of components and solder joints when creating a new inspection program. He went into detail about training the AI models used in this process, showed available options and explained why this approach is particularly advantageous for small batch sizes and prototypes.
Beer emphasized that AI by no means replaces classic technologies at Viscom. Rather, it represents an additional method that offers great added value as a supplementary input provider. Further workshops on artificial intelligence followed – focusing on image processing and segmentation as well as classification of inspection results. A general AI presentation by Viscom rounded off this thematic series in an informative and at the same time entertaining way.
As usual from previous years, the program again had to offer more than one look far beyond the horizon of inspection technologies in electronics manufacturing. In the exciting world between sensors, data, and artificial intelligence, Dr. Sabine Seymour presented examples of high-tech applications in areas such as fashion, agriculture or health and also drew attention to risks and possible undesirable developments. The title of her keynote speech: “Get connected: Shaping synergies with new technologies – socially, economically, and ecologically”. Dr. Seymour has made a name for herself as a data economist, entrepreneur, researcher, professor, and investor in the international tech scene and uses her expertise, e.g., to implement sustainable projects with people from different fields.
Dr.-Ing. Christoph Lotz from the Institute for Transport and Automation Technology at Leibniz University Hanover, Germany, spoke about research under weightlessness and partial gravity, which is realized today with the help of the Einstein Elevator located in the capital of Lower Saxony. This state-of-the-art advancement of a classic drop tower has a total height of 40 meters and can simulate four seconds of weightlessness. The research fields range from production under space conditions to the detection and measurement of dark energy.
Viscom used its Technology Forum this year to provide information not only on AI, but also – among other things – on the latest features of the digital multi-purpose platform vConnect. Florian Martin, Head of Software, gave two presentations focusing on the implementation of the platform in practice and innovations in the field of statistics. With vConnect, workflows can be smartly digitized and centrally controlled via tablets, smartphones, and other devices. From an effective and competent IT service for deployed Viscom inspection systems and associated peripheral hardware, to completely automated predictive maintenance, to training offers, and future-oriented cloud solutions, many application options are available. When it comes to inspection results, this also includes statistical process control with Viscom’s vSPC 2.0 software. One of the advantages of its integration in vConnect: “There are production sites that work on a decentralized basis – yet strive to be combined and interlinked,” explained Florian Martin. He added that personnel want to evaluate and analyze more and more information in the shortest possible time. By adhering to the highest security criteria, a new level of transparency is achieved. High performance and excellent usability are crucial for queries and results.
Other exciting topics at the Viscom Technology Forum 2023 included practical examples from the field of sustainability, inline X-ray for power electronics, and current developments in automatic optical wire bond inspection and manual X-ray inspection. A company tour with insight into production and logistics as well as eight Innovation Tours, which stopped at exhibited inspection systems to experience Viscom’s inspection technologies live in groups, formed an impressive conclusion to the two-day event.