Streamlining PCB Manufacturing in the Medical Equipment Industry

By Claudia Basso

The production of PCBs has come a long way from the days of manual labor. Today, it requires precision, speed, and flexibility to meet the demands of various industries. In the highly regulated medical equipment industry, where safety and reliability are paramount, the complexity of PCBs is taken to another level. To ensure compliance with strict standards and regulations, Siemens Healthineers, a leader in the global healthcare field, turned to Opcenter Scheduling SMT software, a solution that revolutionized their planning and scheduling processes.

The medical equipment industry demands PCBs of the highest quality to run essential devices like CT scanners, ultrasound machines, photon-scanners, and MRI machines. These PCBs must adhere to stringent regulations, including FDA and CE approval. Meeting exacting quality standards and ensuring timely material management present significant challenges for PCB production planners.

Siemens Healthineers handle a vast array of products and customer requirements, each with varying degrees of PCB complexity. With a constantly changing scheduling environment, just-in-time delivery, and production deadlines, they’ve turned the challenge of change into a competitive advantage.

A crucial aspect of medical PCB manufacturing is surface-mount technology (SMT), which involves assembling components on printed-circuit boards using batch soldering processes. Seamless communication between planners and the shop floor is vital during this stage. Previously, the planning team at Siemens Healthineers used a highly customized Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. While their expertise allowed them to make informed decisions, they recognized the need for a more efficient tool.

Opcenter Scheduling SMT offers seamless integration with SAP, ERP, and ASM systems, allowing for efficient data extraction and aggregation. By automatically pulling data from machinery, line configurations, resource availability, work orders, schedules, work hours, material availability, and location, the software streamlines the planning process. A recent SAP integration enabled Opcenter to process XML work order data directly, eliminating the need for manual intervention. When introducing new PCBs for new products, Opcenter simplifies data retrieval by interconnecting all relevant sources, such as SAP and ASM, in a single place. This optimized workflow saves time and ensures data accuracy for the scheduling team at Siemens Healthineers.

Opcenter Scheduling SMT offers enhanced flexibility for production scheduling at Siemens Healthineers. The software’s factory schedule optimizer Multiline automatically assigns work orders to individual lines, grouping and sequencing them efficiently. Unlike other solutions, Opcenter is highly customizable, allowing the team to tailor optimization criteria to their specific SMT and production line requirements. This includes factors such as production time, group count, due dates, and missing parts. With the tool’s automation capabilities, the planning team now performs fewer manual tasks and can comfortably handle the workload with a smaller team. This increased efficiency has significantly improved productivity for Siemens Healthineers.

Reducing downtime and optimizing production batches were key expectations for Siemens Healthineers planners. With the recent global chip shortage and supply chain issues, it became crucial to analyze and compensate for unexpected events. Opcenter Scheduling SMT provided the flexibility to simulate and compare different scenarios, allowing the team to make informed decisions based on their expertise and preferences. The software seamlessly integrates with the production process, importing orders from SAP and other sources while optimizing SMT groupings and flagging production issues. The ‘what-if analysis’ capability enables on-the-fly scheduling expertise to meet the high-tech production expectations of Siemens Healthineers. Following installation support and training, the team quickly adapted to Opcenter Scheduling SMT, allowing for efficient and reliable scheduling processes.

Read the full Siemens Healthineers case study

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at