Panasonic is a division of Matsushita (Japan), one of the largest companies in the world. They are highly vertically integrated in that they manufacture Radial componentry, Radial insertion equipment and end products with PCB’s populated with Radial components (consumer electronics, for example). This structure affords them some advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include:
- first hand experience using equipment,
- in-house production testing prior to release of new equipment designs,
- ability to sell components and equipment,
- keen understanding of market trends, new componentry and design considerations from both componentry and end product perspectives.
One glaring disadvantage is that many times their customers are also their competitors–this sometimes causes conflict of interest.
The RHS was introduced in late 1998. It operates at a maximum speed of 14,400, and is different from previous Panasonic Radials in 2 main areas:
- it uses a sequencer design
- it no longer uses guide pins
The sequencer and insertion head designs that Panasonic adopted carry many of the same advantages as the Radial 8. The additional advantages are:
- Auto Recovery is still fast (8 – 10 seconds), even though the RHS uses a sequencer. The sequencer chain is bi-directional, and increases speed when only travelling with a component.
- 30% smaller footprint. Even with a sequencer, the RHS footprint is smaller than the Radial 8.
- 1800 head rotation, although this feature slows down the machine.
The main disadvantage for Panasonic is that they have no prior experience with this design. The RHS, consequentially, has gotten off to a bumpy start. However, we anticipate the experience gap to close quickly.
RH II & RH III
The RH II and RH III utilize a component shuttle system to bring the components to the insertion area.
The advantage of a shuttle system is that “automatic recovery” (repair) can take place quickly. Once a misinsertion is detected, a replacement component is automatically dispensed and inserted into the original location. Manufacturers desire this feature as it leads to less operator interface and it ensures that the correct component is reinserted in the correct position and polarity. This recovery mode is selectable and may be programmed to attempt up to ten (10) “auto recoveries” before the machine stops. This feature reduces operator interaction and ensures the correct component is inserted.
The shuttle design has two negative impacts on the inserters throughput capability:
- Depleted components cannot be replenished “on the fly”, because the entire shuttle system (all reels/packs) moves to deliver a component to the insertion area. The inserter must be stopped to replenish reels/ammo packs. To improve this situation the RH III utilizes a split shuttle (2x 40 inputs = 80 total). While this improves this flaw, it does not eliminate it. Components must be double-loaded to take advantage of this feature and maintain production.
- The specific component location on the shuttle effects throughput. Shuttle travel time must be added for each insertion cycle. Reels located at the end of the shuttle system (furthest from the head) will have a longer insertion cycle. This also requires increased machine programming in order to optimize the component location, and maintain throughput at an acceptable level.
Guide Pin System
The RHII and RHIII use guide pins instead of an insertion head. The pins come up from the clinch through the holes in the PCB guide the component leads into the PCB while the component is pushed from the top.
The guide pin system provides excellent topside insertion density capability. However, the cut and clinch, which determines their bottom side density, has a footprint similar in size to that of the Radial 8.
By comparison, the Radial 8 utilizes insertion tooling to guide the component leads into the hole. The footprint associated with the Radial 8’s insertion head tooling limits the overall topside insertion density capabilities in comparison to Panasonic’s guide pin design. Panasonic’s guide pins allow for a component to be inserted with only .5mm clearance on all four sides.
The guide pins are delicate and have a tendency to wear and break. They are only (.040″) 1mm in diameter and approximately 6″ long (152mm). Operators typically carry “spare” pins in their pocket.
Panasonic Machine types
Panasonic, like Universal, has a number of machine styles. The RH, RH6, RHB, RH6B, RH II and RH III insert 5mm components with two or three leads and are capable of 2.5mm insertion (2 leads) as an option. These older models differ in the number of input locations and the size of the components they can insert. The RH II features 80 input locations on a split shuttle (40 + 40), with a cycle speed of 7,800 CPH (maximum on certain components) vs. 6,000 CPH on other older Panasonic Radial Inserters. The RH III is similar to the RH II, but it is available as a 40, 62, and 80 station machine configurations. The RHUP and the RHU are Panasonic’s large component insertion machines that feature body diameter capability of up to 18mm and 7.5mm lead pitch. The RHU “special”, features a body diameter capability of 20mm and up to 10mm lead pitch. These machines are very slow and expensive.
The main advantages of the RH III over the RH II is its price, speed, and automatic recovery features. It also appears to be priced well below their previous machine models, with pricing estimated at 226K-270K (US$) and a maximum speed of 10,000 cycles per hour. The RH III’s only “real” performance advantage when compared to the Radial 8 is in terms of its insertion density as discussed earlier in its use of guide pins. However, this can be offset by the Radial 8’s throughput and reliability.
Panasonic offers a complete product line in both IMC and SMC technologies. All Panasonic inserters (RH II, RH III and AVK) use a shuttle design to deliver components to the point of insertion.
Two (2) Axial Inserters; Models AVK and AVK
A Jumper Wire Inserter; Model JVK
Odd Form Inserter; Model U2 (which also inserts DIP components), Square Pin Inserter, Model P, Round Pin Inserter, Model G, Eyelet Inserter, Model E
All are designed with board handling capability.
Although Panasonic’s presence is global, their main thrust in IMC has been in Japanese and Korean multi-national companies. They have a large installed base and as a manufacturer of electronics end products, they utilize much of their equipment in their own plants and influence their many sub contractors to utilize Panasonic equipment as well.
Panasonic’s pricing strategy varies depending upon the geographic location account and the specific situation. In the United States, for example, in comparison to the Radial 8, Panasonic’s RH product line is much higher in price (although they typically discount between 10 and 15%). In Southeast Asia, however, their prices are much lower and in some cases their prices have been considerably less than UIC’s (up to 30-40% below UIC list price).