Here is a list of things to consider beyond the requirements of the specific job(s) you’ll be running on your new machine:
Pick and place machines can run from as little as a few thousand dollars for a manual system to hundreds of thousands of dollars for high speed/high mix models.
Equipment runs the gamut from a manual placer you can set on a table to something seven or eight feed wide, nearly as deep and weighing several tons. In addition to floor space (and its ability to hold the weight), you’ll need to consider utilities. The machines will need both electrical power and compressed air.
Service and support
The last thing you want if this is going to be your first line ever is to be completely on your own with your machine. There’s more online discussion between pick and place users today than there ever was, but there’s still not very much at all, especially if you’re having a specific problem (tape feeder not advancing, missed pick-ups, missed placements, etc.) with a specific machine.
Telephone support should be the absolute minimum level of support you should accept when you purchase your new machine, and that support should be provided by trained technicians familiar with the model you purchased.
The ideal situation would be to have your machine is installed at your facility by an experienced technician who would be able to inspect the equipment to make sure that no damage occurred during shipping and verify that all of the spare parts, feeders and accessories arrived as well. He would calibrate the machine and do the initial power up. Then he would provide valuable training on programming, operating and maintaining the equipment, during which time he’d be able to answer questions specific to your production requirements.
An additional benefit of installation and training is that if you do run into problems with your equipment down the road, your technician is familiar not only with the equipment but also with your operators’ level of expertise and the kinds of jobs you run.
Speccing out your requirements
With these things in mind, you’re ready to start putting together data about the jobs you’ll be running, so that you can determine which machines best fit your needs. Our Pick and Place Equipment Buyer’s Guide walks you through that.
(If you’re going to be doing prototyping or small batch assembly, you may find this page to be useful as well.)