The participants were thrilled to visit the production site of equipment they use so passionately at their classes and as a part of Science Club LabVIEW Fan Group. We checked every nook and cranny of the factory.
The factory in Debrecen, Hungary, was opened at the turn of 2000 and 2001. It answered the ever growing demand for equipment noted among European clients. Today, on the 10th anniversary of establishing the factory, National Instruments focuses nearly 95% of its production in this second largest city of Hungary. It is the second biggest employer in the city.
The National Instruments factory in Debrecen specializes in manufacturing ready equipment solutions from nearly the entire range of the company’s products. Task set in such a way orientates production lines in the shop floor for assembly (superficial SMT or Through-Hole – THT) of electronic systems out of large variety of pre-made passive and active components. Short lines of production of electronic systems combined with the extensive offer of the company forces production lines to be quickly adaptable.
Assembly is automatic with the help of 22 machines arranging components and 8 reflow ovens. Automatic visions systems check the arrangement correctness of SMT assembly components; joints made with soldering wave are examined with the use of X-rays. Six out of eight production lines assemble without use of lead.
Apart from the activities strictly related to production there are also approximately 250 prototype tasks completed in the factory each year, as well as servicing NI equipment, including components not manufactured in the factory.
Despite of the highly advanced automation, key components are still investigated manually since the step requires the human intelligence. Also, XRF tests are being run in the name of “green” production. Some of the larger elements, such as slots or connectors, are made manually too.
The final functional tests of products are run using test mock-ups designed especially for selected group of manufacture. Extreme conditions simulations are executed. Test stations use almost exclusively NI's hardware and software solutions.
Lean Manufacturing Philosophy
National Instruments factory implements a concept of Lean Manufacturing. In a typical process we will find tasks that do not add value to the product being the final result of these processes. Engineers of the company focused on eliminating uneconomical components in subsequent stages of creating the final product. Employees are thoroughly screened in terms of their efficiency.
Benefits resulting from this type of managing the factory are as follows; product high quality guarantee, lack of wastefulness with using resources, decreasing stocks in warehouses, delivering product on time, reducing the size of production space and lowering the effort of human work. Introducing the Lean Manufacturing philosophy resulted in shortening the average distance covered by a product from about 6000 m to 400 m.
Products are packed manually by the employees of NI with particular attention paid to minimizing packaging and eliminating materials harmful to the environment, for instance foam wrapping used to protect the content of the packages are replaced with paper. Both in the warehouse of ready products and of raw materials colourful and intuitive labels are used according to Lean Manufacturing.
As a next step of our tour we could visit the Demo Center which is planned in a way to introduce NI software and hardware in practice for the visitors. We could see a very interesting demonstration showing the usage of PXI platform for analysis of video signal in real time, used for steering a Guitar Hero controller.
A group of students from Chair of Electronic and Photonic Metrology, Wroclaw University of Technology, Electronic Equipment specialization had an opportunity to listen to a short description of National Instruments, next they went on a guided tour around the factory following the direction of products flow; starting from the materials warehouse, through production lines to testing station and warehouse of ready products.
The author of the article would like to whole-heartedly thank the employees of National Instruments thanks to whom the students’ trip took place, i.e. Mr Sebastian Koziatek and Mr Maciej Antonik. Thank you for your patience, commitment and being open.
Note on the Science Club LabVIEW Fan Group
Science Club LabVIEW Fan Group operating at the Chair of Electronic and Photonic Metrology, Wroclaw University of Technology gathers individuals sharing passion for discovering techniques for creating software for acquisition and processing information on the basis of LabVIEW.
The meetings focus on training the G language programming, expanding the knowledge gained in regular classes: courses of object-oriented programming in LabVIEW, coding the open source Arduino microcontrollers and finally programming Lego Mindstorms robots.
We also care about our members' personal development, allowing them to approach certification. We have successfully attempted CLAD (Certified LabVIEW Associate Developer), exams, and currently prepare for CLD (Certified LabVIEW Developer). The group also helps us contact the employers. We first have access to many job and internship offers.
The Science Club LabVIEW commenced its co-operation with National Instruments which bore the fruit of Electronic Department students’ trip to the factory in Debrecen, Hungary.
PhD Eng Janusz Pękala is the tutor of the Club.
Tomasz Kachnic (tomasz.kachnic[.]student.pwr.wroc.pl) is the president of the Students’ Science Club LabVIEW Fan Group, while Bartosz Czaban (bartosz.czaban[.]student.pwr.wroc.pl) is the vice-president. Both of them study Electronic and Telecommunication, Electronic Equipment specialization at the Chair of Electronic and Photonic Metrology of Wroclaw University of Technology.
Students’ Science Club LabVIEW
Chair of Electronic and Photonic Metrology
Wroclaw University of Technology
ul. Bolesława Prusa 53/55