Electronics Assemblers, Fabricators, Inspectors and Testers - What They Do
Electronics assemblers and fabricators assemble and fabricate electronic equipment, parts and components. Electronics inspectors and testers inspect and test electronic and electromechanical assemblies, subassemblies, parts and components to ensure conformance to prescribed standards. They are employed in electronics manufacturing plants.
This group performs some or all of the following duties:
- Solder and manually assemble various electronic components such as resistors, diodes, transistors, capacitors, integrated circuits, switches, wires and other electronic parts to designated locations on printed circuit boards
- Assemble microcircuits requiring fine hand assembly, the use of microscopes and adherence to cleanroom procedures
- Install, mount, fasten, align and adjust parts, components, wiring and harnesses to subassemblies and assemblies using hand and small power tools
- Operate automatic and semi-automatic machines to position, solder and clean prescribed components on printed circuit boards
- May replace defective components and repair and overhaul older devices.
- Operate and monitor process equipment including automatic and semi-automatic machines to fabricate electronic components, solder, clean, seal and stamp components and perform other process operations as specified
- Set up process equipment and adhere to cleanroom procedures as required.
- Inspect electronic components and assemblies to ensure correct component selection and placement, wiring and soldering quality, proper pin insertions, location and diameter of plated holes, breaks in circuitry and line spacing in printed circuit board and other specified requirements while products are being assembled or fabricated
- Check final assembly for finish, labelling and packaging methods
- Check mechanical dimensions and perform "go-no-go" electrical tests
- Identify and mark acceptable and defective assemblies and return faulty assemblies to production for repair
- Collect, record and summarize inspection results
- Investigate equipment malfunction and instruct on proper operation.
- Operate various test equipment and tools to perform simple electrical and continuity testing of electronic components, parts and systems
- Set up and operate automatic testing equipment to locate circuit and wiring faults, shorts and component defects
- Compare test results to specifications and set parts or products aside for repair or replace components or parts as indicated by test equipment
- May conduct life tests (burn-ins) on components, subassemblies and assemblies
- Maintain test result reports.
- precision instrument assembler - electronic equipment manufacturing
- wiring and assembly operator
- capacitor assembler
- circuit board assembler
- component inserting machine operator
- tester, electronic components
- electronics assembler
- inspector, printed circuit board (PCB) assembly
- crystal final tester
- electronics inspector - electronic equipment manufacturing
- finished product inspector - electronic equipment manufacturing
- wafer fabrication operator
- wave soldering machine operator
- surface mount assembler
- through-hole assembler
This is what you typically need for the job:
- Completion of secondary school is usually required for electronics assemblers, fabricators, inspectors and testers.
- On-the-job training is usually provided for occupations in this unit group.
- A two-year apprenticeship and voluntary trade certification is available for electronics assemblers in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
- Electronics testers may require post-secondary courses in basic electronic theory, testing techniques and testing equipment.
- Electronics inspectors and testers may require experience as an electronics assembler or component fabricator.
- Read email from supervisors or the research department concerning changes in schedules, policies or procedures, rush orders or pilot runs. (1) (daily)
- Read notes on assembly drawings to learn where to use heat shrink tubing or to identify locations for gluing and soldering. (1)
- Read work order or purchase order forms giving details about customers and job specifications. (1), (weekly)
- Read procedures which detail each of the steps in the assembly and testing process. (2)
- Read health and safety information to learn safe working procedures and changes in procedures. For example, they read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to learn safe handling and first aid procedures for hazardous materials. (2)
- Review government standards for fabricating electronic equipment. (2) (weekly)
- Read standards for the electronic assembly industry that detail product acceptability requirements, such as the criteria for soldered components and assemblies. (3)
- Read equipment and operating manuals, specifying the proper assembly and testing procedures for electronic equipment. (3) (weekly)
- Read software and hardware manuals to learn the functions of parts, system requirements, specifications for troubleshooting and to synthesize information which will aid in solutions to assembly problems. (4) (frequently)
- Read alphanumeric codes on boxes of electrical parts to verify the contents. (1)
- Complete customer packing lists and read bar codes for products. (1)
- Complete checklists, documenting the results of tests and noting abnormalities. (1)
- Scan lists to double check parts and part numbers. (1)
- Match parts lists to specifications to ensure the correct parts are ordered. (1)
- Scan circuit board samples to check parts. Boards can range from simple to complex, for example, have up to 60 parts. (2)
- Read instruction and parts labels on cables and wires, testing equipment, computers and tools, showing the location of parts or brief user instructions. (1)
- Read product, parts and hardware lists to familiarize themselves with tolerances associated with the products. (2) (daily)
- Read work orders to verify serial numbers and the completion of stages. (2)
- Refer to pictures and sketches provided by operations managers or lead hands to explain job specifications or procedures. (2)
- Complete schedules and time sheets to keep track of production, work hours and appointments with customers. (2) (daily)
- Complete sheets which record test data and give directions to ship, hold or reject products. (2) (daily)
- Complete pretest defect reports noting items to be sent to the repair department. (2)
- Locate information in tables and lists in online supplier catalogues to order parts. (2)
- Interpret test results in graph format such as temperature versus frequency or voltage over time to distinguish unacceptable from acceptable levels. (3)
- Interpret and take measurements from scale drawings and diagrams to compare, test or confirm specifications of system parts. (4)
- Read and integrate, diagrams, schematics, and assembly drawings and specifications to determine the correct assembly of electronic components and the location of parts. (4) (frequently)
- Write changes on material lists when the original lists are incorrect or incomplete. (1) (daily)
- Write log book entries to record work completed and to inform the next shift of events. (1) (daily)
- Write notes to other workers to clarify instructions, to describe the symptoms of problems to repair departments, or to summarize the work completed. (1) (daily)
- Write notes to their supervisors to specify the need for parts and process modifications, such as changing chips or sensor data. (2) (occasionally)
- May write emails to vendors to ask about problems they may have had with components. (2)
- May write minutes for problem solving meetings. (2) (occasionally)
- Write detailed nonconformity reports and test reports, describing defects found while testing. For example, testing reports describe what happened, how the board failed and the corrective action taken. (3)
- May calculate bills, including costs for materials and labour. (2) (weekly)
Scheduling, Budgeting and Accounting
- Monitor schedules to determine how much work is still to be completed, ensuring that the time spent on jobs is within the time quoted to customers. (1)
Measurement and Calculation
- Measure parts and assembling equipment, such as the width of computer boards and lengths of cables, wires and bolts to compare them to specifications using SI (metric) and imperial measurement. (1) (frequently)
- Take electronic measurements including voltage, resistance and current, to ensure that products meet quality standards. (1)
- Measure amperage with an ammeter to check or calibrate circuits. (2)
- Measure voltage against time using an oscilloscope to test circuits and locate faults. (2)
- May calculate capacitance. They multiply amps by time to get the charge. Measure voltage. Divide charge by voltage to get capacitance in Farads (F). (2)
- Measure the input, output, reference voltages and radio frequency on data collection systems. (3) (daily)
- When developing a prototype or manufacturing a product, may use basic trigonometry and geometry to calculate the angles at which specific component parts must be placed in relation to each other.(4)
- Calculate average production amounts and the percentage of errors to plot in charts and share with staff at meetings. (2)
- Analyze patterns of input voltage values and the impact they have on voltage output values over time. (3), (daily)
- Estimate expected ranges for volts, amps or frequencies. (1), (daily)
- Estimate the lengths of wire needed for assemblies in order to cut the approximate amount. (1)
- Estimate the time required to complete a job in order to prepare bids. The estimate is based on past experience, the quality of products being manufactured and the labour involved. (3)
- May interact with suppliers to request and order electronic components and other materials. (1)
- Receive information from supervisors, lead hands and store operators regarding parts or job tasks, instructions for new products, or help with problem situations. (1)
- Interact with co-workers to learn the location of materials, to borrow tools, seek an opinion or ask how to complete a job. (1) (daily)
- Update supervisors, lead hands and technicians about missing or incorrect parts. (2)
- May explain to other workers how to assemble and test components. (2)
- Tell customers how to use and repair products that have been made for them. (2)
- Discuss parts, troubleshooting problems and changes to work assignments with other workers. (2)
- As technical experts, may provide instruction to equipment operators. (2)
- May interact with customers to get information on customer needs and to provide them with details of product specifications, upgrades and pricing. (2)
- May chair meetings when acting as a project co-ordinator for a project. The progress of the project is discussed at these meetings. (3)
- May encounter part shortages, or find that the wrong parts have been installed on products or that parts are missing. They gather up the wrong parts and order new ones. (1)
- May find that some components have been assembled incorrectly on circuit boards. They check specifications and drawings, gather the correct stock and replace the components. (2) (monthly)
- May find, on testing equipment, that cable assemblies do not work. They check connections, placement of wires and soldering. They consult supervisors if the problem cannot be found. (2)
- May find incorrect settings on equipment. They make corrections by referring to assembly manuals, checking repair databases or asking co-workers, supervisors and engineers for assistance. (2)
- May face production delays when there has been a shortage of parts. They work with other units to get work back on schedule or reschedule tasks. (2)
- May find that parts do not fit. They check lists to confirm that the right part number was used and, if necessary, substitute parts to reach solutions. (2)
- May determine where faults are on circuit boards and where they are occurring in the assembly process, for example, during the surface mount stage or the wiring stage. Run different tests such as go/no go and procedural testing to determine where the fault is. Use past experience, testing results and reports, and specifications to narrow down possibilities. (3)
- Decide whether to perform simple repairs rather than send products to repair departments and whether to scrap parts. (1), (frequently)
- Decide whether or not specifications and instructions for new products are sufficiently accurate and clear. If not, they may add notes to specifications to clarify the production process. (2), (weekly)
- Decide which components require repair and whether to return products to their first assembly point. (2), (daily)
- Decide which orders to fill first or what units should be built or tested next, considering who the customer is, how urgent the order is, if the necessary stock is available, how long it will take to acquire missing stock, which workers are available and the supervisor's priorities. (3), (daily)
- May make technical decisions regarding substitution of parts which are not available and the use of parts not specified in schematic drawings. (3)
- Assess and test completed products to ensure they meet production specifications and standards. For example, they complete visual inspections matching completed circuit boards to drawings and sample boards, and tests using measuring instruments and electronic test equipment, such as oscilloscopes and multimeters. (2)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
- Electronic assemblers, fabricators, inspectors and testers receive their work schedules from supervisors, based on customer demands and the availability of parts. They may change the order of job tasks to improve efficiency or because of shortage of or missing parts, bearing in mind deadlines for products. Work may be interrupted by questions from customers and staff, rush orders, other areas needing help and workers requiring training. Tasks are usually repetitive; however, work may be resumed easily after disruptions. At the beginning of the day, electronics assemblers, fabricators, inspectors and testers generally organize their tasks, using both online and paper-based task lists and work orders, and coordinate the sharing of tools or parts with other workers.
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember numerical values obtained from tests until they can record them.
- Memorize equipment settings and machine codes to enter into the computer.
- Remember repair information from databases to discuss symptoms with service personnel or inspectors.
- Remember layouts of different circuit boards for inspection purposes.
- Refer to drawings in drawing storage bins before completing repairs. (1), (daily)
- Call suppliers to find out about parts specifications. (1)
- Ask co-workers, lead hands and supervisors for help, for example, with missing or incorrect parts. (1)
- Refer to electronic component data books, both paper-based and online, to find proper component operating characteristics and manufacturer specifications. (2), (weekly)
- Consult engineers, research technicians, vendors and repair staff to learn more about job assignments and requirements. (2)
- Refer to assembly manuals, specifications, standards, and assembly or schematic drawings to find information about assembly procedures and other information such as soldering techniques. (3)
- Program and set equipment by touching screens, responding to prompts and entering predefined codes. (1)
- Use other computer applications. For example, they may use computer-automated test software or computerized digital multimeters and oscilloscopes. (1)
- May type reports and minutes of meetings. (2)
- May use repair department databases to describe repair requests to service people and to locate parts. (2)
- May enter figures into spreadsheets to keep track of parts, returns and production progress. (2) (daily)
- May send and receive email messages. (2)
- May use software programs for designing, simulating and testing. (2)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Electronic assemblers, fabricators, inspectors and testers work independently. In large companies, they are part of an assembly team and are responsible for one stage of production, for example, assembly, visual inspection, or testing. In smaller companies they may be responsible for a wider variety of tasks and may even be part of a design team.
Electronic assemblers, fabricators, inspectors and testers mostly learn on the job. At larger companies they receive in-house training on new equipment, tools and procedures, including safety procedures. There may be seminars and workshops offered by suppliers. They may attend distribution shows to learn about new equipment and technology. They ask co-workers, supervisors and lead hands for information. They may look for information online including both electronic and hobbyist sites.