An electronic equipment assembler, also known as a fabricator, mounts, connects, assembles and secures parts and components of electronic equipment. The assembler works behind the scenes to bring together the pieces of equipment we use every day, such as computers, electronic devices, toys and engines. A wide range of electronics are involved: computer circuit boards, transmitters, receivers, medical equipment, measuring devices, and automotive mechanisms.
Opening up the inside of a home computer provides a sense of the complexity of the job. A computer motherboard, for example, is a small circuit board that consists of dozens and dozens of individual components: resisters, transistors, wires, connectors, CPU sockets, battery connectors, and power connectors, just to mention a few. All of these tiny parts need to be fixed to the board and connected in order for the computer to function. Many large manufacturers outsource things like circuit boards to companies in China and India. However, these pre-assembled components still must be put together manually.
With new technological advancements requiring smaller and smaller micro electronics, mass production technology has become more automated. Changes in technology have transformed the way electronic equipment is made, and modern manufacturing systems use robots, programmable motion-control devices, sensing technologies and computers. Increasingly, companies are using lean manufacturing techniques, with teams of workers producing the entire device. The nature of the electronic equipment assembler's job has been transformed accordingly. Regardless of how or where, however, almost every piece of modern electronic equipment has at some point been in the hands of an electronic equipment assembler.
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An electronic equipment assembler most often works as part of an assembly line or production facility. He or she assembles and fabricates electronic products, meeting very precise specifications. Many different tools are used in the process, from hand-operated tools such as soldering guns and small power tools, to large automatic and semi-automatic machines. The work ranges from fairly basic and easy assembly work to complicated tasks that require advanced knowledge and experience. Assemblers often work with the designers and engineers in product development, sometimes assisting with prototypes and building test products. Workers must read and comprehend detailed blueprints and schematics.
A very important part of the job is quality control. Workers must conduct quality checks to identify faulty components and replace them at the source. Problems need to be fixed as early as possible in the stream, before large-scale manufacturing of defective products can occur.
Other parts of the job involve manually placing and soldering resistors, diodes, capacitors, transistors, wires, and integrated circuits onto printed circuit boards. These tasks may also be performed by assemblers operating machines to position, solder and seal parts onto printed circuit boards. Workers mount and fasten parts, align and adjust small components, and connect complex wiring. Microcircuits require fine hand assembly, or mechanical parts may need to be assembled onto frames or shelves.
Most electronic equipment assemblers and fabricators work on a team, but there are some who specialize and only produce one type of product. Some do the same task repeatedly throughout the assembly process. In addition to electronic equipment assembly, there are several different areas assemblers can work:
electromechanical equipment such as household appliances
fiberglass laminators, building molds for boats and automobiles
aircraft systems, assembling avionics components, space vehicles or missiles
timing devices and calibrators
The workplace is generally an assembly or manufacturing plant. Shift work is common, with manufacturing done around the clock. Most plants are located in large urban centers where there is good access to parts, services and customers. Production schedules may have peak periods to meet demand and deadlines, so assemblers may be hired on a temporary or short-term basis.