The Automotive division at Motorola Government Enterprise Mobility Solutions (GEMS, Shaumburg, IL) produces embedded electronics and communications systems for the automotive and heavy-vehicle markets. Recently, the company built an automated test and assembly line at its Elma, NY, plant for the manufacture of automatic transmission controllers. These controllers are part of Motorola's Miniaturized Hardened Electronic Modules line (MHEMs) and can be mounted either on or inside a transmission casing.

In addition to performing a variety of assembly and inspection tasks, the line needed to be both flexible and fully scalable. With this in mind, the company built the line using four Polaris Multi-Process and seven Polaris Junior assembly cells from Universal Instruments (Binghamton, NY).

The line performs 30 separate operations, and currently builds and tests approximately 500,000 MHEM assemblies per year. Operations include laser-marking; adhesive and gel dispensing; placement and handling of ceramic substrates; probing and functional testing; placing and securing housings and covers; and final packaging.

Engineers from Universal Instruments and Motorola worked together to develop the line as a turnkey system. As part of this process, they incorporated Motorola Automotive's manufacturing computing infrastructure software to facilitate routing, traceability and testing. The team also developed a custom interface using Motorola Automotive's proprietary computer-aided manufacturing software along with industry standard SMEMA protocols for basic line traffic control. By using standard assembly cells, Motorola created a common user interface across all machines in the line, which reduces training time for operators, and makes it easier to manage and maintain equipment.

The platform design of the Polaris assembly cell is such that extra cells can be added on as required. This scalability means additional assembly cells can be quickly inserted at different points along the line to increase production capacity to as much as 1 million units per year. The cells are also flexible enough to allow production of other MHEM products as Motorola Automotive finds new applications for its hardened module technology.

Each Polaris Multi-Process cell can perform a number of different operations by incorporating up to three quick-release, independent tool modules, plus a vision inspection or guidance camera. Each Polaris Junior assembly cell performs a single operation. In the Motorola application, the Polaris Junior aligns each completed module with a test fixture and then oversees an in-circuit test.

In the future, Motorola Automotive plans to increase output to around 2 million MHEM units per year by replicating the line at other manufacturing sites in North America.

For more information on automated test and assembly cells, call 800-432-2607, visit or eInquiry 4.