Key Challenges in Conformal Coating Production: Staff

One of the four key challenges in successful conformal coating production is Staff.

By definition, staff refers to everyone involved in the conformal coating process. That is operators, technicians, supervisors and process engineers. They all need to know the fundamentals of what we are discussing below. After all, would it not be risky not to understand each other’s roles in the conformal coating process?

There are three key areas for staff namely Training, Operation, and Troubleshooting.


The staff members need to understand the conformal coating process as well as several key areas including

How the conformal coating process works?

Why the process does what it does?

What is a good and bad result when coating?

What to do when a bad result occurs?

Lets consider each point briefly.

How the Conformal Coating Process Works?

One of the foundations to the system running smoothly is the staff’s knowledge and deep understanding of the coating process. Someone in the process needs to become an expert especially in scenarios when it all goes wrong.

Why the Conformal Coating Process Does What it Does?

People like to tamper with processes and change things. Although with good intentions, changing the process can adversely affect the results of the coating process.

Do staff members understand what will happen when they adjust the process? Do they know what will happen there on the system, downstream in the rest of production and ultimately in the field? If not, training is needed.

What is a Good and Bad Result When Conformal Coating?

The staff members need to understand what they are trying to achieve and what the boundaries that are acceptable and unacceptable. Understand the customer requirements and how that is translated to real life production!

Once this is understood then the criteria can be in the form of written instructions and visual aids. They need to be clear, precise and concise. Avoid giving complex instructions for these can lead to misinterpretation and failure. Make sure the staff members really understand these points. Then, make sure they obey them!

What To Do When a Bad Result Occurs?

Once a short-term action has been taken (stop the line and inform the supervisor for example), then the system can be checked, adjusted and production can continue.

Undoubtedly, training is crucial. It’s important to carry the training through and ensure the staff member’s knowledge of the conformal coating process is good enough to give the best results in operation.

Operation in Production

Each staff member plays a role when operating the machine and using the conformal coating. However, a lot of problems in conformal coating production are ignored, or not even recognised by the staff operating the machine, making the problems multiply very quickly!

Taking ownership of the conformal coating process requires senior staff do there upmost to enforce the operators’ involvement. When the process goes wrong the staff need to take the right action. So, how can we help them to do this?

First, we can set the system up to help the operators to see the conformal coating problems when they occur. We can do many things including

Calibration Processes

Visual aids and Instructions

Data Recording

Poka Hoke (Error Proofing)


Calibration Processes

We can help them set up the machine correctly, determine the times when the calibration process should take place, and ensure that the process actually takes place.

Visual Aids and Instructions

Provide visual aids and instructions to compare with the results produced by the system. This will aid them to continuously check the process. This applies to the application process and the inspection process.

Data Recording

Record all the machine data because this can be invaluable for understanding the process long-term and predicting problems. Staff can also record problems occurring to trace back issues.

Feedback Systems

This is especially important for inspection where problems suddenly occur and boards are defective. Telling the application operators that defects are occurring helps them correct the issues.

Poka Hoke (Error Proofing)

Set the process up so that the system can only operate in a certain way. This can include systems such as bar code monitoring, visual inspection and sensors on conveyors.

Alarms and Warnings

Give warnings when processes go wrong. Monitoring various areas can help. This includes material flow changes, material running low, temperature fluctuations, wrong program or circuit board being used or coating and conveyor flow. In the event complications arise, the machine must stop or go into standby to avoid further damage.

These options help the operators and create boundaries in which they can operate. The key is to give clear and concise instructions and guidance that explain what to do immediately if there is a conformal coating problem.


The third key area is finding a solution after identifying the issue.

This is where understanding the conformal coating process is combined with different techniques—such as 5 Whys and 8D Analysis—to really understand the fundamental issues behind the failures.


As a whole, staff members can affect the conformal coating process. When considering staff, this includes everyone involved in the coating production line.

The three key areas are training, operation, and troubleshooting. Understand what systems are required for these three areas. Implement systems to ensure your process is optimised for achieving the best results from the staff members.


Machines – How do the Systems in Conformal Coating affect Production

Materials – The Conformal Coatings and how they affect Production

Staff- Their Impact on Conformal Coating Production

Upstream Processes – Why they can influence your Conformal Coating Production