Defective printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) is inevitable despite the improved statistical process control methods in PCB manufacturing. Currently, manual rework equipment is normally used to correct the defects. Whilst PCBA manufacturing is highly automated, rework has not yet been successfully fully automated and it is still very much operator dependent despite the high cost of this. It is generally recognised that the lack of international effort to develop a fully automated rework cell is mostly because of the anticipated cost of a such a system. A fully automated robotic rework cell has been developed, implemented and manufactured at the University of Salford, UK. This cell was designed to be an integrated part of a PCBA cell and to perform assembly, rework and in-process inspection so that the system with shared resources can be economically justified. This paper summarises the hardware and, in particular, describes the architecture of the software of the automated rework cell which is capable of removing and replacing both surface mount (SM) and through-hole (TH) components of single-sided defective PCBAs. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.