Tom Berx, Area Sales Manager, Ersa GmbH
Since 2006 Tom Berx has worked as key account manager for Ersa. He is responsible for the sales to the most important markets in Europe. In close cooperation with our local sales representatives, Berx supports the distribution of our premium and high-performance soldering systems and screen printers on site at the customer’s. His process expertise is highly acknowledged, as is his extensive experience in total production solutions. Tom Berx has over 20 years of experience in the sales of machines and systems for the electronics production industry.
As the inventor of the electric soldering iron, the production demand “High mix, Low volume” was being followed by us right from the beginning, and has been subsequently implemented in all our product groups. This is confirmed by our customers on a daily basis. World-wide. 24/7. The technical implementation can be observed in our reflow-, wave- and selective soldering systems as well as in the rework- and hand soldering technology.
High Mix – Low Volume: Succeeding with flexible production equipment
Local industry producing electronic products faces ever more global competition. While mass production of electronic products takes place in Asia, Europe focuses on high quality industrial products – often in low volumes and many versions. This calls for flexible production systems which can handle frequent changes and still economically produce small batch sizes with high quality.
Information to the Products
Despite apparently equal demands, optimal solutions substantially differ in their details. To approach the subject “high mix, low volume” manufacturing, it is best to look at different solder processes – on these it is possible to demonstrate how important flexible production technologies which satisfy the specific demands are for gaining a competitive advantage leading to economic success.
The leading processes such as selective -, wave – and reflow soldering will be rated – with a particular view on the widely varying customer demands. For suppliers to the automotive industry, “high mix, low volume” could mean a product change every 600 assemblies, whereas an industrial supplier changes after every 50 and up to 1 000 assemblies and, for a contract assembler, batch sizes of 1 to 250 are not uncommon. This flexibility which is called for is Ersa’s daily business: More than 80% of the 600 systems annually build by Ersa are considered “customized”, so as to conform to a customer’s specific demands. This flexibility applies to the complete product range of Ersa, starting with soldering stations, rework systems and right up to the high-end soldering systems.
Even though todays electronic manufacturers cannot really predict the demands called for in 10 years, fact is: a manufacturing line in 2016 will need flexibility, both in order to maintain the unit costs at a low level and to be able, for a manageable period of time, to produce all future products. At the same time the system needs to be of modular design to allow for easy future expansion, without incurring a long down time or an excessive amount of manpower.
How does a manufacturing tool for “batch size 1 to infinity” actually look like? With the bad-board recognition feature VERSASCAN, defects are recognized already prior to soldering – even if each assembly looks different. Multi- or Mini wave, if wanted with the “on the fly” set-up option, variability on the x-, y- and z-axes, up to ten system modules…… All is possible; each configuration is justified by its application and is mirrored in the Ersa product world. Continuing with wave soldering: Two different solders with 60 to 80 °C temperature difference are to be used, and up to ten board assemblies should be soldered in mixed production, one after the other. No problem for Ersa! On a recurring basis, one or two assemblies are to be manually soldered – on the Ersa i-CON VARIO work station up to 4 tools can be operated in parallel and an additional 6 tools need to be only connected. This manual soldering process should now be elevated to the next step and be replaced by an automated soldering process. With Ersa, this transition is easy – whether it is batch size 1 or a multitude of assemblies which needs to be processed one after the other. Regardless of whether a high degree of flexibility is called for, or a high throughput rate or both – with its broad range of selective soldering systems (there are the SMARTFLOW, the ECOSELECT, the VERSAFLOW and the ECOCELL systems), Ersa always offers an optimal solution. Being the common theme, this encompassing range of products can be found also in the other soldering processes, from reflow soldering right up to Rework & Inspection.
Summarizing, it can be said: Lived flexibility is our most important product. As of today, Ersa offers more than 1000 possibilities to configure systems to suit individual needs. The extensive process knowledge of the contact partner and the singular Ersa i-CCS System Configurator ideally support the customer in selecting the correct production system. Clearly arranged, this multi-lingual tool shows the optimal system configuration, which can then be printed out.
The development of the industrial landscape in Europe is substantially dependent on the competitiveness of the companies. Regardless of whether acting locally or globally – considering today‘s situation on the world market, anticipatory planning and innovative strength are essential. Only with continuous innovations will it be possible to ensure, in the medium to long term, a company’s success. As a medium-sized company of the equipment manufacturing industry with a longstanding tradition, we put our technological advantages and our capacity to innovate at the disposal of our customers, to sustainably optimize their production processes in regard to quality, cost and delivery services. While flexibility and profitable manufacturing of “High Mix, Low Volume” will be different for every enterprise – in the final result it is comparable. We look forward to interesting discussions, a lively exchange of information and hope that the participants will find productive contacts to experts, in order to successfully advance those projects that will ensure the future of their company. If the subject is soldering, we have the solutions for your challenges!