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Electronics Production | February 08, 2012

Cms electronics uses Assembléon’s equipment

Cms electronics says flexibility was important for its new strategy and equipment requirements.
Cms electronics is located in Austria's Carinthia region, by the picturesque Lake Wörthersee where many people spend their holidays. The company has an annual turnover of € 41 million from around 1000 different assembly types.

The company can trace its origins back to 1979 when Philips established an internal supplier for printed circuit boards and assemblies for its video recorder factory in Vienna. The present company was founded by a management buy-out during a difficult period in 2003.

The company's change of course - away from PCBs for bulk buyers and towards assemblies - had already begun before the company started. Michael Velmeden, cms electronics’ Managing Director recalls: "Even then we had the vision to offer electronics manufacturing services - in the widest sense - as a one-stop-shop. Not just placement, but starting with development and taking in procurement, assembly and testing through to the manufacturing of complete devices - we offer all these steps as a complete package".

“The mass markets are heading off towards Asia. So we decided to concentrate on the promising market segments in Europe. We saw a considerable potential for future growth in this field.”

Expansion

Following the change in focus, successful customer projects soon made it necessary to greatly expand both the production area and placement capacity. The driving force was the automotive sector. "We focus on premium vehicles that have an ever-growing proportion of electronics. This sector is less affected by economic fluctuations than is high-volume production", said Mr. Velmeden, explaining the company's strategy.

The basis for growth came from building an additional manufacturing centre. This has seen the production area at Klagenfurt increase by 900 m² since 2007, including the most modern SMT equipment.

Equipment requirements

The typically small assemblies being processed at cms call for placement on production panels, which are only separated into assemblies in later process stages. The necessary electrical and mechanical spacing of the individual components leads to relatively large portions of the circuit board surface containing no components at all. The total component density of the production panel is thus comparatively low. Conversely, the traverse paths of the heads during placement are relatively long.

"This production panel structure is the reason why our older GEM placement line fell short of the theoretical performance. We barely achieved 50% of the IPC 9850 figures" reports Michael Polligger, head of Process Engineering & Maintenance at cms. "In the past, the high traverse distances and low component density of our panels of assemblies prevented the efficient use of automatic equipment."

The most important characteristic of a placement system is always the price/performance ratio. However, the key figures reported by manufacturers have little relevance for cms. What counts is the performance that can actually be achieved with those assemblies that are typical for the company.

"We conducted detailed benchmark tests on the three providers with 15 different, representative assemblies", Michael Polligger commented on the selection process.

"While the performance of other pick & place and turret systems was very badly impacted by our typical assemblies with their low component densities (compared to IPC performance), the A-Series machines (by Assembléon’s) impressed us by only being 10 to 15% slower, depending on the assemblies”.

This can be explained by the A-Series' machine concept: placement is performed by many robots working in parallel instead of by a few high performance heads. The effect of the traversing speeds is therefore less dramatic.

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