BRAUN GmbH, ASSCON, GÖPEL and Essemtec AG: Partnership is the key to success

The companies ASSCON Systemtechnik Elektronik, GÖPEL electronic and Essemtec AG have developed solutions to tackle these complex requirements...

With ever-shrinking batch sizes and frequent product changes, the efficiency and productivity of the SMT assembly line are increasingly determined by the costs and downtimes that arise during changeovers. Consequently, expensive high-performance lines can only achieve a production utilisation rate of 30% or less. The ideal, cost-effective line concept has become the crucial factor. The companies ASSCON Systemtechnik Elektronik, GÖPEL electronic and Essemtec AG have developed solutions to tackle these complex requirements.

The company BRAUN GmbH in Waiblingen was confronted with precisely this challenge. An increasing number of products and variants has minimised batch sizes. The changeover times and the introduction of new products into the line have resulted in extremely frequent and expensive downtimes.

As Mr Müller, Technical Manager at BRAUN GmbH, explained, a new production strategy had to be developed. The overall objective was to minimise downtimes throughout the entire production chain while keeping the number of employees in production to a minimum. Specifically, the goal was to manage the complex production requirements with minimal effort on the line, and thus to reduce production costs.

Essemtec AG - SMD assembly and dispensing:
After several assessments at BRAUN, it was determined that the placement performance itself was not the crucial factor, but rather minimisation of the downtimes. Essemtec AG developed the "Turtle vs. Rabbit" concept for this purpose.

On the assembly side, the focus shifted towards a non-stop production solution. With three small pick-and-place systems, 420 feeder positions were made available online and augmented with additional tray changers in the machines, which do not eliminate any feeder positions.

This made it possible to permanently set up 90% of the required components for the entire BRAUN production range on the machines. The placement performance itself was incidental. The remaining, required feeders are set up on the fly without stopping production. The operator is supported by sophisticated material management software, a changeover tool, and a seamless traceability concept.

A dispensing unit is integrated on the first module. If required, it can additionally secure the components by applying SMD adhesive and/or extra solder paste. This makes it possible to virtually eliminate changeover times and enables an immediate response to changing process requirements on the line.

Image 1: SMT P&P line at BRAUN with 3 FOX pick-and-place systems from Essemtec AG

The pick-and-place system alone does not solve the problem. The soldering process must also be optimised inline.

ASSCON Systemtechnik-Elektronik GmbH – Vapour phase:

The complexity of modern electronics production and the associated high-quality standards are making new production technologies indispensable. In precisely this context, ASSCON Systemtechnik-Elektronik GmbH has taken on the task of developing a high-quality, yet easy-to-control soldering process in the form of vapour phase soldering. Installing a flexible VP6000 vapour phase soldering system at BRAUN GmbH in Waiblingen, Germany, for example, successfully combines quality and simplicity.

The physical self-regulating process of saturated vapour phase soldering ensures 100% oxygen-free soldering through condensation, and at the same time completely prevents damage to assemblies caused by overheating. The vacuum process, which can be switched on as an option, helps to reduce shrinkage rates to less than 1%. The small footprint of a vapour phase system presents another advantage.

For precisely these reasons, the company decided to install a VP6000 in the overall line. The objective of BRAUN GmbH was very straightforward: the new system had to be capable of processing the entire complex product range with just one profile, and the machines installed in the line had to be synchronised with the assembly cycle.

BRAUN's customers expect the highest quality because the products are used in safety-relevant systems. State-of-the-art SPI and AOI systems are a matter of course here.

Image 2: ASSCON Systemtechnik-Elektronik GmbH VP6000 Vapor phase Inline

BRAUN's customers expect the highest quality because the products are used in safety-relevant systems. State-of-the-art SPI and AOI systems are a matter of course here.

GÖPEL electronic GmbH
Wherever high flexibility and inspection depth are in demand, the inspection solutions from GÖPEL electronic are the right choice. The 3D Vario Line 3D AOI system is particularly impressive in production lines where products are changed frequently. A 2D AOI system from GÖPEL electronic had already been integrated at BRAUN a long time ago. It is now used in the line concept for checking components and monitoring the process. The evaluation of the solder joints after vapour phase soldering, however, is particularly critical about quality and safety. In this case, the 3D Vario Line was integrated – a flexible system with high inspection depth thanks to a rotating angle of view and 3D measurements.

A unique advantage here is the system software, which includes the "MagicClick" tool that automates the creation of the AOI test program. This process step is normally time-consuming and results in machine downtime. The automatic creation function makes it easy to create numerous product variants. Another benefit is that the system also generates the inspection program for the older 2D AOI system, which prevents it from becoming a bottleneck. GOEPEL electronic achieves a high inspection depth at BRAUN using these two AOI systems. For individual inspection tasks which extend beyond the visible areas, an X-ray system is also available as a stand-alone solution.

Image 3: GÖPEL electronic GmbH Vario Line 3D AOI

The results in production:
By implementing these measures, BRAUN was able to reduce the changeover times virtually to zero.

The placement performance was deemed secondary, since the priority is to have the required quantity of perfect PCBs assembled, soldered, and optically inspected at the end of each month. BRAUN expects the highest production quality for its safety technology products. It was also discovered that the concept could be consistently implemented across all production systems in the line.

Thanks to the solution offered by all the companies involved, BRAUN avoided costly investments in a second line while increasing both throughput and quality.

Mr Müller, Production Manager of BRAUN GmbH, explained: "The required concept was adopted by all participating suppliers. No compromises were made regarding flexibility, "zero time" program changes and the highest possible quality assurance in production. The employed concepts meet the high requirements set by BRAUN GmbH. The system has been fully implemented and the high expectations placed on it by BRAUN GmbH have been fulfilled. Furthermore, the investment has paid for itself in a remarkably short time.

Image 4: Planned section of the BRAUN line

Autoren: Christian Müller Braun, Jürg Schüpbach Essemtec, Tobias Tuffentsammer ASSCON , Enrico Zimmermann Göpel

Über BRAUN GmbH:
• Trend-setting and innovative product development
• Highest quality, 100% tested
• Technological market leadership
• Customised, tailor-made solutions

Who we are
As an owner-managed family business, now in the second generation, we are your reliable supplier of protection systems for rotating equipment, especially for overspeed protection. With over 60 years of experience, BRAUN is a trustworthy and competent partner for tailor-made solutions.

What we aim to achieve
We offer a wide range of suitable protection systems for rotating equipment, especially for measuring and monitoring speed. They are primarily used for the protection of turbines, pumps, compressors, expanders, and similar equipment.

How we act
We take environmental considerations very seriously when we develop new products, select production technologies and work with our suppliers. We consider it our responsibility to conserve important resources and preserve them for future generations in the interests of ensuring sustainability.

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