Case Study - Rapier Electronics - SMT Assembly
Next Generation SMT Line Provides Ultimate Flexibility
As a Surface MountTechnology (SMT) contractor, Rapier Electronics were experiencing more diverse and demanding customer requests and needed an SMT solution that could grow with their business.
About Rapier Electronics
Rapier Electronics (Rapier) provide prototyping and production solutions for electrical assemblies. From simple rework and repair to full turnkey production services, Rapier cater for low to high volume projects as well as offering design and consulting expertise.
With over 25 years’ experience in the electronics industry, Rapier is one of Australia’s leading contract SMT production companies.
Responding to a Changing Market
While high volume manufacturing has largely moved ofshore in recent years, the demand for local prototyping and low-volume production continues to gain popularity. Companies wanting quicker turnaround times and greater control over intellectual property is resulting in an increased demand for local contract electronics manufacturers.
A trend that has been developing over recent years, in early 2015 Rapier decided to review its business model to ensure it had the flexibility to service a wider range of rapier electronics smt line customers with more diverse production needs.
At the time, Rapier were running two SMT production lines; one running a Juki 700 series Pick and Place machine and the other running a Juki 2060RL series pick & place machine. Both lines were running Omnilow5 reflow ovens.
While the two lines could pick and place up to a combined 15,000 (approximate) components per hour (CPH) and handle a maximum PCB board size of 510mm x 460mm, it was limiting Rapiers ability to keep pace with their customers’ demands. It was clear that Rapier needed to upgrade their SMT capabilities if it wanted to maintain and grow the business.
Rapier required a solution that could provide in excess of 30,000+ CPH, handle PCB boards from 50mm x 30mm to 1.5 METRES x 510mm, and place a wider variety of components (from 0201 to 120 x 90mm). They also required options like standard board warpage detection and force control for placing connectors.
As well as looking at newer Juki machines, in an effort to find the best possible solution, Rapier consulted with a number of SMT equipment suppliers including Hawker Richardson. While there were multiple solutions on the market that could meet Rapier’s initial requirements, only a YAMAHA solution offered by Hawker Richardson provided increased feeder capacity and flexibility, electric ‘smart’ feeders and user friendly programming features that allowed for the quick turnaround of jobs.
The YAMAHA i-PULSE M20 Pick and Place machine provided Rapier with everything they needed in one flexible solution with either 144 or 180 electric feeders on one single machine. It was the preferred choice over the pigeon-pair mode of operation offered by Juki pick and place machines. Long term serviceability will also be improved by operating only one machine type whilst losing nothing in capability over the old-style pigeon pair solution.
After considerable research and consideration, Rapier decided to replace their main SMT line with a YAMAHA solution consisting of:
- 2 x Yamaha i-PULSE M20 Pick & Place Machines with Tray Cart
- Heller 1707 MK3 Lead-Free Reflow Oven
- Nutek In-Line Conveyors
Hawker Richardson managed the entire installation and commissioning process and had the new line up-and-running within three days. Full training was provided by experienced Hawker Richardson staff and ongoing support and servicing continues.
Arrangements were made for Rapier’s existing SMT machines to be sold through second hand SMT sales equipment specialist Resurface (www.resurface.com.au).
Since commissioning, the line has been operational without fault. Rapier now have an SMT production line that will grow with the business for the next 10 to 15 years and cater for almost any requirement their customers have.
With other local manufacturers (private and defence) using Hawker Richardson supplied YAMAHA and i-PULSE machines, Rapier also have the reassurance of Hawker Richardson’s local service and support team.
Throughput on the new line has effectively tripled, dramatically reducing the time taken to complete production runs. This has allowed the sales team to go out and chase NEW business that was previously unachievable.
Tom Rae, Director of Rapier Electronics said: “As a SMT production contractor it’s important that we can cater for any need our customers have. Whether it’s creating a one-off prototype on a single board to production runs of thousands of units, we need to be able to cater for it all. This new line gives us that ability”