C-LED partners with Yamaha Intelligent Machines to drive the pace of LED-lighting progress
Converting the world’s lighting to LED technology presents a tremendous opportunity for electronics manufacturers to help lower CO2 emissions and revolutionise living and working environments for people everywhere.
C-LED of Imola in Italy – a new manufacturing services company within the industrial group CEFLA – is rising to the opportunity. As a new business run by an experienced team, C-LED is focused on delivering advanced assembly know-how to support innovative OEM partners in markets such as industrial lighting, visual merchandising, interior design, and outdoor lighting. After a comprehensive audit of potential suppliers, the company chose Yamaha Intelligent Machines to provide the surface-mount placement and inspection capability that are critical for success in LED-lighting markets.
The company’s origins are as a provider of specialist electronics assembly capabilities to partners within the CEFLA group that supply a variety of scientific and commercial equipment. The C-LED team has over 30 years’ experience building precision electronics including LED-based illuminations for dentistry equipment such as intra-oral cameras with precision colour-temperature control, optical sterilisation equipment, and intelligent shop-fittings.
Fresh Energy for the Advanced Lighting Market
C-LED was born from this captive business unit, with a mission to accelerate innovation in commercial LED-lighting markets. Its focus encompasses not only advanced and imaginative LED assemblies, but also complementary solutions such as proximity sensing and wireless control for smart lighting, as well as advanced retail beacons that can pinpoint the locations of customers as they move within a store.
“The LED-lighting market continues to evolve quickly as successive generations of emitters offer better performance and efficiency, and as more and more intelligence is driven into lighting systems. We saw the opportunity to establish C-LED as independent manufacturing business unit, and apply our expertise and R&D resources to continue driving the pace of progress by partnering closely with leading OEMs,” Enzo Cuoghi, C-LED General Manager and a 35-year industry veteran, explains the principles that drove the new company’s inception.
“With the backing of CEFLA, we wanted to enter the market with fresh, state-of-the-art facilities throughout the enterprise,” he continues. “It is important always to offer the most modern capabilities, with the speed and flexibility to help customers set new standards in their own marketplaces. Our surface-mount assembly capability is the anchor for our business, and to ensure we made the right investments we decided to audit a number of leading brands. We sought not only the best equipment, but also a true partner to work closely with us in the long term.”
C-LED’s technical team was able to draw on many years of experience working with a number of well-known equipment suppliers. Starting with a clean sheet, they were free to choose the best proposal to realise the company’s ambitions. “We needed to build assemblies in very high volumes, consistently achieving extremely high levels of quality,” explains Enzo Cuoghi. “At the same time we knew we would need to be ultra-flexible, capable of producing many different types of products and changing over very quickly. Moreover, it was very important to us that our chosen partner would be close by and able to work with us to setup the equipment, train our operators quickly, and remain engaged to help us maximise performance and productivity.”
The Best Choices for the New Factory
After evaluating offers from several major surface-mount equipment brands, Enzo and his team at C-LED found that Yamaha offered the best solution both in terms of equipment performance and the depth of support available.
At the heart of the state-of-the-art SMT line now in action at C-LED’s brand new factory are two Yamaha Z:LEX YSM20 dual-stage two-beam mounters. Each machine is capable of placing components down to 03015 size, at up to 90,000 cph, on boards as large as 810mm x 490mm. The equipment was delivered quickly, on schedule to fit in with C-LED’s launch plans, and Yamaha provided support to setup the machines and deliver initial operator training. Adjustments were completed as the line was assembled, enabling production to start as soon as the factory was ready.
“Our operators have become productive quickly, thanks to Yamaha’s highly effective training. The YSM20s deliver the perfect combination of high-volume placement and the ability to handle our high-mix production needs,” says Enzo Cuoghi. “We usually need to do two to three product changeovers per day.”
The YSM20 is designed for flexibility in every way, from the wide range of component sizes supported, to the feeder and carriage systems that help streamline changeovers and minimise machine-stop time. There are also built-in features such as high-speed smart recognition for custom or standard components and the clear graphical user interface that simplifies setup and management of the machine. Zero time overhead for side-view component-pickup detection, and automatic nozzle cleaning, also enable the machine to work quickly for extended periods with minimal operator intervention.
A choice of 10-nozzle High-speed Multi-purpose (HM) or 5-nozzle Flexible Multi-purpose (FM) heads gives broad component-placement capability. The HM head can pick and place components from 03015 chip-size passives to ICs and connectors up to 45mm x 100mm and up to 15mm high. This gives C-LED ample capability to place LED emitters ranging from small units up to large multi-die high-power devices. With the FM head’s expanded range of 55mm x 100mm and 25mm high, even large and tall devices such as capacitors and special connectors can be placed confidently. Each dual-beam YSM20 accepts two heads, and any combination of HM and FM heads can be fitted to meet various production demands.
“This extreme flexibility, to work with a wide component-size range and accept boards up to unusually large sizes, is essential for us, as the LED-lighting markets continue to evolve quickly and explore new applications, markets, and creative avenues,” explains Enzo Cuoghi. He adds that high accuracy and precision are equally vital, as the LED boards ultimately must align with mechanical fittings and optical subsystems such as lenses and reflectors that have a critical role in directing the light for maximum effectiveness. The high accuracy and repeatability of the YSM20, maintaining 3σ at ±25µm, gives complete confidence in the quality of the end result.
Commitment to Quality
C-LED’s commitment to precision and quality is abundantly clear throughout the freshly-kitted factory. There is scrupulous attention to cleanliness, evident in equipment such as the anti-static air knife that purges bare boards from any suspicion of dust particles that could interfere with the precise alignment of the LED emitters or the quality of reflow solder joints. “We think our line is more or less unique in the industry, in this respect,” comments Enzo Cuoghi.
To take care of quality on the other side of the soldering process, C-LED has chosen a Yamaha YSi-V 3D Automatic Optical Inspection (AOI) machine. This is currently being used offline, which Enzo Cuoghi explains gives the greatest flexibility to inspect prototypes or production units as and when the company needs. The YSi-V provides the benefit of Yamaha’s well-known multi-angle, multi-wavelength inspection using red, green, blue and infrared sources, which ensures ultra-dependable defect detection with minimum false calls. In addition, the machine’s built in laser height inspection is extremely effective at detecting any coplanarity errors that can indicate problems with mounting or soldering processes.
“Choosing to work with Yamaha was clearly the best decision for us,” concludes Enzo Cuoghi. “The YSM20 mounters and YSi-V AOI have surpassed our expectations, and we are already benefiting from the professional partnership we desired. Yamaha has proved to have the best technology, as well as reliable and efficient structures to provide the long-term support we need. It’s a secure foundation that enables us to concentrate on delivering our energy and experience to the advanced lighting market.”