The vacuum ski boot and the in-flight entertainment system in 15 days! Or why a six-man company invested 350’000 Euro in a SMD assembly line

Time efficiency is becoming more and more of an indispensable factor for engineering companies who want to remain successful. Today, customers want to hold their product, from inception to a functional prototype, in their hand as soon as possible. They also expect very rapid redesigns. How to escape from this dilemma? HEMI GmbH in Raublingen (Germany) solved it by investing in a complete SMD line with a FOX2 assembler from Essemtec.

The production of small batches doesn’t excite the service industry (EMS) very much these days. Delivery dates of many weeks are quite normal for prototypes, and hand assembly becomes more and more impossible as the components get smaller and smaller. These circumstances lead to a dilemma which engineering and development companies can’t accept.

Until fairly recently HEMI GmbH still assembled their PCBs by hand. More recently they outsourced this process step to an EMS company. But in using this kind of manufacturing method the same combination of problems became apparent again and again. Here are two example

The vacuum shoe

HEMI developed again a new generation of controllers for the innovative boots fitting system of a large ski and ski boots manufacturer. The project was under immense time pressure. Many “on the go” improvements and redesigns took place in parallel with the development. Because of the manual production of the prototype the tight time line until the presentation at ISPO could only be met by working night and weekend shifts; the lead times from the EMS companies were just too long.

Picture 1: Vacuum fitting ski boot (source: Fischer)

The in-flight entertainment system

It was the same story with the in-flight entertainment system, Mr. Mayr, director of HEMI GmbH, explains. After the prototype was successfully approved the airline company wanted to equip another thirty planes with the system in just 15 days. Because of the specified tight service times on ground HEMI could keep the schedule only by working overtime.

Picture 2: In-flight entertainment system

After calculations and evaluations that lasted for months, HEMI GmbH finally invested in additional space and a new SMD line. Standing alongside with board loaders, printers and vapour phase there is also, as the central core, a new high-grade FOX2 assembler with dispensing device from Essemtec. Such an investment will absolutely pay off, says Mr. Mayr. They can now produce both prototypes with the shortest of lead-times and assemble small and middle size batches in-house. Time and money are saved, and stress is minimised. The operators are trained on all the machines and can therefore assemble their own projects. It is a complete success, and with FOX2 from Essemtec, HEMI GmbH is now fully prepared for these kinds of challenges. Additionally, the dispensing process supports the highly flexible mounting and quick set-up of the system.

Picture 3: F.l.t.r. Mr. Mayr, director HEMI GmbH, Mrs. Paggen, Agent Essemtec, Mr. Borck, ASM Essemtec Germany


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