Prima Electronic Services, has chosen to underpin its growth plans by selecting Europlacer’s iineo+ placement platform to address larger and more complex customer boards. The decision to switch to Europlacer is notable as the company has long been a Yamaha customer; it has seven iPulse machines already operating on its assembly lines.
The installation of the twin-turret iineo+ machine adds a new level of capability for Prima Electronic Services. Existing placement systems were a decade old. While still competent, they could not address newer generations of sub-miniature components increasingly used on modern boards. In contrast, the iineo+ machine can place devices down to 01005 profiles.
This capability, along with Europlacer’s industry-leading on-machine component inventory of up to 264 reels on the iineo platform, allows Prima to not only expedite the production of existing customer subassemblies, but to address exciting new markets.
“We are expanding into quality-sensitive sectors like defence and aerospace that typically feature large, high-value and high-complexity boards that demand absolute precision,” says Nick Russel, Chairman of Prima Electronic Services.
For Russel and his team, application support was a critical consideration in selecting its new placement platform. “We wanted to avoid installing a dynamic new piece of equipment and then find we were only able to use 70% of its capability,” he explains. “We were attracted to Europlacer by its support reputation and the advantage of being a European manufacturer with headquarters in the UK. Once engaged in discussions with the company, and being impressed with its business philosophy, the decision was easy to reach.”
Prima Electronic Services’ production team ordered its iineo+ in October 2019. By coincidence, a system of identical specification was already in production as a demo machine for Europlacer to exhibit at November’s Productronica event in Munich. Russel and his production management team were therefore able to see and operate the iineo+ on the show floor and take delivery shortly thereafter; the machine was shipped directly from Munich to the Prima Electronic Services factory at St Ives in Cambridgeshire.
The company now has the iineo+ running a day shift, with a late shift due to be added later this month. Typical batch sizes at Prima range from 10 to 10,000 boards. The new iineo+ machine has been put to work assembling medium volume batches. “We have optimised the production flow and balanced the line for our medium volume contracts,” says Russel. “This new line can happily accommodate our customers’ largest boards yet switch to populating batches of small boards with negligible downtime for changeover, thanks to the large inventory capacity of iineo.”
The strategy in shifting to a Europlacer Pick & Place platform can be directly attributed to the recent acquisition of Prima Electronic Services by Chairman Nick Russel. He acquired the business in August 2018 from the owner-managers who were looking to retire. A former aerospace engineer and General Manager of several private and PLC companies, Russel is passionate about growing engineering businesses. Russel is also chairman and majority shareholder at Thurso-based Denchi Group. He added Prima Electronic Services as part of a strategic acquisition programme in which he plans to create a UK manufacturing powerhouse based on the renowned Mittelstand business model and ethos favoured in Germany.
The Blakell Europlacer Group comprises the Speedprint Technologies, Europlacer, and Blakell Europlacer Distribution business units. All three are active and pre-eminent in the electronic circuit board assembly sector with advanced product and service solutions for electronics manufacturers in the UK and globally. Speedprint Technologies is a provider of screen printing equipment used in surface mount assembly processes. Europlacer is a provider of surface mount component placement equipment. Blakell Europlacer Distribution augments the provision of screen printing and pick & place platforms in the UK with a range of associated equipment, including AOI, reflow and PCB handling.