Wednesday 8th July 2020 marked a significant milestone for Blakell Europlacer. 50 years to the day, the founding company, Blakell Systems Ltd, was registered and incorporated in Britain by Pat Kellard, who many seasoned industry professionals will remember.
In the half-century that has passed, the Blakell business has gone from strength to strength and is now known worldwide for its ultra-flexible Europlacer surface mount component placement platforms and premium Speedprint screen printers. Blakell acquired Europlacer in 1991 and Speedprint in 1998. The Blakell Europlacer Group is now the world’s largest independent manufacturer of SMT equipment.
Blakell Systems was originally a general engineering company manufacturing traffic lights, forklift trucks and engine washing systems before entering the electronics market. Its first electronics product was a light-guided system for semi-automated hand assembly of boards with through-hole components. An acquisition in 1987 moved Blakell into the automatic component placement industry and the newly emerging Surface Mount Technology sector.
Company Founder Pat Kellard, a true industry legend, started the business in 1970 with just £10. In the past year, the Blakell Europlacer Group returned a revenue of £30 million, has 700 customers in 40 countries and employs over 180 staff located around the globe. Several current members of staff have more than 40 years of service.
Europlacer recently adopted the statement PAT: Performance, Adaptability, Trust into its logo as a declaration that not only highlights its core business and ethical values, but also serves as a timely homage to founder Pat Kellard. “What we are now is entirely formed from what we were then,” explains chairman Robert Conway. “Pat Kellard laid down very solid foundations.”
Europlacer has been developing machines for electronic assembly since the 1970s, invented the intelligent feeder in the 1980s, then gained significant success with its EP928 machine.
With more than a dozen placement machine models developed and produced since, the atom platform now stands as the flagship of the company’s product range. But it is Europlacer’s highly flexible iineo platform that’s the most popular machine the company has ever manufactured, with 550 installations worldwide.
If all those iineo machines were placed end-to-end in a single production line, it would be 1,595 metres (5,233 feet) long – or 47 feet short of a mile. Like the atom, iineo is famous for its huge on-machine component inventory (a feature loved by contract manufacturers). Between them, all the iineo machines produced to date could accommodate no less than 147,700 x 8mm tape reels.
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, France and Germany with a range of associated equipment, including AOI, reflow and PCB handling.