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Wildtrax Invests in SMT Assembly Technology to Boost Productivity During Pandemic.

Mar 25, 2021

Contract Manufacturer Wildtrax proves that some businesses have reasons to pursue aggressive growth strategies even in times of global challenges. The Littlehampton-based CEM invested in its second SMT pick & place machine from Europlacer during the lockdown in September 2020 to support the urgent manufacture of equipment destined for several essential key markets, including assemblies for vaccine machines, cold-chain distribution products and the Nightingale Hospital.

The new twin-headed iineo+ II machine from Europlacer was installed at Wildtrax in October, meeting the company’s need to quickly ramp up surface mount assembly throughput for boards used in medical products as well as others deployed in Cold Chain food and pharmaceuticals distribution. Wildtrax approached Europlacer early in the pandemic to investigate placement equipment options for rapid delivery should the need arise.

That point was reached in late summeras production volumes increased and the constraints imposed by some of the firm’s existing pick & place systems on the shop floor were called into question in a production meeting. The decision to acquire the new iineo+ machine came on the back of Wildtrax’s first iineo order in 2018. With that initial purchase, the production team at nearby GB Electronics (GBE) as well as engineers at Wildtrax selected the iineo platform after an in-depth study of the marketplace and equipment suppliers. (Wildtrax has been wholly owned by GB Electronics since 2017).

“We knew that another iineo machine would pay for itself inside 18 months. In light of the exemplary support provided by Europlacer with the first installation and afterwards, it was the obvious choice,” explains Mark Bullen, Managing Director at GBE& Wildtrax. “Back in 2018, moving away from our incumbent supplier was a difficult step. But we have huge expertise in our productionteam, so I asked members of that team what they would buy. They had spent many months working out exactly what we needed and recommended iineo. So we went for it – whereby efficiencypromptly leapt by 50%! We’ve never looked back.”

The improvements in speed and efficiency also allowed GBE to win more contracts, with Wildtrax providing the surface mount assembly element of the manufacturing service. “Once again we have been impressed. The speed of the new iineo+ II is amazing. It’s a challenge to keep up with it, so we have changed our production process to do so,” says Bullen.

GB Electronics is a turnkey design-led electronicsmanufacturing business. GBE originally outsourced manufacturing to Wildtrax before acquiring the company but the two operations are still run independently. “The contract manufacturing business model is different to that of GBE, which is why we keep the entities separate. But strategic collaborations between the businesses have proved highly successful,” says Bullen. “We have almost doubled the combined revenues in three years and are enjoying particularly strong growth at Wildtrax, due in part to our continuing investment in new assembly technologies like the Europlacer pick & place platforms that deliver more capability and capacity.”

The Europlacer Group comprises Europlacer Ltd (UK), Europlacer International (France) and Europlacer Technology Ltd (UK), with regional direct offices in USA, China, Asia Pacific, Germany, Spain and Italy. The primary business focus is on the manufacture of SMT pick & place systems and stencil printers, produced in France and the UK respectively. Europlacer provides full line solutions globally, with local service and support delivered in each region for complementary production equipment including AOI, reflow, PCB handling and intelligent storage solutions.

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