Heerbrugg, Switzerland - July 1, 2020
As a successful electronics contract manufacturer, ESCATEC utilises automation to a large degree in its production and operational processes. This has enabled the Group to remain competitive over time and to meet customer expectations for shorter lead times, pricing and higher volumes with better quality.
ESCATEC Switzerland provides a recent example of this. Responding to the changing needs of a customer operating in the competitive medical devices industry, ESCATEC Switzerland adapted a production line which still had a few manual processes with repetitive handling, into a highly automated robotic manufacturing cell.
This change, although it incurred some investment costs, is benefitting both ESCATEC Switzerland and its customer - in terms of labour cost savings, consistent production quality and fostering the long-term viability of both businesses. Due to privacy restriction, ESCATEC is unable to reveal the identity of the customer.
The automation solution introduced by ESCATEC Switzerland - meant for a medical device and equipped with a highly sophisticated level of process control to be ISO 13485 compliant - can perform the work of multiple operators, streamlines processes and delivers a much higher level of parts accuracy.
“The end result is a decrease in cycle times and cost-per-piece while delivering higher quality and consistency,” notes Britta Blum, General Manager of ESCATEC Switzerland.
As the automation solution - which comprises of soldering and testing with multiple degree of complexity – is customized and focused, “the initial investment in equipment and development costs can be quickly offset by lower operating costs, reduced lead times and increased output,” Britta explains.
Another big advantage, as seen by ESCATEC Switzerland in this case, is that the production robots can function 24/7 while new products, processes and innovation can be introduced offline with little to no interruption to production.
“It has allowed us to apply our employees, which are our greatest asset, to focus on innovation and to increase production efficiency and quality,” concludes Britta.
In a nutshell, by increasing the use of automation, ESCATEC is able to help its customers to grow their own respective markets.
Photos are of the automated production line referenced in the story above:
Photo (on the right): General Manager of ESCATEC Switzerland, Britta Blum.
Photo 1 (below): Operator working on the automated soldering machine.
Photo 2 (below): Close-up of a robotic soldering arm.
Photo 3 (below): An automated test fixture.
Photo 4 (below): Board stacks lined up for testing in the test fixture.