A successful entry into SMT production with high- quality results from the start
Draco Systems and ASM E-Solutions
Founded in 2004, Spanish company Draco Systems in Barcelona focused exclusively on electronics engineering until 2008 when customers began to request industrial and manufacturing services. Draco Systems did so with great success, adding value for its customers by planning the components purchasing, researching component alternatives, and offering redesign, quality control and assembly services. Due to the increasing dissatisfaction with the quality and delivery reliability of contract manufacturers over the years, however, Draco Systems recently decided to add its own electronics manufacturing facility and equip it with ASM’s E-Solutions machines, starting in-house manufacturing in January 2019.
Three friends, all blessed with a can-do spirit and a hands-on attitude, had the idea to set up Draco Systems during a shared Christmas dinner. Meritxell Gimeno Garcia, Jordi Posas Garriga and Joan Puig Galan, who knew each other from college, decided to offer high-quality R&D services for modern electronics. Today, Barcelona-based Draco Systems can look back on 15 years of success in developing electronics for a number of customers in various sectors. And it does so with pride, particularly against the backdrop of the difficult economic situation in Spain after the financial crisis of 2008.
Initially, Draco Systems focused exclusively on engineering services, but customers soon began to request manufacturing services as well – first for prototypes and pre-production series, and eventually for low- and medium-volume series. The engineering company hired and coordinated various contract manufacturers for this purpose, but components purchasing, quality control, firmware upload, maintenance and reparation services were done at Draco’s facilities.
“We always put great emphasis on state-of-the-art electronics, and our success has proven us right because today we count leading medical, security and automotive solutions for our customers in our portfolio. In recent years, however, we increasingly encountered certain limitations with our contract manufacturers. Manufacturing took longer, the quality was not always satisfactory, and we wanted more flexibility than our suppliers were able to provide,” says co-founder Meritxell Gimeno Garcia. “The circuit board production became more and more of a bottleneck in our projects, and we became convinced that we could achieve better results with improved access, the right equipment, and the love and passion that our great team pours into everything that we create.”
Desire for more flexibility and quality
Draco Systems’ changing needs eventually gave rise to the idea of running their own electronics manufacturing operation. At the 2017 Productronica trade show, the management contacted ASM’s Spanish sales partner Propelec at the ASM booth. Together they specified requirements, analyzed the necessary capacities and ultimately decided to install an ASM line with a DEK Galaxy printer and two E by SIPLACE placement machines. For Draco Systems, working with ASM and Propelec was just the right fit because they gained access to the technology leader’s experience and worldwide customer network while receiving direct, local support from Propelec, which is intimately familiar with the quirks and requirements of the Spanish market.
ASM develops its E solutions specifically for the needs of high-mix, mid-speed manufacturers – a highly competitive market that is characterized by the need for easy operability, flexible production models and outstanding quality, along with an attractive price-performance ratio. The E-Series machines use components from ASM’s proven high-end solutions, such as the ultra-precise vision system. “In our discussions with ASM and Propelec we quickly realized that the E-Solutions fit our profile exactly while delivering much more performance than comparable systems on the market. Ultimately, the E-Solutions’ 100-percent traceability as well as their seamless integration into the ASM software portfolio made the difference in our decision.”
With Propelec’s help, the installation went without a hitch. The equipment arrived at Draco’s facility at the end of November 2018, and the circuit board production began at the beginning of January 2019. To keep its offices near its manufacturing facilities, Draco Systems used this opportunity to move to a new location near Barcelona’s 22@ District of Innovation, with almost 1,000 square meters of space spread over two floors: first floor for engineering services, ground floor for manufacturing services. “The whole project was a major challenge for us, but we completed it in record time. We started in July 2018 and finished in November 2018, thanks in part to the outstanding support we received from all suppliers as well as from Propelec and ASM.”
The two co-founders Jordi Posas Garriga and Joan Puig Galan took this opportunity to attend the E-Solutions training themselves. Jordi Posas Garriga explains why: “It was important to us to understand the manufacturing systems, processes and technologies in order to better assess their capabilities, customize some tasks, and be of help to the team in emergencies. We also benefit greatly from the proximity of engineering and production today. Having our own manufacturing facility enhances our flexibility and quality considerably as the engineering, purchasing and manufacturing departments communicate and provide feedback to each other daily.”
Draco Systems uses its ASM E-Solutions to manufacture a wide variety of products with lot sizes ranging from 100 to 3,000 units in addition to prototypes for the engineering department. Some products require more than 180 components ranging from small standard components to connectors and odd shapes. From the start of production in January 2019 until July 2019, over 2 million components were placed on more than 5,000 circuit boards. Particularly for products with medium lot sizes (1,000 units), the yield rate of 97 percent turned out to be much higher than before.
Another innovation for Draco Systems is the ASM Material Manager, which automates the material management. After depending exclusively on the expertise of its employees in the past, Draco Systems today uses the ASM Material Manager to get a handle on the wide range of components and prevent line stops caused by material shortages. “For a high-mix production like ours, managing the supply of materials tends to be the greatest challenge. The ASM Material Manager helps us to analyze our processes and track all our material movements. It also allows us to make further improvements by customizing some software modules that are key to our track-and-trace capabilities,” says Meritxell Gimeno Garcia.
Customers demand complete traceability
“Customers in the areas of medical, security and automotive technologies demand complete traceability from a supplier of critical components. ASM’s E-Solutions, the ASM software and some customized solutions developed by Draco provide us with everything we need to meet this requirement,” says Joan Puig Galan. Draco Systems’ team appreciates the value of software-based workflow support in other areas as well. “That’s another thing that impressed us about ASM’s E-Solutions. The software and its operation are identical with ASM’s high-end solutions, and workflow solutions can be easily added and customized as needed,” explains Meritxell Gimeno Garcia. “This approach makes the production highly scalable and improves the flexibility and stability of all line-related processes. We believe that as long as you have passion and an innovative spirit, you can produce fascinating things – and that’s a philosophy we apply in everything we create and that we share with every new supplier as well as with ASM and Propelec It is part of our DNA. We are proud of our electronics development and manufacturing capabilities and look forward to more success in the future.”
Draco Systems is an electronics engineering company located in Barcelona, Spain. Founded in 2004 by Meritxell Gimeno Garcia, Jordi Posas Garriga and Joan Puig Galan, Draco Systems specializes in the development of customized solutions for a number of sectors such as automotive, medicine, security, IoT, and industrial applications.
Draco Systems offers to its customers holistic product design services from development to production of fully tested, certified prototypes as a basis for volume production. Following its slogan “Partners in Technology”, the company relies on state-of-the-art technologies for its solutions. More than 70 companies from all over the globe put trust in Draco’s innovative spirit and 15 years of experience. Visit www.dracosystems.net for more information.