Uniform manufacturing standards worldwide
Melecs: Strategic choice of partner for globally standardized processes
Employing a single-vendor strategy, Austrian EMS provider Melecs relies on equipment and solutions from ASM for printing, solder paste inspection and placement as well as line control and monitoring. The goal: being able to roll out industrialized processes from its main site in Siegendorf to its international sites – an approach that makes it easier for Melecs to operate with uniform standards worldwide in order to improve its flexibility, efficiency and resilience.
Melecs, which has its origins in a 2009 management buyout of Siemens’s household appliance production in Siegendorf, is today Austria’s largest independent provider of electronics engineering and manufacturing services (EEMS). With roughly 1,500 employees worldwide, the company had sales of 283 million euros in 2020, 90 percent of which were generated outside of Austria. It has manufacturing locations in Austria, Hungary, Mexico, and China. Additional development and sales offices are in Austria and the United States.
In addition to tailor-made products and solutions for the automotive, lighting and home appliance industries, Melecs develops and manufactures electronic modules and components such as motors and drives for various industrial sectors such as railways, general transportation, and medical technology. Melecs offers its customers all stages of the value chain from a single source, ranging from development, validation and production design to logistics, including services like prototype development, lifecycle and supply chain management, and product improvements via design-for-excellence (DFX).
“It is Melecs’ declared strategy to produce anywhere in the world under the same conditions with the same processes and standards,” explains Production Manager Bernhard Vlasitis, “which is why we strive over the medium to long term to procure the individual components and machines from a single manufacturer in all our factories. For our solder paste printing, inspection and placement equipment, this supplier is ASM.”
Wide range of services with demanding requirements
Following the management buyout in 2009, Melecs expanded its spectrum of products and services at a breathtaking pace. This is how the company managed to enter the demanding automotive segment with equipment for controllers and LED lighting systems. “Zero-fault and no-repair conditions require the highest possible quality and complete process mastery in this sector. Melecs process components ranging from the smallest 0201 form factor to large OSCs that weigh 200 grams,” explains Bernhard Vlasitis. “Nothing may go wrong, and even with multiple setup changeovers, the production must run seamlessly and without any major interruptions. The optimally coordinated ASM equipment is a great help and makes our work much easier for both small lots and high-volume series with its high degree of automation.”
Planning for the future
“As Melecs consistently advances towards Industry 4.0, the subject of integration becomes increasingly important. What convinced us was the fact that ASM’s roadmap for the integrated smart factory matches our strategy perfectly,” says Bernhard Vlasitis. For example, the company values the open interfaces of the machines such as ASM OIB, via which data can be read for Metrics’ proprietary MES, its track-and-trace capabilities, and the control of residual quantities on the reels. “The far-reaching communication capabilities provide a high degree of horizontal and vertical connectivity for total process control,” says the production manager. The international setup of ASM is also highly important for Melecs. It enables the company to get direct local support at all its sites with a consistently high level of know-how along with the best possible operator training. Despite all the enthusiasm for the performance, quality and flexibility of ASM, Melecs puts the partnership to the test again and again. As Bernhard Vlasitis reports: “Since we operate in a tough market and want the solutions that work best for us, we regularly challenge ASM by comparing them with other vendors. So far, ASM has always been a step ahead.”
Tailor-made process support
Production manager Vlasitis bases this assessment on concrete facts: “Lighting solutions for the automobile industry play a significant role in our production. The LED Centering features of the SIPLACE SX offers a great advantage by determining the optical LED center, not the center of the component, in reference to a drilled hole with exceptional precision. This saves the customer a lot of effort when the optical component gets assembled. And this, in turn, puts us a step ahead of the competition.”
Another example is the ASM Line Monitor. The line staff at Melecs is responsible for selecting and transporting the materials needed for refilling and splicing. Mounted above the SMT lines, large monitors display the relevant status information and prioritize the pending tasks. Operators can clearly see when they have time to walk to the automated warehouse. This improves the flow of materials and minimizes line stops.
Siegendorf is the lead plant
At Melecs’ main plant in Siegendorf, six SMT lines are equipped with DEK solder paste printers, flexible SIPLACE SX placement solutions, and high-volume SIPLACE X4 machines. This is the factory where processes are developed and designed for industrial applications. Once this has been done, the other Melecs plants can copy these production workflows almost one-to-one. When new factories are acquired, they are converted in stages, depending on the speed with which the equipment can be upgraded to that of Melecs’ preferred partners.
Innovations are rolled out the same way, like, for example, the ASM ProcessExpert. The self-learning inline SPI system supports the automatic adaptation of printing parameters to keep the process within the specified window. This pioneering way of controlling the DEK printing systems saves the line staff at Melecs lots of time and effort while ensuring that the company’s demanding quality standards are met. “We still used solutions from other suppliers until recently, but the inspection accuracy and especially the pioneering smart factory concept of the ASM ProcessExpert quickly convinced us that it was the better option. Now we are working on improving our processes,” says Bernhard Vlasitis.
Uniform standards in all Melecs plants
“Having to evaluate and define processes and settings only once is a huge benefit. By being able manufacture almost our entire product spectrum everywhere in the world under nearly the same conditions with our ASM equipment, we have achieved a unique degree of efficiency and flexibility. This way, Melecs can produce wherever the requirements can be met most effectively,” summarizes Bernhard Pulferer, co-founder and CEO, the strategy of Melecs. “This also helped a lot during the coronavirus crisis. While the global pandemic brought some competitors to a screeching halt, Melecs was able to counter pandemic-related restrictions quickly and efficiently by shifting its production to other plants as needed.”
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