The young, São Paulo, Brazil-based ODM conceives and builds what it refers to as "light engines" — solid state lighting technologies that enable LED fixture OEMs and integrators to deploy next-generation LED designs in a range of markets, including architecture, horticulture, automotive, refrigeration and, more recently, for UVC disinfection to address COVID pathogens.
From the Ground Up
"A few years ago, three engineers — two partners and I — took a risk, saw an unfulfilled market need and started Audax," shares Victor Malassise, co-founder and director at Audax, who began his engineering career in the automotive electronics sector.
"Unlike a traditional contract operation that performs PCB assemblies to supplied specs, we are technology innovators, collaborating with customers on mechanical design, optical simulation, thermal evaluation, electronic design and, of course, integration and assembly. And, because of our strategic Brazil manufacturing location and US-based warehouse facilities, lead times are very short — giving our local and North American customers an advantage versus sourcing from other global regions."
Starting from ground zero in 2012, Victor and his partners rented a small warehouse, bought some older-generation equipment and the rest, as they say, is history. Audax has seen 51 percent growth since its inception and, as the company continued to expand, it soon realized that a shift in pick-and-place technology would be required to achieve its ambitious goals and meet production flexibility requirements.
Finding a New Solution
A low- to medium-volume, high-changeover facility, equipment that can enable maximum uptime with the ability to manage a wide component range is essential to Audax's future success. When capacity expansion was required in 2017, Audax added a second of its originally sourced placement platforms, but the result was not as anticipated, and it became challenging to escalate the business to the level the partners envisioned.
"We experienced several challenges," Malassise explains. "Changeovers were cumbersome, as set-ups required line stoppage to write the program, which ate into valuable production time. In addition, we need to be able to build 4-foot long boards and accurately place a new generation of small, complex CSP-like LEDs. The platforms had difficulty with these dimensions and reliable placement of the devices. Plus, it became very apparent that our business would benefit from aligning with a supplier partner that can provide local support and simple spare parts access."
After weathering the first phase of the pandemic and seeing production volumes steadily growing, the founding partners decided an equipment change was required. Evaluating more than five placement brands in total, Audax eventually selected ASM's E by SIPLACE to form the heart of its third SMT production line.
"The local, Brazil-based ASM team was outstanding," recalls Malassise, who emphasizes that ASM having personnel and a demo facility in Brazil are important distinctions. "The ASM sales manager really listened to what we needed, understood our current requirements and future growth ambitions, recommended the E by SIPLACE platform, and even demonstrated its capability with our most complex components."
Impressed by the platform's rotary placement head designs, the offline and family setup capabilities of SIPLACE Pro software, and the wide component range and nozzle technology that allows placement of next-generation LED devices, Audax was confident that the E by SIPLACE could deliver on the company's near-term growth ambitions, capacity requirements and manufacturing flexibility needs.
Since installation in January 2021, Audax's E by SIPLACE line has lived up to expectations. According to Malassise, the company has seen dramatic improvements across various metrics, including capacity, quality, revenue, lead times, yield, and changeover simplicity.
The new line is producing more than the company's two older-generation placement platforms combined. Audax has reduced rework requirements significantly. What it attributed to reflow-induced defects were ultimately determined to have been placement related, especially with the CSP devices.
Production stability and reliability, with fast access to spare parts, have enabled consistent, sustainable revenue realization due to capacity predictability. If all BOM parts are in-house, seven-day lead times are the norm, which is a dramatic improvement. Scrap rates have declined from approximately 3 percent to 0.5 percent, on average, with products now produced on the E by SIPLACE line. Audax has no minimum order quantity requirements, so changeovers are frequent.
The company's older placement machines require programming at the equipment, taking the better part of an hour to changeover a job. SIPLACE Pro's offline and family set up routines allow programs to be written offline, while simple feeder exchange and short tape feeding mechanisms facilitate changeover in minutes.
Finally, ASM's nozzles and feeders are very cost-effective, and the ordering process is fast and non-bureaucratic. It's easy, seamless and keeps production running at full speed. "We are driven by innovation and quick response; our manufacturing technology and supplier partners have to enable these differentiators," Malassise explains, noting the company's high standards for itself and its suppliers. "Because of Audax's broad product line and unique LED design model, the company is expanding at a rapid pace. We have tremendous confidence in the E by SIPLACE platform and the future of our successful relationship with ASM."
Contact: Audax Electronics, R. Giovanni Grassi, 88 Vila Rosa, São Bernardo do Campo, SP 09862-300, Brazil +55-11-4054-0246 Web: http://www.audax.ind.br and ASM Assembly Systems, 3975 Lakefield Court, Suite 106, Suwanee, GA 30024 770-797-3189 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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