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Blackline Safety Corp., a leading developer and producer of personal and area safety monitoring devices for the gas industry, has selected ASM Assembly Systems (ASM) as its technology partner for the company’s electronic manufacturing requirements. Calgary, Canada-based Blackline recently made the strategic decision to manage electronics assembly in-house, citing quality control, innovation time-to-market, production flexibility and inventory oversight as factors for the move.
“Previously, we outsourced printed circuit board assembly,” explains Brendon Cook, Blackline Co-founder and CTO, noting that the company has worked with a handful of electronic manufacturing services (EMS) suppliers. “While the contract model works well for many companies, Blackline’s product offering requires exceptionally tight quality control and real-time flexibility. Regardless of how fantastic your contract partners might be, the reality is that your job has to fit in to their production schedule and that isn’t conducive to our business needs.”
Founded in 2004, Blackline provides safety-critical, connected safety wearables and will soon begin shipping a new line of connected area gas detection systems, both supported by live monitoring services and cellular and satellite connectivity. Blackline’s connected safety wearables are currently in use in over 56 countries and enable a real-time response to an employee’s location when help is needed. With continuous innovation as a key tenet, on-demand production flexibility is essential to the company’s growth, which has seen revenue gains of approximately 500% over the last five years.
In April 2018, Blackline established PCB assembly at its facility and, after evaluating several equipment suppliers, selected ASM’s equipment and software platforms based on their strong alignment with the company’s demanding quality, reliability and flexibility requirements. The OEM installed a DEK NeoHorizon 03iX stencil printer, two E by SIPLACE placement systems and is leveraging the DEK VectorGuard™ single-frame stencil system to facilitate fast changeover and a reduced stencil storage footprint. The powerful ASM software suite in use at Blackline includes the SIPLACE Pro programming environment, feeder and component verification via Setup Center, and job scheduling optimization capability with SiCluster. ASM Material Manager, a material flow management system with stock and location visibility, will be integrated into Blackline’s production operation in Q3 2019.
Commenting on the company’s six-month experience with ASM, Blackline Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Meyers, shares his satisfaction. “Because of the vital safety aspect of our products, they simply can’t fail — exceptional manufacturing quality and in-field reliability are non-negotiable,” he says. “Ultimately, we decided that ASM’s holistic solution offers the best, most capable technology for our current manufacturing requirements, but it also delivers the ability to adapt as we grow. In the year and a half we’ve been building product with ASM’s systems, our quality levels have been exceptional, NPI flexibility is bar-none, programming and job set up are easy and our team has been able to rapidly develop and deploy new products. This was definitely the right decision for Blackline.”