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ASM Assembly Systems (ASM) has been chosen as East West Manufacturing’s (East West) printing and placement preferred equipment supplier for the EMS leader’s Wisconsin facility, the company announced. Three high-flexibility SIPLACE SX machines preceded by a DEK NeoHorizon stencil printer form the foundation of East West’s inaugural ASM line. A second, two-station SIPLACE SX production line will be delivered this summer. Atlanta, GA-based East West, a global engineering and manufacturing services company, is rapidly expanding its footprint domestically and internationally. The company’s Whitewater, WI operation, recently acquired from Universal Electronics, is a key site for the North American region, serving customers in the medical, industrial, communications and defense industries.
Nate Schwichtenberg, East West SMT Process Engineer, who has worked at the WI facility for over 12 years, explains the move to partner with ASM: “We build just about everything here – from prototypes and NPI up to 5,000 piece orders – so, flexibility, efficiency and the highest quality are essential,” he says. “Several suppliers were evaluated and, ultimately, ASM emerged as the clear front-runner, as the equipment adaptability, open automation capability, software and programming, along with feeders, SPI technology and scalability simply delivered the most comprehensive solution.”
Initially securing a single SIPLACE SX platform, the company quickly had to scale up to accommodate increasing ventilator build volumes during the pandemic. East West’s single head SIPLACE SX was upgraded, adding a second MultiStar placement head, and the ease of scalability was proof-positive of ASM’s advantage. Two additional SIPLACE SX2 machines and a ProcessLens SPI platform were installed shortly thereafter to form the current line. The ASM equipment’s speed, technology range and reliability allowed East West to eliminate four of its former nine SMT lines. Today, more than 70% of its SMT placements are managed on the SIPLACE SX platforms, with high-complexity assemblies verified on the ProcessLens.
“For the more complicated assemblies we produce, the ProcessLens has been a game-changer,” Schwichtenberg explains, revealing that since production began on the ASM line, quality has improved by nearly 15%. “For one product, 95% of the board is covered by shields and also contains many small QFNs, BGAs and 0201s. Using the ProcessLens to verify paste accuracy and the SIPLACE SX’s onboard inspection, we haven’t missed a single placement on that assembly. That’s pretty incredible.”
According to Schwichtenberg, who estimates the line could see upwards of six changeovers a day, ASM’s common setup feature has saved the team countless hours. “Being able to group jobs allows us to put multiple assemblies on a single setup, so changing products is very quick because we don’t have to move feeders in and out,” he says. “This feature, as well as the ease of programming, a common shape library and the onboard component teach functionality are genius and allow for massive efficiency and uptime.”
The performance of the ASM equipment, in addition to service responsiveness and technologies like Remote Smart Factory for virtual troubleshooting and oversight, has helped position East West for technology adaptation and volume growth. “We are confident,” Schwichtenberg concludes, “that with our expert engineering staff in combination with ASM’s equipment and software portfolio, we are future-proof, agile and Industry 4.0-ready. It’s why we’ve ordered a second line and some of the other facilities in the East West network are also investing in ASM.”