Eurocircuits stratégia – a fejlődés 20 éve

A fejlődés 20 éve – egyetlen grafikonon szemléltetve

Az első 10 év

Europrint-ként indulva – teljesen a kezdetektől – a piac aktív szereplői voltunk a prototípusok és a kis szériák területén. Célunk az volt, hogy kiszolgáljuk vevőinket bármilyen kéréssel is fordultak hozzánk: “mondja el igényét, mi legyártjuk”. Ezeknek az igényeknek a kielégítése meglehetősen költséges volt, és nem hagyott teret sem a gyártási, sem az üzleti folyamatok optimalizálásának.

A nyomtatott áramkörök árának folyamatos csökkenése és a „régi stílusú” szolgáltatások romló megbecsülése kéz a kézben járt. Tovább rontott a helyzeten a megrendelő vállalatoknál a nyáktervező szakemberek hiánya. Az évek során a specializálódás eltűnése miatt az árak összeomlottak. Az alacsony árak és a magas költségek miatt a jövedelmezőség megszűnt, és a veszteségek végül az elkerülhetetlen vég felé vezettek.

A következő 10 év

Annak tudatában, hogy a hagyományos piac hanyatlásban van kerestük a lehetőségét a szolgáltatás költségeinek csökkentésére. A gyártás szintjén a megoldást a rendelés pooling jelentette. Itt az a cél, hogy a gyártási panelon minél több érték legyen és csökkenjenek a költségek. Ahelyett, hogy egy gyártási panelen egy megrendelés öt kicsi kártyája készüljön, és m,ellette a panel fele vagy esetleg még nagyobb felület üresen maradjon, kitöltjük ugyanolyan technológiával rendelt más munkákkal. Ezzel az érték nő, de a költség ugyanaz marad.

Ahhoz, hogy ezt elérjük, sok munkát kell összekombinálni. Ezeknek a munkáknak illeszkedni kell az előre meghatározott standard technológiához, hogy a rendelések egy panelen gyárthatóak legyenek. Hogy mindez eladható legyen két dolognak kell teljesülnie: egy online kommunikációs eszköz árkalkulációs és rendelési lehetőséggel illetve olyan kedvező ár, ami miatt a vevők eltekintenek a speciális igényeiktől.

És ez működött. Öt éven belül a hagyományos piac átalakult – vagy eltűnt – és az újonnan kialakuló piac nagyobb lett, mint amekkora a régi volt.

A jövő

Ezekben az években sokat fektettünk szolgáltatásaink bővítésébe annak érdekében, hogy a legszélesebb kínálatot nyújthassuk Európában. Szükségszerű, hogy a versenyben a versenytársak előtt maradjunk és további kényelmi szolgáltatásokat és hozzáadott értéket kínáljunk anélkül, hogy a költségek túlságosan megemelkednének. Így a piacot magunkhoz köthetjük és a babérokat learathatjuk, mivel a költségek ellenőrzés alatt állnak.

A jövőben megjelenő termékeink és szolgáltatásaink nagy része szoftver megoldások és beültetési eszközök lesznek, amelyek segítik vevőinket terveik megvalósításában.

PCB Configurator, our calculator goes visual

PCB Configurator – visualised ordering saves time and cuts costs.

“How can we make the ordering process faster, safer and simpler for our customers?  How can we present them with the widest choice of technologies, deliveries, quantities and prices so that every order is optimised to their requirements?”.  These are some of the questions we asked ourselves when we started to redesign our user interface.

We made changes to our service structure (our blog about the new services).  We made changes to our pricing structure (logic behind our new pcb price calculator).  But we also introduced powerful new features into the ordering process itself.

Data analysis and verification – the PCB Configurator bonus

We launched PCB Visualizer in July 2012.  Users immediately acknowledged the extra confidence it gave them that their data was correct for their order and that there would be no delivery delays due to data issues.  The analytical power of PCB Visualizer is central to the new ordering process.  For each of the four PCB services you have two ordering options:

calculate or analyse

  • Price Calculator.  First calculate your price in the new Calculate and order menu; then upload your data into your “Shopping basket” and run PCB Visualizer to check that the data is correct to your intentions.  You can then be confident that you will get the boards you need on the day you need them.
  • Analyse your data.  First upload your data.  Let PCB Visualizer analyse it.  Review any issues that have been flagged up.  When the data is good, open PCB Configurator.  This will show the Calculate and order menu but with many of the fields already completed.  You will get your price faster as you spend less time  ferretting out production parameters (like minimum track and gap) and entering them into the menu.  And you know that the data is correct to deliver the right board on the right day.

Smart menus

Most of our customers are design or purchasing professionals, not PCB fabrication experts.  But PCB fabrication parameters have a powerful influence on board price.  We asked ourselves how we could convey this information in a simple and straightforward way within the ordering process. The result?  Smart menus, using three key components:

  • Wizards.  For example, a “Pre-defined build-up” wizard shows a wide range of pre-set builds, all part of our STANDARD or RF pooling options.  Design one of these into your board to keep costs down and make ordering straightforward.

buildup wizard
  • Technical validations.  Not all possible combinations of features can be manufactured successfully (for example, fine tracks and gaps combined with heavy copper foils).  There are scores of validation checks built into the Calculate and order menu, too many to put into a “book of rules”.  As soon as an invalid combination is entered, the menu flags it up and gives a clear explanation of the issue.  Use this to check possible combinations at the design stage and also when you order.  That way you know that your board can be made successfully and there will be no delays at the production stage.

technical validations
  • Price guidance.  Different technology options and design parameters can increase the final board price.  Whenever you enter a board parameter that increases the price from the service default settings, the system will flag a warning, a single coin for a more expensive pooling option, and a double coin for a non-poolable [link] option.  Of course, you may need the more expensive option (for example, electroless gold over nickel instead of our choice of any lead-free finish) or a 3 day turnaround instead of a 7 day turnaround.  But the accumulated information can help towards cutting board costs in future.
coin double coin

 

Matrix pricing

Do you need prices for alternative quantities or deliveries so that you can get the best price to meet your requirements?  The Calculate and order menu automatically generates a matrix of prices based on different deliveries and on our “preferred quantities”  A single click opens a custom matrix option where you can enter your own choice of deliveries and quantities, pick the optimum, and place the order, confident that you have the lowest price that meets your own production requirements.

customer definable pricing wizard preferred quantity alternatives

 

Order process details

If you are an existing Eurocircuits user, you can find a summary of the differences between the old order process and the new here .  If you are new to Eurocircuits, welcome; there is afull user guide here.  If you need more help, there are links to our online technology guides listed with the user guide, or contact us at euro@eurocircuits.com .

Eurocircuits India, new PCB production plant for the Asian-Pacific market

Eurocircuits is running production plants in Hungary an Germany. The capacity of both board-shops is sufficient for the European market and still leaves free capacity for the Eurocircuits business to grow.

Why did we step into a venture to build a brand new production facility in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India?

Eurocircuits India building
  • We believe in producing close to the market. That is why all our boards supplied to the European market are produced in Europe.
  • A market experiment with PCB Power – a copy of the Eurocircuits business for India – shows that there is a local Indian market for prototypes and small volume. We hope this will also be the case for the rest of the Asian-Pacific market.
  • Having a PCB production close to the engineering unit, PCB Planet, gives our engineers the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a real production environment. To make their experience useful for Eurocircuits, the production environment should work in the same way as the European Eurocircuits factories.
  • Last but not least, we grabbed an opportunity. A newly built PCB production plant in an export oriented zone got stuck halfway the project. The necessary approvals to start the production were already there (an important factor if you want to start producing in India). The facility was big enough to host PCB Planet, the engineering unit, as well as Eurocircuits India, our new production unit.

By the end of March the production of double sided boards will start. At this moment and during my visit end of February, trial orders were running in the production. These boards are shipped to Hungary for quality inspection.

Our Hungarian team supports and guides the local Indian management in setting up the factory and getting the quality at the right level.

Let us have a look inside our new production unit:

process lines for surface treatment and development

Film exposure

galvanic line

 

Etching

 

printing soldermask

 

Leadfree HAL

 

electrical test

 

mechanical department – routing

Inside, the factory looks very similar to our production plant in Hungary. But outside, India is a different world 🙂

cutting tiles for flooring the office

 

nature at the fence of the Eurocircuits India building

Visit new PCB Planet office in Gandhinagar, India

At the end of February I went to visit the new location of PCB Planet.

PCB Planet is the PCB CAM engineering unit serving Eurocircuits . They also serve other board houses in Europe, Asia and the USA. This dedicated CAM unit was set up in 2000 by the Eurocircuits management in Gandhinagar, India.

In Eurocircuits we believe in  CAM automation to speed up the data preparation process as well as to guarantee a consistent high quality output level. But the skills and processing power of our CAM engineers remain a decisive factor. The growing number of jobs we process on a daily basis ( more then 300 daily  in February 2013) means more workstations and more engineers. The building that we so nicely decorated in 2008 became to small to house alll these engineers in a comfortable way.

Between November 2012 and January 2013 we moved our whole operation to a  building in a new  industrial site in Gandhinagar.

In this new location there is now enough office space available to accomodate more than 200 engineers, and there is still enough empty space for future expansion.

pcb planet office space

PCB Planet is now located on the same site where Eurocircuits is starting a PCB prototype production plant for the Asian-Pacific market. The training of new engineers includes an “on-site” training in PCB production technology.

pcb planet training room

The Teamleaders have their desks between the CAM operators, but there are plenty of meeting rooms available to have discussions.

pcb planet teamleader desk

 

 

pcb planet meeting

 

All work and no play (makes Jack a dull boy).

pcb planet leasure time

eC-blog 2012 table of contents

We use our blog as a medium to provide useful information to the electronics engineering community. Most of our blog articles can be of interest for a long time after they are published, and we frequently got feedback from readers that they are not so easy to find back.

In the blog interface you have the possibilty to see the blogs organised in categories, you can see them organised according to tags attached to the blog article, or you can perform a search on keywords

A simple list of all articles, similar to a table of contents in a book can help to give you an idea what kind of information is available in our blog-posts. The following table shows the title of the blog, the publishing date, and the number of hits, to give you an idea of the popularity of the item.

Published Blog title Hits 29-11-2012
2012-01-03 Lean production project in Eurocircuits Kft – Eger – Hungary 1218
2012-01-04 Through hole component soldering with the eC-reflow mate 1660
2012-01-04 Elsyca Intellitool Matrix plating project 1702
2012-01-06 The strategy of Eurocircuits – 20 years of evolution 859
2012-01-09 new CadSoft EAGLE DRU files for EAGLE V6 1486
2012-01-17 Eurocircuits – healthy results for 2011 – and that”s not just the MD 1011
2012-01-25 Plating simulation – our new tool for PCB designers 7879
2012-01-31 Bow and Twist in printed circuits 2728
2012-02-06 Eurocircuits Sales figures 2011 1086
2012-02-06 eC-Workshop: Prototypen perfekt SMD-Bestücken (Germany) 2729
2012-02-08 New PCB services from Eurocircuits at Southern Manufacturing and Electronics 2012 393
2012-02-13 Hand-soldering – point by point or mini-wave technique 1077
2012-02-16 Eurocircuits Then and Now 573
2012-02-17 Eurocircuits data preparation – Analysis 1531
2012-02-23 Eurocircuits data preparation – Single Image (part I) – drill data and copper image 1323
2012-03-01 Eurocircuits data preparation – Single Image (part II) – other layers and outputs 827
2012-02-26 Eurocircuits integrates EAGLE CAD software 1113
2012-02-29 Southern Manufacturing and Electronics Show 2012 a success 462
2012-03-06 eC-workshop – reflow soldering SMD PCB prototypes 792
2012-03-09 Which surface finish fits your design 936
2012-03-23 Het Instrument 2012 – AMSTERDAM RAI – September 25-28, 2012 1076
2012-04-11 Eurocircuits Data preparation – Make production panels 829
2012-04-06 Industrial engineer master class visits Eurocircuits Kft 706
2012-04-12 More PCB added value on Stand 131 at National Electronics Week 2012  on 18 – 19 April, NEC Hall 2, Birmingham 468
2012-04-12 eC-workshop report – reflow soldering SMD PCB prototypes- Belgium 22-03-2012 3867
2012-04-24 eC-solderstation, the next item in the eC-prototype-equipment range? 1421
2012-04-26 Large boards and pooling 4053
2012-05-03 National Electronics Week a success. 405
2012-05-04 Eyes on the future, feet on the ground – Technology seminar by ACB 712
2012-05-11 D&E event 2012 – 24th of May – Evoluon – NL 8246
2012-06-07 Visualize your PCB: fast and throughout the whole business process 1111
2012-06-14 Soldermask on via-holes in case of chemical Nickel-Gold surface finish 1341
2012-06-19 Front-end data preparation – new white paper 1057
2012-06-22 14th Annual D&E Event – Evoluon Eindhoven, The Netherlands – May 24, 2012 386
2012-07-05 Eurocircuits production data – what”s in it? 424
2012-06-28 Eurocircuits – Webinar following the D&E event in Holland. 395
2012-07-05 PCB Visualizer-release 1-beta 2305
2012-08-01 Eurocircuits – what about marketing? 484
2012-08-09 Eurocircuits serving the engineering community 497
2012-07-15 PCB Visualizer – your feedback 562
2012-08-17 Firmware – electronics design digital magazine 512
2012-08-27 Eurocircuits presenteert “PCB Visualizer” als Noviteit op HET Instrument 2012 403
2012-09-17 PCB Visualizer – functionality extended 2456
2012-10-31 PCB Visualizer very much appreciated – but you want more 229
2012-11-01 Gold plating for edge connectors 252
2012-11-07 Eurocircuits at Electronica 2012 from 13 till 16 November Hall A5-booth 314 496
2012-11-13 Order E500000 223
2012-11-27 PCB Visualizer – PCB Checker update 27-11-2012 60
2012-12-12 Open house in our production facility in Eger, Hungary new

Visualize your PCB: fast and throughout the whole business process

Visual communication enhances PCB procurement: Eurocircuits goes visual

Go visual – why?

  • Make real-life PCB information available to everyone involved in board design, procurement, manufacture, assembly and testing.
  • Images are:
    • Convenient – ease of use
    • Clear – avoid misunderstandings
    • Open to all collaborators  – not everyone can read PCB layout data

Go visual – what?

  • Visualize customer data online as soon as it is uploaded
  • Visualize the PCB in every step of the Eurocircuits e-business process
  • Keep the PCB as an image in the data base for future use:
    • Look up whenever needed
    • Repeat orders
  • Show an image of the PCB in documents

PCBs – layout to finished board – the workflow

  • Calculate a pooling price online or request an On demand price
  • Pre-analyse – online analysis and full visual display of:
    • EAGLE native format data
    • Extended Gerber data
  • Order and produce:
    • Design Rule Check
    • Data anomalies – visual report back to customer
    • Single Image ready – finished PCB image
    • Make panel and produce
  • Deliver – PCB passport including finished PCB image
  • Archive – make available for future use
    • Repeat orders
    • Look up as needed

Workflow step 1, option 1 – On demand price request

If you upload your data to get an On demand price (Place inquiry with data), we run a full data analysis before we complete our offer. You can find this online as the PCB verification report. This includes a true-colour picture of your PCB, the build as specified in your data and a detailed overview of all technical parameters.

pcb verification summary

 

stackup files

 

Workflow step 1, option 2 – start from EAGLE

Customers who use EAGLE 6.x as their PCB layout system, can link directly from within their design to our web site and its calculator. Just push the PCB quote button.

eagle quote

EAGLE input

The link between EAGLE 6.x and the Eurocircuits web site activates a window that displays your EAGLE PCB design values and the corresponding design values of the Eurocircuits pooling services.

TIP: if you use the DRU design rule files for our pooling services you can be confident that your design will perfectly match your chosen service.  Download the DRU files here.

eagle to eurocircuits

 

EAGLE calculation

All the design values are automatically entered into your calculation page. You only have to enter the delivery term and quantity and push Calculate. If required you can still change the technical parameters that are not included in the desing data, for instance, surface finish, soldermask colour, etc…

order from Eagle

 

EAGLE PCB analysis

Calculate your price and attach your PCB data.  You can then add the offer to your shopping basket.  This will trigger the automatic analysis of your data. This step is currently in beta test and will be live shortly.

visualizer in basket

As soon as the analysis is complete the word “Visualizer” appears. Click it to link to the PCB Visualizer module. See the movie.

video here 

Workflow step 1, option 3 – input Gerber data

TIP: to make sure that your data is as clear as possible and to minimise the risk of any delay to your order due to data queries (exceptions), always use:

Most customers use Extended Gerber PCB layout data.

Enter the board parameters into the Calculate and order menu.  Calculate the price and attach the data.  Add the offer into your online and the system will run the analysis and open the link to the PCB Visualiser module as described above.  See the whole procedure in our movie.

video here  

Workflow step 2 – data preparation after order – design rule check

  • Design rule check against the chosen service parameters and check for manufacturability problems
    • If anomalies are found make an anomaly report (raise an exception)

Workflow step 3 – data anomalies

If there are data anomalies we raise an exception.  We prepare a clear visual report on the issues with suggestions how to resolve them.  We send you an email to warn you.  You can then find the report in your online account.

design problem design problem2

 

Workflow step 4 – prepare single image

Next we complete the preparation of the single image (for more information on this step visit our blog).  The PCB is now ready for production so we create the final PCB image.  This shows the finished PCB as it will be delivered, as a single circuit or in a customer panel, depending on what you have ordered.

board simulation

 

Workflow step 5 – production panel

For our internal production team we provide a visualization of the production pooling panel.

pcb production panel

 

Workflow step 6 – PCB passport

The board is also visualized on documents we provide for you. Our PCB passport is the PCB identity report containing production and material traceability data.  This is accompanied by visual images of the PCB”s top, bottom and mechanical layers.  That way, even non-technical people can quickly and easily identify the PCB.

pcb passport pcb mechanical drawing pcb production flow

 

Go visual – repeat orders

We use the same visual identification in the overview of running orders and in the order history.  Click on the visualisation icon to see the PCB image and make sure that you are re-ordering the right PCB.

running orders – visual info

 

Go visual – advantages

  • eC-workflow is transparent for all stake holders
  • Clearer overview
  • Easier communication
  • Easy lookup
  • Less misunderstandings
  • Provides an extra service for board designers and assemblers to offer to their customers
  • => visual communication is the future

PCB Visualizer – the next steps

The first module of the PCB Visualizer, our new program for PCB visualization, will be rolled out shortly.  As soon as your data is uploaded, PCB Visualizer will present a complete view of all the layers of the PCB in true colours.  It will also show the build as it appears in the data set.  The next step in the roll-outwill be to provide interactive functionality at each stage of the data preparation process, as shown in the diagram below.  This will help to avoid mistakes due to misunderstood communications or errors in the data.  These stages will include tools to edit the order details, for instance by changing the surface finish or soldermask colour, as well as tools to view any data anomalies and accept our suggestions for repairs.  The final stage will show all the layers of the production-ready PCB.

  eC-visualizer concept

Lean production project in Eurocircuits Kft – Eger – Hungary

Why lean production?

Our main target is reducing waste (time is a major waste)  in the production and better (faster) serve our customers.

The first step – “clear the clouds”

We first needed to learn to see the real nature of our production processes. We learn to look through “lean glasses” to recognise the biggest waste items in our process. Waste can be waiting times between different processes, or stability problems in the process that create flow breakdowns.

Second step  – list and analyse problems, set priorities

We formed a brainstorming team with colleagues from all areas in the company. The purpose of the sessions is to identify these areas in our process where we find important waste that can be cleared rather fast. We use Ishikawa root cause analysis for this.

During the brainstorming sessions we identified four areas where we think we can improve rapidly:

  1. Mechanical department
  2. Galvanic lines
  3. define KPI”s ( Key performance indicators)
  4. Priority settings
Four project teams are established. Every team got members from different areas to be able to look at the problem from different angles. Following the results of the root cause analysis we have set priorities. The priorities are decided based on resources needed to make a change and what effect the change can cause.

Creating a smooth production flow

When we have waves in our production this creates “traffic jams”. These jams are the main reason for delay. The best way to guarantee on-time delivery is by creating a smooth production flow. For that we need stable processes, a well balanced capacity distribution throughout the process, and skilled operators.

PCB production is a complicated process with a lot of different steps. Each order can be following a slightly different flow as different options are chosen. That makes is challenging to create a smooth flow. Most energy is spend in organizing the “human factor” – monitoring and motivating operators to think and act lean. Training is organised continually, and we try to involve people from all levels and all departments in the project.

New KPI”s (key performance indicators)

Existing KPI”s in the organisation are evaluated for their usefulness and following new KPI”s are introduced because we think they can inform us about our progress in this lean project.

  • KPI for measuring the average throughput time (in hours)
  • KPI”s measuring the efficiency in the galvanic process
  • KPI for measuring the efficiency in the drilling department.

FIFO

Beginning of October 2011 we started experimenting with a FIFO based system for setting priorities in each step of the production from the Blackhole PTH till the Soldermask curing step. As the first results are good we are now organizing to extend the reach of this FIFO method to the whole process of double sided production.

Controlled and decreased WIP (Work in Process)

We decreased and started to control the inventory of panels in production. Inventory is allowed only in clearly defined locations and up to a defined maximum number of panels. We produce in smaller lots based on the capacity of our bottleneck, the galvanic line. Jobs are started only for production when there is capacity available.

Panels waiting before the galvanic process before introduction of the WIP inventory control

Panels before the galvanic process with controlled inventory

As we are gaining more experience in the lean project, our confidence is growing that we can further increase efficiency and reliability. The knowledge built in the factory in Eger, Hungary will be useful when we start a new production unit in Gandhinagar India in 2012 to serve the Asian market with prototype pcb”s.