Kraus Hardware GmbH has been engaged in the field of electronic assembly development and manufacturing – a success story which has meanwhile covered an aera of more than 30 years. Originally started as a one-man business, Kraus Hardware today generates a turnover of over six million euros and employs a total of 35 people…
Published in: EPP 10/2022
Author: Jörg Nolte
Kraus Hardware GmbH has been engaged in the field of electronic assembly development and manufacturing – a continuous success story which has meanwhile covered an aera of more than 30 years. Originally started as a one-man business, Kraus Hardware today generates a turnover of over six million Euros and employs a total of 35 people. The dynamic EMS company offers extensive services ranging from development and procurement as well as professional storage of sensitive components to production testing, repair and after sales service.
By investing in an Ersa i-CON TRACE soldering station, Krauss Hardware, located in Großostheim in northern Bavaria, has opted for the next technological step in hand soldering by establishing traceable hand soldering processes in the company. The Ersa i-CON TRACE is the first completely networkable soldering station worldwide. With its integrated WLAN, Bluetooth and network card, the IoT soldering station can even be integrated into MES-controlled production processes, making the entire hand soldering process traceable and documentable.
Shortly after the market launch, which followed the world premiere at productronica 2021 in Munich, Jörg Brand, Quality Manager and Certified IPC Trainer (IPC-J-STD-001, IPC-A-610) at Kraus Hardware, expressed his interest in the new soldering station. The contact did not come about by chance – the two companies have been business partners for more than a decade already: In 2011, the Kraus Hardware decision-makers acquired an Ersa VERSAPRINT screen printer, followed by an Ersa ECOSELECT 1 selective soldering system in 2014.
Both systems have been operating successfully for years. Thus, it made sense to once again rely on Ersa, the no. 1 supplier with the most comprehensive product range of manual and automatic soldering systems. “First of all, the performance of the i-TOOL TRACE soldering iron, namely its heat transfer as well as its handling and the super simple tip exchange were important for me,” Jörg Brand explains. “Being an EMS provider, the quality of hand soldering processes are decisive factors for us.” In other words: As a component developer Kraus Hardware unconditionally focuses on the manufacturing quality of customer assemblies. “Perfection is what counts!” This is consequently one of the company’s guiding principles. As an electronic manufacturer, the company puts quality first and foremost – derived from this, quality management is certified in accordance with ISO 9001:2015 standards for all processes, from development to production to sales. In addition, all processes can be traced back. Managing Director Andreas Kraus sums up the future potential of the new soldering station: “With the possibility of documenting the hand soldering process for the end customers on a product-related basis, if this is required, we are playing in a completely different league!”
From test unit to regular equipment at Kraus Hardware
Several Ersa i-CON TRACE soldering stations were operated and tested at Kraus Hardware in a project-related test phase. Solder jobs were defined in the Ersa TRACE COCKPIT to execute a customer-specific job. It was an invaluable advantage for Kraus Hardware to be able to integrate the soldering stations directly into daily business under real conditions. In this connection, workflows and the support provided by the TRACE COCKPIT were evaluated by creating real soldering tasks – the soldering of two assemblies – as “jobs” and then performing them. The test was entirely successful for all of the soldering stations used with regard to all of the criteria, including documentation, so that the i-CON TRACE has acquired a permanent spot on the Kraus Hardware production floor.
The complete process data documentation ability of i-CON TRACE is a core feature of future electronics production. i-CON TRACE is the Missing Link, so to speak, which now finally closes the previously open gap in the process chain as it provides 100 % traceability for hand soldering. The TRACE COCKPIT can provide the recording of an entire soldering task in a desired file format and store it in a higher-level control system. Specific soldering tasks (jobs) can be assigned centrally to each soldering station via TRACE COCKPIT – controlled either via an existing Manufacturing Execution System (MES) or browser-based on the desktop PC, tablet, or smartphone (each available for iOS and Android). All essential parameters such as the soldering tip to be used, temperature, solder wire and flux are preset centrally by qualified personnel. Process reliability is significantly increased: Each workpiece is soldered according to the given specifications. By means of a hand-held scanner, the component, soldering tip used, solder wire and flux are recorded. In this way, the system “knows” that all conditions for the assigned soldering job have been met. The operator can concentrate entirely on soldering and the possibility of errors is reduced to an absolute minimum. As an alternative to TRACE COCKPIT, small companies can also operate the i-CON TRACE soldering station via the mobile app (download via App Store or Play Store).
Traceability as a quality factor
Andreas Kraus, Managing Director of Kraus Hardware, knows how important traceability is as a quality factor for electronics manufacturing: “Our customers are both large corporations – for example, from the automotive and aircraft industries as well as medical technology – and smaller companies, engineering firms and research institutes. They have high demands on us, because we are often dealing with sophisticated electronic assemblies and systems that are responsible, in the end, for important functions in their products.” Kraus Hardware’s customers should receive perfect solutions without exception – that is above all. That’s why the company continuously optimizes its processes, trains employees, and invests in new technologies such as i-CON TRACE. Ersa is pleased to continue supporting the Kraus Hardware team with hardware for all required applications in electronics manufacturing!
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