The EMS service provider Note Norrtelje has specialised in processing small batch sizes promptly, efficiently and to the highest quality. To meet the continuously increasing demand, the Swedes ordered a VERSAFLOW 3/45 – the 1,000th edition of the Ersa bestseller!

User report | published in: productronic 01-02 / 2019
Author: Tobias van Rossem

NOTE is a leading Northern European EMS service provider with an international platform for the production of sophisticated electronics. The NOTE vision is to be the customer´s natural manufacturing and logistics partner on the entire electronics production line. For this purpose, the Swedish company cooperates specifically with business partners at the highest technology level – most recently with Ersa GmbH, which provided a VERSAFLOW 3/45. The delivered machine was more than just another selective soldering machine of the world market leader – it was the anniversary edition No. 1,000!

Sweden is booming, no other industrial nation can match the Scandinavians in terms of economic growth. In the second quarter of 2018, Sweden´s economy grew by around four percent compared with the same period of the previous year, and the trend for the second half of the year is similar. The country, which is strongly integrated into the global value chain, invests a lot in the education of its 10 million inhabitants in order to stay fit in global competition – 6.5 percent of Sweden´s economic output flows into education every year. Only countries such as Denmark and Iceland top this figure.

The EMS service provider NOTE is also profiting from the dynamic development of the economy and has played an active role in it: started in 1982 as an electronics manufacturing pioneer in Sweden, renamed NOTE in 2000 and converted into a public limited company one year later, the Scandinavians are now among the most competitive electronics manufacturers in Northern Europe and are growing strongly in sales, profitability and new customer relationships. With the production of smart PCBs, assemblies and box-build products, NOTE covers the entire product life cycle from design, engineering and prototyping to after sales. The NOTE products are embedded in complex systems that are used in medical technology, industry and high-end communication.

Locations with high industrial activity

In addition to its headquarters in Stockholm, NOTE has a manufacturing site in Norrtälje, just an hour´s drive from the Swedish metropolis. Further representative offices are maintained in China, Estonia, Finland and Great Britain – all NOTE sites are located in a geographical region with high industrial activity and innovation capability. NOTE supports its customers in delivering the right quality at the right time and at the right price – to this end, the Swedes rely on a holistic approach that leads to high delivery accuracy and agreed flexibility at minimum costs and risks and continuously optimizes processes. In 2017, the approximately 1,000 NOTE employees generated sales of 1,249 MSEK (around EUR 120 million), while sales in the first half of 2018 rose by 12% to 658.5 MSEK (around EUR 63.2 million). And the development in the current fiscal year indicates further profitable growth – in the second quarter of 2018 alone, the order backlog was 30 percent higher than the comparable figure for the previous year.

NOTE Norrtelje AB - Electronics production since the 1980s

From a group perspective to a closer look at the NOTE location in Norrtälje, where NOTE Norrtelje AB has been successfully manufacturing electronics since the 1980s and currently employs 80 NOTE staff. A production area of 5,000 m2 is available there to process customer orders – often in the highmix area with “low volume”, i.e. small batch sizes – promptly, efficiently and to the highest quality standards. The town of Norrtälje with a population of 20,000, idyllically situated on the Baltic Sea, is well connected to the capital Stockholm – whether with well-developed roads, closely scheduled bus connections or Arlanda Airport 50 km away. Many of NOTE Norrtelje AB´s customers come from the Stockholm catchment area. However, geographical proximity is only one reason for the cooperation – further arguments that speak in favour of NOTE Norrtelje AB: among other things, more than 30 years of experience in electronics and the targeted strategic expansion of EMS production, for example with wedgebonding or debonding, in order to always produce “state of the art”.

NOTE Norrtelje AB produces on VERSAFLOW 3/45

In view of the current order backlog and in order to produce even more efficiently and flexibly in the future, NOTE Norrtelje AB expanded its machine park with an Ersa VERSAFLOW 3/45. At the end of September 2018, the selective soldering machine was delivered and seamlessly integrated nto the NOTE production line within a very short time. For NOTE Norrtelje AB it was already the second selective soldering machine from Ersa, but the first brand-new system. In addition, a very special machine – for system supplier Ersa it was the 1,000th machine of its world’s most popular soldering system – the VERSAFLOW 3/45, which with its performance and stability as a modular machine platform for highly efficient inline selective soldering is the undisputed leader worldwide. Ersa General Sales Manager Rainer Krauss travelled to Sweden in October to officially hand over the new machine to the NOTE production team. “About seven years ago we started selective soldering with a VERSAFLOW, with which we were already able to produce much more flexibly and always in the required quality. No comparison, however, with our recently installed VERSAFLOW 3/45, with which we have entered a whole new world in selective soldering,” says Peter Bohlin, Managing Director at NOTE Norrtelje AB. “The new acquisition was unavoidable – and the VERSAFLOW 3/45 delivers higher productivity with consistent, reproducible quality all along the line,” adds the Managing Director, who knows what he is talking about – after all, he himself started in NOTE production in 1996.

Before the actual purchase, those responsible for NOTE had looked around the market extensively – without finding anything immediately. Until they came across the Ersa VERSAFLOW technology, which they already knew
from the installed used system – even when switching to automated selective soldering, they were ten times faster than manual soldering and produced at the level of the IPC class 3 industrial standard. But there are not just a few years between the two Ersa systems, technologically they are worlds apart: The current Ersa inline system with double transport ensures maximum flexibility and highest throughput with minimum space requirements and fast return on investment. Just a few highlights of the VERSAFLOW 3/45: product change without loss times, parallel process through separation of fluxes, preheating and soldering, ideal connection to assembly stations and peripherals.

Technologically convincing on the hardware side, the decision was made not least because of the comprehensive support offered by the worldwide Ersa
sales and service network. In Sweden and Norrtälje, the Swedish representative Interflux Skandinavia AB initiated business and also provided smooth ramp-up support. “The connection to Interflux Skandinavia´s sales people is very good – and the installation of the machine has worked wonderfully,” says NOTE Production Manager Anette Andersson, who has been with the company for over 28 years and appreciates the quick changeover and easy programming of the VERSAFLOW 3/45. This is an important factor, because dozens of products are manufactured on the system – for example, assemblies for the more accelerated electric mobility, are produced on it.

Extensive testing of soldering systems in demo center

Many Ersa customers make use of the services of the Ersa Demo Center before placing an order for a machine, where the entire spectrum of Ersa technologies can be put through its paces with support of Ersa engineers – and gladly on the basis of a tricky assembly that could lead to a new order. NOTE Norrtelje AB took a different approach and trusted the experience of the Interflux Skandinavia experts, who have been successful Ersa representatives in Sweden for 25 years. A few weeks after the installation, the statements regarding the VERSAFLOW 3/45´s performance, quality and productivity were confirmed.

For NOTE Norrtelje AB, a long-term and trusting relationship with business partners is just as important as a functioning team that works hand in hand. At the Norrtälje location, a “mental meter” measures how good the working atmosphere is – an important factor for Managing Director Peter Bohlin. Because he knows: “No matter how local an electronics production may be, it must always survive in today´s global competition. The production phase at NOTE Norrtelje AB has been successfully completed; production is currently in 1-shift operation. In a second training phase, the machine operators come into close contact with their new selective system in order to increase throughput before the changeover to 2-shift operation is expected to take place at the beginning of 2019. If the boom in Sweden continues, which is quite likely in view of the increasing digitalisation of almost all areas of life, and NOTE announces further demand for high-performance soldering systems – Ersa GmbH is available as system supplier no. 1 for electronics production. Whether in Sweden, Scandinavia or worldwide!

rossem
TOBIAS VAN ROSSEM
AREA SALES MANAGER

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