With intelligent solutions for smart pumps, the Wilo Group is on its way to becoming a digital pioneer in the industry. A highly automated VERSAFLOW 3/45 selective soldering system is also used in electronics production.

User report | published in: productronic 11 / 2018
Author: Nicolas Bartschat

Wilo SE is one of the world’s premium suppliers of pumps and pump systems for building technology, water management and industry. The company employees around 7,700 people around the world. As the innovative leader, Wilo is setting new standards and offering customers tailor-made products with a high degree of system efficiency and maximum energy saving. The target set: to be as customised as necessary and as efficient as possible. With smart solutions which connect people, products and services, the Wilo Group is on the way to becoming the digital pioneer of the branch. To achieve its ambitious targets, a highly automated manufacturing line of the type Ersa selective soldering line VERSAFLOW 3/45 is used for electronics manufacturing.

Founded in Dortmund in 1872 as a copper and brass factory, the Wilo Group is now one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality pumps and pump systems, with 13 main production sites in Europe, Asia and America. At the moment, this translates into an efficient and customer-related network of 70 production and sales companies in more than 50 countries which are available to the Dortmund technology enterprise. Impressive milestones have been reached in the course of the 146 years of company history: In 1928 Wilo developed the world’s first heating pump, in 2001 the pump specialist launched the first ever high-efficiency pump on the market, the first decentralised pump system followed in 2009. At the heart of the new digital products, systems and solutions is the smart pump Wilo-Stratos MAXO. A dynamic development – characterising the Wilo Group and describing the consistent progression from product to system supplier at the same time. This is behind the claim “Pioneering for you”, which aims to achieve optimum quality of life by making efficient use of the valuable resource, water.

Perfectly matched solutions available world-wide

The Wilo Group is consistently extending its international presence and is represented on all important markets. In 2017, turnover of more than 1.4 billion euros was generated – and with a total of 124.8 million euros for modern manufacturing technologies and new production sites and extensions, the company continues to invest heavily i  the future. International presence in a group with numerous additional agencies and an independent network of sales and service partners ensures that customer requirements and needs can be satisfied at any time, world-wide, to the highest quality. Thus, for example, Google had expressed the intention of covering the power demand for its data centers using only renewable energies in the foreseeable future. At the same time, great efforts are being made to enhance energy efficiency in the centres themselves, particularly with regards to the energy-intensive cooling of the servers. One indication of this is the choice for the location of the European Google data centre in Hamina, Finland. The deciding factor was not the price of electricity but the low mean temperature of 2°C and the direct vicinity of the Finnish sea. Because here, the server cooling is guaranteed using cold seawater, thus saving energy. The Wilo pumps “CronoLine-IL” make a decisive contribution to the ecology and economy of one of the main nodes in the global data highway. The result is one of the “greenest” data centers in the world.

In order to implement such complex products, the Wilo Group works intensively in the background on the advanced development of processes in order to make these smarter all the time. Basic similarities with Ersa become apparent here: In order to reduce the storage times between delivery and supply and to reduce storage and process costs, both companies decided to set up a new logistics centre in the past. Like at Ersa, where the group-wide Kurtz Ersa central warehouse went into operation and a digitised and automated materials management system at the highest technological level guarantees supplies to customers and locations, central software and automation solutions in logistics are to make direct exchange of information with suppliers more efficient in future.

Wilo and Ersa: Trusting cooperation since the 1980s

Both companies regard digital transformation, one of the major challenges of our era, as a joint key factor. Meeting this change with foresighted actions is essential for the future success of companies. Whether pump systems or electronics manufacturing – digitisation means a fundamental change to manufacturing technologies, work sequences and production processes, and offers completely new function and application options. For this reason,Wilo and Ersa are setting new benchmarks and pushing digital transformation on all levels.

To be able to take this complex path, the pump manufacturer is using production systems from Ersa, which are 100% reliable at all times for all electronics manufacturing applications – after all, the assemblies produced must work reliably in smart pumps and pump systems all over the world under the toughest of conditions. The electronics manufacturing plant in Dortmund makes products for all plants world-wide and relies without compromise on knowhow and quality “made in Germany”. The Wilo Group and Ersa started their constructive cooperation as far back as in the 1980s.

They see their cooperation more as a trusting partnership than as a traditional customer-supplier relationship. Wilo has already used selective and wave soldering lines from Ersa for demanding soldering tasks in the past. “Through the numerous technologically demanding projects we have been involved in together, we have been able to develop joint standards which will be a great help in mastering future projects and give us the edge over our competitors. It is particularly important to understand what the needs of our customers and optimization within the soldering process are,” says Ersa Sales Engineer Stefan Wurster. The fact that the team in Dortmund has very good knowledge of the soldering process and has already been able to gain experience in the field of selective soldering made a product problem-solving process possible with Ersa which was productive in every respect.

Zero-fault strategy: multi-wave selective soldering line VERSAFLOW 3/45

Last year, the four-strong Wilo team responsible for industrialization and manufacturing technologies, Rüdiger Riedl, Ulrich Krämer, Roger Unsenos and Michael Menczyk, put a highly automated line from Ersa into operation for the first time.

This had been preceded by a call for tender with several participants bidding for the contract. Following an intensive process, Ersa was once again able to convince those responsible at Wilo on account of its technological lead in the field of selective soldering, particularly through the precise process control and monitoring.

A VERSAFLOW 3/45 multi-wave selective soldering line is now in use, and has been integrated perfectly into the overall concept designed by the pump manufacturer thanks to a high degree of automation for the production of large quantities. “One of the project’s special challenges was the large component mix to be produced using the new production line. The thermal requirements during heating and cooling of the ceramic components played a major role. We determined all the necessary process parameters in advance at the Ersa application center in Wertheim, without blocking important production capacities,” says Rüdiger Riedl, manufacturing engineer at Wilo.

At the same time, Wilo was pursuing the target of a zero-fault strategy by integrating an intelligent, highly automated production line. Whichever way you look at it: a stable soldering process is the key. The complex automation covers the in-line concatenation of the production lines for transport of an eight-fold board without soldering frame. Thanks to the standards created together in the past and numerous comprehensive preliminary tests at the application and demo center at the Ersa site in Wertheim am Main, important solutions for potential problems were found at the early stages of the project. This enabled a fast and problem-free ramp-up with very few adaptations to the soldering process following initial operation. Wilo process planner Ulrich Krämer considers the project an outstanding example for the long-term cooperative partnership between the two companies: “From initiation to completion, the project with Ersa ran as smoothly as anyone could wish – looking forward to next time!”


You may also be interested in the following topics

Indoor drone with customized electronic modules

Just how dependent unmanned flying is on high-quality and functioning printed circuit boards, components and solder joints is shown by flying in enclosed spaces

Ensure top protective coating!

Coatings to protect the components are just as much a part of modern electronics manufacturing as joining processes with adhesives or encapsulation of components or assemblies. EMS heavyweight Zollner Elektronik relies on the inspection system ERSASCOPE 2 to completely understand the mechanisms of wetting, especially during protective coating.

Soldering program creation: Genuine added value

Digitalization and networking are increasingly reaching the production areas – this is leading to the use of new technologies such as assistance systems, which support the personnel at the machines in their decisions.