Global SMT & Packaging - July 2008
|Kimball Electronics’ Marla Wineinger sought a
more efficient way of dealing with solder dross.
At the time, Kimball Electronics was putting the dross from their wave soldering machines into 55-gallon drums and selling it to outside sources for recycling. “I wanted to look into whether it would be possible to deal with the solder dross more efficiently, to ultimately reduce our usage, but also to see whether this could be achieved by bringing the recycling process in-house,” Marla says. “That said, the challenge would also be to find a solution that would be very simple, so that it did not impact heavily on our day-to-day production cycle. After conducting some research I became aware of the Britishbased company EVS International, a manufacturer of solder dross recovery with hundreds of systems in use worldwide.”
Kimball Electronics enlisted the aid of EVS International director Simon Norman and his team, who worked in conjunction with Marla to look at their production and wave soldering processes. “It soon became clear that Marla was correct in her assumption—there was indeed a much more effective solution for their needs,” Simon says. “With the high price of solder, a company can benefit enormously from recovering pure solder from their solder dross. Companies who incorporate our equipment into their production process, for instance, can expect up to an 80% reduction in de-drossing time and up to a 50% reduction in solder purchases, so with the rising cost of solder, the return on investment is seen in months—not years.”
There are added benefits to recovering pure solder from solder dross with an EVS system, such as improvements in both process and line productivity. With a cleaner wave pot, manufacturers experience a significant reduction in shorts and bridging on the board, as well as reduced wave maintenance. The system provides a consistent wave height and improved solder quality, due to reduced oxidation, and users have the potential to dramatically reduce their consumption of nitrogen. Also, there are environmental standards to consider, such as ISO14001, which is fast becoming mandatory in our industry. Gaining or retaining accreditation is significantly helped by recycling dross at the point of manufacture.
Following further research into Kimball Electronics’ manufacturing process, EVS was also able to assure Marla Wineinger that bringing the process in-house, with an automated process, would have very little impact on their day-to-day routine and workload. The operator would be able to de-dross the wave, then carry on and prepare the wave for production while the equipment was performing its de-drossing cycle. Working in conjunction with Marla, Simon and his team determined that the most efficient system to match Kimball’s needs was the EVS6000 solder dross recovery machine, which, coupled with EVS International’s service and support, would ease the transition of bringing this element of their process in-house.
|Graham Norman, managing director of EVS
International, with an EVS6000 solder recovery system.
Air is extracted via a powerful standalone, four-part filtration system, which ensures that the air emitted is cleaner than the surrounding workplace. An automatic air-knife cools the molten solder ingots until safe to handle, with premature removal of the ingot tray prevented by a safety lock.
Safety in the workplace is of course paramount, not only for the operating procedure but also for the routine maintenance and cleaning functions. Because of the nature of the process, extensive safety features have been built into the EVS6000 to protect against misuse.
Maintenance is assisted by prompts from an LCD read-out and facilitated by easy access to all working parts of the machine. Routine cleaning can be carried out from a comfortable standing position.
In the last three years, Kimball Electronics has introduced three systems at their plant in Jasper and two in Reynosa, Mexico. “As explained, ease of use was of prime importance to us,” Marla says. “I didn’t want it to impact heavily on our existing workload. Since the equipment can be used with just one existing operator, even though we have added another process to our day we required no additional labor. It really was as simple as plug in and go—with minimal training required.
“We can now recover waste material from our wave solder process and return it to usable product on site at the point of manufacture, so we have certainly achieved what we set out to by bringing this process in house. However, there have been many unexpected benefits too, on top of reducing the material going into the waste stream. We have been able to reduce machine set up time and machine downtime. We have reduced our administration and improved the working area, with no noxious fumes and a cleaner workshop floor and, of course, we have reduced our solder bar usage— which in turn has provided considerable cost savings. All in all this has been a real success story for us. It represents the largest payback of any product we have purchased.” Kimball Electronics is now beta-testing the latest EVS system, the EVS1000.
“Kimball Electronics is a very forward-thinking company,” says Simon, “and it has been very rewarding to see the benefits they have been able to gain since the start of this project. 2007 has been an excellent year for us, culminating in our latest EVS1000 system winning ‘Best Product – Europe’ at the recent Global SMT & Packaging Technology Awards.”
One of the major contributing factors to EVS International’s success has been the high cost of solder and the widening adoption of lead-free solder, at a 200 to 300% premium over lead solder. The electronics industry is now switching on to the benefits of ISO14001, with more and more companies actively pursuing what EVS call ‘Efficiency, Effectiveness and Cost Reduction.’
Download this article - Case study - Kimball Electronics USA
|View and print Adobe PDF files
Free Adobe Reader® software lets anyone view and print Adobe PDF files.