Following a 50% growth in business over the last three years, the company is now a £4 million concern with 29 employees, specialising in aerospace, scientific, commercial, covert and security applications. Operating from its purpose – built facility outside Bedford, Bela offers a wide range of processes, with flexible manufacturing capacity backed by technical expertise.
As demand for manufacturing capacity grew, the existing assembled PCB inspection stage, running a Yestech YTV 1000, started to fall behind the technology levels of Bela’s production throughput. Accordingly, in 2010 Bela updated its automated inspection process by purchasing a Nordson YESTECH BX 12 automated optical inspection (AOI) machine, supplied and supported by Cupio. The BX 12 off-line benchtop system allowed PCB inspection with exceptional defect coverage. Bela’s operators could inspect solder joints and verify correct part assembly to improve quality and increase throughput.
This new automated approach successfully resolved Bela’s capacity issues; timely training and support from Cupio enabled it to fully utilise the BX AOI’s capabilities and eliminate the inspection bottleneck. Yet, as the business continued to expand, pressure once again started mounting on the inspection stage. As previously, the Nordson YESTECH BX provided the solution; in May this year Bela took delivery of a second BX 12 AOI machine.
Bela found the benchtop AOI systems to be a good fit for its production profile, and easy to integrate into its manufacturing process. With connections into the factory network, both machines can access Gerber files from the network servers, and run at the same time.
Bela’s operators could program the AOI systems fast and intuitively, typically taking less than 30 minutes to create a complete inspection program including solder inspection. Once generated, these programs can be used on either machine. The machines’ complete inspection coverage and extremely low false failure rate is enabled by advanced Fusion Lighting and newly-available 5-megapixel image processing technology. This integrates several techniques, including colour inspection, normalised correlation and rule-based algorithms.
“Bela continuously invests in new, high-technology plant and equipment to maintain a competitive advantage and ensure the highest of quality for our customers,” commented Mike Lafratta, managing director at Bela Electronic Designs. “As part of that strategy, Cupio’s YESTECH AOI machines have been providing a good solution. They enable the throughput we need, with some leeway, together with sufficient flexibility to check a wider range of products. Buying the second machine was a particularly easy decision, as we could capitalise on our operators’ existing software experience and training.
“Overall, the BX machines have solved our inspection bottleneck problem while optimising our production flexibility. We would attribute our AOI success to three core elements; the features of the machines themselves, our operators’ ease in programming them for new products, and the excellent response, service and communications we have enjoyed from Cupio.”