Kurtz Ersa Magazine

Ersa Best Practice: KEBA AG

Highest quality and maximum flexibility thanks to VERSAFLOW 4/55

The Austrian KEBA AG celebrated a special anniversary in 2018 – the company was founded 50 years ago in Linz. Since then, they have been developing and producing control systems and operating solutions for complex automation systems. KEBA AG recently expanded its electronics production by a VERSAFLOW 4/55.

KEBA has been simplifying the world of living and working with its solutions since 1968. Numerous awards show that the company claim “Automation by Innovation” is lived. The product range consists of industrial automation, logistics automation, banking automation and energy automation. For example, controls for painting robots or injection moulding machines. With their KeTop terminals, KEBA is the world market leader for mobile operator terminals for teaching or programming robots or systems. KEBA is also a leader in parcel automation – for example with packing stations from DHL Germany. People having bank accounts with a Raiffeisenbank or Commerzbank have most probably already withdrawn or deposited money at KEBA machines. The latest product area is charging stations for electromobility, where KEBA is one of the world´s leaders with over 100,000 systems sold.

“KEBA products are not available on the Internet. We develop special solutions for special customers. Close long-term partnerships are the focus – years pass before the serial production of a controller is launched. The requirements of our customers are our challenge,” explains Erwin Schöfer, Plant Manager Electronics Production & Product Assembly at KEBA. KEBA also has a 40-year business relationship with Ersa. A milestone in the cooperation was the switch to lead-free technology, in 2005 with an N-WAVE 330 wave soldering machine, in 2006 with a VERSAFLOW B selective soldering machine. Both systems have been in service for more than ten years. “This reliability was the basis on which Ersa was chosen for the current project,” says Erwin Schöfer.

No compromises: In the ERSASOFT 5 machine software, optimum parameters can be set for each solder joint
No compromises: In the ERSASOFT 5 machine software, optimum parameters can be set for each solder joint

Need for action: Expansion of the selective line

KEBA has been growing continuously since the company was founded – one growth parameter is the number of assembled components: In 2014/15 and 2015/16 there were still 140–150 million assembled components each; at the end of the KEBA fiscal year in April 2019 it were more than 400 million – about three times as many! The machine project for the selective soldering system was already being considered in 2015 and realized in 2017. The existing VERSAFLOW B was fully utilized: 3-shift operation, nothing more was possible. An expansion was unavoidable.

The requirements: high soldering quality and significant increase in throughput. Specification for the cycle time: 2–3 min. With this and with selected assemblies, the KEBA engineers travelled to Wertheim. The soldering tests carried out here already showed one was on the right track. Previously, the cycle times for a product were 5–6 minutes. With the installed VERSAFLOW 4/55 with two VERSAFLEX solder modules, these dropped to 2–3 minutes, two to three times faster! “The requested cycle time was quickly achieved in production. We are again working in 1-shift operation and have scope for future growth,” says Erwin Schöfer.

Well-rehearsed team: Ersa sales engineer Mark Birl (left) and KEBA team in front of the new VERSAFLOW 4/55
Well-rehearsed team: Ersa sales engineer Mark Birl (left) and KEBA team in front of the new VERSAFLOW 4/55

VERSAFLEX: Optimum cycle times

Just as diverse as the KEBA product range are the assemblies and PCB panels in electronics production. This results in a wide variety of PCB spacings in the panel. In order to process these economically, another requirement was the automatic program-controlled Y-adjustment of the axes in the dual solder module.

In the course of the project, it became clear that it was not the standard dual solder module that provided the best cycle times, but the individually adjustable VERSAFLEX module with independently acting axes. This provides completely new possibilities for KEBA – depending on the application, PCB panels can be processed in parallel as usual. The asynchronous mode is used for products that are soldered with different nozzle diameters, for example. “The VERSAFLEX modules gave KEBA the flexibility and efficiency they needed in the new selective soldering line,” says Ersa Sales Manager Mark Birl. And KEBA does not have to compromise when it comes to soldering quality either. Delivery included the VERSAFLEX ULTRA software package which allows that each solder joint can be assigned an individual parameter set.

KEBA products are “long-running”, which requires a good basic temperature of the module. “We have therefore integrated an additional preheating module upstream solder module 01 and a further preheating module between solder modules 01 and 02 to keep the assembly at the right temperature,” explains Mark Birl. Such adaptations to customer-specific requirements can be achieved through the modular design of the VERSAFLOW 4/55. In the medium term, the VERSAFLOW will be fully utilized in 2-shift operation. If a third solder module is required – no problem. The lines necessary for energy and data transfer into the third module have already been integrated. One call to Ersa and the system is ready for operation again in two days.

KEBA AG in figures:

  • Company founded in 1968
  • Headquarters in Linz/Austria
  • Locations in Germany, Romania, Turkey, Czech Republic, South Korea, Italy, USA, China, Japan, Taiwan, Netherlands
  • 1,200 employees worldwide
  • € 253.6 million turnover (31 March 2018)

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