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Ersa Best Practice: Tridonic

Ersa equips new Tridonic production facility

Light is the passion of Austrian Tridonic GmbH & Co. KG. The Dornbirn-based company is one of the world´s three leading suppliers of lighting components and lighting management systems. At the end of July 2018, production started at the new Niš production site in Serbia.

Since the first light-emitting diode (LED) was used in niche products such as high-mounted brake lights at the end of the 1990s, the technology has developed rapidly. LEDs are mankind´s most efficient, long-lasting light source to date – with completely new possibilities in lighting design. As flexible as the previous luminaire design was, so standardized were conventional light sources. “Today, virtually anything is possible with LEDs,” explains Stefan Kerber, Director Global Engineering at Tridonic. “If a customer comes up with the requirement for a heptagonal, curved luminaire, we will supply the LED light source in any required version with the appropriate control gear.” Since the introduction of LED technology in 2001, Tridonic´s product range has included not only control gear but also the manufacture of light sources: LED modules, sensors and software.

 

Line with VERSAPRINT P1 and HOTFLOW 3/20 for bonding processes in electronics production at Tridonic in Niš
Line with VERSAPRINT P1 and HOTFLOW 3/20 for bonding processes in electronics production at Tridonic in Niš

Flexible intelligence, exciting innovation

Exemplary manual soldering workstation with i-CON 1V soldering station, used for touch-up and component repair
Exemplary manual soldering workstation with i-CON 1V soldering station, used for touch-up and component repair

Light can take on a wide variety of forms, but the idea of efficiency is also important – intelligently controlled lighting management systems today save up to 80% of energy. For the communication of individual elements in the lighting infrastructure, the DALI standard has established itself in the lighting industry on the basis of Tridonic (DALI short for Digital Addressable Lighting Interface). The control gear communicates via this interface with the luminaire and sensors. Software is used to dim, switch light on or off. The interface also displays error and maintenance messages.

The lighting industry is highly competitive. Manufacturers of individually combinable lighting components have to position themselves broadly in order to survive in international competition – also on the production side. The production sites at the company´s headquarters in Dornbirn, Spennymoor (Great Britain) and Shenzhen (China) were joined in 2018 by the plant in Niš, Serbia. On a production area of just under 10,000 m², 350 employees mainly manufacture high-volume, price-sensitive products for Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

 

Challenge: one-sided setup

In Europe today, PCBs assembled on both sides with many components (mainly SMDs) and some plug contacts are widely used. Highly automated manufacturing processes in the SMD sector with paste printing and reflow soldering. Depending on the proportion in the assembly, machine selective soldering or traditional manual soldering is used for THT components. Tridonic, on the other hand, frequently uses one-sided PCBs with a high proportion of axial and radial THT components. All component connections are on one side, only one side is laminated with copper. These PCBs are considerably cheaper to purchase. A one-sided setup, however, means that existing SMD components are also sent through the wave soldering machine. Challenge: Fixing the SMD components on the PCB. Solution: They are glued.

Glue application with the VERSAPRINT P1 stencil printer
Glue application with the VERSAPRINT P1 stencil printer

Individually adapted manufacturing equipment

Four years ago, together with Ersa, a production process was developed for the Dornbirn plant, which is now also used in Niš. First, the PCBs are fitted with THT components and the connections are crimped. The SMD adhesive is then applied to the PCB, and a VERSAPRINT P1 stencil printer with a closed print head ensures that the adhesive is applied in an acceptable cycle time due to the large number of adhesive dots. The integrated SPI inspects the print result: In addition to the presence of the adhesive between the landing surfaces, it also checks that the connecting surfaces for the SMDs are free of adhesive. Printing and inspection run in parallel, saving cycle time – faulty assemblies are detected directly and excluded from further processing. The SMD components are then inserted into the adhesive dots on the assembly so that the component connections rest on the landing surfaces of the PCB. Then the assembly is smuggled into the HOTFLOW 3/20, the adhesive cures due to the heat in the reflow oven. The SMD components are now fixed for the following wave soldering process.

Tridonic´s requirements for the HOTFLOW 3/20 have also been individually adapted. In order to prevent the components from deflecting, centre supports are usually fitted to the PCB. This was not feasible here due to the component density. Therefore, the center support is provided by the components of the assemblies. As their height varies, the centre support in the HOTFLOW furnaces at Tridonic can also be adjusted by 20 mm in height. This is followed by the actual soldering process – due to the large quantities in the wave soldering machine. The Ersa POWERFLOW was chosen for the Niš plant, followed by another system in spring 2019.

Double track transport of the HOTFLOW 3/20. Special feature: centre support height variably adjustable between 0 and 20 mm
Double track transport of the HOTFLOW 3/20. Special feature: centre support height variably adjustable between 0 and 20 mm

Tridonic sets the highest standards for its products, which are known for their quality, reliability, efficiency and precision, in order to survive in the face of tough competition. “The systems must work, downtimes must be low and support must be available as quickly as possible if required,” says Stefan Kerber, explaining Tridonic´s requirements. “That´s why we deliberately chose a European supplier that we can be sure will still be on the market in five years´ time,” says Kerber. The Ersa team is particularly proud to be Tridonic´s partner in Serbia for stencil printing, reflow and wave soldering. The hand soldering workstations there were also equipped with Ersa equipment.

 
 

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