Tuscan Manufacturing Services Specialist MB Elettronica has consistently chosen Yamaha SMT equipment to provide a technological edge that complements the company’s investment in its people
Roberto Banelli, CEO of MB Elettronica, believes successful manufacturing in Europe depends on keeping the right balance between the human abilities to visualise and adapt, and technological innovation to handle state-of-the-art processes cost-effectively.
MB Elettronica was formed in 1988 in Cortona, near Arezzo in Tuscany, Italy, and became one of the country’s first surface-mount electronic manufacturing services businesses. In fact, its history reaches back further, to 1961, when Roberto’s father Francesco Banelli started the firm CAFEL, assembling mechanisms for consumer audio products. As MB Elettronica embraced the new surface-mount technology, the new company grew with the emerging contract electronics manufacturing sector. Typical contracts involved building high-quality assemblies in large numbers – usually several thousand units each – for a select few customers.
As the pattern of manufacturing in Europe changed dramatically in the 1990s, MB Elettronica adapted by advancing its capabilities and reaching out to the new generation of high-tech businesses; small, dynamic, innovative, and pushing the boundaries in specialist fields such as railway control and signalling, medical technology, high-speed telecommunications, and aerospace.
Central to its ability to address these new opportunities, MB Elettronica had invested in advanced manufacturing technology. In 1995, one of the world’s first surface-mount placement platforms to feature on-board machine vision took its place on the factory floor in Cortona, boosting the company’s ability to deliver extremely high quality assemblies quickly and cost-effectively. The purchase of that machine, a Yamaha Comet, was an important part of a sustained investment in technology and people that has powered the company to its present position, with annual sales now exceeding €32 million.
Capabilities, and the Human Dimension
The company’s wide-ranging in-house skills now permit a complete portfolio of lifecycle services, beginning with proof of concept work and rapid prototyping, as well as Design for Manufacture (DFM), component engineering, materials management, re-engineering, redesign, and repair and maintenance. “Our engineering services have saved customers not only many Euros but also valuable cubic centimetres inside enclosures through improvements to aspects like board layout, component selection and power consumption,” explains Roberto Banelli. As far as surface-mount product manufacturing is concerned, services range from straightforward board assembly to complete box-build, leveraging extensive in-house skills including wiring and designing and assembling high-quality cables and harnesses. “Cabling is in our DNA, from the 1960s, so it is natural that this should differentiate our box-build offer. We also offer cable assembly as a specialist service in its own right,” he adds.
By continuous investment in capabilities, the company has built a broad portfolio of competencies including conformal coating, rework including BGA packages, and the use of structural adhesives. Massimo Morandi, Site Manager takes up the story. “Our customers often require electronic assemblies to operate in harsh environments for long periods, frequently up to 10 years or more. Our competencies with coatings, adhesives and other processes give us many options to ensure ruggedness and reliability.”
Highlighting the company’s extensive test-engineering capabilities, he lists Keysight, SEICA, HP and SPEA in-circuit board test capabilities, as well as flying-probe, boundary scan, and custom functional test among the techniques on offer. “We can also offer materials-management services as well as component-level traceability. This is supported through our custom-developed manufacturing-management software, which passes information seamlessly between our automated assembly equipment and enterprise systems.”
Perhaps one of the most remarkable facilities at MB Elettronica’s Cortona factory is the well-equipped ISO Class-8 space-qualified clean room with facilities including surface-mount assembly, vapour-phase soldering, automatic optical inspection (AOI) and microscopy. This provides the cornerstone of the company’s advanced capabilities for space projects, capable of specialised processes such as baking, degolding, pre-tinning and pre-forming.
Moreover, in addition to ISO 9001 and 9100 quality approvals, the company has also recently been awarded International Railway Industry Standard (IRIS) and ISO-TS certifications. “We can demonstrate the highest credentials for building and handling electronic assemblies for the most demanding industries,” confirms Roberto Banelli. “We are also very proud of the standards our staff have achieved, which include important industry accreditations such as IPC-A-610, and ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardization).”
The company’s investment in skills and training reflects the Banelli family’s belief in balancing human qualities with advanced technologies. “We value highly the experience and knowhow of our longstanding employees, and at the same time seek to encourage young talent to grow with the organisation. The enthusiasm and openness of youth are vital to keep the business moving forward, and we encourage this in several ways,” explains Roberto Banelli. Not the least of these is the MB Elettronica industrial mentoring scheme. Each year, this scheme gives 20 young people the chance to come and spend time with the company’s experts, and to follow practical and theoretical courses. Their time ends with an examination. “Achieving a good score adds value to the time spent with us.”
State-of-the-Art Surface Mount
In all, MB Elettronica has 4000m2 of factory space, organised on two levels. While the upper level houses support services, the ground level is dominated by four surface-mount assembly lines (figure 1). Driving each one, inline Yamaha YS12 and YS12F mounters deliver total placement capacity of 200,000 components per hour. Roberto Banelli explains the decision to extend his company’s partnership with Yamaha, “Our first Comet mounter gave us a technical edge in the mid-1990s, and we were delighted to find Yamaha still setting the pace in 2014 as we planned this significant upgrade and expansion of the factory’s facilities.”
The Yamaha platforms can place package types down to 0402 metric (01005) chip-size devices, and the YS12F can handle components up to 45mm x 100mm and 15mm high including challenging components such as large QFPs, surface-mount electrolytic capacitors or long board-mounted connectors. By featuring Yamaha’s multi-angle camera system for component verification and alignment, these state-of-the-art mounters ensure extremely high placement accuracy, even with ultra fine-pitch components. In addition, Yamaha’s Multiple Accuracy Compensation System (MACS) corrects automatically for machine variables to maintain consistent 3-sigma accuracy within ±5µm.
The high mix of specialised products MB Elettronica is now building, typically in small numbers of a few tens or hundreds of units, demands extremely flexible equipment and processes. The Yamaha mounters are engineered for fast and easy setup, with features to streamline program generation and with the added advantage of intelligent electric feeders with built-in component identification.
The Cortona surface-mount lines are fed by Yamaha printers, including YSP high-speed printers and the compact YCP10. The YCP10 accepts the same PCB-size range as the YSP, up to 510mm x 460mm, in a highly space-efficient 1.13m x 1.76m machine footprint. Powerful features shared by the two types include built-in barcode monitoring for efficient setup, as well as Yamaha’s 3S Swing Single-Squeegee head and automatic Filling Adjust that ensure consistent aperture filling on every print stroke. The 3S head allows continuous variation of the squeegee angle, and Filling Adjust compensates for the effects of stencil cleaning. In addition, the YSP and YCP10 come with powerful options such as wide-view print inspection and bad-mark transfer that shares information with downstream equipment to help minimise waste and boost productivity.
Support to Optimise Efficiency
The investment made by MB Elettronica in advanced technology spreads throughout the entire factory floor. Six automated component tower systems are clustered to store and manage components, helping operators quickly gather the parts they need and minimise feeder setup times.
As the business evolved and expanded into the new millennium, including growing capacity by investing in the new high-speed Yamaha-based lines in 2014, Roberto Banelli and his management team identified the need to reorganise the factory floor to make the most of the space and increased production capacity. In the summer of 2016, they decided the time was right to go ahead. Supported by partners, including Yamaha as the single biggest capital equipment supplier, the project was completed within just two weeks, including complete renovation of the factory’s floor. “We absolutely had to complete this ambitious project within a two-week time window, to be ready to deliver the first batch of a new product for one of our customers in September,” says Massimo Morandi. “The support we received from Yamaha and Mancini, the Yamaha representative here in Italy, was tremendous. I would say it was pivotal in enabling us to meet the ambitious timetable we set for ourselves.”
MB Elettronica continues to look forward, investing in advanced technologies and capabilities, building close partnerships with suppliers such as Yamaha, and helping to develop tomorrow’s engineers and production experts. Increasing international business development, directed by International sales and finance head Daniela Banelli, is the next important goal for this ambitious company. Currently, about 20% of sales come from outside Italy, and this is expected to increase as the company keeps investing in the technology and skills to move forward.
About Yamaha Robotics SMT SectionYamaha Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Section is a subdivision of Yamaha Motor Robotics Business Unit in Yamaha Motor Corporation. Yamaha surface mount equipment is highly acclaimed in the market for their “module concept” that enables them to keep pace with the trend toward smaller and more diverse electric/electronic parts being mounted on circuit boards.
Yamaha SMT Section has created a strong business in the surface mount industry that enables design and engineering, manufacture, sales and service to be conducted in one comprehensive system. Furthermore, the Company has used its core technologies in the areas of servo-motor control and image recognition technology for vision (camera) systems to develop solder paste printers, 3D solder paste inspection, 3D PCB inspection machines, flip chip hybrid placers and dispensers. This allows Yamaha SMT Section to offer a full line of machines for electric/electronic parts mounting and propose optimum production-line makeup to answer the diversifying needs of today’s manufacturers.
Yamaha SMT Section has sales and service offices in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America provide a truly global sales and service network that will safeguard best in class on-site sales & service support for clients.