“Our success is based on our development of innovative radar sensors, but without our high-quality and on-time production we would never be where we are today,” says InnoSenT managing director Robert Mock about the role manufacturing plays for the success of his company. And this success is indeed impressive: Founded only in 1999 by Dr. Wolfgang Weidmann and Robert Mock with three employees, the radar sensor specialist employs over 115 people today. Even during the recent global economic crisis, InnoSenT managed to grow by more than 30 percent annually and quadruple its revenues between 2005 and 2009 to over €13 million.
The company produces standard radar components as well as highly specialized and customized solutions. From development to prototyping to manufacturing and service – everything comes from a single source. It generates most of its sales in the automotive, rail and transportation technology segments. “Whether distance or lane change warning systems, door sensors or industrial controls – many of our products are critical for people’s security and safety. Accordingly, our customers’ demands are very high in terms of technology, delivery reliability and manufacturing quality. This means that we must be able to produce our products in a wide variety of variants in constantly changing lot sizes," says production manager Udo Müller about his everyday challenges on the production floor.
MMICs are the future of radar technology:
ASICs that are smaller than 1 square millimeter
Circuit boards are getting smaller and smaller. Besides its 24-GHz technology, which InnoSenT produces as the world’s only volume manufacturer, the company focuses on so-called monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), which are smaller than 1 square millimeter. In addition, InnoSenT is already capable of placing these ICs directly from the expanded wafer. The goal is to build complete radar systems including their antennas in the smallest space possible. Accordingly, the company's SMT lines must be extremely capable and flexible for today’s and tomorrow’s requirements. The component spectrum ranges from chips with dimensions of 300 x 600 µm to connectors that are up to 20 mm large.
“To translate our advantages in the development field into marketable high-volume products, we need partners in the surface-mount technology field who can keep up with us in terms of innovation speed. This applies to placement precision as well as flexibility for frequent product changes and real-life performance. We surveyed the entire equipment market to find the best solution for these requirements,” explains production manager Udo Müller.
The severity of these requirements is underscored by hard facts: lot sizes ranging from 50 to 3,000 units, multi-cluster PCBs with dimensions around 280 x 220 mm and efficient family setups with 3-4 different products.
“Compared with other solutions, the SIPLACE SX stands out with a whole series of features. It is extremely robust, also because of its modern X-feeders. The component spectrum is unusually broad and can be fully used even in large family setups thanks to the machine’s large feeder capacity,” explains Udo Müller. His production team also placed great emphasis on the availability of on-site service. There have been no machine failures so far, but the radar specialist nevertheless wants to have competent service technicians at its disposal when the need arises.
Scalability is another plus:
Other strengths of the SIPLACE SX platform with the CPP head configuration include its ability to easily scale up the output capacity and to handle a wide component spectrum. "SIPLACE's capacity-on-demand concepts are of great interest to us. For our industrial applications we continue to operate with lead times of two to three weeks, but our automotive customers require lead times of less than one week virtually without exception; they are also very sensitive as far as on-time deliveries are concerned. With the SIPLACE SX we now have a platform that allows us to produce our technical innovations in way that meets our customers’ requirements in terms of price and delivery schedules,” summarizes InnoSenT General Manager Robert Mock.