Graphic PLC Selects Ucamco's Integr8tor
One of the most technically competent manufacturers in the global high-technology PCB industry, Graphic PLC manufactures a wide range of highly-advanced PCBs for its demanding, high-reliability markets. These include the defence and aerospace sectors, as well as advanced medical and industrial marketplaces.
Following extensive tests on a number of alternatives that would support its quoting and engineering needs, Graphic selected Ucamco's Integr8tor system for the quality, stability, reliability, and accuracy of its results, and for its compatibility with Graphic’s existing Orbotech systems environment.
With the open, flexible support of Adeon and Ucamco, Graphics can now automatically and fully analyse client data with unprecedented speed. Integr8tor has freed at least one engineer from the quoting process, and is being integrated across Graphics' pre-production processes to enable well-analysed, clear data to flow seamlessly throughout the business, increasing efficiencies and reliability while improving Graphic’s customer service performance no end.
Group Managing Director David Pike and Engineer Chris Hunter explain: "Graphic PLC has been in business with the same ownership for over 45 years, a rare thing in the PCB industry. That's because our focus lies where we believe European PCB manufacturing has a future: Leading edge technology for demanding industries such as defense and aerospace, as well as some pretty sophisticated products for the medical and advanced industrial sectors.
"Our marketplaces demand absolute reliability from us, in advanced technologies such as flex and flex-rigid circuits, stacked and staggered sequential microvias, copper, and resin-filled vias, high-CTE structures, carbon core and multi resin filled systems. We also do a lot of work with buried resistance and buried capacitance, and are involved in embedded technologies.
"We have quite a range of very high end products, in volumes ranging from prototype one-offs, to thousand-strong series, for customers in the UK, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and the U.S. Through our China-based JV with Somacis, we are even supplying high-end products from and to the Far East. Over the years we've become known as one of the world's most technically competent manufacturers in the high-technology PCB industry.
"Approximately 35% of our business is fast-turn work, with leadtimes in the order of 10 days and under, and our clients want correct quotes from us ASAP. Our products are so complex that it was becoming impossible to manually capture all the data necessary to create accurate quotes in time. So we decided to implement a system that would enable us to manage incoming customer data automatically.
"After evaluating all the alternatives, we selected Ucamco's Integr8tor. We had never worked with Ucamco before, and we can't afford to make mistakes, so we really put them through their paces. Integr8tor impressed us immensely for the quality, stability, reliability and accuracy of its results, and for its compatibility with our existing Orbotech systems environment. Key for us was having a plug-in package into which we could input the customer's data easily, and see immediately the exact board build.
We are now able to automatically and fully analyse any data set that is sent to us for quotation--fast. Whereas before a CAM engineer would have to load the data into an individual CAM package, we can now input the customer's dataset semi-automatically, so by the time we're ready to look at it for quotation, Integr8tor has done the complete analysis. It interrogates the data using tens of thousands of Design Rule Checks, identifies the build, and analyses the job for its manufacturability and price class. Now, we no longer have to look through the dataset on each and every layer, so the time savings are immense. And the payback is excellent--it's saved us at least one engineer in quoting, and now our whole quoting process is managed by the sales department, rather than engineering.
"Equally important, the software automatically and reliably recognises whether an outcome can be trusted or not, and where incoming client data quality is poor, it is automatically optimised and sent on correctly so that our quotes are accurate. Where data cannot be optimised, we know we can trust the system to flag problems clearly and accurately in an electronically transferrable format so that we can address them quickly with the client before proceeding. Even on the very rare occasions that it is slow in analysing a job, Integr8tor still gives us invaluable information, by indicating that, either for data quality, or for the complexity of the product, this job will be lengthy in CAM too, so we can feed that into our scheduling and customer quoting to give more accurate leadtimes.
"Our decision to implement Integr8tor was not just about technology: It was also about people and service. We have had an excellent working relationship for years with Adeon's André Bodegom, Ucamco's UK representative, and he was a major influence in our decision. We were equally impressed with the people at Ucamco. Importantly for us, Ucamco has a UK-based Application Engineer, Adam Newington, who fine-tuned the system initially for our specific needs. Ucamco's Engineers in Gent also distinguished themselves with their open, helpful and flexible attitude. Their approach, right from the beginning of the evaluation process, and before we had made our decision, was always 'Yes, we can help you.' Our engineers have always had direct access to Ucamco's engineers, and we worked together to write customer-specific scripts that we embedded within the software enabling us to automatically apply our customers' tailored rule sets to their incoming data, improving our performance no end.
"With Ucamco's help, we are integrating the system right across our business, so that well-analysed data flows automatically through all our processes from quote stage onwards. We are currently putting our entire materials library into Integr8tor, enabling it to define the materials we use, their characteristics, and our suppliers. To this end, Ucamco is also working with Polar on a link to Polar's Speedstack that will enable us to automatically assign materials to the build and carry out a proper analysis, far earlier than we have done until now, on what will essentially be the working board. The benefits of this are immense given that materials affect costs significantly. We can even optimise our purchasing by using the data to start pre-ordering the material: The possibilities with Integr8tor are endless."
Ucamco (formerly Barco ETS) is a market leader in PCB CAM software, photoplotting and direct imaging systems, with a global network of sales and support centers. Headquartered in Ghent, Belgium, Ucamco has over 25 years of ongoing experience in developing and supporting leading-edge photoplotters and front-end tooling solutions for the global PCB industry. Key to this success is the company's uncompromising pursuit of engineering excellence in all its products.