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PCB-Oct2015

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October 2015 • The PCB Magazine 35 WHELEN & IPS: A STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP—A WINNING COMBINATION capacity we needed to build this along with our other projects and try to balance it all." The IPS equipment made up about one- third of Whelen's equipment spend. Overall, IPS installed 52 machines at Whelen. One of the key technical challenges was working with other venders to integrate their tools into the software management system. IPS had the re- sponsibility of integrating these tools for the line to run as a turnkey solution. This involved writing software drivers to work with each sup- plier's unique formats and languages that, in some cases, weren't developed at the time the orders were placed with IPS. All systems needed to be programmed so the user could define the process flow of each job in a tray that could be independently routed and tracked. This soft- ware and hardware allowed the line to run as a continuous system. All IPS equipment was manufactured in the U.S. in Cedar City, Utah, except for the handling equipment, which was made by IPS' Taiwanese partner, WorldTech. It makes up an impressive automated conveyor system that tracks very smoothly and is filled with IPS loader/unload- ers, buffer systems, etching and stripping sys- tems, and so on. But perhaps the most impres- sive IPS system is the vertical electrolytic plating machine. Being fully automated, this machine has the biggest cycle time gain; in 30–40 min- utes Whelen is able send a panel through the entire process. After all of the equipment was installed, IPS also worked with Proface, their touchscreen provider, to develop software that coordinates all the machines and allows the sys- tem to monitor each job in real-time. Within the budget Whelen set, Alex dreamed up a remarkable factory, but it was IPS that played a central role in making it a reality. "We're in a redefining moment," Brask said." We had our initial business plan that we started the company with—to be multi-product, multi- industry. We've always stuck with that philos- ophy. That has gotten us through the down- turns and the recessions. We've been fortunate enough to always be stable. Now what we're doing is we're redefining the business plan to basically bring to the table integration and au- tomation. It's what the future market needs in the U.S. for circuit boards." PCB iPS panel accumulator. iPS conveyorized horizontal wet processing line. FeATure

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