IES (Intelligent Electronic Systems) is a French company with a staff of 27, who specialise in power electronics for electric material handling for forklift truck (battery chargers, motor speed controllers).
The objective of the AE was to use surface mount power devices on insulated metallic substrate technology in order to decrease the cost and improve the reliabillty.
The existing product, with 720 W power, was designed to recharge the batteries of walkie pallet trucks with an output of 30A at 24V. It was manufactured using traditional technologies which comprised power components manually soldered on to a PCB.
The product had very high performance, but was too expensive to produce in the face of the competition. The new technology has made it possible to mount the power components in an automated manner and to simplify the structure of the electronic board, thus reducing costs. The technology employed is the direct mounting of components on Insulated Metal Substrate (IMS).
The AE enabled IES to greatly reduce production costs, both in the cost of purchasing components by 43% and in manufacturing time by 55%. The new product is also more reliable, with 3 times longer life than the original specification, and its physical size was also reduced by 42%. Thanks to the AE, the company has mastered IMS technology and has decided to invest in an automated production line. All of the engineers in the design department (six) have been trained in the design of new products using this technology and all of the new products developed by the firm in the future will be based on this technology.
The total development cost was 75K ECU. Of this 60K ECU was for the AE against a planned budget of 44.1K ECU. The project ran for 11 months as opposed to the 9 months as planned. The payback period, assuming the full development cost of 75K ECU will be less than 2 years. The ROI, for a 5 year product life cycle will be in excess of 300%.
The overspend, which was due to additional man power effort internally, has taught IES to allow some continuency in effort when embarking on a similar project. However, despite this, the main lesson that IES learned from this AE was that they should have invested in this technology sooner. The FUSE project was a triggering factor that led to the decision to investigate this technology for a specific project and considering the results obtained, they now regret that they did not start earlier. They have now invested a further 150K ECU in an automated production line for IMS technology, and believe it will lead to strong future growth for the company.