Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  24 Jan 2010

TECHNOLOGY: Revolution In PCB Ordering


Recent Western Cape Business News

THERE’s a revolution going on right here in Cape Town - but don’t worry, it’s nothing to do with Julius Malema.

Beta LAYOUT, supplier of Europe’s No 1 prototype Printer Circuit Boards (PCBs), now has a facility in the Lansdowne area - and its dynamic approach to business is taking the market by storm.

Beta LAYOUT was the pioneer overseas of online printed circuit board ordering, and developed the original PCB-POOL concept, which considerably enhanced the company’s reputation as the industry’s leading PCB prototype manufacturer.

Back in 1989, the company, like many enterprises based on bright ideas and a lot of enthusiasm, had humble beginnings. But those ideas caught on and made sense to a lot of customers, and today they boast a bevy of no less than 20 000 customers, growing at a rate of more than 150 new customers every month. These figures prove that Beta LAYOUT has something very special to offer, and the overseas market knows it.

Now South Africa is learning about it as well. About six months ago - in June 2009 to be precise - they acquired the Photocircuit facility in Lansdowne, and sent Irishman Ian Fennell to implement in this country the business model which has had such success in Europe.

So what is Beta LAYOUT bringing to South Africa? Well, says Fennell, 80% of its business will be the manufacture and sale of its quality PCBs. But he points especially to these added value features:

In 1994 the company developed the PCB-POOL concept, whereby multiple customers’ PCBs are assembled on a common panel, which means that they share the overall tooling costs, instead of each bearing the full cost of a tooling exercise.

Offering instant online quotations - a first in South Africa, Fennell believes - customers receive professionally manufactured prototype PCBs at discounted prices, live online order tracking and live online customer support.

With no minimum quantity requirement, no tooling or setup charges and full design rule checks included on all PCB-POOL orders, Beta LAYOUT currently offers lead times from five working days but plan to reduce this in the not too distant future. The fully automated system provides electronic order confirmation and notification of any problems.

Online costing and order for prototypes with PCB-POOL PCBs must have the following attributes: 1mm/1.6 FR4, 1oz copper, green soldermask, white legend, HAL or immersion tin surface finish, 1-6 layer and up to 50dm2 in total area.

Orders that do not fit the PCB-POOL cost saving criteria and medium volume business are quoted separately on an order by order basis.

The WATCH“ur” PCB feature is a PCB monitoring service with online production control for customer prototypes. It provides high resolution digital images of a PCB following completion of each manufacturing step. The images are exact representations of the manufacturing process at the drilling, exposure, tin stripping, UV curing and hot-air-levelling stages. Pictures can be sent by e-mail upon request, and are also available online by accessing the customer’s account.

Free SMD stencil with every PCB-POOL prototype order

Free South African version of Target T3001 Layout software with integrated PCB ordering system available from Website.

Last, for the moment, but by no means least, Beta LAYOUT is currently running a special offer where the first 100 customers ordering through its website, regardless of the size of their order, will win a Large Beta Reflow kit absolutely free. The kit includes an oven, SMD test boards, stencil, solder paste, squeegee, tweezers and a multimeter with temperature range and sensor.

That’s a pretty good free gift - but hurry, as the offer is being snapped.

That’s just a first look at what the Beta LAYOUT revolution is offering. But as Ian Fennell emphasises, there’s much more, and he invites customers and intending customers to contact him for further information.

He’s a pretty clued up young man, and the words tumble over each other as he explains complicated technical details, but he’s keen to help. That’s how Beta LAYOUT was built in Europe, and how it plans to do business here in South Africa.

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