Interview with Mr. Alexey Stratev, Executive Director Ivas Tech

Electronics InterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 3/2010

Our leading marketing strategy is to offer maximum quality at competitive prices

Says Mr. Alexey Stratev, Executive Director Ivas Tech

Dear Mr. Stratev, Ivas Tech is the only one Bulgarian manufacturer of SMT machines. How did you decide to establish the company and how it has been performing over the years?
Right, IVAS TECH is the only Bulgarian manufacturer of electronic equipment for automatic PCB mounting with surface mount components. From its very establishment and market orientation determining, the company has been directed toward medium- and low-class equipment production. We relied on the greater flexibility, precision and working capacity of this kind of equipment. The IVAS TECH target group includes small and medium-sized electronic OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) companies, developing and offering their own products, and CEM (Contract Electronic Manufacturers) - companies, offering electronics manufacturing services, such as PCB population and automated production of modules and assemblies for other companies.

What kinds of machines and equipment is IVAS TECH manufacturing for electronics industry?
Our main products both for the internal and external market are: PLM2000 automatic pick-and-place machine for surface mount components, HBSM machine for automated consecutive assembly and soldering of Luxeon type HB LEDs, SPM100 stencil printer, BTO convection reflow oven for PCB soldering, TSM200 - SMD sockets and flat cable soldering machine, ASM300 machine for heat sealing of flat cables. We offer total SMT solutions to our clients. Company products are marketed under our own trademarks, protected by the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Which are the most significant innovations in your machines?
PLM2000 has been designed as a middle-class machine, developed on the basis of the latest positioning technologies using linear motors and component recognition with precise CMOS digital cameras. PLM2000 is a flexible solution for every manufacturer offering a wide range of mid-volume products. The X and Y movement is performed by servomotors with linear encoders with 1 micron resolution and digital motion controller. They ensure high-speed and exclusively precise placement of every single component. High speed and accuracy positioning enables placement performance of 4200 components per hour. Despite its compact size the machine is equipped with a great number of feeder slots, ensuring the simultaneous loading of 210 different components. Machine control is CAN based, recognized for being highly reliable and very fast.

In electronics manufacturing the reliability, availability and robustness are key factors. How do you ensure them in your machines?
Our principal activity, part of the Quality Management System (QSM) in accordance with EN ISO 9001:2008 is SMT equipment production. All the materials and components we use come from leading world manufacturers: Bosch Rexroth and Copley Controls linear motors and servo controllers; Maxon and Mimimotor (Switzerland) DC motors, FESTO and SMC pneumatic systems; Pixelink (Canada) digital cameras; ESD (Germany) CAN interface boards. The application of linear motors increases to a great extent machine lifetime and reliability. At the same time, they significantly decrease technical support and service costs.

Amongst the various products, which one has brought the name and fame to your company?
The first IVAS TECH product marketed less than 2 years after the company establishment is PLM2000. PLM2000 is an automated machine for SMT components placement, facing worldwide trends in the area of surface mount equipment technologies and the economic situation in Bulgaria (market and industry development), as well as local electronic device manufacturers’ needs, expectations and requirements. We are extremely proud of the HBSM automatic machine for consecutive assembly and sealing of Luxeon type LEDs. It is an innovative technology combining 4 separate operations: flux application with dispenser, thermally conductive glue application beneath the LED corpuses, mounting and sealing component leads.

What products and services are you currently promoting? Are you developing a new product?
Over the last year, we’ve been performing a contract under the "Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy" Operational Programme, co-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund. Our company introduces new technology for manufacturing of SMT stencils with precise laser cutting. At the beginning of December, we will be provided with the contractual equipment. Our current investment will improve significantly Ivas Tech positions on the international market, especially in the Balkan countries - in Romania, Serbia, Greece, FYROM and Turkey. On the other hand, we are going to offer a new high-quality product to our present clients at competitive prices. We will also close their manufacturing loop, filling our production line.

What are the strengths of your products as opposite to your competitors?
All IVAS TECH machines are designed on the basis of the best technologies for components positioning and recognition. Our company is one of the first and still one of a kind corporations in Europe and on a world scale, relying on the combination of linear motors and entirely digital "on the fly" system for component recognition for medium- and low-class machines. Our highly qualified engineers and specialists ensure quick and high-quality support services.

Which are your main markets and to which one you are targeted at near future?
IVAS TECH produced equipment is employed in plants in Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Germany, England, France, China, Taiwan, and Argentina. I hope the manufacturing of SMT stencils will bring many new clients, predominantly from neighboring countries.

The last two years have been particularly difficult for the most electronics manufacturing companies. How has Ivas Tech been managing the downturn?
Our leading marketing strategy is to offer maximum quality at a competitive price. The company greatest advantage is low product prices - resulting both from the application of our technological working outs and less remuneration (compared to the one in the EU). At present, Ivas Tech is not in a position to compete effectively enough with major European manufacturers. That’s why we are trying to ensure certain flexibility in the manufacturing process and the product line. Our company is able to adjust its technological process and respond to market demand and requirements much more easily than other major companies in the branch. For that purpose, special engineering team has been summoned within Ivas Tech.

What other challenges are you facing presently?
Our efforts are directed toward offering technological solutions for small companies and design groups at attractive prices. Miniaturization of electronic components requires automatic mounting - from the prototype, through the probe series to regular production.

Can you name some of your famous customers in Bulgaria or abroad?
Some of our Bulgarian clients are: Carat Electronics - V. Turnovo, Micron 20 - Sofia, Unitel - Sofia etc. Here are our clients from abroad: Netcom (Germany), Spacecannon (Italy), Estanflux (Spain), Gemmy Tek (Taiwan), Sovtest and TabeRU (Russia); SolarGB (Gr. Britain), SMT Solutions (Argentina) and so on.

Ivas Tech has been in this industry for ten years. What are the major changes you have witnessed in the electronics manufacturing industry during these years?
The use of SMT has brought enormous progress in the development of information and communication technologies and industrial and consumer electronics. On the one hand, electronic devices operation frequencies have been continuously increasing. On the other hand, mounting price has been permanently decreasing. Nanotechnologies and nanomaterials underlie the invention of new semi-conductive quantum nanodevices, processes, and products.