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Interview with Detech Europe Ltd’s CEO David Erskine

Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Detech Europe Ltd has been revolutionizing the electronics manufacturing sector since 2003. Specializing in supplying new and refurbished SMT equipment, Detech Europe has become synonymous with quality, reliability, and unparalleled customer support. With a steadfast commitment to after-sales service and a diverse product line, Detech Europe is empowering manufacturers worldwide to achieve their production goals efficiently and effectively. The hallmark of Detech Europesofferings is its evolving Prey By Detech product line, which continues to set new benchmarks in manufacturing solutions. From screen printers to inspection systems and component management tools, Prey By Detech encompasses a diverse array of products designed to address the evolving needs of modern manufacturing facilities. With a focus on innovation and performance, these products offer customers unparalleled efficiency and return on investment opportunities. We recently spoke with CEO David Erskine to find out more about the Prey By Detech product line and the benefits it provides to users.

What is the Universal Product Inspector (UPI)?

The Prey UPI is an innovative yet extremely flexible inspection system that is designed to create an automated, repeatable and time efficient process to final inspection. With several options available the UPI can be quickly tailored to create a bespoke inspection pretty much out of the box.

What inspired you to develop the UPI?

The main inspiration was simply customer demand. We were working with a customer that had operators manually inspecting final assemblies at the end of a $2M production line. This was basically giving them a very large bottleneck as each part was taking 45 seconds to inspect and that was if the operator was diligent in their duties and didn’t stop. They asked if we could automate this so all the operator had to do was insert the unit and press go. They also requested that we create a system that would save a minimum of 20 seconds on cycle time, which would remove the bottleneck. A straightforward Windows 11 user interface was also required to ensure that the system was easy to program and maintain. All of this needed to be completed within four months. This had been requested from several other system providers but they wanted 3X the budget and around 8-12 months for the work to be carried out.

Within four months Detech delivered the project, which was now named the Universal Product Inspector, UPI for short. The system was easy to program, taking less than 15 minutes for the standard products, and the cycle times were under 4 seconds, saving over 90% from previous timings. Everything was in a familiar interface and was 64 bit coded for Windows 11. The company has now purchased their second unit and will take an additional six in 2024.

What type of errors is it currently inspecting and how long does it take?

The UPI can check for anything that the human eye can check for, meaning that the system can check many different final assemblies for misprints, scratches, wrong orientation, incorrect parts, missing parts, correct serial numbers, missing screws, pretty much anything. Inspection typically will take anywhere between 1.510 seconds.

What other kinds of things can it inspect?

If it can be inspected by a human, then the UPI can inspect it. There are addon options as well as customizedjugs that can make the system even more flexible. We ask the customer to provide a sample and let us know what needs to be inspected because we can cover almost anything.

It replaces human inspectors, so what’s the big advantage using a UPI instead?

The advantages are what is offered by most automated solutions: speed, consistency, reliability, and general uptime. However, there are many things that humans offer that until now machines have not done such as flexibility and experience. The UPI offers this through hardware in the form of intuitive fixtures and also through its software that enables the user to define many aspects as well as use AI algorithms to learn and refine the inspection process.

Is it just an offline system?

At this moment the demand has been for offline systems, but there will be a full inline system with supporting handling available beginning Q2 2024. All programs and applications will be transferable from the offline to the inline, which also is able to handle larger objects as well as a few other options that are being developed.

Can it record and share the inspection data?

Of course. All data is recorded and can be saved to a local server or cloud base. This can then be shared to other operators, sites, software, etc. This is a standard option with all of Preys inspection systems.

 Can you give us an idea of the versatility of the UPI platform?

The platform has an ever-expanding range of inspection functionality. At present, we are checking control panels for one customer with another wanting to check the labels on cordless batteries while another wants to check the labels on perfume bottles. We also have development for inspection nozzles preand postcleaning for surface mount placement machines. The limit is only the imaginations of the users, and there are some pretty creative users out there.

 Is the system a British product?

The system is designed and all final assembly, etc. is carried out in the UK. The software is fully designed in the UK by our software team. We work with international partners such as Basler for optics to get the very best that can be offered as well as keeping up with all developing technologies.

What’s next for the Prey range?

Prey is always looking to expand into new or existing product markets. The UPI is something unique that has been born out of customer necessity, and the inline version of the system is well underway. We have always had a dream of providing a true I4.0 solution where all of a factory’s needs are covered, from smart storage for checking goods in and storing them to the final boxed product leaving the facility and beyond. We have many products of our own being released during 2024/25 and are also working with some excellent partners in the industry such as Panasonic, SASinno and Arcadia to integrate all of the parts to make a whole solution. We have a clear vision on how to do this, and because of our teams flexibility and dynamic approach, we will achieve this. It will give us great enjoyment sharing this with both existing and future clients.