Reading time ( words)
If you know anything about this unusual (and extremely private) company, you probably read it right here at I-Connect007. Whelan Engineering’s truly unique PCB manufacturing operation is the result of a company initiative to bring their PCB needs back into the States—and do so at a cost savings. It has been quite a success, largely due to the efforts of brainchild Alex Stepinski, now VP−PCB at Whelen. The company is still in the thick of manufacture, includingan expansion of the PCB facility.
We published our first article on Whelen in the October 2015 issue of The PCB Magazine.Then, we published Alex’s “how-to” paper that he presented at IPC’s Spring meeting and conference in June 2016. By reading that article carefully, you can learn a great deal about automating your process using off-the-shelf items.
This time I had the privilege to accompany Happy Holden (with I-Connect007 colleagues Jonathan Zinski and Bryson Matties) to visit Whelen’s PCB operation in the far reaches of New Hampshire.
Patty Goldman: Alex, it’s good to be here at Whelen to see your process firsthand. It’s been two years since I-Connect007 last visited when you were just getting started. Now we’re interested in an update on this, the most automated PCB factory in North America. How’s it going, and how are things running?
Alex Stepinski: The process has stabilized since the last conversation, and it’s very predictable now from a quality perspective. From a labor perspective, we have consistent schedules and predictable labor and delivery schedules; we have predictable quality at this point. It’s a robust process, and it essentially runs itself, the control plan that’s in place.
Goldman: How was the startup?
Stepinski: The startup was challenging from a couple of perspectives. One was the inkjet technology and the second was reliance on smaller suppliers to deliver on a consistent basis. We had some late deliveries on things as well.
To read the full version of this article which is published in the August 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.