Smart Manufacturing Spotlight: Carlton Industries Corporation

Smart Manufacturing Spotlight: Carlton Industries Corporation

Smart Manufacturing Spotlight: Carlton Industries Corporation

How a small electronics company’s 4.0 technology strategy doubled its productivity

Last year, Carlton Industries was struggling with outdated equipment that was slowing productivity.

Exceptional quality and service are top priorities for Carlton, an electronic manufacturing services provider in Hamden, Conn., whose services include circuit board assembly, wire harnesses, cable assembly, and box builds. To meet the needs of its aerospace, medical, defense, and commercial customers, and to stay competitive, Carlton continually invests in the most up-to-date equipment and trainings.

Owner and president Bradford Carlton realized inefficiencies in his company’s old machinery and decided to invest in new equipment and IoT technology to increase connectivity and productivity.   

For this, he turned to Connecticut’s Money for Manufacturing program for support — matching grant voucher programs for manufacturing companies, powered by CCAT.

We recently visited Carlton’s facility to talk with Vice President Weston See, who oversees production and quality, to see how the company’s technology investments are going. Here’s what he had to share with us:

Why did you decide to invest in new technology?

Originally, we had two separate lines for surface mount assembly for printed circuit boards. The lines were from two different manufacturers, Assembleon and Mycronic. The Assembleon line had by that point become obsolete. Since the lines were not compatible, an operator had to retrieve, sort, and interpret data separately for both lines. This was time-consuming, frustrating, and expensive. With workforce and supply chain challenges, we want to streamline wherever we can.

What solution did you implement?

We decided to purchase Mycronic’s state-of-the-art surface mount line — a Mycronic MY300 — to replace the old Assembleon line. It’s their latest pick-and-place machine, and we were really impressed with its capabilities and flexibility. We utilized the Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant (MVP) to partially fund it.

Also, we wanted to ensure that our older Mycronic MY100 would be compatible with the new, more robust equipment. We decided to upgrade our software so we could have two compatible Mycronic surface mount lines. To help with the expense, we applied for the IoT Integration grant (IVP).

What were the results?

Our two surface lines are now totally compatible. Changes to any assembly can be done once, and both lines are automatically updated. Because both lines are on the same platform, set-up time has significantly decreased compared to when we had to set up two different types of equipment.

The software upgrade has essentially doubled our throughput (component placement) on the old MY100 line.

Besides the production boost, the software upgrade enabled enhanced integration of systems: the MY100 to be integrated with the new Mycronic MY300 Surface Mount Line, which has more robust features. Now we can track and trace all surface mount production to serial numbers and lot numbers in real time. The use of barcodes increases the efficiency of inventory management, as barcodes are read during the production cycle. We didn’t have this function previously.

The Line Mode software and Mycronic shared database generates data such as CPH rates and dropped or rejected parts. We’ve been using this data to adjust future work orders.

What’s next?

We are continually upgrading manufacturing software and hardware to remain competitive in the electronic contract manufacturing services industry. We spent over $1 million for new equipment and software in 2021.

We greatly appreciate the funds received from the state for both IVP 4.0 and MVP programs to help with these purchases.

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We applaud the Carlton Industries team for being progressive early adopters of implementing digital technologies to transform their manufacturing operations.

CCAT’s Paul Striebel, who oversees the administration of several funded grant programs, says: “Carlton clearly recognizes the importance of investing in new technologies and has effectively leveraged several of the existing grant opportunities to help propel them to the forefront of their industry.”

Paul Striebel at Carlton Industries with Production Manager Bertha Lozada and Vice President Weston See.

Learn more about CCAT’s Industry 4.0 Program for Connecticut manufacturers, including technology overviews, demonstrations, matching grants, onboarding support, and trainings, here.

Learn more about our Money for Manufacturing programs here.

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