State-of-the-art machine installed at business – Coventry City Council

An innovative family-run business in Warwick has installed a new state-of-the-art printed circuit assembly machine after receiving grant funding.

The machine, an Atom A1 from Europlacer, is the first of this model to be installed in the UK.

Technical Support assembles electronics for clients in many market sectors and was set-up over 40 years ago by John Bennett. Today this family business is still run by John, together with his five children, Sonia Astle-Fletcher, and Josh, Jessica, Suzy and Max Bennett.

The team identified the need to step up to new technology for three reasons: to offer the manufacture of complex assemblies with highly miniaturised components normally only available from larger manufacturers, provide faster turnaround on prototypes, and to improve productivity.

Technical Support in Millers Road was encouraged by their bank, Lloyds, to contact the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub to see if they were eligible for a grant towards the Atom machine which they had identified as being ideal for their needs.

Martin Nwangwa from the CWLEP Growth Hub put Sonia in touch with Coventry City Council’s Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Technical Support successfully received a £40,000 grant towards the state-of-the-art £165,000 machine, which has now been installed and is up-and-running.

Sonia said: “Our typical customer has designed circuit boards as part of a manufacturing project and is looking for a dependable sub-contractor to assemble them.

“We’ve used some impressive machines over the years, and new clients are often surprised at our manufacturing capability, but in order to meet the requirements of some new high-end projects, we needed to upgrade again owing to advances in technology.

“Before the pandemic, we had identified the machine we needed but had to put our plans on pause. When restrictions began to ease, we knew it was time to move ahead and found out through our bank that we might be eligible for a grant.

“We registered online with the Growth Hub and Martin contacted us. Dealing with the Growth Hub has been a great experience because Martin has guided us through the application process and has been very informative.

“We produce tens of thousands of printed circuit boards a year and this new machine is a game changer for us. We operate in a niche area and this brand new model is the first installation in the UK.

“Miniaturisation brings cost benefits and can allow more functionality within an existing product, but designers are sometimes hesitant to downsize components as it can be difficult to find a suitable sub-contractor. Our new Europlacer will enable us to excel in this area.”

Martin Nwangwa, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said it was fantastic to see a family-run firm looking forward to a new chapter in its history.

“Technical Support has a great deal of experience in assembling printed circuit boards precisely and quickly,” he said.

“This innovative machine is really important in helping them to offer even more flexibility whether it is for a prototype or small to medium volumes.

“It also means they will be able to expand into other areas and add to their three full-time members of staff.”

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