Engineering solutions provider Ansys earlier this month hosted investors and the media on a tour of its technology investment business unit Parsec’s manufacturing facility, in Irene, Gauteng.
Ansys CEO Rynier van der Watt highlighted that the facility was dedicated to the manufacture of high-end technology and had received a number of manufacturing certifications, including certification from cybersecurity company BAE Systems that had led to the company manufacturing components used on the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft.
He added that the company also manufactured rope condition monitoring devices, which tested the integrity of ropes using electromagnetic fields, and pointed to a specific device used to test the cable used on the Table Mountain aerial cableway, in Cape Town.
Further, Parsec also manufactured driver behaviour monitoring devices used by vehicle insurance company Discovery Insure.
Van der Watt pointed out that the facility was dedicated to high-value, low-volume product manufacturing, starting with computer design, component placement, final assembly and testing.
He added that much of the manufacturing process had been automated, with Ansys having invested about R20-million in equipment to improve the quality and efficiency of its manufacturing processes.
For example, the company had a number of automated pick-and-place machines, which accurately selected components from reels and placed them in specific locations on an electronic board. Soldering paste is preapplied to the electronic board, which holds the components in place. The boards are then rolled into an oven once all the components have been placed, which heats and solidifies the soldering paste.
Van der Watt noted that a single pick- and-place machine was able to complete as many as six electronic boards in less than a minute.
The facility also has a flying probe testing machine, which uses robotic systems and probes to test the integrity of boards, as well as visual automated inspection equipment. Ansays also has X-ray machines on site, which allow technicians to “look inside” products to ensure boards have been assembled correctly.
Van der Watt said that about 60 different products were manufactured at the facility each month in volumes ranging from “the tens to the thousands”.
He highlighted that one of the challenges with this manufacturing philosophy was ensuring that retooling and machine setup for the different products were done efficiently.