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Snapper Machine Designed By Infact Helps Rakon

Snapper Machine Designed By Infact Helps Rakon Fulfil Biggest Ever Gps Crystal Contract From Motorola

InFact Ltd has delivered a new specialised production line machine designed for Rakon’s manufacturing plant in Mount Wellington Auckland. The ‘snapper’ was developed to help fulfil Rakon’s largest single order ever from Motorola for its TCXO’s (Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillators), which are an essential component of many radio, mobile and GPS technologies. To purchase the nearest machine equivalent from Japan, Rakon would have had to spend NZ$600,000, whereas InFact's Snapper came to only $350,000 - providing a considerable $250,000 cost saving for Rakon.

Rakon supplies over 50% of the frequency control devices used by the world’s GPS industry to customers that include Motorola, Navman, Trimble, Rockwell and Garmin. The technology is used in many modern GPS consumer and industrial applications such as hand held personal locators, asset tracking of trucking fleets, heavy machinery & shipping containers, surveying & mapping systems, and navigation devices for automobiles, boats and aircraft.

Due to an increasing worldwide demand for such GPS devices, orders for Rakon’s TCXO technology have skyrocketed, with many customers now requiring the technology. To meet this demand and increase in production a new machine was needed to automate the manual process and snap up to 30,000 oscillators per day by the end of this year. Oscillators are supplied in an 11 x 7 ceramic array and can only be separated by being snapped along the score lines.

InFact was approached by Rakon to design from scratch, develop and implement a new ‘snapper’ machine for the job, as Rakon’s equipment development team was already fully committed with other projects. InFact is New Zealand’s leading electronic and mechanical product design company, and specialises in developing new and innovative products for clients in the consumer, industrial, military and technology industries.

The requirement involved designing and creating a prototype of the snapper followed by detailed validation and design integration processes. This all went well and with the prototype approved InFact began constructing the snapper in February, including meticulous assembly and debugging of all components. The snapper is now complete and was installed in Auckland in August this year.

At full speed the new machine will be running three 8 hour shifts, 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, and offering greater speed, reliability, consistency and accuracy than any manual alternative. Rakon is pleased with the result and has estimated that InFact’s snapper will provide a return on investment within one year.

“InFact were very proactive in taking the project forward and providing the necessary detailed design and engineering to help turn the concept into a reality,” said Phil Brownlie, Rakon Engineering Manager. “They carried the entire project throughout and kept us informed all the way. They also determined the correct point to review milestones and made sure the project was meeting our needs at every step.”

With one successful project now complete, Rakon would certainly consider complementing their development team again by outsourcing future machine design projects to InFact at peak loading times. “InFact have proved to us that they can provide the necessary qualified and reliable expertise when we need it, and they do it well,” said Mr Brownlie.

“This project is a good example of the type of work we do best,” explained Nigel Sharplin, InFact director. “Because we have the skills and international design experience to match the requirements for most product development projects we can be relied upon to complement a customer’s in-house team with excellent accuracy and reliability. For one-off projects with particularly tight deadlines it is far more practical and efficient to outsource to a trusted support team on an as required basis, than to employ someone especially for the job and train them up.”

About InFact

InFact Ltd is New Zealand’s leading electronic and mechanical product design company that specialises in developing and managing the implementation of new products, machines and systems for clients in the consumer, industrial, military and technology industries. Established in Christchurch in 1999, InFact offers an effective, proactive and practical service that ensures all projects are completed on time and within budget. By adhering to ISO9001 quality standards customers are assured a structured methodology that is also flexible and accountable.

InFact provides customised precision automation machinery to New Zealand industry in the high volume, high tolerance process automation area. The company is looking to expand into the USA and Australian markets to supply competitive automation solutions for the product manufacturing process. Through working with local partners and government agencies, such as the Government Electronic Tender Service (GETS) run by the NZISO, InFact is achieving good business success by leveraging off global production contracts.

To complete on the global playing field InFact aims to grow and equip the company so that it can manage the larger multi-million dollar contract opportunities that are being presented. With internationally experienced in-house expertise, close partner relationships and a wide portfolio of products and services, InFact has the resource and capability to convert ideas into winning products.

About Rakon

Rakon specialises in frequency control devices based on quartz crystal technology - dominating world production of high performance crystals and oscillators - which lie at the heart of all electronic products.

Rakon is the global leader for frequency control devices used by the GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) industry. Customers include Garmin, Motorola, Nokia, Rockwell, Trimble, Hewlett Packard, BMW, Boeing, Ericsson, Tait Electronics and many others.

Anticipating a rapidly growing need for temperature compensated crystal oscillators (TCXOs), Rakon has invested in purpose-built facilities in Auckland. Production is highly automated and uses innovative technology, much of which has been developed in-house.

The company employs a large multi-national staff with teams dedicated to research and development as well as to the design and manufacture of new production equipment.

The integration of satellite GPS technology with personal telecommunications services, and the burgeoning use of car-embedded GPS, will bring an explosion in demand for high-performance frequency control technology. Rakon is committed to maintaining its leading position in the GPS market, first, by increasing its production capacity, and second, by continuing to advance the technology.

Rakon will continue to develop the next generation of technology. The emphasis is on miniaturisation, whilst continuing its reputation for producing crystals and TCXO’s that provide reliable performance in extreme environments.

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