Electronic components are becoming smaller, their tasks more complex. (Images: Ralf A. Niggemann)
Electronic components are becoming smaller, their tasks more complex. (Images: Ralf A. Niggemann)

Brückmann Elektronik

Premium Electronics

When they reach the age of forty, Swabians reputedly gain wisdom. But in Central Hessen, forty seems to be the age for moving up a gear. This is certainly the impression given by Brückmann Elektronik GmbH in Lahnau, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016.

In the middle of Germany – this quite casual location identifier on the Brückmann Elektronik website catches the eye. Not because you wouldn’t expect to find an innovative medium-sized enterprise in this part of the world. But because of the area of business in which the company has been successfully operating ever since 1976: the development and production of electronic assemblies, switchgear and controllers. At that time, Irmtraud and Herbert Brückmann started assembling printed circuit boards at their home in Lahnau-Waldgirmes. In 1987 they founded the Brückmann Elektronik company. Since 2007, the family company has operated from the Lahnau business park “Beim Eberacker”. Times have changed over the last 40 years – in the industries, in electronics and at Brückmann. The former “cottage industry” has evolved into a highly modern enterprise, the “assembler” has become an innovative system provider of electronic solutions.

Competitively priced electronics from Central Hessen

The business is now being run extremely successfully by their sons, Oliver and Hans-Martin Brückmann. The two managers’ contradiction of the common assumption that competitively priced electronics are only to be had in Asian countries is as vehement as it is convincing: “There are few companies that can match our offering,” says Oliver Brückmann. And his brother Hans-Martin adds: “Our expertise is particularly appreciated where the demands made of electronics are at their highest: in the automotive industry, medical technology and in optic and mechanical metrology.”

It is said that people grow on the job and Brückmann Elektronik has evidently thrived on challenges over the past forty years. Nothing has changed in that respect, although the area of business itself has undergone dramatic change. There are few reminders of the company’s beginnings, when electronics used to be housed in gigantic control cabinets and sometimes had to be moved with lifting machinery. The electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller, the circuit boards more and more intricate, the functions and tasks of the control units accommodated in the tiniest of spaces more and more complex. A cabinet in the entrance hall showcases the products and know-how of the Brückmann company: a circuit board specially designed for vehicle sensor technology in racing sports, a motor control for a 360° camera system, electronic assemblies for use in high-precision 3D coordinate measuring machines. The rest is subject to non-disclosure obligations.

Rapid technology cycles in electronics and electronic production

The company building is generously dimensioned and yet gradually reaching its limits – another result of the company’s continuous growth. A more important issue in this segment, however, is the need to keep pace with the rapid technology cycles in electronics and electronic production. Here, growth has less to do with physical expansion than factors such as quality, precision, complexity and efficiency. Only a few months ago, Brückmann Elektronik commissioned a flying probe tester that exactly fulfills these criteria. Although no larger than the predecessor model, it offers far greater capabilities. Behind the viewing window, sophisticated software controls several moving needles that simultaneously contact and test an assembled board at top speed – with pinpoint accuracy and unbeatable repeatability.

“For us, such investments are vital,” Hans-Martin Brückmann explains. “They take us and our customers a decisive step forward in our product development and make sure we stay competitive in the premium segment.” Next door, a SMT (Surface Mounted Technology) assembly line is being converted over a length of roughly 18 meters. Here, the assembly programs are generated fully automatically from CAD data and the electronic components on the circuit board are set in solder paste and soldered. One story below, a hydro-pneumatic press system is being operated to produce “press-fit” connections that are reputed to be particularly robust and fail-safe. But not everything is automatic at Brückmann Elektronik: they also have highly qualified specialists who assemble and solder intricate circuit boards by hand.

PCB assemblies in small series or in large quantities

This puts Brückmann Elektronik in the position to produce PCB assemblies in small series or in large quantities, depending on the order and volume. The smallest components are only 0.4 x 0.2 mm and almost invisible to the naked eye. The fully automated SMT production can cope with a maximum board size of 430 x 420 mm. “This flexibility is essential for meeting the requirements of our customers,” Oliver Brückmann explains. In other words: the exception tends to be the rule here. Not only in production, but at the development stage already: as a competent partner, Brückmann Elektronik also offers intelligent development services for turning initial ideas into series products.

To expand the system supplier’s potential, two new spin-off companies have been formed from Brückmann Elektronik GmbH that profitably extend the areas of expertise and the product portfolio: Brückmann Hard- und Software GmbH (1999) and, three years ago, BE Gerätebau Waldgirmes GmbH. Added to this is the region’s unique network of partners and suppliers.

Innovations and electronic assemblies to the highest standards

The company’s managers are especially proud of the first motor-driven objective nosepiece for microscopes they developed in cooperation with the company Uwe Weller Feinwerktechnik in Wetzlar. Objective change can be executed either via an integrated touch display or via the PC, controlled steplessly with a positioning accuracy of +/- 2 micrometers. The technology is electronically and mechanically mature, the result extremely convincing.

The implementation of innovations such as these and the production of electronic assemblies to the highest standards rely on the expertise of the staff. Brückmann Elektronik trains most of its electronics technicians, IT specialists and industrial clerks itself. The company is also a long-standing partner of the work-study course StudiumPlus of the University of Applied Sciences for Central Hessen (THM). “We attach great importance to having top qualified staff and take every opportunity to encourage their professional and personal development,” stresses Oliver Brückmann. This is the only way to lead a medium-sized electronics business to a prosperous future.

In the premium segment, know-how is key

The managers’ success, not to mention their many years of experience, proves that they are on the right track. And there are many indications that an even brighter future is in store. For an electronics manufacturer from Central Hessen, that’s quite extraordinary. “That may be true,” says Hans-Martin Brückmann. “But in the electronics business, as in many other sectors of technology, it ultimately all boils down to the same thing: If you want to get a foothold in the premium segment, know-how is key. And that’s just what we have in this region.” In the middle of Germany.

 

Additional Information:

www.brueckmann-gmbh.de

 

Production of electronic assemblies to the highest standards.
Production of electronic assemblies to the highest standards.
Managers in second generation: Oliver and Hans- Martin Brückmann.
Managers in second generation: Oliver and Hans- Martin Brückmann.