Fifteen years ago a group of ex colleagues and associates decided to form a business that concentrated on providing quality aftersales support services for capital equipment users as they felt this was lacking during this period of time. Altus Group was formed to meet the requirements of those investing in equipment for the electronics assembly industry

With a strong background in the electronics’ industry and a vision to bring more to those investing in capital equipment, Altus Group had a recipe for success and their working method has proved to still function today with the company expanding its service into other countries with the formation of Danutek Hungary Kft in 2004 and Danutek Balkans Srl in 2015.

It was not only the service that helped Altus to make a name for itself during the past 15 years, but the company’s vision to bring more product choice to the UK and Ireland. In 2000 USA equipment suppliers dominated the SMT market in terms of technical features and innovation. Around this time Asian products began to emerge and Altus invested in building relations with these suppliers to bring them into Europe.

Following the trends in electronics manufacture

Many of those suppliers including Koh Young and YJ Link, are now seen as serious contenders in the industry and are continually innovating and evolving their products to meet and exceed current demands. This evolvement has been seen mostly in the advancement of software, which has seen a huge impact on the products and how they work. In Asia there is also the advantage of low labour and fixed costs which are passed on to buyers in Europe.

Currently Altus is seeing two technical trends, where the Asian equipment manufacturers are coming into their own. The first is 3D AOI and SPI inspection equipment. Richard Booth, Altus Group managing director said: “There has been growing interest in these products because they offer new and far superior capability to the user. They have novel features and huge potential over the currently available 2D inspection systems. We believe that 3D will replace 2D system almost exclusively in the coming years. One of the world leading brands in this sector is the Korean company, Koh Young. We have represented them since they first came to Europe in 2004.

“Koh Young systems provide full 3D inspection of components, patterns, holes, solder joints and even foreign material on assembled PCBs with true 3D measurement. It also offers accurate and fast 3D inspection and can compensate PCB warp in real time. Since introducing the technology to our customer base and at recent exhibitions, we have created a huge interest, and Koh Young is now seen as the global market leader.”

“The second main trend currently is the desire to implement automation in order to reduce the labour costs in any end product. This allows us to introduce our “odd” component insertion/ placement systems from Cencorp and our high quality board handling products from YJ Link,” said Richard.

“We are seeing more and more customers choosing to implement equipment which provides automation as it offers consistent quality which in turn reduces costs. It also gives users the ability to accomplish tasks which would otherwise be impossible through manual methods. Together with the knowledge that precision and consistency will be improved, whilst increasing throughput it is understandable why it is dominating our enquiries.”

Refurbishing Capital Equipment

With the demand for these machines growing Altus has seen increased interest in the purchase of second user equipment. Refurbished capital equipment is a line that the company has seen grow over the years. Only buying equipment from major suppliers where they have the knowledge and expertise, Altus engineers refurbish and include ongoing support and warranty with the added benefit of spare parts being readily available.

The most recent second user purchase has been in Cencorp PCB routing/de-panelling systems including the latest five model 1000 BR systems. The 1000 BR is a unique fixtureless high speed, flexible routing system ideally suited to users who require an inline or offline solution that is simple to program and maintain, which fits in with the most recent buying trends throughout Europe.

Adaption is the Key to Success

The demo room and training of all staff is an investment that Altus see as a must to give their business the expertise and service that is expected today.  “We provide ‘first line’ customer support on all our products, where most problems are solved with the supplier as second line. We continuously invest in engineer training to ensure we always have the expertise to help with any problem. It also allows us to get much closer to our suppliers and more influential when it comes to the demands of our customers. We act very much as a middle man for all customer supplier communications and try to work as hard for both parties to be sure we always have a ‘win-win’ situation,” said Richard.

“There are technology changes in terms of miniaturisation which constantly brings challenges to our suppliers who need to redesign their products to keep up with this growing development,” said Richard.

Richard sums up; “We have survived three mini recessions in the UK so we know that we have to react fast in any downturn. Our future is very good as long as we follow the upcoming trends and developments in the industry, and maintain our high standards of after sales support.  

“There is a growing demand, especially in 3D equipment, and we want to be on top of our game by providing the best machines and the best support through knowledgeable engineers. We will continuously change, adapt and grow to meet the needs of our customers in the electronics assembly sector.”