Beckermus built a production line for Nexite IoT smart tags

Above: Nexite’s Raviv Cohen (left) with Oren Beckermus in the production floor

Caesarea, Israel based Beckermus Technologies  has established a new tag production line in addition to its current Williot’s tags production line. The new line is designed to produce millions of Nexite’s smart NanoBT tags, and will begin operating on a regular basis in the coming weeks. The production line was established with an investment of more than 1.5 million dollars and is now in its final installation stage, within a building purchased by Beckermus aimed to host a dedicated production site for its customers.

Nexite was founded 4 years ago by CEO Anat Shaked and CTO Lior Shaked and has developed a hardware/software platform that enables physical products to be connected to the Cloud for advanced asset tracking and sales policy management in stores. The company has raised $100 million and employs 80 people. During a visit to the production line, hardware manager at Nexite, Raviv Cohen, told Techtime that these tags provide precise tracking capabilities that “Enables to define information-based policy management using information that was not available up until now.”

“Like a local GPS tag”

Nexite solution consists of an active tag and local reception stations that identify each tag and track its movements. The location is determined through the identification of signals transmitted by the tag (Angle of Arrival) and picked up by a number of receivers at the site, combined with an AI algorithm that provides its precise location. “It is a kind of local GPS. The local control station provides radio energy to the tag, which in turn harvests the energy and transmits standard Bluetooth signals that can be picked up by any device.”

Nexite smart NanoBT tag. Receives energy through RF transmission
Nexite smart NanoBT tag. Receives energy through RF transmission

Each tag comes with unicque identification code allowing the system to collect data about the tags, identify the customer’s relationship with the product the tag is on. For example: Which products are left on the shelves, taken by customers, or measured in fitting rooms. Based on this information, Nexite provides recommendations to increase sales. Nexite started its initial sales in 2022 and has already proven the success of its recommendations. It is now ready to expand its customer base in 2023 with major Local and Global brands.

Crossing the limits of standard production

Cohen: “The tag’s price is critical to our business model. We are working in a mass market with hundreds of millions of items. Partnering with Beckermus enables us to develop a production line that suits these limitations and ensures long term production stability. Two years ago, we approached Beckermus and expressed the need for Israeli-based production line, suitable for both, serial production and  development needs.”

Co-manager of Beckermus, Oded Beckermus, said that in the initial stage, the new line will produce 5,000-6,000 NanoBT tags per hour. “They consist of three different components, including a chip developed at NXP and manufactured by TSMC. Our machine providers had expressed concerns about the production complexity of the tags. So we had entered a learning process and developed a tailored production process. The machines has just arrived a few days ago and the production line is currently in its installation phase.”

Oren Beckermus (Co Manager) explained that the tailored process is based on Reel to Reel (R2R) configuration and includes 6 different machines with a total length of around 15 meters. “This is a fully automated and out-of-the-box production process: production starts with a flexible plastic reel on which the special antennas are printed. This reel is fed into a machine that contains the specialized silicone deposition wires in the desired pattern.”

Under the hood: Silicon chips are brought directly from the wafer to the tags
Under the hood: Silicon chips are brought directly from the wafer to the tags

Wafer-level Production

The machine picks up each bare die from the diced wafer, according to the yield profile received from the wafer manufacturer and attaches it to the tag’s antenna. The tag then passes through the SMT machine which adds the additional SMD components. The assembly process is completed in a functional testing station that tests each tag separately to map its performance. In the final stage, an additional plastic layer is attached to protect the tag. The system is planned to enter serial production in March 2023.

How were you able to build this challenging production line?

Oren: “Ever since we established the company, we have been assembling chips. This is what we do. It is our expertise. We know how to handle wafers, assemble chips and integrate them into the final product. We employed our knowhow to tailor Muehlbauer’s production line to Nexit‘s needs. RFID production lines are usually very straight forward, however in this case we had to integrate three additional components, which was a challenge that has never been done before.”

Nexite and Beckermus had also developed a production process based on using of conductive adhesive instead of Tin soldering. This unique adhesive contains nanoparticles that provide electrical conductivity only at the pressure point – an effect that eliminates the need in soldering masks, However, it needs a precise placement of the components on the surface, with microscopic accuracy, in order to achieve electrical conductivity.

Oren: “Our collaboration with Nexite has begun after we identified the IoT as a rapidly emerging field and decided to invest in it. Since we are talking about a fully automated production process, it means we are building a competitive mass production capabilities, without relying on human labor costs.”

Beckermus is Building Mass-production Capacity for Optical and Microelectronics

Photo above: Optics and Microelectronics production line at Beckermus facility in Caesarea, Israel

Beckermus Technologies of Caesarea is setting up the infrastructure for mass production for key clients. In this initial phase, it will be able to meet the needs of five distinct product lines. Alongside the existing facility in the southern industrial area of Caesarea, the company has begun readying an industrial building, including the preparation of a large hall that can be divided into modular clean rooms, within which customers’ production lines will be established.

This first phase represents an investment of approximately NIS 2.6 million. Oded Beckermus, the company’s co-CEO, told Techtime that the company is expanding its business model and entering mass production projects in partnership with customers. With the completion of this move in the coming weeks, the current facility will be used to develop production processes, new product introductions (NPI) and manufacturing in volumes of up to tens of thousands units per month. “High volume mass production will be carried out on the new production lines that will be set up in collaboration with our customers.”

The company plans to increase its workforce and recruit new employees for the new lines. The decision to take this step was made following a number of developments in the market: Customers in Europe and in Israel demand that their production works will be isolated from other customer’s production works, they are required to comply with strict quality standards of medical photonics, smart vehicles, virtual reality, and 5th generation (5G) optical communication systems.

Medtronic, for instance, is producing now its new brain surgery endoscopes at Beckermus. These endoscopes were developed by Visionsense, which was bought by Medtronic in April 2018 for approximately $65 million.

The new manufacturing hall
The new manufacturing hall

European companies are seeking Israeli production

Co-CEO, Oren Beckermus, noted that the new model brings additional advantages. “We have very advanced equipment for R&D and production development processes, but when moving to mass production, machines with different characteristics are needed. For example, we use an Active Alignment system from ficonTEC, which includes the widest range of modules and applications. However, when it comes to the production line, you need a leaner machine, with specific features needed for the specific product.”

Customers Appreciate privacy

Oded Beckermus pointed out that the new work method gives the company operational flexibility and the ability to meet special requirements. “Many times customers require a dedicated production line that must be totally separate from the rest of the site’s production lines and must be managed according to their special requirements. In the new facility, offices will be available for our customers. Each customer will have an on-site office, from which he can closely monitor their production line.”

Beckermus is a family-run company that provides manufacturing services for microelectronics and micro-photonics assemblies, and is managed by brothers, Oren and Oded Beckermus. The company’s current production line covers an area of ​​approximately 1,500 square meters, to which the facility currently under construction will be added.