Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Publication Date: 08/1/2009
Archive >  August 2009 Issue >  Electronic Mfg. Services > 

Universal: Bringing State-of-the-Art EMS to the Customer
Universal Electronics' Whitewater, WI plant is a 90,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility.

Universal Electronics, Inc. (UEI) has been serving the electronic manufacturing market since 1980 and is well known for its focus on customer intimacy. This approach and commitment to quality has earned UEI long-standing client relationships that span several decades.

Financially stable with an experienced senior management team, UEI continues to invest in human resources and technologies that are key to its continual success. According to Ray Cottrell, UEI's VP of sales and marketing, "Even in this challenging macro-economic environment, we have invested in additional engineering talent, program management, and new equipment in order to serve our clients better. Our latest additions include SMT equipment from Universal and Automated Optical Inspection machines from YESTech."

Two Quality Facilities
With ISO9001 and ISO13485 manufacturing facilities in the upper Midwest, UEI offers flexible engagement models and fast, cost-effective time-to-market strategies for low to moderate volumes in the US. The company employs approximately 300 people at its two state-of-the-art electronics manufacturing facilities located in southeastern Wisconsin.

The company is strategically located to serve many regions and industries as a full-service provider of electronics manufacturing, including: PCBs through complex HLAs; fast prototypes and engineering builds; new product introduction (NPI) strategies; high mix, low-to-mid-volume manufacturing expertise; design engineering services (DFT, DFM). The company is approved for medical devices, Class I, II, and III; can provide product design; conformal coating and potting; repair depot services; product fulfillment and distribution services. It has qualified for registrations to ISO9001, ISO13485:2003; is a recognized manufacturer to: UL, CUL, CSA and CE; FDA 21 CFR 820 compliant documentation systems and processes ensure regulatory compliance; and the company meets IPC-A-610D Class I, II and III.

"By specializing in quick turn prototyping and ramp to volume strategies for complex printed circuit boards, sub-assemblies and full assemblies, UEI can accommodate the most demanding go-to-market requirements," said Cottrell. UEI has dedicated resources and production lines focused on new product introduction, and operates within a very flexible and focused manufacturing environment driven by experienced program managers.

Supply Chain Management
Universal Electronics procures over 18,000 different part numbers from over 300 global suppliers. The company has experience in executing with a short lead time, drawing on an oversupplied market equally as well as in a scarcity or allocation market. The company has real-time processes with many vendors to handle communication of demand, issuance of purchase orders and requests for quote (RFQs). These processes allow for flexibility while providing reduced lead times and improved total costs.

"We excel in supply chain transition management and offer many solutions to minimize any lead time or financial impact to moving your supply chain to UEI. We provide support and leadership of the supply chain through all of a product's phases," said Cottrell.

  • NPI or proto phase: quick lead time, minimal excess, and help with proof of concept.
  • Pilot phase: production-ready parts, engagement of suppliers on supply chain models, and contract negotiation.
  • Production phase: execution, flexibility, lead time and cost reduction.
  • End-of-life phase: minimize excess inventory, provide smooth product transition, work alternate parts and manage lifetime buys.
  • Reverse Logistics/Service phase: use of historical data to predict future needs that will minimize lead times and downtime for customers.

Program Management
Each program is assigned a Customer Service Representative (CSR) to provide the customer with a main point of contact. Each of the company's CSRs has dozens of years of proven program experience and a strong knowledge of electronics manufacturing. Each program is then assigned resources to support the CSR, including: Project Engineer, Process Engineer, and Test Engineer. This allows for tight control of all costs and ensures that delivery deadlines are met. UEI serves multiple industries including Medical, Industrial, Telecom, Military, Commercial and Laboratories, and has been advancing manufacturing technologies and delivering on its mission to be the leading provider of EMS services for the last three decades. "This commitment to excellence coupled with design and manufacturing teams allows UEI to hit the ground running regardless of the stage of your product's life-cycle," said Cottrell.

Investment in Growth
Cottrell explains that UEI test engineering helps clients to better understand their testing needs, and provides the most cost-effective solution for the desired test coverage. The EMS provider's test engineers can start from the design specification for a client's product and develop a complete test solution, or implement its existing test protocol.

"UEI has developed test strategies for a wide range of products, giving our engineers extensive experience that is used to develop tests for the customer's product," said Cottrell. "Test development can occur in parallel with the customer's product development team, or during product startup. We can suggest changes to a product to help test it more completely, faster, and at less cost."

Some of the services offered include:

  • Design for testability (DFT).
  • In-Circuit test on an Agilent Medalist i3070.
  • Automated functional test using rack and stack equipment.
  • Automated functional test using embedded processor technology in stand-alone test fixtures.
  • Test data logging and data retention that complies with your regulatory requirements.
  • Bench testing using traditional test equipment, and simple test fixtures.

In addition to UEI's test fixture design and construction services, the company provides high quality maintenance, repair, and upgrading of any customer test fixtures, as well as test procedures. It also provides comprehensive Project Engineering services. The Project Engineer — as the technical member of the customer focus team — leads the product realization team and is responsible for all technical aspects of a project, including: new product introductions; detailed BOM analysis to ensure proper component usage; product change analysis and implementation; project document control; product cost reduction initiatives; ensuring all customer requirements are realized during the manufacturing process. Project Engineering is available to assist the customer with everything from initial design to final product packaging. According to Cottrell, the goal at UEI is to produce the most cost-effective product by getting involved with each customer early in the design stage to help provide input to the design for improved quality, ease of manufacture and effective testability.

According to Cottrell, "Automation and Process Engineering provide the necessary process development and production support to build the customer's product in the most efficient and cost-effective manner with the highest product quality." Through involvement during the entire assembly process, the engineering staff generates assembly documentation and tooling for each process step, and conducts pre-assembly and post-assembly product reviews with the production group, to assure all customer requirements are thoroughly met.

This involves: product manufacturability review and risk analysis using DFM guidelines with feedback ; PCB panelization for optimized process flow; CAD/CAM software generated SMT machine programming and documented process controls; automated optical inspection; X-Ray inspection supported process development; continuous process flow; custom assembly fixtures; data supported process improvements. "UEI is fast and responsive in today's challenging environment and is ready to tackle the most demanding schedules," Cottrell concluded.

Contact: Universal Electronics, Inc., 640 North Prospect Drive, Whitewater, WI 53190 262-458-1000 fax: 262-458-1010 E-mail: info@ueinc.com Web:

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