Monday, June 25, 2018
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"Made In USA" Gets Boost at ACD
ACD CEO Scott Fillebrown.
Richardson, TX — EMS company Automated Circuit Design (ACD) has just completed an 18-month program of upgrading its internal infrastructure with solid new investment in capital equipment. This is in anticipation of dramatically increased domestic production, combined with today's trend toward more "Made in USA" manufacturing operations.

During those 18 months, the Richardson, Texas facility was equipped with two entirely new Juki production lines, which President and CEO Scott Fillebrown characterizes as "the cornerstone of the company's expansion move". This has grown out of a jointly made commitment by Fillebrown and co-owner Steve Schwaebler to reinvest in the company. So many times owners are eager to take the profits out of their company for personal use. This is not the case at ACD. Last year alone we reinvested close to 13 percent of total revenues from 2011 sales. During the previous five years, ACD averaged close to 5 percent of annual sales in reinvestment. This is even more significant considering the economic climate over the last two years.

What does ACD invest in? During 2009 and 2010, it mostly was infrastructure improvements, which may not be considered glamorous or exciting but were necessary because there was a 30 percent sales increase planned, which needed to have the facilities and systems in place to operate effectively. These upgrades included Valor DFM & DFA software tools, paperless production, and enforced routing software, servers, building expansion and numerous other behind-the-scenes improvements. This has been a more exciting year: ACD began 2011 with a total production floor makeover and capacity expansion. The cornerstone of this expansion was the move to Juki Automation Systems as the major surface mount placement machine. ACD purchased two new lines rated at 140,000 placements per hour. These lines begin with new DEK Horizon screen printers and end with Heller Industries' Mark III ovens. But we did not stop there {?} we expanded support operations with more personnel and equipment. The most notable addition is Aqueous Technologies' Trident Quad wash system, which increases throughput and quality. Our infrastructure and commitment to production equipment is second to none because we believe that competitive advantage is won through capability.

Comprehensive Service Package
Founded in 1984, ACD services today include complete board layout services, ATE engineering services, DFM/DFA capability, printed circuit fabrication, component procurement, SMT/BGA and thru-hole mixed technology assembly, box build, rework, X-ray, flying probe and functional test, and development.

Founded in 1984 as a design service bureau, founders Chuck Michie and Darrell Vaughn not only took a chance starting a circuit board design company, but also took a leap of faith by buying a newly released CAD system, CADnetics. It was the first of many decisions that would build and grow the vision of ACD to offer high-technology engineering services available in a schedule chosen by the customer. This vision would later come to include printed circuit assembly. ACD quickly grew to be one of the nation's largest design houses. This growth was due to the company's ability to lay out very complex boards, in short turn times. In the company's history, it has worn many different hats, and it excelled at each endeavor. These included laser photo plotting services, manufacturers'

representative, and even a value-added reseller (VAR) for computer-aided engineering and design tools. ACD offers R&D through production support for electronics OEMs. Today, the company still offers circuit board design and, in 1999, added consigned and turnkey assembly services to its offerings. This addition transformed ACD into what is reportedly one of the fastest growing companies in North America as well as a national leader of electronics manufacturing services.

Start with Prototypes
The assembly services support R&D engineers with prototypes, support production ramp-up with pilot builds, and handle typical domestic production. The company's latest added production capability is its ability to handle high volumes through its international production option — offering the overseas price point with a domestic service and warranty. The goal is to offer the capability and expertise of a tier one contract manufacturer, with the friendly customer service of a regional company. The product offering, however, is just one portion of the company's several successes. ACD's advanced management information systems (MIS) department is another of its winning strategies and resources. Without a sound approach to network infrastructure and software integration, life would be much more difficult, if not impossible.

The company's roster includes a team of programmers and systems administrators who help to create and maintain many electronics manufacturing industries. Some of their innovations include real-time customer e-mail alerts, flight status touch screen monitors to alert process centers of incoming work, and customer self-service Web logins for job status and quality reports. This team is also responsible for customer-specific reports and other IT applications, for example, customers being able to login remotely to their supplied text fixture via the Internet. These people really wear two hats; at times they are an extension of the customer service department and at other times they enable ACD operators to harvest efficiencies out of equipment that other companies leave behind, thus becoming an extension of the production team. There are very few companies that have the luxury of a MIS/IT department that can create commercial quality programs. We are one of the lucky few. Extending beyond that is the support of the mostly wireless manufacturing floor (another first of its kind) and wired network. In today's world, a good network is not good enough; you must have an extremely fast network with 100 percent uptime. The network is like the front line of a football team: you don't appreciate it until it fails, but when it does fail, you are flat on your back, black and blue, going nowhere.

Company president Fillebrown is certain that the company's biggest asset is, "Our employees, hands down. We are known in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area as a great place to work. In fact, we received `Top Places To Work' honors from Workplace Dynamics and The Dallas Morning News the last three years finishing, in the top 100 in 2009, the top 150 in 2010 and the top 100 in 2011 out of 1,200 companies. This is an honor that only the employees can make happen through a confidential survey. Our equipment is the best, but our employees are even better. They have a `do anything for the customer' attitude. It's a simple strategy, really; we try to have the same attitude toward them as they have toward our customers. We are a company that understands that we are not perfect, but strives to be better. The outcome is a company with very low turnover, with an average tenure of more than eight years, even with adding 15-20 percent to our workforce a year for the last two years and 200+ percent over the last 10 years.

Fillebrown expects that ACD will be leveraging its 18 months of investing in the infrastructure to make 2012 a great year: "We are taking a two-prong approach in expanding our product offering. First, we recently installed two high-speed Juki lines in our Richardson facility. This upgrade allows us to answer the call for any domestic production volume. Each of our new lines is capable of making 140,000 placements per hour. Secondly, in addition to our quick-turn prototypes and domestic production, we now offer a low-cost international manufacturing option. Customers have requested this service and ACD has responded. For customers who have products that are price-sensitive, or have volumes that warrant off-shore capacity, ACD is responding with an approach that maintains the ACD quality at a lower cost point.

Contact: ACD (Automated Circuit Design), 1250 American Parkway, Richardson, TX 75081 972-664-0900 fax: 972-690-6234 E-mail: Web:

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