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VOLUME -23 NUMBER 7
Publication Date: 07/1/2008
Front Page News
People in the News
Electronic Mfg. Services
Electronic Mfg. Products
Special Feature: Assembly and Packaging
Product Preview: Semicon West
July 2008 Issue
Electronic Mfg. Services
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Screaming Circuits: Setting the Pace for Fast Turns
An operator prepares a board for solder paste deposition on the SMT prototype line.
By Duane Benson, Marketing Manager,
, Canby, OR
Today's engineers face a myriad of challenges including shorter product development cycles, shrinking internal resources and increasing competition. Founded by engineers specifically to address the growing gap between original equipment manufacturer (OEM) quick-turn prototyping requirements and OEM internal prototyping capabilities,
has a proven track record of addressing delivering high quality, technologically complex prototypes in as little as 24 hours.
Not surprisingly, at the IPC APEX Conference,
won Service Excellence awards for Manufacturing Quality and Technology in the 2008 competition sponsored by
A division of Milwaukee Electronics Companies (MEC),
provides quick-turn prototypes and short-run board assembly. The company is based in Canby, Oregon and its dedicated prototype manufacturing lines have been optimized to support quick-turn production. Every element of its process is aligned to ensure fast customer response. If desired, customers can manage the entire prototype fulfillment process online including quoting, ordering and order tracking. Live phone support is also available for customers who prefer to order and track through a customer service representative. Order fulfillment options include 24-hour turnaround and an on-time guarantee. Capabilities include both consignment and turnkey projects, and both leaded and RoHS compliant manufacturing.
Part of the rationale behind developing a web-based ordering system was the realization that today's OEM engineers were being challenged to handle a much greater workload. Where several years ago a project engineer had a support team capable of building prototypes on short notice, today that engineer may be expected to handle prototyping with little or no internal team support.
system makes it easy for engineers to outsource prototypes on short notice by providing real-time quoting and lead-time information. There is focused support for the manufacturing challenges that can come with complex technology prototype efforts such as printed circuit assemblies with 0201 passives, large fine-pitch QFPs, small heat-slug QFNs or high density BGAs. There is even a blog which offers design advice and tutorials on process technology (blog.screamingcircuits.com), to provide timely design advice to the hardware engineering community. Another point of difference in the business model is that while it is easy for an engineer to procure simply the prototype order he or she needs today, as an MEC subsidiary,
can offer a seamless transition to extended engineering and manufacturing services where required.
Like many electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers, MEC sees itself as an extension of its customers' manufacturing operations. However, that is where the similarity to typical EMS business models ends. In addition to
, the MEC business model has two additional distinct operating units focused on supporting customer needs at various points in the product lifecycle: MEC Innovation and full service EMS facilities.
Standalone Business Units
Why a standalone business unit focus vs. a one-company-fits-all approach? The reason is that OEMs usually have different teams and timelines focused on product development, quick-turn prototypes and outsourced production. The MEC model creates highly specialized and nimble service clusters which can be closely aligned with varying customer needs. It also underscores a key element of this 54-year-old company's philosophy: find ways to continually improve the business model to better address customer needs.
MEC Innovation is an electronic engineering design and build house offering fully integrated product and electronics design for medical, transportation, military, HVAC and other industrial and consumer industries. It is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Services include product design, electronics design, specification development, product development schedules, board layout, component selection, software programming, obsolescence review, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Design for Manufacturability (DFM), Design for Testability (DFT) and Design for Field Service. If desired by the customer, prototypes and volume production can be supported through MEC's other business units. However, customers also have the choice of manufacturing internally or elsewhere. Like
, MEC Innovation is designed for fast response. Project scope can be varied to align with existing internal resources, and customers get the benefit of working with an engineering team that considers optimal production processes in their design recommendations. This focus on key issues related to DFM/DFT and supply chain considerations help further shorten product development cycles by eliminating potential issues early in the design cycle.
Prototypes go through inspection and QC.
MEC's EMS facilities are located in Canby, Oregon; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Tecate, Mexico. Capabilities include SMT and through-hole board assembly, electromechanical subassembly and box build. Extensive encapsulation capabilities that include potting and conformal coating are available for products exposed to harsh environments. Lean manufacturing principles are used to improve responsiveness to customer requirements. Projects are typically high mix and variable demand. Both RoHS and leaded production are supported.
The geographic diversity of facilities provides customers with a choice of build site options for either proximity or lower cost. All facilities are registered to ISO:9001.
The end result of this combination of business models is twofold. First, customers have the option to use only the services they need and interface with teams that are used to delivering a focused service mix. Second, customers can tap the synergy that comes with a full service EMS company without the inertia that can set in when a single team tries to manage multiple business models. Both
and MEC Innovation have access to the broader range of MEC's EMS volume manufacturing expertise, supply chain management infrastructure and manufacturing equipment if a customer requirement dictates expanded support is required.
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