American PCB Assembly Manufacturer Offers Safer Option for Re-Shoring OEMs
Tropical Assemblies, a Florida-based contract manufacturer of complex electronic printed circuit board (PCB) assemblies, has seen work come back to its company from overseas for a variety of reasons. Two companies come to mind, a company official recalled, and they were both original equipment manufacturers of wireless controllers. One was a commercial product for home security, and one was an industrial product for electronic climate control. The primary problems with the overseas work were long delivery times, the supplier's use of unspecified components, and intellectual property rights that were in question.
"Both had the same issues overseas," said Fred Manfredonia, the vice president of operations at Tropical Assemblies. "The OEM was having problems with deliveries not being on time, and they were getting components that were not being made to spec. For example, when the OEM needed a specific part on a circuit board, they [the supplier] would sometimes change the part without their knowledge. And the OEM was having trademark copying problems, too. An OEM doesn't want to have their intellectual property in the open market overseas, where someone can copy it."
Manfredonia says that most of the customers that he deals with don't want to go overseas, but they think they are forced to do so by low per part prices. "Once they give in to price, they realize there's more to it, like dealing with time differences, high freight charges, and losing the flexibility that they had when they were dealing with U.S. companies," he says.
Tropical Assemblies (www.tropicalassemblies.com) is AS9100:2009 and ISO 9001:2008 certified and ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) registered. The company offers a large variety of options for OEMs that need completed circuit boards, whether it's placing the components on the board, final assembly of the boards, or testing. It's all available. "We used to have our own PC board manufacturing house, a few years back, but we sold it off due to cost reductions overseas," Manfredonia explains. "But we still do all of the assembly, component placement, testing, box building, and packaging work on site.
"We also help a lot of our customers with design for manufacturability and with automation," he continues. "We have a lot of automated equipment in-house, which helps us maintain on-time deliveries, high quality, and price. At the end of the day, if a company gets more streamlined, the less they pay for inefficiencies. We provide our clients with initial design and design assistance because we have designers in-house. So, we're vertically integrated to service our clients as well as we can."
All of the problems that the OEM was having with the overseas supplier were solved by Tropical Assemblies' staff and management. "We are able to get product to our customers quicker," says Manfredonia. "We were able to correct the late deliveries because we're more flexible and we deal with our supply chain differently. The OEMs were able to supply products to their customers in a faster manner when they came back to the U.S. I think we saved these OEMs several months in their turnaround times, and we got them orders that would not have been obtained."
In addition, the company executive remarked that Tropical Assemblies is very careful about anything relating to an OEM's intellectual property. "We make a lot of military defense products, which need to be done in the U.S., so we're very careful about how we protect their intellectual property," Manfredonia disclosed. "Also, having the ITAR registration and the certification of traceability that we have with AS-9100, and having a third party audit and validate those things, really helps us and the OEMs. It's more of a guarantee for our customers."
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