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Custom EMS Provider Offers Design Expertise through Collaboration

BTW, Inc. specializes in lower-volume and higher mix of electronic assemblies using twin SMT lines with each SMT line being capable of placement rates of approximately 40,000 surface mount components per hour. Through an engineering partnership with The Real Time Group, BTW offers engineering services and becomes a one-stop shop for all the necessary steps in electronics manufacturing.
Photo courtesy of BTW, Inc.

Rebecca Carnes
Design-2-Part Magazine

BTW, Inc., an electronic manufacturing service (EMS) provider, serves an array of industries and works with a design engineering partner to provide electronic design engineering services, which include 50-plus hardware, firmware, software, and quality engineers that work to achieve a product that is easily manufactured by BTW.

When serving the medical industry, in particular, BTW must adhere to some of the highest quality and reliability standards available. With FDA-approved medical devices, the product reliability must be designed into the product while achieving the product quality objectives not only the first time, but every time the product is manufactured, said BTW director of sales, Tony Zuberbuehler. 

"That is why it is critical to have an experienced design engineering team that has the engineering expertise and breadth of knowledge to design the product, and also have the quality engineering team to provide an independent verification and validation of this design to mitigate risk," Zuberbuehler said in an online response.

BTW, based in Coon Rapids, Minn., is a certified, veteran-owned small business. The company is ITAR registered, ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certified, and FDA registered, and was acknowledged as a "Top 25 Veteran Owned Business in Minnesota." The company specializes in lower volume and higher-mix electronic assemblies, using twin SMT lines with each SMT line being capable of placement rates of approximately 40,000 surface mount components per hour.

In the medical arena, BTW assembles a wide variety of electronic circuit card assemblies for medical device manufacturers, but works equally proficiently with Class I, II, and III devices, Zuberbuehler said. Applications of assemblies range from extremely complex Class III to simpler TENS and electronic stethoscopes. Multiple automated/manual visual inspections following Class 3 IPC-A-610 requirements, along with a rigorous functional/ICT testing, all help to assure customers obtain their high quality, highly reliable medical product delivered on time, he said.

A customer recently came to BTW with a medical product that was based upon wireless communication protocols, but the company did not have the engineering expertise to navigate the specifications or comply with the FCC requirements. The customer was also facing a tough time constraint. BTW, along with its engineering partner, The Real Time Group, established a timeline and navigated all the compliance criteria in time to meet the product requirements and meet the timeline.

BTW (, has a formalized new product introduction (NPI) process, which integrates all of the customer requirements into its electronic-based, paperless shop floor management system to assure products are built correctly the first time and every time, according to Zuberbuehler.

"As an EMS provider, BTW assures product integrity, which meets all of the product specifications; compliance to applicable regulatory requirements through our exhaustive NPI process; attention to manufacturing details; and testing, all of which are coupled with the necessary manufacturing software providing full product traceability of materials and operators," Zuberbuehler said in his written response.

The company is able to offer a full suite of design engineering services through its engineering partner, as well as manufacturing services from electronic circuit card assemblies through the complete test, final packaging, and shipment of product to end customers around the world. The company can take a customer's concept and develop it into a final product or just provide portions of the engineering for more specialized aspects of the design, such as for FDA, FCC, CE, UL, RoHS, and others, for which its customer's engineers might not have the required experience or expertise.

"Once [the customer's] product is designed, we offer an independent review by highly-qualified quality engineers that have extensive backgrounds in hardware and software development to review your design to mitigate risk and to assure a successful product launch and/or revision," he said.

BTW has a wealth of electronic manufacturing expertise, which is initiated immediately with the request for quotation (RFQ) from the customer. The sales, account manager, manufacturing engineer, and operations and supply chain organizations all are required to review the customer documentation prior to offering a quotation. This assures that BTW can meet all of the manufacturing criteria. Initial design is also offered for the manufacturability and assembly (DFMA) report, which provides customers with any issues that could cause problems in product quality and/or delivery.

"BTW, Inc., works with the customer and our design engineering partner to discover solutions to any exotic plastic and/or metal products that may be required for the customer products," Zuberbuehler said in his written response. "Once we have an understanding of the criteria that must be achieved, then we will enlist the necessary engineering/manufacturing talent to arrive at a solution the customer embraces."

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