Bringing SMT Assembly In-House: Case Studies of the Effects on Lead Time, Inventory, Quality, and Overall Cost


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A growing number of low- to medium-volume manufacturers of specialized electronic products are reaping the rewards of bringing their SMT assembly in-house. How have some of these companies justified the cost of their endeavors? In this article, three OEM companies share their experiences.

Campbell Company, of Boise, Idaho, is a manufacturer of pedestrian safety systems that has been subcontracting PCB assembly for nearly two decades. In just the last two years, the company has invested in its own equipment and brought the production of all but a few of its 27 different, mixed-technology PCB designs in-house.

“We’ve always had very good relationships with our subcontractors,” said Phil Tate, Campbell president and CEO. “They all did a very good job for us. There were occasional problems, as one might expect, but we always worked through them. Our decision to bring our production inside was not a reflection on  them. We just came to the realization that it was the only way we could meet our goals for inventory reduction and process control.”

Recently acquired by Molex LLC, Sensorcon of Williamsville, New York, manufactures poisonous gas detectors for industrial applications. Founder and President Mark Wagner subcontracted Sensorcon’s PCB assembly for only 18 months before deciding that in-house production capability would best serve their needs. “The need to accelerate development, take control of quality, guarantee product availability and, above all, reduce overall cost, were all key factors in our bringing production in house,” said Wagner.

To read the full version of this article which appeared in the February 2017 issue of SMT Magazine, click here.

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