Tempo Automation's Open House Raises the Curtain in San Francisco
Tempo Automation—a company based in San Francisco, California—provides rapid PCB assembly and related services, and recently held an open house at their brand-new facility in the South of Market (SoMa) district on October 23, 2018. Specializing in rapid prototyping and on low volume production for a wide range of board complexities, Tempo Automation has been rapidly expanding. This event opened their factory—which is normally restricted under customer non-disclosure agreements as well as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulations—to customers, vendors, local designers, and government officials.
Christine Pearsall, senior director of sales and marketing operations, said, "We're excited to be in this new space, continuing our growth path."
The new 42,000 square foot facility occupies two floors with a software-driven automated factory on the first floor, and software development, design for manufacturability, marketing, and sales teams on the second. The main entrance leads visitors onto a mezzanine overlooking the manufacturing floor where the build process is on full display.
With room for adding additional manufacturing capacity, Tempo Automation is currently built around three production lines. The lines include stencil machinery from ASYS Group, solder jets from Mycronic, pick-and-place equipment from Europlacer, reflow ovens from BTU, inline washer systems from Aqua Klean, and wave soldering equipment from Nordson. The AOI equipment is from Mirtec, and X-ray unit is from Nikon.
The key to Tempo's EMS delivery is their software development team. Tempo has built a staff of software engineers to develop the systems for automating and optimizing the factory—from the self-service cloud portal engineers use to upload their CAD files and bills of materials (BOM) to the manufacturing processes and systems that allow customers to track the progress of their order through the factory.
Jesse Koenig, Tempo founder and vice president of technology, called the software automation concept "an unbroken digital thread."
Koenig stated, "The unbroken digital thread allows Tempo to deliver a manufacturing system that gets smarter, faster, and more precise with every cycle." Koenig continued, "Our people get smarter with experience. We also have smart software. The software monitors itself, and with every order that comes through, the systems learn and become more efficient and accurate over time. This delivers a higher quality product and faster service to our customers. In the future, we expect our software to report recommended design changes to our customers."
Brady Bruce, Tempo’s vice president of marketing sums it up this way, “Tempo is a software company whose product is a finished board, delivered faster than most people think is possible. It’s our software that makes this system work as efficiently as it does."
The combination of software tools and the ability to deliver quickly, transparently, with consistency and quality seems to be appealing to the high-growth PCB sectors: medical, aerospace, automotive, and other industries employing high-complexity designs.
Customers demand high-performance EMS results from Tempo. "By being in San Francisco, we’re located in the heart of technology innovation, so it’s really important for us to be close to customers that are solving the world’s most challenging problems and bringing technology to market," stated Koenig. "There's no better place than San Francisco for recruiting top talent. This is across the company, from the people who are working on the factory floor, to the software engineers who are building the unbroken digital thread that sets Tempo apart."
Fletcher Massie, senior account manager, walked visitors through the digital job traveler systems that run the Tempo shop floor. "Once we find a defect, the software dynamically adjusts the process to avoid the defect next time. We then document what we found, what we corrected, how we corrected it, and why we corrected it. This is your 'single source of truth.'"
Vivek Ganju, senior account executive, demonstrated one of the customer-facing software tools developed by Tempo—Production Forensics—which is a non-destructive report add-on that customers can request. Production Forensics gives customers details from AOI and X-ray inspection that can shed light on potential manufacturing yield issues when the customer takes the final design to mass production. "Working with Tempo can get the customer to better, more reliable production design," stated Ganju, "By identifying issues that might affect the design earlier in the prototyping spins, Tempo can assist customers to increase reliability and yields."
The quoting process also seems to be improved and optimized in the Tempo environment. Multiple Tempo representatives shared that the typical quote times for customers run between three and five hours to deliver a fully-specified quote with every part issue resolved and ready to issue to the manufacturing floor. For Tempo customers, this efficiency is real from the very first interaction.
The growth is real, too. Bruce noted, "In the time since I joined Tempo three months ago, we have moved from a modest 8500 square foot spot into this incredible space with 42,000 square feet of the most advanced PCBA factory. During that same period, we've doubled the number of employees. And we're not done yet. We're scaling for growth, driven by the increasing orders we're seeing from our expanding cadre of very ambitious customers. This is an exciting time for Tempo."