The Road Less Traveled (Part 2): Why Equipment Matters


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In part one of this article series, I shared the first of three takeaways from a conversation I shared with Zentech VP John Vaughan regarding legitimate differentiators we possess at Zentech. We had this conversation while on a long road trip to visit a customer recently.

The first differentiator that I covered was the breadth and depth of certifications we hold. My contention was that this lends a very powerful and compelling sense of objective credibility to the quality and reliability of our workmanship and processes.

As John and I got further down the road, another key differentiator emerged: The importance of continually investing in the best equipment. Many electronic manufacturers contend they are committed to "continuous improvement" and moving "toward zero defects" as part of their ISO certification. However, too few take the very tangible and costly steps to ensure their tools and equipment set is being continually updated to meet the evolving nature of products and technology.

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Difference-makers reinvest

Reinvesting in the best equipment set is essential to a contract manufacturer who supports high-tech/high-reliability markets like defense, space, medical and telecom. In fact, it would be safe to say that this is a non-negotiable differentiation to look for in a strong CM partner. At Zentech, this is part of our DNA. For example, in the past year, Zentech has made three major significant investments in our equipment, such as a 3D solder paste inspection machine (SPI); a 3D in line X-ray machine; and an AOI (Automated Optical Inspection) for solder joint inspection.

Equipment differentiates

In other terms: We put a significant amount of money where our mouths are—taking the "road less traveled" and differentiating ourselves from others in the process! It is another objective, tangible way in which we demonstrate our commitment to excellence and continual improvement. Technology waits for no one. If a contract manufacturer intends to effectively support the high-tech/high-reliability marketplace, then re-investing in equipment is essential to keep pace with the driving forces of ever-evolving technology. It stands to reason that a CM cannot produce the most technologically advanced products in the world using outdated tools and equipment. Therefore, when looking for differentiators in a CM partner, keep your eyes open for continual investment in equipment to be near the top of that list.

What's next?

Of course, equipment and tools are only as good as the process controls and skilled people who manage them, right? Therefore, in Part 3 of this article series, we will discuss the differentiator of process controls and the professionals that govern them.

Editor's Note: If you missed Part 1, click here.

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