Epec Engineered Technologies is one of the oldest printed circuit board companies in the U.S., building PCBs since 1952. Epec is one of the founding members of the Institute of Printed Circuits (IPC), created in 1957 to help advance the PCB industry. While visiting a customer I was asked, “Has the introduction of your new products like custom battery packs and energy efficient EC fans taken your focus and attention off of PCBs?” While I assured the customer that we are fully dedicated to printed circuit boards, it occurred to me that as a company, we need to better demonstrate that dedication to our customers.
Continued improvements to the human-machine interface (HMI) manufacturing process across entire electronic industries have made technology once widely considered too expensive for most applications now accessible within many design budgets.
There is good reason that programmable logic controllers (PLC) are used as a user interface in a large number of applications. These robust devices are commonplace on factory floors controlling equipment, in processing plants monitoring operating conditions, and even used in portable devices exposed to harsh environments.
Back when laser drilling equipment was north of $1M, or when plasma etch equipment was so dangerous that it needed to be housed in a special room, only the largest companies could afford to purchase the equipment required to manufacture the highest technology printed circuit boards (PCBs). The only way to maintain good yields was to staff a squad of highly experienced engineers who understood the nuances of that specific facility equipment. Today, times and technology have changed dramatically to the point where this is no longer the case, allowing for more efficient mid-sized high tech PCB manufacturers to exist.
Over the past several years, shipping lithium batteries via air freight has been serious business and it requires significant investment from any company who manufacturer custom battery packs. Not only do companies need to make sure that battery packs are shipped properly without delays, but also for the safety of the public. As of April 1, 2016 international regulations applicable to air shipments of lithium batteries have changed yet again and will require that all companies that manufacture and ship batteries continue to invest to stay ahead of the requirements.
Online quoting tools that offer customers the ability to create their own printed circuit board quotes and place orders online has become quite common in the PCB industry today. InstantPCBQuote from Epec aims to do more than the competitors. Most quoting tools are designed for lower technology parts which don't need much more than the outside dimensions of the board to provide a fast quote.
When we sat down in 2005 to develop our IT infrastructure plan for the company, I was unsure of why we spent so much time evaluating every investment in terms of what we would do in case of a disaster. Well this winter, I found out why that was so important.
When you consider and evaluate the true stresses that lithium batteries encounter, most battery packs are designed to last three to five years if used and stored properly. Environmental conditions, not just charge cycling, are the key factors for longevity. The worst situation is keeping a fully charged battery at elevated temperatures. When not in use, batteries must be stored in a cool place.
Over the past several years, the label "hybrid supplier" has become more popular among industry leading product and service companies. The term means combining multiple business elements with a unique process to create a mixture suited to fulfill all of a customer's needs under one company. While this sounds like a very attractive business model for a customer to use, it is much harder than it sounds.
With the news of TTM and Viasystems merger, two of the last big three (Sanmina being the third) circuit board manufacturers joining together is certain to have wide ranging effects on the United States Printed Circuit Board industry. To start, each merger of companies this size are priced to include "synergies" between the two companies. The word synergy is code for closing facilities and cutting people to save money to pay for the acquisition.