Vendor, customer swap roles in electronic contract manufacturing partnership

Davina McDonnell Press

Originally published on MLive here.

As with any new product, there was a learning curve for KIC when the reflow and thermal process control company developed its latest profiler. The usual punch list of technical obstacles had to be overcome before the technology could hit the market.

KIC sought help from Saline Lectronics, an electronic contract manufacturer (CM) that partnered as a beta site for product testing. Throughout development, Saline provided fast, high-quality design feedback that KIC used to refine the SPS Smart Profiler.

The expertise shaved months off KIC’s go-to-market timeline, and SPS debuted earlier this year.

“We were able to provide KIC with feedback on how their new profiling system performed during production,” said Jason Sciberras, Saline’s Vice President of Manufacturing and Operations. “We shared honest feedback about the benefits and made suggestions to how we would like to see specific analytics displayed.”

KIC smart oven technology

KIC smart oven technology gives Saline Lectronics the ability to give customers real-time data on the thermal profile of each board.

 

KIC this year marks its 40th anniversary of helping electronic contract manufacturers monitor and optimize their thermal processes, improving quality and productivity of printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs). Saline long has been a customer, deploying KIC’s smart oven technology to make industry-leading PCBAs in its Lectronics 4.0 factory outside Ann Arbor, Mich.

KIC’s smart oven technologies help Saline differentiate from its competitors and become more successful. At the same time, KIC quickly realized that it had something in common with Saline: shared business values including an emphasis on world-class quality, traceability and documentation.

The two companies started working together on tests of new KIC products like SPS. And when KIC became frustrated with the performance of a previous CM, it asked Saline to start making its PCBAs.

The vendor became the customer, and the customer became the vendor. Now, Saline is helping KIC become more successful.

“I chose to become a client because Saline Lectronics is not a vendor. They are an impressive partner that supports us completely,” said Ryan Wilshusen, engineering manager for KIC. “Saline Lectronics provides me correct and complete data quickly and clearly. Their automated analytic factory data helps me to resolve defects, measure performance and lower risk.

“Saline Lectronics’ fast-moving expertise allows me to move faster than my competitors.”

Data is everywhere on the floor at Saline, which manufactures PCBAs for the aerospace, food service, medical, diagnostic and military industries. The data – complete, accurate and fast – gives transparency to customers.

The smart oven technology, for example, gives Saline the ability to provide customers with real-time data on the thermal profile of each and every PCBA it runs. It enables customers, including KIC, to keep track of their boards, and it lets Saline know immediately if something is wrong with production.

But the commitment to quality extends beyond PCBAs into the general culture at Saline. When a battery supplier consistently failed to meet KIC’s quality standards, Saline came to the rescue. Despite having no previous battery pack design experience, Saline provided high-quality production prototypes within two weeks, Wilshusen said.

“When things go wrong, you can tell the integrity of your partner,” said Bjorn Dahle, KIC president. “Having a supplier of our electronics be as serious about process control, traceability and quality as we are is paramount.”