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Companies from India are becoming more sophisticated by providing complete engineering services as well as design, production, and assembly of printed circuits. In this conversation with Ravi Kumar, director of operations at NEXTGEN PCB, I learned that even though the company is only a few years old, it’s already making its mark in the industry. Ravi has a plan to not only expand in India, but to enter the U.S. and UK markets with his company’s services.
Dan Beaulieu: Ravi, it’s good to meet you. Let’s start with an introduction to your company.
Ravi Kumar: NEXTGEN PCB (NEXTGEN PCB CAD CAM TECH PVT LTD) was established in 2018 by our chairman, Mr. Ravindra Kumar, who had been involved in the PCB/PCBA industry for more than four decades. His plan was to provide end-to-end engineering and sales services support for PCB/PCBA manufacturers. His vision is to make his company one of the best global offshore partners by providing clients with a complete integrated front end engineering solution. We are open to provide any services which can be done remotely.
Beaulieu: Please tell me a little about you. What is your background and how did you get to this point in your career?
Kumar: I started my career as a production support trainee in a PCB manufacturing company and kept on learning by accepting different responsibilities. I have held several positions including senior CAM engineer and engineering manager. Being a part of the engineering and sales support team gave me the opportunity to learn and experience every aspect of the PCB/PCBA process. During my career I had the chance to lead good front-end engineering, quoting, and customer support teams. Because of my background and experience, I was chosen as NEXTGEN’s director of operations.
Beaulieu: I know that NEXTGEN is an engineering company, and you do everything from engineering to CAD/CAM to providing PCBs and PCBAs. Please tell us about these services.
Kumar: As you mentioned, we are an engineering and sales support service company; we are not providing any manufacturing services. Our company provides PCB/PCBA engineering, sales support, supply chain, and procurement. Along with the services I mentioned, we can support our customers for any activity which they like to outsource for economical or geographical advantages. We help create their own dedicated offshore team and to establish their identity in the Indian market.
Beaulieu: Please talk about your team and their qualifications.
Kumar: We have industry expertise and cultured resources. Every member of our team is degreed and has experience in the PCB/PCBA industries. We prefer college graduates as a minimum qualification, but we look at their higher qualifications and hire at any level with respect to our customer demand.
Beaulieu: There are other companies that might do what you do. Why should customers use you?
Kumar: Yes, we do have competition and it’s for the better. We serve as a client’s own offshore engineering team. Everything we do is transparent and flexible with in-depth knowledge of the industry demands; we offer constant quality and value for the service. Providing services in many areas allows our customers to boost productivity and be the best among their competition. We think it’s what makes us special. We try to offer engineering and sales support service with lower workforce cost.
Beaulieu: Let’s talk some more about technology and what you see expanding in the PCB market. Why are you needed right now in North America, and where do you rate in terms of technology?
Kumar: The pandemic taught us the importance of essentials. For technology, PCB/PCBA are the most essential. Considering this aspect, our researchers are working in all directions to improve PCB/PCBA design, manufacturing, and usage. The PCB industry is directly affected when there are innovations in semiconductors. Components are getting smaller, products are shrinking, and designers are looking for better utilization of real estate.
These will challenge manufacturers, demanding them to update. Currently, most manufacturers are supporting 3/3 mil spacing and trace width and some are pushing themselves toward 2/2 mil capability. Industry has also come up with advanced materials with respect to frequency, dielectric constant, signal loss, speed, etc.
There are other innovations in progress like a new CAM tool, quoting software, upgraded machineries, etc., and a couple of manufacturing firms are merging to became giants in the supply chain.
Beaulieu: Now let’s talk about quality. How do you ensure you deliver the best quality products, and how does this give you an advantage?
Kumar: NEXTGEN uses “no compromise” when it comes to quality. As certified with ISO 9001:2015, everything will pass through QMS. We focus more on precautionary measurements instead of breakdown analysis, always looking for the possible options for automation. As skilled resources and automations, we have an advantage to improve productivity and quality.
Beaulieu: Who are your customers? What type of companies use your services?
Kumar: As a growing establishment, we are partnering with Master Print Elektronik, Aspire Logic Solutions Private Limited, and we are in discussion with Amtech LLC. All PCB/PCBA manufacturers from any corner of the world can use our services.
Beaulieu: Now let’s talk about service. What is good service, what do you think customers are looking for, and why are you outstanding when it comes to service?
Kumar: NEXTGEN takes a different view of service. We believe it is embedded with “good.” When you serve, it should be good. We believe and stand on this. Our Customers and our partners are always demanding burden-free services. When they join hands with us, we should lead them to success by serving what was intended.
Beaulieu: Can you partner with North American PCB and PCBA companies and extend their services?
Kumar: Yes. Partnering with North American friends is part of NEXTGEN’s business strategy. When our partners outsource their engineering and sales support activities to us, we will dedicate a skilled team with many resources. With the assigned team, NEXTGEN can handle all the activities remotely by supporting round the clock as well as with economical advantage.
Beaulieu: Tell me about your R&D work.
Kumar: NEXTGEN focuses on a company culture that makes it joyful for our customers as well as our team. We believe this joyful environment will result in success. NEXTGEN’s service will be completely transparent, which makes us stand out.
As a service-based establishment, we periodically review our process for fine tuning and we go along with our customers/partners when it comes to R&D.
Beaulieu: I know you are always updating the company; how do you do that? What software do you use for CAD/CAM?
Kumar: We have a clean and good facility loaded with all relevant tools. We update tools with respect to their workload and use. As we do most of our work remotely, we don’t have many tools to upgrade. For CAM tools, we have Genesis, UCAM, Easy CAM.
Beaulieu: Do you have much business in North America?
Kumar: No, not much right now. We are spreading the word, hoping to gain more business in the United States. We hope to have more partners.
Beaulieu: How do you market in North America?
Kumar: We have started to market NEXTGEN through available social media and with our known contacts. We are planning to visit exhibitions to get more sales.
Beaulieu: What are your long-term goals for expanding your business?
Kumar: We are aiming to make NEXTGEN as a brand for engineering services in PCB industry. Our business plan for the next five years is to collaborate more with many PCB/PCBA manufacturers.
Beaulieu: How do you see the market today?
Kumar: Right now, we are still overcoming the pandemic situation by moving toward expected growth of the PCB/PCBA industry. This growth is driven by more demand on electronic products and product development. As reported by one of researching firms, one to two layer requirements are dominating the PCB/PCBA market. Industry demand is booming because of trends in smart phones, smart wearable devices, precision equipment, etc. Overall, PCB/PCBA growth is facing upward, and we hope this will continue year by year.
We aim to compete in the U.S. and UK markets as outsourcing brings many advantages to manufacturers in these regions. We are preparing to accept all the challenges we face, most particularly the communication between our partners and us. We want to make sure there is no gap between parties by having multiple communication channels. We can learn from the past and apply that to the future. We are coming out of the challenges in the production process and adding technology to it. We see the future of smart and eco-friendly technology.
Beaulieu: To stay at the top of the technology ladder you have to invest in the future. What are your plans for investment?
Kumar: Our goal is to establish NEXTGEN offices in the United States and the UK to keep communication with our customer at its best. Our chairman is very much interested to do these as soon as possible. This will definitely be beneficiary for us as well as to the customer. Along with this we are continuing to find and hire more skilled resources to join our team.
Beaulieu: As we wrap this up, what are your thoughts on our industry?
Kumar: Increased demand for medical devices, Smart phone upgrades, smart fitness accessories, and aggressive product developments are bringing more enquires for PCB/PCBA manufacturers. As I mentioned earlier, a few companies are merging to meet industry demands and grab the opportunities. Some are turning back from China due to the pandemic and other crises, and this has brought opportunities for other Asian companies.
We see the U.S. and UK in a shortage of skilled resources, and they must set aside more budget to get the right resources. Services companies like NEXTGEN are supporting these regions to handle enquires and opportunities as never before. We are finding solutions for all challenges, more smart ways, environment friendly, and work for betterment of human life.
Beaulieu: Ravi, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.
Kumar: Thank you Dan, it has been my pleasure.