Whelen Engineering Reduces Cycle Time by Building a New Automated PCB Factory

Reading time ( words)

With the Chinese stock market in turmoil and China’s wage scales still rising, one might think this would fuel new hope for U.S. PCB manufacturers trying to gain traction in a marketplace that’s been dominated by their Asian counterparts for the better part of two decades. But despite chatter about reshoring of late, the general consensus in the industry doesn’t seem overly optimistic that substantial change will occur. 

While some business is certainly making its way back to the U.S., most people expect the bulk of it to relocate to the next-best location with low-cost wages, like Vietnam, Mexico, etc. To remain competitive, China’s government and manufacturers didn’t hesitate to call for more automation from its factories once it lost its cost advantage. It begs the question: If China is turning to automation to retain business, what might the same type of automation do for America’s reshoring effort? In the case of one such North American company, the results have been breathtaking.

The future of American manufacturing might be found in the small community of Charlestown, New Hampshire, at Whelen Engineering. A company founded and headquartered in Connecticut in the 1950s, Whelen is a leading manufacturer of all things relating to emergency lights and sirens for the automobile and aviation industries. For years, Whelen had been spending about $7 million annually on PCBs from China, but being a strong advocate for bringing jobs and dollars back to the U.S., two years ago they decided to purchase their PCBs in America.

Who did they choose as their new supplier? Well, that’s where it gets interesting. Whelen chose to be their own PCB supplier. Where does a company specializing in audio and visual warning equipment get off making their own PCBs?

Read the full article here.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the October issue of The PCB Magazine



Suggested Items

Happy Holden Book Excerpt: CIM & Automation Strategy

05/22/2020 | Happy Holden, I-Connect007
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Happy Holden’s I-Connect007 eBook Automation and Advanced Procedures in PCB Fabrication. In this book, Happy explains fabrication automation with illustrative examples and anecdotes from his decades as a mechanization leader.

The Smart Factory: All the Bits and Bobs

03/26/2020 | Happy Holden, I-Connect007
“Smart factory” is another phrase that describes Industry 4.0 programs. These programs seem to have replaced CIM and CAM, but it did not make them obsolete. While these topics are getting a lot of press, there is nothing new about them. We have been on a journey to automate manufacturing since the mid-‘70s. What has evolved are faster and cheaper computers, and more complex and integrated networking.

Alex Stepinski: GreenSource Fabrication Update

01/22/2020 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007
Alex Stepinski gives an update on GreenSource, their acquisition of AWP, and their move to full production after some delays. Barry Matties and Alex also discuss automation and the difficulties in hiring in the U.S. and announces the decision to go to market with their recycling equipment in 2020.

Copyright © 2021 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.