Smart Made Simple (SMS) – Addressing the Small Batch Gap

When you think about Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS), you typically think about what we usually see in the news and in the electronics trade media – large scale production and high volume.  But as more customised solutions increase in popularity, the market now demands a nimbler approach.  The EMS companies that cater to low-to-medium volume/high mix, complex assembly, like Smart Made Simple (SMS), offer that solution.  What services do they offer to compete in this new landscape?

Nottingham, UK, based EMS company SMS has introduced a unique approach to electronics manufacturing by investing in solutions that start before production commences.  The aim of the SMS dedicated ‘Development Centre’ is to bridge the gap that exists in the UK for prototype, New Product Introduction (NPI), and small batch runs of anything from one to 1000 units that can be complex and customised (tens to thousands of components).

In traditional EMS companies, small batch sizes are either of zero interest or they become a thorn in the manufacturers side.  Imagine the scenario of stopping your volume production and changing the setup and configuration of your surface mount equipment to run off a small batch of products for a customer who needs their Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) work completed within 24 hours.  Whilst some EMS companies will accept this business if they have excess capacity to fill, it isn’t a sustainable or long-term business model for them or their customers.

Well, it is for SMS.  The company has designed and developed its own in-house capabilities and skills to cater to this exact make-up of business.

Andy Challenger, Development Centre Manager commented; “We used to feel the pain of interrupting our main line production for small batch size runs.  We used to comment that there must be a smarter way.  As a Tier III EMS, focused on low to medium volume, high-mix, customised PCBA, we saw the trend towards small batch sizes, NPI, and prototyping, but we couldn’t continue to stop and start our main SMT lines.  This is why we invested in building our in-house Development Centre, with its own specialist, cutting-edge equipment, its own resources, and team members trained to focus on the very specific and niche type of business that comes through its doors. 

Our customer range varies dramatically, therefore we can’t take a ‘one size fits all’ approach.  We can be running prototypes for products that can go under the sea, through to products that go into space!  Our dedicated Development Centre has become home to any and all sorts of technology, whether it’s simple or complex, our customers come here to see it being brought to life before their very eyes.

Even though we are a separate business unit from SMS’ main manufacturing business, we have three SMT lines, all of the Engineering, Quality and Procurement support and know-how, that we can leverage off to the back component buying power for the Development Centre.  This helps our start-up, small batch, and prototype customers to achieve economies of scale.   

The main advantage, however, is speed and flexibility.  Most of our Development Centre customers are within a two-hour drive from our facility.  Therefore, they come here personally to see their product going through the necessary stages.  If they request a design alteration whilst we are running, we can actually stop.  So, for example, if they query the paste profile, we can change the program without having to send for a new stencil.  To start and stop the program takes a total of around ten minutes.  That time is nothing in the grand scheme of the time that would be wasted if your setup was incorrect. 

We’ve found this offering to be very attractive for start-ups who are validating their concept, or within established brands, who are launching their next generation.  Both of these types of technology companies have the same market driver – speed!” After all, it’s Smart Made Simple.

About Smart Made Simple – SMS

The U.K.’s leading Manufacturing Service Provider.

From concept to creation, to commercialisation, to customer, for all technology companies. Whether you are a start-up, or an established household brand name, if you have a design, engineering, manufacturing or supply chain problem, thanks to the diversity of our experience and scalable service, SMS has the solution.

Since 1920, SMS has manufactured electronics products from the same home in Nottingham, U.K. For almost 100 years, we have been the company behind the ideas, offering agile and adaptive supply chain solutions, that bring products to market faster, smarter and simpler.

Leader in the specialist low volume, highly complex manufacturing services market space, SMS has earned critical industry facility certifications, that brings full viability and credibility to the aerospace & defence, communications, industrial and medical markets. SMS brings the right scale, capabilities and competitive solutions to customers needing high-reliability attention, product realisation and supply chain optimisation.

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