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Cormier: Yes, that's the optimal way to do it. It works best when the design team can have inputs in choosing materials and developing the manufacturing process. We don't have to change it once the prototypes are done. It's getting in after the fact that creates unnecessary cost constraints. It is rare to take a solution out of the lab and hit your target of a quality, cost effective, manufacturable component.
Matties: The best advice you could give is to get in early, bring the designers and the manufacturers in, and do it concurrently.
Cormier: I think it's pretty much an on-demand service; you don't realize you need us until you find out you need us, and how are we going to do this? That's when we get the calls.
Matties: What trends do you see in the medical and military markets?
Cormier: Medical will always be there. It will hit some slowness, some downside, but in general I think it's a stable place to be. The military is going to have its deeper cycles.
Matties: How do you manage your assembly work?
Cormier: We try to outsource the assembly work wherever possible, where it's cost-effective. We have suppliers that will do value-add service for us prior to shipping the units to us. If the value-add needs to be done by us, that's when we do it; but we try to find the best deal for the end-customer based on cost and quality.
Matties: What sort of audit process do you do to find an EMS?
Cormier: We are ISO-certified. We follow ISO standards. We allow self-auditing in our preliminary evaluation, but we will visit all of our suppliers over some period of time, say in a year and a half we're going to see them all.
Matties: The demands for quality are high in the markets you serve and they are willing to pay for it.
Cormier: Price doesn't matter if you can't deliver quality.
Matties: Exactly. Now, one of the things that I noticed in some recent interviews for automotive, medical, and mil/aero, is the amount of inspection that is utilized in the process. Because the cost of failure is so high, they're willing to pay for inspection at every step.
Cormier: We have many steps within the quality procedure to make sure that what goes out works. If we get failures, we trace back to the material. We trace back through all the steps to find out what failed and how to prevent the failure in the future. It is all about getting to the root cause. Find the problem, handle the problem, and make sure the problem doesn't happen again. Those are the guidelines. The people who run our company built a $35 million flex company and sold it to Amphenol. It was Advanced Circuit Technologies, so they know the process and how to manage the process on the quality side.
Matties: The thing that I see is, no matter how good your process is, and how robust it is, there are always variables.
Cormier: Variables in material, especially.
Matties: Mark, thank you so much for sharing today.
Cormier: Appreciate talking to you.