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The Road Less Traveled: Contract Manufacturing Differentiators (Part 1)

Posted by Judy Warner on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 @ 12:44 PM
Judy Warner
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The word “differentiator” is tossed around a lot these days in the electronics industry--especially within the Contract Manufacturing (CM) community. When evaluating a new potential CM partner, decision makers frequently ask: “What would you say differentiates your organization from other contract manufacturers?”

For sales and marketing types, like me, we are conditioned like Pavlovian dogs to blurt out an involuntary “elevator speech” that articulates our differentiators and value proposition. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, these canned responses have become so rote and unoriginal that they have become entirely unhelpful. I suspect that the professionals conducting theses evaluations must become weary of hearing the same handful of tired responses over and over again.

Recently, while on a long sales/road trip with Zentech’s VP and CM industry veteran, John Vaughan, I had the chance to discuss a few of the very tangible differentiators that define us at Zentech. We were able to abandon cliché elevator speeches and dig-deep in the unhurried fashion that only a long car ride can afford. Three powerful and very real difference-makers surfaced during our conversation which I thought worthy of repeating in a 3 part blog series. Here, in part one, I will unpack the differentiating power of certifications and training.


 Why Certifications Matter

Certifications like ISO-9001, AS-9100, ITAR, FDA, IPC and many others provide a level of (objective) accountability that, first and foremost, protect our customers. Certifications ensure we are compliant with current industry standards, regulations, and best-practices which directly impact the quality and reliability of our products and services. Secondarily, they protect us from potential blind-spots that may arise from being immersed in our subjective experience. Certifications give us a road-map and sets high standards that protect both company and consumer. Zentech prides itself in its high level of certification. Maintaining these high levels of certification is not sustainable unless the company is absolutely fanatical about their process controls and an unflinching commitment to quality and reliability.

ISO-9001, AS-9100 and other such certifications are Quality Management Systems that ensure compliance to statutory and regulatory standards and prove the efficacy of quality management systems that pave the way to producing high quality product. In response to these broader-scope standards, IPC launched the ground-breaking Validation Services two years ago. To become an IPC QML (Qualified Manufacturer Listed) source, a CM must prove they are in strict to compliance to specific IPC manufacturing standards that apply directly to assembly and soldering practices established by IPC. Zentech was the second CM in the country to receive the QML from IPC and the first CM to be awarded the J-STD-001 Space certification by Validation Services.


A Team Empowered through Training

Lastly, there is the separate but related issue of highly trained staff and operators. To fully empower and equip our employees, Zentech has invested heavily in IPC sanctioned training. This means that we have made sure that our organization is chock-full of employees that have been formally trained and certified according to IPC standards across the board. Additionally, we have gone the extra mile to provide an even higher level of training to key personnel who have become IPC certified trainers. In this way, we can continually offer the highest levels of training within in our facility to those who directly interact with our customer’s products.

An area of great satisfaction and pride is the long hallway that leads to our manufacturing floor. Its walls are filled with framed IPC training certifications of our staff and employees.




 The Road Less Traveled

So, why does any of this matter? Well, because the number of organizations receiving certification at such deep levels puts us in a very small rarified group of North American contract manufacturers. It means that we are completely sold-out to excellence--and our certifications provide objective, tangible and compelling evidence to support our claims.

In short, certifications and training at such high levels is a major differentiator. By holding fast to such rigorous standards, Zentech takes the “Road Less travelled” and, just as Robert Frost once wrote, “It has made all the difference!”

(PS: Speaking of the Road Less Traveled, click HERE to see a 2 minute tour of the Zentech facility that was filmed with a video drone. Enjoy!)



Topics: pcb assembly, Differentiators