American Standard Circuits Taking Business to New Heights


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Anaya_Vardya-2.jpgGoldman: And then there's the automotive industry for new applications. That seems to be a big area also.

Vardya: We're probably one of the larger players in North America in terms of being in the automotive market. About 30% of our business today is in the automotive market segment, and we are working on continuing to grow that. We're working on some of the newer applications at 77 GHz. Currently, the circuit boards we make are at about 24 GHz.

Goldman: The markets that I see that seem to have all the new apps are medical, automotive, and mil/aero. The applications in those areas seem to be almost exploding.

Vardya: Right, and to be honest with you, those three are part of what we're targeting right now, but in addition to that, we are also targeting the LED market space, where see a lot of growth; again, the board technology might be a little bit simpler, but there's a lot of volume there. We make the boards for the control systems, for the actual lights, and for the driver board, so there are a number of different kinds of boards that get in there.

Goldman: Your headquarters is right here in Chicago, but do you expand beyond North America?

Vardya: We have only one facility in North America, and that's in West Chicago, Illinois, and then we also have partnerships in Asia. We do work with a number of different Asian board shops. I would tell you that today, maybe 10% or less of our business is actually procured from Asia, but we're also working on growing that part of our market segment.

Goldman: So most of what you do is actually produce here in North America, is that what you’re saying?

Vardya: Yes, it is.

Goldman: That's great. Is that something your customers require, that their PCBs are made in the USA?

Vardya: Some of them do. Obviously, a percentage of our business is ITAR, but a percentage of the balance of the business is just a matter of selling them on what the advantages are of doing it onshore, also the fact that they're quick turns. Some of them are worried about their intellectual property and they don't want to send the boards to China. We have a whole variety of customers that choose to do business in North America for a number of reasons.

Goldman: You help them out. What else would you like to talk about?

Vardya: I'd like to talk about a couple of things that we've done and that we're doing differently. For example, in our engineering organization, we're working to become a lot more automated. Earlier this year we implemented a package called Insight, by Orbotech. It helps us in the quotations stage where we're able to analyze our customers' raw data and make decisions on whether there's going to be any issues with building the board, things like that.

If there are, we'll get back to the customers. If not, it also helps us say, "Okay, you know what? This is a more difficult board to build. Here are some of the issues, and these are some of the extra steps we're going to have to take."

Goldman: You work with your customers very closely.

Vardya: Yes, we do. In addition, we are also in the process of implementing the Orbotech InPlan system, which has two parts to it. One of them is a much more automated stackup generator than the ones that we are using today. If you have controlled impedance, or if you have a number of different limitations on your stackup for a particular job, it’s able to figure out all the different permutations and combinations of stackups that would meet the requirements. Then it gives you the opportunity to choose which one you want to do. In just a short time, we are able to see that it's doing a much better job than the manual process that we have been going through so far.

Goldman:  And faster, I'm sure.

Vardya: Faster, of course. Then, the other part of it is actually getting to rules-based travelers. That's one of the things that we're going to be working on for the balance of the year.

Basically, you look at the Gerber file, you look at what the copper rate requirements are, you look at all the different parameters, and then based on that, our traveler gets generated automatically, versus our process today, which is a lot more manual.  All the correct information is there which makes for less errors, plus it is faster, and has better quality.

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