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EMS vets behind latest EPM plant.

MANCHESTER, NH -- Manufacturing is returning to New England, and in a small way. Small as in the modest-sized factories popping up all over the landscape of late. The newest: The 45, 000 sq. ft. plant opened here by EPM (epmglobal.com) in June.

Launched as a branch of Markham, Ontario-based EPM, the principals are well known to the Boston area. Vice president of operations Tony Bruzzese and VP of business development Shawn Brady co-founded Assembly Solutions, which they sold to Sanmina in 1995. Bruzzese later worked for Celestica, while Brady until recently was with Sanmina-SCI.

EPM's three facilities (it also maintains one in Shenzhen) are standardizing their equipment platform, including Panasonic placement lines. When CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY visited in May, the Manchester plant was already outfitted with ESD flooring and two SMT lines, complete with DEK printers and BTU ovens. Two dual wave soldering machines (one for Pb-free) from JT Technologies were in transit. Inspection was end-of-line (Marantz tabletop AOI); an Electrovert Aquastorm was on hand for cleaning, and test included a Teradyne flying probe and Agilent 3070 series 3 tester. One of the lines would be dedicated to RoHS product, officials said.

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Two aspects jumped out. First, every workstation was set up with Tecnomatix Unicam software, which EPM uses for shop floor control, quality and documentation. Each workstation was set up to receive its own work instructions via PC, whereby operators would scan a barcode which in turn would indicate what the product was and what work it needed. This arrangement also aids in collecting data on common defects and lot traceability, Bruzzese said. Second, almost the entire factory was on wheels, and could be reconfigured as needed.

The plant has a secure inspection area and dedicated prototype area separate from the factory floor.

The factory would be ISO compliant upon its opening, and expects to be ISO certified in September, Bruzzese said. The principals settled on Manchester based on the level of education and size of the local population. Explained Bruzzese: "The five elements are here: the bodies, the physical space, the capital equipment, the brain trust of new products--OEMs, academia and incubators--and the money."

EPM will focus on military, medical instrumentation and automotive products, plus repair work. The company will also concentrate on startups, offering direct order fulfillment and access to low-cost production (which would be managed from the Manchester site). The ideal account size would be about $1 million to $5 million-plus, Brady said, and the company's goal is to have 15 to 20 NPI or production customers.

The company relies on distributors (Arrow, Avnet, Future Electronics) for components. Inventories would be vendor-managed, and material would be kitted immediately after incoming inspection.

Coupled with new starts by Solectron (see story, above), Electronic Contract Services Inc. in Massachusetts, and Synchronized Manufacturing Technologies in New Hamsphire, among others, EMS operations are alive and well in New England.
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Title Annotation:Industry NEWS
Publication:Circuits Assembly
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:480
Previous Article:Solectron opens Boston-based NPI center.
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