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Parsec Manufacturing - where the customer really is King

12 September 2001 News

Parsec Manufacturing is a division of the well-known company Parsec, which also includes Parsec Components and Parsec Design Solutions. Parsec entered the manufacturing sphere by buying out the well established business of Charl Roux who had been in contract manufacturing on a smaller scale since 1994. Charl, retaining his well-known sense of detail and quality, remains with the new company as Chief Technical Officer, while Andries van Schalkwyk (ex CSIR) is the Chief Operating Officer. The company has only been fully operational since April 2000, but in that short time has seen a phenomenal growth in its business undertakings.

Following its association with Parsec the company has moved to premises on the ARC campus in Weavind Park, Pretoria. A staff of 20 people is currently employed with several more readily available on a contract basis if required. Parsec had no problems in acquiring highly experienced technicians as the electronics industry in Gauteng has shed many skilled people over the last few years. Despite the expertise of these people they are all made to go through the mill again by Charl to ensure that their standard is what Parsec Manufacturing expects.

One of the production lines
One of the production lines

Parsec is currently involved in the defence, security and consumer electronics industries and is looking closely at opportunities in the telecommunications sector, which should revive following deregulation. While its core expertise lies in the really high-tech projects, no job is too small or simple. The company's good mix of automation and manual dexterity allows even the real mundane work to be carried out cost-effectively.

While contract manufacturers normally restrict their operations to volume production of a proven design, Parsec has differentiated itself through having its own prototyping capability. While this services the needs of its sister company Parsec Design Solutions, the main objective is to be able to help all customers right from the idea generation phase to full-scale manufacture. Apart from basic prototyping, this service includes providing input to design engineers to ensure that the final design is optimised for most cost-effective production, while Parsec staff will also assist in the design of the required board and system test equipment. If required, Parsec can even have the complete PCB board designed through Parsec Design Services. The overall intention is that the prototype service will remain cost-effective for even the smaller entrepreneur with a good idea, the longer-term objective being of course, that Parsec Manufacturing becomes the eventual manufacturer.

Setting up the SMD pick-and-place machine
Setting up the SMD pick-and-place machine

In terms of production capability Parsec offers manual and automated (SMD) board population, by using some of the latest state-of-the-art high speed automated pick-and-place equipment. Other production equipment includes hot air convection reflow ovens and wavesolder equipment.

Another important capability is Parsec Manufacturing's QA and rework facility where highly skilled operators visually inspect all assembly work done by the company. They have the skill and the tools to rework even BGAs and fine pitch components if so required. This service is also offered for boards not assembled by Parsec Manufacturing. A recent example was the repair of a high-tech board assembled elsewhere that was operating intermittently due to bad solder joints. Parsec incidentally, has few problems with its own boards. It says a recent example being that out of more than 100 000 boards manufactured (over a period of time) and tested by the company, not one was returned as defective, after they had been shipped to an overseas client.

Prototype assembly
Prototype assembly

The scope of the service offered by Parsec depends on the requirement of the customer. One example is a computer-based rack-mounted control unit going through production while I was present. Here, Parsec sources the components (mechanical and electronic), assembles the enclosures, makes up all the boards, assembles, tests and completes the burn-in procedures. The qualified products are then packed and shipped to local and international end user customers. This is in fact, an example of contract manufacturing operating at its best as the system designer can spend his time usefully developing new designs and not worrying about production hassles, shipment dates and component procurement. Procurement of the PCB boards is part of the service and depending on volume and/or complexity, both local and international suppliers are used.

In regard to components, while the company obviously has a very close relationship with its sister division Parsec Components, it also has good relationships with all the other major component distributors. Through these relationships and the volume of manufacture the best possible prices can be negotiated for the customer. While Parsec itself holds stock of more basic components it will handle all the client's component and PCB procurement requirements for a nominal handling fee.

While Parsec Manufacturing works to the highest workmanship standards (IPC-A-610C Class 3) and has its own strict internal controls and documentation chain (as would be expected of a supplier to the defence industry) it has embarked on the road of acquiring ISO 9001:2000 certification. Certification is expected early in 2002.

A core objective of Parsec as a group is to encourage growth in the SA electronics industry and to make better use of our local (relatively low cost) highly skilled engineering expertise. Parsec Manufacturing is an integral part of this overall growth plan and it intends to become a serious player in the contract manufacturing field. As demand grows for its services, operations and services will be expanded to meet those requirements, with full backing of the Parsec group of companies.

The last word on Parsec Manufacturing must go to Charl Roux himself who commenting on the company's success simply stated, "We actually put heart into the job and strive to be the best - we enjoy what we are doing."

For further information contact Parsec Manufacturing, (012) 804 5585.





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