Much like the mega-city it’s based near, diversity is a strength for contract electronics manufacturer (CEM) Microart Services Inc., Markham ON.
After recently relocating to an expanded facility, the ISO 9001:2008 and 13485:2003 registered CEM boasts a customer base representing design sectors that are “all over the map”, according to Microart VP operations Mark Wood. Some of which include Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, medical, military, telecommunication, surveillance, security, factory automation.
“I think it is the variety and the number of jobs that we do, which allows us to bring fresh ideas from a totally different product – which just might work for another customer. We’ve seen it before,” Wood enthuses. “The good news is we still do not have one customer that makes up more than 10% of our business,” adds Wood.
The majority of Microart’s customers still come from the Greater Toronto Area, in addition to a growing number from the Kitchen-Waterloo region of Ontario. The US-based customer segment has grown dramatically for the firm, while it plans to further expand that reach through the Northeastern US region this year.
The firm’s new 40,000-square-feet facility, doubles its previous size, which included the addition of 50 new hires. Supported by its 250 employees, Microart runs three shifts over five weekdays, plus two shifts on weekends.
The expanded facility features a compressed warehouse area, as the 30-year-old firm added some storage carrousels, helping to drop the warehouse floor space required by 30 to 20%.
“This has allowed us to compact that part of our business and better utilize the space for production purposes,” Wood adds. The firm recently added a new production line, while also investing in a 3D automated visual inspection (AOI) machine to go with their three other 2D AOI machines.
“This has meant us giving the right amount of space to each function, allowing the production team to be a little more constructive, while allowing management to have better visibility of what was going on in the production department,” says John Lobraico, sales manager, Microart. “The new building provides a much better layout, improving flow for the production team. It has also increased our capacity by 20%.”
Instead of focusing on any doom and gloom that may surround traditional electronic business projects going off-shore, Microart has found great success in the rise of wearables and IoT development in Canada.
“When we build a prototype, very rarely does it finish the way it started. There are often last minor changes, alterations, part substitutions, etc at the eleventh hour. So we’re very well versed at making those changes on the fly. Capable of doing two or three-day turns for some customers if required. It really comes down to the customer now, especially with just-in-time and lean manufacturing as the new reality for most,” Wood explains.
At any given time Microart is building anywhere between 500 to 600 unique part numbers, representing anywhere between 300 and 400 different customers during that period. Those volumes also create a very strong knowledge network for the management team, whether its suppliers, customers, competitors and potential inventors.
“Ultimately, this creates a learning environment for our customers and us,” Lobraico says. “Many of these smaller start-up sized firms don’t have the working infrastructure to handle anything more than design. Ultimately, they are looking at the ways we can help them reduce costs.”
Microart specializes in providing circuit design, pcb layout, bare board manufacturing, pcb assembly testing and box build for your proto-type and low-to-mid volume productions. Growth over the last 3-4 years helped define the firm’s sweet spot.
“Looking closer at what we do and how we do it is certainly moving us to be much more cost-conscious on everything we do,” Lobraico says. “We really do appreciate our partnership with the customer. Because, if we are able to save them some money, they will be able to design more projects – which in turn will give us more work, Wood concludes.