Membrane-Switch production can be challenging work once you get past the roadblocks to production that customers place in your path. Here a panel of experts reveals how they work with clients to arrive at products that satisfy all.
David Gintzler Membrane switches are a unique application. In order for them to be functional, whoever is specifying them has to understand what they’re trying to do with the circuits. They have to have a higher understanding, and when they don’t, the schematic for the actual circuitry is left to the screen printer. If the company that is buying starts to do their own schematic layout, they do it without regard to the screen printer’s ability to do it more efficiently. Or, they’ll specify something that doesn’t exist or that has been discontinued or modified. Basically, 99% of the time, a screen printer designs and lays out the circuitry. There’s a huge problem in educating the customer as to what can and can’t be done.
Hemant Mistry The issue is always one of information—getting the information we need. We have to work very hard to make sure we understand what it is the customer wants. Sometimes they’re not even sure what they want, so we have to draw that information out of them.
Dennis Webster Membrane switches have historically been one of the last things customers think of. It’s at the bottom of the their checklist, and they will—almost as an afterthought— assume they can go out and buy one in a couple of weeks. Generally speaking, that’s not the way it works. Even with smaller shops it can take a month or more, and we’ve got a much larger operation and our lead time is a little bit longer simply because of that. Also, as the products become more complex, more time is needed to identifyand iron out the problems. It sounds as if customer education and information gathering are among the biggest obstacles in the process. How do you address these challenges?
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