Conversations with...Amphenol GM Pam Simonds


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Amphenol PCB Techology is truly a state-of-the-art company producing just about every technology of printed circuits, from flex and rigid-flex to rigid-flex bookbinder, from simple single-sided boards to high-tech MLBs and back panels. With locations in Nashua, New Hampshire and Nogales, Mexico, as well as Asian partnerships, it is truly a global company.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Pam Simonds, general manager of the company's three locations, about where the company is today and its plans for the future.

Dan Beaulieu: Pam, thank you for talking with me today. Can you tell me a little about your company?

Pam Simonds: No problem, Dan. The company was founded in 1932 so we go back quite a way. We've been in business for 72 years now. Amphenol Corporation, headquartered out of Wallingford, Connecticut, provides electrical, electronic, and fiber-optic connectors; interconnect systems; and coaxial and specialty cables worldwide. We are highly diversified and support military, commercial aerospace, industrial, automotive, and commercial markets. I really like that we have so many different products. It’s actually what I like best about the company--its entrepreneurial culture and the people. We have a great team.

Beaulieu: And what would you say is the company’s mission?

Simonds: Amphenol PCB Technology integrates the technologies of three companies it has acquired over the past 17 years. Our vision is to be the world leader and to enable our customers to design, develop, and manufacture high-complexity, high-speed, RF/microwave, backplane systems, flex electronic subsystems, and components cost-effectively and defect-free for those markets. Our major product lines include backplanes, arrays, ruggedized military connectors (UHD, NAFI, and Viper), daughter cards, flex, rigid-flex and RF/microwave circuits. We have a 20-year history of performing design services, advanced assembly, and supporting application-specific special test requirements. We also have materials engineering and a reliability lab to support our customers' high-speed or ruggedized solutions.

Beaulieu: Being a marketing guy, I'm always interested in what makes a company stand out. What are you better at than anyone else?

Simonds: Where do I start?

Beaulieu: You're obviously very passionate about what you do!

Simonds: Absolutely. Let me take you through what we do and what we're good at. On the commercial side of our business, we are able to support customers who run backplanes at 25 Gb/s which is key. We collaborate with other Amphenol Connector divisions and material suppliers and have special drill, etch, and plating processes to reduce loss on PCBs. Our goal by the end of 2014 is to double the speeds we have currently.

On the military side, our applications, design and support have the ability to convert a military wire harness assembly to a flex or rigid assembly, and we collaborate with our sister divisions quickly.

Our process engineers also make this business special. They focus on process control as well as our technology roadmap which is focused on high-speed and ruggedized solutions for all product lines.For our advanced assembly, we have the largest SMT equipment in the world that supports large format assemblies. Other large format assembly automation includes our Pillerhouse selective soldering equipment and our selective coating equipment.

Beaulieu: In which markets do you compete?

Simonds: We're in all of the major markets including military, commercial aerospace, and commercial telecom.

Beaulieu: In terms of technology, where to you rate your company?

Simonds: Obviously, I’m biased, but I would rate it a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10--especially in the areas we're focused on.

Beaulieu: What technologies would you say are most needed in our market now and in the future?

Simonds: Higher speeds, lower loss, and high-temperature materials.

Beaulieu: Let’s talk about service. What do you consider good service?

Simonds: One example of good service would be having a customer articulate a footprint and need (let’s use speed for example) and having our team come back with a 10 Gb/s rigid-flex solution using our ruggedized Viper connector, design it, fab it, and assemble it to meet the customer's needs.

Beaulieu: What do you think customers are looking for when it comes to service?

Simonds: Our customers need on-time delivery and good quality. When there's an issue, customers want responsiveness and a quick resolution.

Beaulieu: To stay ahead of the rest of the industry a company like Amphenol has to invest in new, cutting-edge equipment. What investments have you have made in recent years?

Simonds: In the past five years we've brought ENIG, ENEPIG, X-ray, and via fill in house and upgraded a press to high-temp. We've invested in a high-technology drill machine and an automated, large-format screen printer, a plasma machine, and thermal chamber at our Nashua, New Hampshire facilities. We've expanded capital in our Nogales, Mexico assembly operation. We've increased our design software and added Mentor Expedition, expanded 3D modeling software and invested in large-format inspection equipment and CMM measurement equipment. 

Beaulieu: How does all that fit into your plans for the future?

Simonds: These investments help us do more in house which helps us be more cost-effective on larger panel sizes or support large-format applications, increased upfront support, and high-speed processes.

Beaulieu: How does it help your customers?

Simonds: Some of the investments support specific program needs for specific customers, but, at the same time, reduce costs. Our design focus, for example, helps our customers focus on the system level. Some of our designs convert wire harnesses to flex or rigid boards, which saves weight, space, and assembly time. Our connector knowledge and resources from sister divisions can also add a lot of value and save a lot of time on design conversions.

Beaulieu: Where does the company want to be in the next five years?

Simonds: We want to double our business.

Beaulieu: That’s very aggressive! How do you plan to do that?

Simonds: We are looking at increasing capabilities in terms of high temp, high speed, low loss, and high reliability--we feel that is a great and growing need in the future. We want to give our customers what they want by staying ahead of their technology needs. This will mean continuing to expand our resources in design and applications engineering. In terms of equipment, we're looking to make investments in automation equipment as well.

Beaulieu: Pam, thanks again for taking the time to talk with me today. Good luck in the future.

Simonds: Thank you. We’re always happy to talk about our company.

For more information on the company, visit www.amphenol-apcbt.com.

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