Electronic Design

Design Lab Integrates Factory Elements To Speed Power-Supply Prototyping, Production

Power-supply manufacturers are feeling the heat from OEMs that need custom units delivered quickly. First, they're pressured to rapidly deliver prototype supplies so customers can complete the design and verification work on their products. Once the prototypes have been accepted, they must ramp up production lines to swiftly produce beta units.

Unfortunately, shifting from building prototypes to building production units is not a trivial step. That's because the methods and equipment used to build working samples in the engineering lab may be very different from the techniques and equipment used to build units in the factory. Moreover, the design and production environments are typically far away from one another. As a result, it may take two to three months to set up a production line.

Power-supply vendor Lambda of San Diego, Calif., intends to cut this lead time dramatically by changing the way it builds prototype units in its recently opened Design Verification Lab (DVL). Lambda's DVL duplicates the factory setting on a smaller scale by using similar equipment and processes for building prototypes. Later, this setting will be used to build production units. While design engineers are working out the electrical and mechanical details, they're creating production-ready bills of materials and assembly procedures. This approach should make the transition from design lab to factory almost seamless. Naturally, it's meant to give Lambda a competitive advantage on delivery.

According to Greg Laufman, business development manager at Lambda, the lead time from approval of the power-supply design until the initial delivery of units is critical to many customers. "In the past, industry lead times have run to 10 weeks or more depending on the complexity of the design." Yet with the DVL approach, Lambda can significantly reduce this delay.

Small Runs Turned Out Quickly
Sean M. Delehanty, manufacturing liaison at Lambda, says, "Depending on material availability, we can turn out smaller-volume production units almost immediately" once the customer has accepted the design (see the figure).

Based on the numbers involved, beta quantities may be built on the DVL line or in Lambda's offshore factory. Also, the DVL lets the company accept smaller orders that it couldn't support in the past. For example, a customer may want to order just a few hundred pieces every few months. These orders could be produced using the DVL line.

For more information, contact Michael Wagner, director of marketing, at [email protected] or (619) 575-4400. Or, visit the company's Web site at www.lambdapower.com.

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