WASP finds the ideal design and production mix between East and West

2nd February 2006
ES Admin

While some UK manufacturers are bemoaning the fact that a lot of manufacturing is heading East, Wessex Advanced Switching Products (WASP), the UK’s only resistive touch screen manufacturer, has found a way of using offshore manufacturing to its own benefit.

This followed a recent project where WASP did all of the development work on a specially designed touchscreen for a major car manufacturer, resulting in a successful pre-production prototype. However, when it came to quoting for the massive quantities required for full production, WASP knew that they wouldn’t be able to compete on price with the Far East.

Aware that remote manufacture is not always ideal and that sampling can take a long time and quality is sometimes an issue, WASP has invested in new equipment to cut both of these problems out of the equation without forgetting the real reason that customers go offshore in the first place - cost savings!

The south coast company’s most recent innovation is the installation of new equipment which enables them to provide tail insert technology prototyping on touch screens prior to offshore manufacturing.  Tails are generally used when higher production volumes are required to obtain the most competitive pricing. As a result, the screens have been manufactured in the Far East where ITO coated glass is readily available in high volumes.

The advantages of using an tail insert include reduced waste of expensive ITO coated materials and, since the tail is not cut from a complete sheet, standard tail lengths can be used to reduce costs even further. The screen itself benefits because only two layers are required resulting in improved visibility.

The addition of this new facility at their Emsworth manufacturing plant enables WASP to supply prototypes quickly and much more cost effectively then using a Far East supplier direct.  This means that the customer can see and test the finished product before it goes into production far quicker than he would by using a Far East manufacturer from the outset.

In addition to the speed with which this can be done, last minute design changes can be handled quickly and easily by WASP’s own design engineers. Then, when the customer is satisfied, the touch screen can be shipped to the manufacturer as a complete unit which can simply be copied without modification. WASP use HanTouch products from the Far East and are aware that a number of other distributors buy from the same manufacturer, so WASP’s plan is to offer this service to distributors who can then deal with the final order themselves.

Similarly, if the project only requires a handful of touchscreens, the prototyping service can be used as a manufacturing order for small runs.

WASP’s Sales Director, Derek Beecher said: “Whether we like it or not, low cost Far Eastern manufacturing facilities are here to stay, so what we have to do is adapt and use the best points of both markets to achieve what we want. We know that we can’t compete on price for large production runs, but we can certainly design and prototype better and faster than our competitors which means that manufacturers can go to test much quicker and then pass over the actual product that they want manufactured.

“Cost saving isn’t just about getting cheaper components, because if they don’t work, don’t fit or don’t arrive on time, where’s the saving? As the only European manufacturer of touch screens to offer tail insert technology, we also have Far Eastern partners who will take the original prototype design and use it immediately for their production runs. This gives the customer the flexibility to order prototypes in a shorter time scale and more cost effectively in the knowledge that production orders can be fulfilled quickly by our Far East partner at competitive prices.”

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