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Count On Tools: Focusing on the Customer
Custom and replacement nozzles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Count On Tools is an important manufacturer of high-quality, low-cost pick-and-place nozzles and associated components for the SMT and electronics manufacturing industries. It also happens to do some specialized contract manufacturing among its many offerings to EMS providers and OEMs. Proven engineering expertise, coupled with the company's commitment to manufacturing excellence and investment in the latest production equipment, ensures that innovation and competitiveness is applied to all of its extensive product range. This year the company celebrates 20 years in business.

Like many of today's successful electronics businesses, Count On Tools' founder, Curt Couch started a spare-time business not in his garage, but in a work shed behind his house. In 1991, he became a U.S. distributor of PB Swiss Tools, formerly known as PB Baumann Hand Tools. This business led to his further research in the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) and electronics manufacturing industry.

Discarded Tooling
In 1993, after taking a leave from Mitsubishi for the birth of his second son, Mr. Couch stumbled upon a new idea. He noticed that the SMT engineers were throwing away a significant amount of tooling that was used in the SMT equipment. He wondered why these nozzles could not be reworked and refinished to extend their life and provide cost savings to the manufacturer. From that idea, Count On Tools grew to become a reality.
Production floor where custom nozzles are created.


Mr. Couch started repairing Panasonic nozzles in a shed in his backyard. His first major customers were Apple Computer, Motorola and IBM. This was the era when there was only once source for nozzles — the OEM. His next major development came when customers started making requests for custom tooling and nozzles for their equipment to accommodate odd-form components. This became a trademark service that would carry Count On Tools to much higher levels.

Better than OEM
As business picked up and more companies began soliciting his services, Mr. Couch decided to expand his operations from reworked and custom tooling to offer new tooling that could perform better than the OEM originals. Using his knowledge of the SMT equipment and its inner workings, Mr. Couch was able to not only replicate nozzles but improve their design to the point where each customer was afforded significant cost savings. In 1998, the company moved into a new location in Gainesville, GA and purchased its first CNC Swiss Lathe to produce new nozzles.

Mr. Couch has always adhered to the "keep it simple" philosophy. His attitude for approaching new and existing concepts and ideas is to keep an open mind. Because of this attitude/culture, the entire Count On Tools team is able to apply ideas and proven concepts across the board when it comes to picking and placing anything with vacuum.

In his opinion, all industries are connected and parallel to one another; each needs the other to sustain itself, so useful ideas can come from other industries and experiences. Count On Tools frequently intermingles and uses materials and basic vacuum geometries that are used in high-volume placement platforms for customers with low-volume, high-mix applications. The use of many different materials, coatings, tooling, fixtures and machining components in other industries has taught the company that to apply these same principles to all of the products that it designs and manufactures for customers in the SMT market sector.

For Mr. Couch, customer service is number one regardless of anything else. He believes in treating people and customers the way that he wants to be treated. No customer or problem is too small or big to receive the attention he/she/it deserves. This type of service is very important in this industry. It could mean the difference between encountering enormous downtime cost or long-term savings. In some cases, the company can design, build and ship a custom vacuum nozzle to place an exotic or odd-shaped component in as little as one day. The use of these and many services offered can reduce customer labor costs and, more importantly, improve end product reliability and market success and profit.

Count On Tools' business has continued to grow over the past decade, allowing the company to develop new products and expand its services. Each new accomplishment means that the next customer will benefit from the never-ending source of information and new ideas. What works for one will work for another, regardless of OEM or platform type.

New Equipment Added
In 2005, the company moved into its present facility, three times the size of its previous site. New equipment was purchased to enable the company to keep up with the demand for nozzles. During this time, Count On Tools expanded its operations to accommodate requests for contract manufacturing services of precision components in a variety of industries, such as optical, packaging and defense and armament.

Today, the company continues to offer the original rework services as well as its custom tooling and nozzle design services and new nozzle offerings. Each year, it produces thousands of custom nozzle designs for an array of components, from LEDs to connectors and switches.

When asked what was most important about custom tooling products, Mr. Couch said, "We don't just sell nozzles, we offer solutions that allow our customers to place any odd-form component without having to invest in new specialized equipment or to resort to hand assembly. Our goal is to optimize efficiency and save our customers money by maximizing the capabilities of the SMT equipment that they already use for production." Count On Tools has thus made itself into a worldwide source of replacement nozzles and associated consumables for the electronics manufacturing industry.

Contact: Count On Tools, Inc. 2481 Hilton Drive, Suite 3, Gainesville, GA 30501 770-538-0411 fax: 770-538-0417 E-mail: zshook@cotinc.com Web:
http://www.cotinc.com

 
 
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