Sunday, August 19, 2018
Home/Current Issue >  Electronic Mfg. Services > 

Making it All Come Together at UEI
One of UEI's two high-tech facilities in the Upper Midwest.

Universal Electronics, Inc. (UEI) has been serving the electronics contract manufacturing market since 1980 and is well known for its focus on customer intimacy. UEI serves multiple industries including Medical, Industrial-Commercial, Security/Defense, and Communications markets. The company's approach and commitment to quality has earned it long-standing client relationships that span several decades.

UEI continues to make capital and IT investments and add talent to serve its core markets better, and more cost-effectively. According to Rick Jensen, UEI's executive vice president, "We have come out of the last economic downturn stronger than ever. Over the last two years we have increased our capacity by adding two new surface mount lines, invested in our IT infrastructure to strengthen our operations and supply chain, expanded our manufacturing footprint by opening a new facility in East Troy, Wisconsin, and added numerous employees at many levels."

With the addition of the new plant in East Troy, UEI's manufacturing footprint is now close to 130,000 square feet and includes seven full SMT lines and a focus factory approach to full assemblies. "We have listened to our customers' needs and designed a team and manufacturing philosophy that can grow with them," says Jensen.

Rapid Response
UEI's Whitewater, WI, facility carries ISO9001-2008, ISO13485-2003, and ITAR certifications, and its East Troy location carries ISO9001-2008 and ITAR certifications. Both offer flexible engagement models and fast time-to-market strategies for low-to-moderate volumes in the US.

The company employs approximately 300 people and is strategically located to serve many regions and industries as a full-service provider of electronics manufacturing:

  • Complex PCBs through Complete HLAs.
  • New Product Introduction (NPI) Strategies.
  • High Mix, Low-Mid Volume Manufacturing Expertise.
  • Design Engineering Services (DFT, DFM).
  • Approved For Medical Devices, Class I, II, and III.
  • Conformal Coating and Potting.
  • Repair Depot Services.
  • Product fulfillment and distribution services.
  • Registrations: ISO9001-2008, ISO13485:2003.
  • Recognized manufacturer: UL, CUL, CSA and CE.
  • FDA 21 CFR 820 compliant documentation systems and processes to ensure regulatory compliance.
  • IPC-A-610D Class I, II and III.

"By specializing in quick turn prototyping and ramp to volume strategies for complex printed circuit boards, sub-assemblies and full assemblies, UEI can accommodate the most demanding go-to-market requirements," says Ray Cottrell, vice president, sales and marketing. "UEI has dedicated resources focused on NPI, and operates within a very flexible and focused manufacturing environment driven by experienced program managers."

Supply Chain Management
UEI has been aggressive adding managerial staff and talent that provides proactive feedback and updates on the supply chain challenges for its clients. UEI currently procures over 18,000 different part numbers from over 300 global suppliers. The company has experience executing short lead times whether drawing from an oversupplied market as well as from a scarcity or allocation market. The company has real-time processes in place with many vendors that handle communication of demand, issuance of purchase orders and requests for quote. These processes allow for flexibility while providing reduced lead times and improved total costs. "We specialize in supply chain transition management and offer many solutions to minimize any lead time or financial impact of moving a supply chain to UEI. We provide support and leadership of the supply chain through all of a product's phases," said Steve Kildow, vice president of materials and customer service.

  • NPI or proto phase: quick lead time, minimal excess, and help with proof of concept.
  • Pilot phase: production-ready parts, engagement of suppliers on supply chain models, and contract negotiation.
  • Production phase: execution, flexibility, lead time and cost reduction.
  • End-of-life phase: minimize excess, provide smooth product transition, work alternate parts and manage lifetime buys.
  • Reverse logistics/service phase: use of historical data to predict future needs that will minimize lead times and downtime for customers.

Expert Program Management
Each program is assigned a Customer Service Representative (CSR) as its main point of contact. Each UEI CSR has dozens of years of proven program experience and a strong knowledge of electronics manufacturing. Each program is then assigned resources to support the CSR, including Project Engineer, Process Engineer, and Test Engineer. This allows for tight control of all costs and ensures that delivery deadlines are met.

Engineering for Test
UEI test engineering helps clients to better understand their testing needs, and provides the most cost-effective solution for the desired test coverage. The company's test engineers can start from the design specification for a client's product and develop a complete test solution, or can implement the client's existing test protocol.

"UEI has developed test strategies for a wide range of products, giving our engineers extensive experience that is used to develop tests for your product," said Roger Blazel, vice president of engineering. "Test development can occur in parallel with your product development team, or during product startup. We can suggest changes to your product to help test it more completely, faster, and at less cost."

The UEI Test Engineering group includes:

  • Design for testability (DFT).
  • In-circuit test on an Agilent Medalist i3070.
  • Automated functional test using rack and stack equipment.
  • Automated functional test using embedded processor technology in standalone test fixtures.
  • Test data logging and data retention that complies with your regulatory requirements.
  • Bench testing using traditional test equipment, and simple test fixtures.

In addition to UEI's test fixture design and construction services, the company provides high quality maintenance, repair, and upgrading of any customer test fixtures, and test procedures.

UEI also provides comprehensive Project Engineering services. The Project Engineer — as the technical member of the customer focus team — leads the product realization team and is responsible for all technical aspects of a project, including:

  • New product introductions.
  • Detailed BOM analysis to ensure proper component usage.
  • Product change analysis and implementation.
  • Project document control.
  • Product cost reduction initiatives.
  • Ensure all customer requirements are met during the manufacturing process.

Project Engineering is available to assist the customer with everything from initial design to final product packaging. According to Cottrell, the goal at UEI is to produce the most cost-effective product by getting involved with each customer early in the design stage to help provide input to the design for improved quality, ease of manufacture and effective testability.

Automation and Process Engineering provide process development and production support. Through involvement during the entire assembly process, the engineering staff generates assembly documentation and tooling for each process step, and conducts pre-assembly and post-assembly product reviews with the production group, to assure all customer requirements are thoroughly met:

  • Product manufacturability review and risk analysis using DFM guidelines with feedback.
  • PCB panelization for optimized process flow.
  • CAD/CAM software generated SMT machine programming and documented process controls.
  • Automated Optical Inspection.
  • X-ray inspection supported process development.
  • Continuous process flow.
  • Custom assembly fixtures.
  • Data supported process improvements.

"UEI is fast and responsive in today's challenging environment and is ready to tackle the most demanding schedules," said Jensen. "We anticipate additional expansion in the next several years and look forward to continued success serving our growing customer base."

Contact: Universal Electronics, Inc., 640 North Prospect Drive, Whitewater, WI 53190 262-458-1000 fax: 262-458-1010 E-mail: Web:

search login