19 Aug 2004
Power Play(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 04,2004)
Vol 4, 2004
Manson Engineering Industrial Ltd
Manson Engineering Industrial Ltd's power electronic products meet major international safety, EMI and EMC directives and are exported worldwide
Necessity is the mother of invention and nobody knows it better than Manson Engineering Industrial Ltd, whose lack of an adaptor led the company to develop an entirely new product line.
"We wanted a universal adaptor to run a portable DVD player and we couldn't find one that met our expectations, so we decided to make our own," recalls Danny Chung, general manager of the 20-year-old power electronics specialist.
The adaptor (along with an AC/DC converter designed for powering light electronic items like laptop computers in cars or airplanes) is the company's first foray into consumer electronics.
This ability to shift with market needs is a hallmark of a company that started in 1983 with a staff of five making regulated power supplies for amateur radio operators and telephone analysers.
Two years later, in response to changing demand, Manson switched to power electronics. Today, the company operates a 20-strong Hong Kong office with three full-time engineers, a 200-worker, ISO 9001-certified factory in Dongguan and an R&D centre in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
Its power electronic products meet major international safety, EMI and EMC directives, and are found in factories, university laboratories, utilities and institutions such as police and emergency services around the world.
Geographically, its major markets are Europe (35%), Japan (30%), North America (20%) then the rest of the world (15%), with products sold either under the Manson brand or private labels.
The company's business strategy is diversification, says Chung, which involves developing consumer electronics and products for solar power systems, as well as enhancing its basic power supply products with new features. The car power adaptor, for example, is "selling comfortably around the world through importers", despite a price tag double that of its competitors.
"Our product offers stable voltage irrespective of the loading, has good safety features and the 11-30V DC voltage range means it can be used in cars or trucks," claims Chung.
The same growth opportunity is crying out in solar power, with governments in Australia and California offering subsidies for households that install solar panels and the World Bank providing funding for solar powered projects.
The newest solar power product, released in June 2004, is the Solar Compo Inverter - a combined inverter and PV charge controller that charges batteries or provides AC power to run TVs or even street lights. It took Manson two years to design, develop and test, and Chung believes it is the only one on the market at present.
Manson is also focusing 90% of its power supply R&D on switching mode technology - "it's lighter, more efficient and more cost effective while providing higher power" - and developing features that Manson believes will become industry norms.
These include remote control and remote sensing functions, improved PC interface capabilities "so that the power supply can be linked to the computer for data logging", and proprietary software like pre-setting for repetitive cycling testing of products.
"We will also be going into higher current power supply products," adds Chung. "Our 40-amp products are selling well but we believe there is a market for 60-amp power supplies that offer additional features."
The next hurdle is making its products and processes comply with new EU environmental directives such as Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), as well as similar legislation being considered by the Chinese mainland, California and Korea.
"It's our biggest headache because it means a drastic change in our components and processes," Chung admits. "It is going to take a lot of manpower, resources and investment, but we have to do it. Sooner or later the world will follow suit, so it's better to change sooner."
WRITTEN BY HELEN WONG
Manson Engineering Industrial Ltd