11 April 2007
Quality Service(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 02,2007)
Carven Circuits Ltd
|Carven Circuits Ltd has a reputation for high-quality printed circuit boards|
"We have always manufactured PCBs," states managing director Albert Mok. "We started with one- and two-layer boards, mostly for use in electronic games, and our development has since followed the demands of the electronics industry."
Carven is essentially an OEM provider. "Our pre-production engineering department is responsible for liaison and communication with customers to make sure the design is in line with our capabilities," says Mok. "We will not get into highly complex multilayer PCBs and will stick to our brief of bringing out the high-quality one- to eight-layer types that form our main market."
Carven also focuses on Polymer Thick Film (PTF), and uses this technology for light dimmers and automatic sensors that typically find use in the automotive industry as automatic memory and feedback units (often used for monitoring car seat positions and ergonomics).
"Although the automotive industry is generally much more demanding than, say, the telecommunications sector, it can be highly lucrative," Mok says. "PCBs for automobiles are often over-designed and over-engineered to avoid any breakdowns in modern vehicles that have very tough performance requirements."
On the marketing front, Carven will usually set up partnership-like relationships with its customers: "We adopt a forward-thinking policy and stay close to the customer," says Mok. "The aim is to provide a total solution whenever possible, and to demonstrate that we are not salesmen but engineers."
After-sales service is also an important factor. "This is a key to success, and a solid reason why we are so customer-orientated. Prompt deliveries, proactive and transparent communications plus total integrity have enabled us to smoothly move from a selling mentality to one of support and partnership with customers," Mok declares.
Carven also adopts a just-in-time supply and manufacturing policy. "This is easy to say but very difficult to coordinate," Mok laughs. "In practice, it takes a lot of careful planning and coordination. We have an electronic data interchange (EDI) system that allows us to adjust the production flow in keeping with demand and leave margins for change whereby we can speed things up or slow them down."
Mok notes that major changes and advances made over the years include the introduction of lead-free products and tighter controls. "RoHS compliance, for example, is especially required by buyers in Europe. There is also demand today for laminated boards for use at high temperatures."
On the environmental front, Carven devotes a lot of resources to health and safety issues through ISO 14001/OHSAS 18001-certified production methods. Indeed, the company gained recognition for its efforts with a PSCE Environmental Performance award (2000), and a Hong Kong Eco-Business Gold award for Best Environmental Reporting (2001).
"We accept that we have a responsibility and a role to play in not polluting the environment," says Mok. "Our mission statement includes the continual improvement of our environmental performance to either comply with or exceed any relevant environmental legislation, regulations and other criteria."
One example of how Carven conserves raw materials and energy is its adoption of the 4Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Replace. "Many buyers are also concerned as these factors could impact their own businesses," says Mok. "To reassure them, we incorporate environmental impact assessments as part of our ongoing business decisions - especially with regard to major projects and future developments."
Production takes place at Carven's one-million-square-foot, 1,200-worker factory in Wuxi in Jiangsu Province on the Chinese mainland, and at the firm's 60,000-square-foot multi-storey factory in Hong Kong that employs up to 200 workers. The raw materials used are FR-4 and CEM-3 laminates.
The Wuxi plant makes one- to eight-layer PCBs and has a monthly production capacity of 10,000 square metres of single-sided boards and 50,000 square metres of double-sided boards. The monthly capacity at the Hong Kong plant is 5,000 square metres of single-sided boards and 25,000 square metres of double-sided versions. The minimum order value is US$2,000.
In 2006, the firm's business was centred 55% on the automotive sector, 30% in various industrial applications and 15% in telecommunications. Major markets were the US (55%), Europe (30%), Asia (5%) and elsewhere 10%.
Clearly, Carven has etched out for itself an attractive, challenging market niche and looks set to continue its success story.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON
Carven Circuits Ltd