14 Jan 2004
Switches(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 01,2004)
Vol 1, 2004
Speakers & Microphones
Fung Yip Electrical Mfg Ltd uses high quality materials from the UK, such as silver, brass and other metals, to produce a huge range of switches
Quality is the watchword when it comes to the switch sector, where customers place a premium on reliability and only the largest manufacturers venture forth with their own designs.
Take, for example, K.T.E. Electrical Mfg Ltd, a 22-year-old manufacturer of pull chain switches for lighting and speed control as well as slide, rotary and rocker switches, whose in-house designs make up 10% of all output.
"We follow the major trends," says sales engineer Victor Siu, adding that quality is of greater importance to K.T.E. than design.
Even more important is ISO 9001 certification, which K.T.E. expects to receive by the end of the first quarter this year. "It's just common sense to have it," adds Siu.
The end of 2004 will also see a move from the existing 4,000-square-metre mainland factory in Shenzhen, which employs 300 workers and produces 4.5 million switches monthly, to a site four times the size in nearby Zhongshan.
The move was prompted by a desire to cut overheads, explains Siu. "Also, we will be closer to our mainland customer base," he adds. The new location will also ensure that K.T.E. will be able to maintain one of its main selling points - speedy delivery time. K.T.E.'s major markets in the US, Canada, Europe, Eastern Europe and South America can expect delivery within one week for a minimum order of 1,000 pieces.
Also planning to move its manufacturing site in an attempt to save on overhead costs is Kin Yip Electric Products Fty Ltd. "Our new factory will just be 15 minutes away from the existing one but already there is a big difference in customs taxes," says manager Angel Leung.
The new factory will be double the size of the current 20,000-square-metre plant in Shenzhen, which has a monthly production of 6-8 TEUs and supplies its main UK market with minimum orders of 1,000 units delivered within 3-4 weeks.
The move reflects the ongoing evolution of the 36-year-old company, which originally set out to manufacture a range of wall switches. "Variety is the most important criteria," says Leung.
Kin Yip began with conservative white models, but Leung notes that these models have dropped to 30% of production as newer, "cyber"styles have appeared.
"We tried creating our own designs but the results were not good," she admits, adding that quality assurance in the form of ISO 9000, the BSI Kitemark and ASTA Diamond Mark are more important to Kin Yip's customers.
Similarly committed to quality is 13-year-old Merchant Corp Ltd, which considers design a key factor but only from the point of view of safety. "We only offer AC switches, which are more dangerous than DC switches, so for us safety is an issue," says sales and marketing director Kenneth Tse, adding, "if your switch has a defect, your whole product is defective."
The switch and socket manufacturer, which began producing rocker switches, is dedicated to ensuring that every one of its products meets all major safety standards.
Merchant sends a sample of each new product to an independent safety agency for testing both during and upon completion of production and then, as a backup, checks the product again in its in-house lab.
The company, which produces five million pieces per month at its 9,000-square-metre, 700-employee mainland factory in Dongguan, obtained ISO 9001 certification in 2000.
Merchant also prides itself on its minimum order size, which, according to Tse, is "flexible" for major markets in the US, Europe and Asia and can be delivered in 2-4 weeks.
Super Electrical Ltd, on the other hand, has set its focus on design and the 15-year-old manufacturer of plugs, socket adaptors and extension sockets produces at least one new model every three months.
"We are trying to make the switches thinner," explains manager Wong Chi Cheong. Super Electrical's sockets also boast neon switches to help the less technologically-minded to identify its switches.
Safety is also a priority, as all products are tested at an in-house lab. Most of the 200,000 pieces produced every month at a 2,500-square-metre, 250-employee mainland plant in Dongguan also conform to BSI standards. "If buyers want a different standard, we can apply for it," adds Wong.
Super Electrical's main buyers stem from Singapore, Europe and the Middle East, but the company is always keen to find new markets further afield. "We are also looking to produce switches with buttons that are softer to the touch and as a result are safer," says Wong.
Which is good news for astute manufacturers around the world who are determined to offer consumers the best quality, safest switches for all kinds of electronic products.
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
Kin Yip Electric Products Fty Ltd
Flat A, 1/F, Phase 2
Kwun Tong Ind Centre
460-470 Kwun Tong Rd
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Super Electrical Ltd
No 6, 8/F
Wah Yiu Ind Bldg
30-32 Au Pui Wan St
Fo Tan, New Territories