21 Jan 2008
Top Connections(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 01,2008)
|Sing Fai Electric Co offers a large selection of switches including (clockwise from top left) slide, micro, rotary, rocker and push button models|
They are as ubiquitous as they are reliable, and switches are now as much a part of daily life as shoes and socks, and available in just as many varieties
Switches play important roles in the control of everyday products such as hairdryers, lawnmowers, torches, massagers, power tools, computers and medical equipment.
While the production of switches remains highly competitive, Hong Kong manufacturers stay ahead of the competition by producing varieties with increased functions, reliability and higher quality coupled to a willingness to meet diverse needs.
One such player is Sing Fai Electric Co, a leader in the industry with some 15 years' experience manufacturing high- quality products and one of only a handful of Hong Kong manufacturers that produce AC switches.
"The reason there are only a few manufacturers of AC switches in Hong Kong is that their production requires more investment and R&D to ensure they meet international or country-specific safety standards," explains Marketing Manager Joey Lam, adding that the firm also makes DC switches.
The company's range of switches includes slide, rocker, pushbutton, rotary and micro models priced from HK$0.80-3.00 each FOB Hong Kong.
"Our switches are used in a multitude of products and the switch type is dependent on the product's operating mechanism," says Mr Lam. "For example, our slide and rocker switches are often used in hairdryers and our micro switches are used with power tools and lawnmowers."
Based on meetings with key clients, the company develops 8-10 new switches each year. "Customers will ask for switches for new products or with specific functionalities and we can design to meet their needs," says Mr Lam, adding that a current development trend in the industry is to design switches that are smaller but with higher power ratings to facilitate multifunctional use.
"We are not restricted to traditional OEM terms and can, therefore, develop switches that are sold to more than one client," he adds. "Many of our customers are manufacturers of branded products that are eventually sold in large retail outlets and department stores."
Sing Fai, which is ISO 9001-certified, ensures all of its switches comply with the necessary safety and approval standards. "We are also RoHS-compliant," says Mr Lam, adding that switches are available in various specifications and designs to meet worldwide standards and market needs.
Merchant Corp Ltd also specialises in AC switches, which are mainly used in home appliances and electrical products. Its range includes the most widely-used switches: rocker, rotary, push, micro and slide.
"Apart from different standards and tolerances, there is also a design element in that certain buyers want a particular type of switch for their product," notes Assistant Marketing Manager Yoki Ho.
"In addition to fulfilling those requirements with our standard range, we also work with customers on tailor-made products. In this business it is essential to be flexible and to provide reliable products suitable for customers' applications," she adds, stating that prices depend on the quantity ordered and variety of switches.
The company introduces several new switches each year. "There is a trend towards design customisation, increased colour options, greater durability and longer lifetimes," Ms Ho says.
"We are also eager to develop new projects and to find solutions together with customers," she adds. "We are RoHS-compliant and ISO 9001-certified, while we also obtained ISO 14000 certification this year because, apart from industrial manufacturing and production, we emphasise the importance of environmental issues."
Well Sound Trading Co Ltd specialises in DC switches. "Our switches are used in all kinds of DC-powered products including MP3 and DVD players, radios, MPEG players, computer accessories and mobile phones," says Director Keith Lam.
The company also makes push, mini-slide, slide, leaf and detector switches. "Switch dimensions are getting smaller all the time," he points out, "while the number of functions is increasing."
He adds that a popular choice is the tact switch. "The tact switch is useful in the DC electronics area. It contains a metal dome that allows for a smaller design, which is why it is used in some electronic products with very small dimensions."
Accordingly, a switch manufacturer must take many things into consideration when developing its lines. "For example," says Mr Lam, "the melting temperature range of any plastic material, the life cycle of the metal dome, the tensile strength of the metal and plastic parts and the assembly procedures."
He says that other trends in DC switches include better water-resistant models, and dual function designs that are exclusively used in sound and heat applications.
According to Mr Lam, actively solving customer problems by producing high- quality switches that stay abreast of trends and technology advancements is one reason that the company is successful.
On this basis, switching to Hong Kong manufacturers clearly results in better goods and services.
TEXT BY VICKI WILLIAMS
Year Established: 1978
Dragon City Industries Ltd
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