Meridian tech expands automation capabilities

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003

ELMONT, N.Y. - With a newly automated system, Meridian Technologies, manufacturer of fiber optic communication systems, has nearly quadrupled its surface mount circuit board manufacturing production capability, and cut product manufacturing turn-around time in half.

The new system manufactures signal conditioning cards which alter data, audio and video signals, allowing them to be transmitted over fiber optic systems. With the new system, output has jumped to 18,000 components an hour from 5,000, according to Manny Patel, Meridian’s chief operating officer.

“We felt the need to increase productivity,” he said. “It was the right thing for us to do.”

The company experienced growth in sales of about 25 to 30 percent over last year, said Ed Miskovic, vice president of sales. Miskovic attributed the increased sales to a recovering tech market, a growing security market and Meri-dian’s renewed emphasis on sales and marketing. Meridian markets its products to security and fiber optic equipment manufacturers.

The new production system allows greater flexibility in catering to differing needs with a quicker turn-around time. The turn-around time has dropped to one to two weeks from four weeks, Patel said.

“We are extremely pleased to have this new manufacturing line within Meridian. It will yield a more reliable card assembly, increase performance repeatability and reliability, resulting in a better product for our customers,” he said.

Using the new line, workers load components and circuit boards into carriers and the computer lays down the components and solders them.

No human intervention or handling is required until the product comes out for the final test and inspection.

“The idea behind it is to keep the repeatability of the build process up,” Miskovic said. There is less of a human inconsistency factor.

“With people, parts are better at the beginning of the week than the end,” Patel explained. “Computers don’t know Monday morning from Friday afternoon,” he said.

The new production line has been in place for about five weeks and, except for some down time while the switch was made to the new system from the old, things are running smoothly and on schedule, according to Patel.

“I am very satisfied,” he said. “It went exactly on schedule.”

Meridian produces a wide variety of both FM and digital circuit board assemblies, and the company hopes to add additional products in about six months, Patel said.