Computerized Manufacturing

Computerized manufacturing refers to the dynamic future of computer aided design and manufacturing. Often referred to as CNC, computerized manufacturing and machining plays a vital role in the evolving world of modern manufacturing. But what is CNC, exactly? How does it play a role in the manufacturing industry, and what do CNC machinists do? How can you find the right CNC machinists who have taken the time to gain job ready skills fit for the world of CNC machining today?

What is Computer Integrated Manufacturing?

CNC or Computer Numerical Control machines are automated machines operated by computers executing a pre-written program. Today’s modern CNC machines help to replace the need for workers dealing directly with dangerous equipment by manufacturing a system that understands computer code, which can be written to produce precise measurements for production, like feed rate, speed, location, and coordination.

Computer Aided Drafting Techniques

Computer-aided design and drafting systems have increased design and drafting productivity. This aspect of computerized manufacturing takes work that is traditionally done by manual drawings using pencil or ink and upgrades it to a sophisticated software.

Computer Aided Process Planning

Computer-aided process planning, or CAPP, involves using computer technology for designing physical products. It goes along with things like computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing such as CNC mentioned above, but computer-aided process planning focuses on industrial processes.

Finding the Right Operators

In order to be competent and gain knowledge about CNC technologies, machinists must first be students willing to complete two years of quality education in the field. CNC machinists require additional information and skills compared to manual machine operators, and a proficiency should be established before hiring.

CNC Machining with BF&S

At BF&S, we offer a turn-key solution to supply quality manufacturing products, like CNC machining and much more, to our customers.

BF&S’ shelter services allow our clients to have full control of their quality and production, benefiting from our experience and knowledge of the local market, and eliminating the need to make sizable investments in physical and human assets.

BF&S performs the tasks and functions that are not core to the manufacturing process, thus allowing our clients to focus on those areas that affect profitability and growth.

To learn more, please continue exploring our website.

Printed Circuit Board Tape

What is a Printed Circuit Board?

printed circuit board

Printed circuit boards, abbreviated as PCBs, are the foundational building block for most electronics manufacturing.  A high-density, high-speed circuit board may be used in supercomputers and servers. Printed circuit boards are the foundation on which all other electronic products are assembled.

PCBs have mechanical and electrical components that make them ideal for electronic applications.  Most PCBs manufactured are rigid, but some PCBs are flexible, allowing the circuits to be bent and folded into shape without any break in the circuits.  These flexible PCBs comprise roughly 10% of the market. 

A small subset of these types of circuits is called rigid-flex circuits, where one part of the board is rigid and one or more parts are flexible, providing the advantages of flexible circuits listed above.

What are PCBs made of?

printed circuit board

Typically, PCBs are made from non-substrate materials with layers of copper circuitry. PCBs can be single-sided (one copper layer), double-sided (two copper layers on both sides of one substrate layer), or multi-layer (outer and inner layers of copper, alternating with layers of the substrate). A multi-layer PCB allows for much higher component density because circuit traces on the inner layers would otherwise take up surface space between components.

PCBs are also typically comprised of bonding and protective elements, such as rubber adhesive, polyimide film, polyester film, or blended silicone to help the board withstand high temperature and a variety of other stressors.

The rise in popularity of multilayer PCBs with more than two, and especially with more than four, copper planes was concurrent with the adoption of surface mount technology. However, having a multilayer printed circuit board makes the repair, analysis, and field modification of circuits much more difficult and often impractical.

Wave Soldering Process

Wave soldering is a bulk soldering process used for the manufacturing of printed circuit boards. The circuit board is passed over a pan of high temperature, molten solder in which a pump produces an upwelling of solder that looks like a standing wave. As the circuit board makes contact with this wave, the components become soldered to the board.

Wave soldering is used for both through-hole printed circuit assemblies and surface mounts. In the latter case, the components are glued onto the surface of a printed circuit board by placement equipment, before being run through high-temperature applications like the molten solder wave. Wave soldering is mainly used in the soldering of through-hole components.

As through-hole components have been largely replaced by surface mount components, wave soldering has been supplanted by reflow soldering methods in many large-scale electronics applications. However, there is still significant wave soldering where surface-mount technology is unavailable or not suitable, such as with the assembly of large power devices.

Why Mask a Printed Circuit Board?

Printed circuit boards have connectors, test sites, and pins where electrical continuity needs to be maintained, which means conformal coating can not be applied to those specific points.  There are also other points of a board that needs to be masked, such as unsealed components (like relays or open inductors), through holes, and even LED surfaces where light output may be impacted by the coating.

Masking tape for a Printed Circuit Board

printed circuit board lab

Low-ESD Polyimide Tape

The ideal tape for masking printed circuit boards is the low ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) polyimide tape. The low ESD function reduces the discharge of electroplating static upon the tape’s removal. Low ESD polyimide also adheres strongly without leaving behind residue on the gold fingers or other components of the circuit board.

Crepe Masking Tape

Another great option for printed circuit board tape is crepe masking tape. It has the lowest price and less risk of static damage compared to polyester tapes. The drawback to this option is that it’s not as flexible as polyimide, so won’t conform as well. An additional benefit of crepe tape is that it uses a rubber-based adhesive instead of silicone, helping reduce the rise of silicone residue remaining on the board.

Polyimide Tapes

Another very popular and effective choice for masking printed circuit boards is standard polyimide tape. Polyimide tape is flexible, doesn’t leave behind any residue, has very high-heat resistance, and comes in a variety of different sizes. 

PCB Masking with BF&S

printed circuit board manufacturing

End your search for PCB masking with BF&S. BF&S services the Aerospace, Medical, Military, and Industrial fields with the manufacturing process and parts they need with an unmatched standard of quality and reliability.

Founded in 1988, BF&S has decades of experience manufacturing in Mexico, with over 500 employees in the state of Sonora. Our warehousing and corporate offices are located in Douglas and we are incorporated in the state of Arizona. The BF&S executive team was born and raised in the United States and runs our organization with U.S management standards and practices.

Learn more by continuing to explore our website.

Nearshore Manufacturing

What is Nearshore vs Offshore Manufacturing?

You may be familiar with “offshore” manufacturing as a way to reduce production costs, but, for many manufacturers, that has started to change. More manufacturing operations are now considering “nearshore” manufacturing as a way to balance both labor and operational cost savings. 

What is Nearshoring?

nearshore manufacturing

So, what is nearshoring? Nearshore manufacturing is defined as moving production of a good to a nearby country where labor costs may be lower. That other country may share a border or time zone with the home office as opposed to far off foreign companies, boosting collaboration, reducing freight costs, and at times leading to lower labor costs.  

Unlike outsourcing, nearshoring implies that the new manufacturing site is a strategic partner, rather than a subcontracted team working to a level of quality it decides is adequate. 

Benefits of Nearshore Manufacturing Operations

Supply Chain Stability

supply chain stability

Working with foreign manufacturers in asian countries or on the other side of the world could mean a 12-hour delay in response time and production changes. This level of improved time management that can drive greater project efficiency for your manufacturing business.

Nearshore manufacturing bolsters a company’s ability to regularly visit new operations, audit new processes, or send experienced managers in to train supervisors.

The cost of sending managers from the U.S. to Mexico, for example, is much more affordable than flying to Asia or India.

Cultural Differences

Operating in a foreign country may require employers to gain an understanding of local expectations and cultural norms.

Differences in culture tend to be less of an issue when operating closer in proximity to the home office, where customs may be more familiar. This edge matters, as communication challenges can lead to production problems, slower acquisition of raw materials, and differences in free trade agreements.

Labor Costs

Wages and currencies have been fluctuating massively for offshore manufacturing in China and other relatively low-labor-cost countries.

labor costs

For many products, the base price of those sourced in low-labor-cost countries will almost always be lower than the price for the same product manufactured in higher-labor-cost locations.

However, when companies focus only on price and labor, they downgrade all other priorities. When considering the total cost-benefit analysis (saving on transportation, shipping, smoother production, and more), moving manufacturing closer to the end customer usually proves to be the wiser, most cost-effective choice.

Growth of Manufacturing through Greater Proximity

With the convenient proximity of working in a neighboring country, small and medium manufacturers can gain the edge they need to open to new markets and grow financially while staying close to their clients.

The potential for overall operational cost savings increases when working with a strategic partner that can help with a site selection and talent recruitment plan, armed with local insight and cultural understanding, to maximize your chances of success. 

Why Choose Manufacturing in Mexico?

mexico manufacturing

Not only does Mexico meet the benefits listed above, it also offers a high level of quality in the manufacture of complex products. 

Manufacturing in Mexico meets the excellence needed for complex production ranging from aerospace components to medical devices and automobiles.

That skill comes in part through investment from federal and state governments and corporate partners in specialized training programs dedicated to manufacturing job growth.  

USMCA

After several years of discussion and negotiation, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) officially replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on July 1, 2020. The new free trade agreement brings changes for companies already operating in Mexico as well as those considering manufacturing in Mexico for its nearshoring benefits. 

USMCA brings dramatic adjustments to supply chains and broadens requirements for documentation. USMCA carries great potential for strengthening trade between Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

While the new agreement does not benefit countries in Central America, such as Costa Rica, moving Manufacturing to Mexico for those in Mexico’s proximity allows for greater advantages under the new USMCA agreement.

BF&S Shelter Company

BF&S’ shelter services allow our clients to have full control of their quality and production, benefiting from our experience and knowledge of the local market, and eliminating the need to make sizable investments in physical and human assets.

Our customers are able to initiate operations quickly without actually establishing a legal presence in Mexico. BF&S “shelter” our customers from many risks and liabilities. BF&S performs the tasks and functions that are not core to the manufacturing process, thus allowing our clients to focus on those areas that affect the profitability and growth.

Learn more by continuing to explore our website.

Fiber Optic Polishing

The fiber optic polishing process removes any excess epoxy or fiber stub left after cleaving, shapes the ferrule, and removes scratches in the glass, enabling an end finish that passes optical signals with minimum loss. It affects two types of optical loss: insertion loss and return loss.

Insertion Loss

fiber optic cable

Insertion loss is the amount of energy that a signal loses as it travels along with a cable link. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs for any type of transmission, whether it’s electricity or data.

Pre-polished connectors offer a quick and reliable alternative to unpolished connectors for horizontal and backbone termination applications. With good installation practices and attention to detail, installers can expect high termination yields and low insertion loss values.

Return Loss

Return loss is a measure of reflected light. Whenever light encounters a change in the refractive index of the material through which it is propagating, a portion of the light is reflected back toward the optical fibers.

Some of this reflected light can interfere with the proper operation of light sources, especially lasers. Because of its small core size, a single-mode fiber connection requires a high return loss to limit the amount of reflected energy.

Polishing surface area removes any excess epoxy or fiber stub from the fiber connector left after cleaving, shapes the ferrule, and removes scratches in the glass, enabling an end finish that passes optical signals with minimum return loss.

Fiber Optic Connectors

Most fiber optic connectors are plugs or so-called male connectors with a protruding ferrule that holds the fibers and aligns fibers for mating. They use a mating adapter to mate the two connector ferrules that fits the securing mechanism of the connectors (bayonet, screw-on, or snap-in.) The ferrule design is also useful as it can be used to connect directly to active devices like LEDs, VCSELs, and detectors.

Polishing Process

Fiber Optic Polishing

Polishing the fiber/ferrule end faces of a fiber-optic connector critically influences optical performance and is highly susceptible to error. Yet the polishing process is neither difficult nor mysterious. Other steps in the connector termination procedure, such as crimping, involve mechanically securing the fiber in the connector.

As the final step, polishing machines prepare the fiber optically to ensure that defects and nonuniformities in the fiber/ferrule end faces or geometry do not degrade the passage of light across the connector joint.

Singlemode Polishing

Singlemode fiber polishing is a multistage process that begins with a quick, coarse polish and ends with a final polish in a slurry. Different polishing materials are involved in each step. In most cases, a single mode fiber connector uses epoxy to hold the fiber within the ferrule. A six-step process ensures the proper techniques for polishing a single-mode fiber-optic connector.

Step one:

The first step consists of a quick hand polish with medium pressure applied using a coarse polishing film. This step removes the fiber stub and levels the protruding material (including a glass plate or epoxy) close to the ferrule.

Step two:

The second step requires a 5-micron aluminum-oxide film. Hand-applying the lapping film gently across the four corners of the fiber end face removes the epoxy down flush with a ceramic ferrule. However, this action could remove some ceramic material as well.

Step three:

In the third step, a medium-grit diamond film is used to begin shaping the fiber/ferrule end faces. Unlike aluminum oxide, the diamond film treats ceramic and glass materials similarly. This shaping minimizes undercut so that the fiber recedes only slightly into the ferrule. Because the main purpose of this step is shaping, it usually leaves visible scratches on the fiber end face.

Step four:
fiber optic cable

To remove scratches and achieve a smooth surface, a fine-grit diamond film is used next in step four. In terms of insertion loss, the finish should be acceptable at this point.

However, to obtain a high-return loss of at least -45 dB, we strongly recommend a fifth or finish step because of the altered-index layer on the fiber connectors.

During abrasive polishing, a small layer on the end of the fiber pads become altered so that its refractive index changes. This change increases reflections, producing a lower return loss, and the fifth step of the slurry polishing film is needed to remove the altered layer.

Step five:

The fifth step uses a special polishing film, which contains a top layer of the polishing slurry. Typically used while being suspended in distilled water, the slurry has both a lubricating and chemical effect on the fiber during hand application to change the refractive index back to its original value.

Step six:

The last step involves inspection. The use of a hand microscope determines polishing acceptance or nonacceptance.

Rubber Polishing Pad

Rubber pads play a critical role in polish results and are often overlooked.

Having a consistent hardness across the surface of the rubber pad is necessary for producing consistent polishing results. Rubber hardness will change over time, so rubber pads always need to be replaced periodically (annually, at minimum).

When your radius values are under control, another key geometry parameter is your Apex. This reflects the angle of the polished end-face.

If the Apex values are too large, this means your ferrules are being polished at an angle that is too large. All other conditions being equal, a smaller Radius value will generally result in a better Apex value.

If you’re already dialed in on desired Radius values and the Apex values remain unacceptable, the cause is likely related to worn polishing fixtures or worn rubber pads. In both cases, the only fix is to replace the worn fixture or rubber pad.

Fiber Optic Polishing with BF&S

Fiber optic Polishing process

Get fiber optic polishing and assemblies through BF&S. BF&S offers a turn-key solution and is currently supplying fiber optic polishing and assemblies to our clients. Clients may be required to supply MI, prints, special equipment.

Founded in 1988, BF&S has decades of experience manufacturing in Mexico, with over 500 employees in the state of Sonora.

Our warehousing and corporate offices are located in Douglas and we are incorporated in the state of Arizona.

The BF&S executive team was born and raised in the United States and runs our organization with U.S management standards and practices.

Learn more by continuing to explore our website.

Where is Aerospace Manufacturing Located?

The Aerospace Industry Cluster provides employment in a variety of operations from aircraft manufacturing, commercial airline travel, air cargo, and private and charter flights, to maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facilities.

With nearly 490,000 people in the U.S. engaged in the Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing process, this is the largest employment sector of the cluster representing 42% of the total 1.16 million U.S. aerospace workforce. 

Commercial Aerospace in Mexico

aerospace manufacturing

The aircraft industry and commercial aerospace industry in Mexico are some of the three largest industries manufacturing in Mexico today. The Mexico aerospace suppliers and aviation industry has proven to be a lucrative investment for economic development in Mexico and its manufacturing base, exceeding $3 billion annually within the last few years.

Over the next 5 years, that number will continue to grow, while simultaneously creating 35,000 jobs in Mexico, further aiding in economic development. 200 aerospace companies in Mexico currently manufacture aircraft components for commercial aviation, small business, and civilian use.

What is the Aerospace Industry?

Aerospace is a term used to collectively refer to the atmosphere and outer space. An aerospace-related activity is very diverse, with a multitude of commercial, industrial, and military applications. Aerospace engineering consists of aeronautics and astronautics.

Aerospace organizations research, design, manufacture, operate, or maintain aircraft, spacecraft, and related topics.

The beginning of space and the ending of the air is considered as 100 km (62 mi) above the ground according to the physical explanation that the air pressure is too low for a lifting body to generate meaningful lift force without exceeding orbital velocity.

What are the top Aerospace Companies?

The world’s airliner fleet is dominated by Airbus and Boeing. The two aircraft manufacturers are the competitive employers of aerospace graduates and produce highly successful jet models, including the Airbus A320 and Boeing’s 737 aircraft, which were often named as one of the best-selling jets worldwide. Bombardier, Embraer, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are also competitors in the market.

10. Honeywell

engineer designing airplane 3D model

Honeywell International is an American multinational company specializing in Aerospace, safety and productivity solutions, performance materials, etc. The company aims to enable increased fuel efficiency, better operations, safer and on-time flights, and in turn, satisfied passengers.

Their new platform, Honeywell Forge, uses the advanced technology of big data and machine learning to drive airline profitability and eliminate 35% of equipment failures. 

9. Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce took the automotive industry by storm with its luxury leather seats and Spirit of Ecstacy, and it is doing the same to the aerospace industry. With over 16,000 military engines in service with 160 customers spanning across 103 countries, it is evident that they are successful in this department as well.

From domestic transport to combat, Rolls-Royce’s engines and service solutions provide world-leading technology to customers. In 2020, Rolls-Royce Holdings produced a staggering underlying revenue of £11.7 billion.

8. L3Harris

L3Harris has been serving the United Kingdom for over 100 years, delivering unique capabilities across air, land, sea, space, and cyber for military, security, and commercial customers, internationally, through their team of over 2,000 employees. 

Some of the company’s air capabilities include:

  • Sky Warden™ ISR Strike Aircraft – The sturdy aircraft is designed to perform in austere, disaggregated combat environments with minimal infrastructure.
  • FVR-90 Airframe – The airframe s designed for endurance, 12 to 18 hours, with an 8 to 22-pound payload capacity.

7. Safran

Safran S.A. is a French multinational aerospace-component corporation, since its creation in 2005, the company has gained a name for itself and its 81,000 employees. The company was formed through a merger between SNECMA and SAGEM.

The company specializes in:

Aircraft equipment

Aircraft interiors

Aircraft propulsion

Defense

Space

6. Raytheon

Raytheon Technologies Corporation is an American aerospace and defence company that is focused on advancing aviation, creating innovations, etc. 

Not only do they use advanced technology to provide innovative solutions to customers, but they are also committed to making an impact. Their corporate social responsibility initiative, Connect Up, connects talented, purpose-driven people to uplift the community. 

5. General Electric (GE Aviation)

helicopter technician standing against helicopter

GE Aviation a subsidiary of General Electric (a world energy leader) founded in 1917. The company manufacturers and sells jet engines, components, and advanced systems for commercial and military aircraft. 

The innovative company recently passed major manufacturing milestones, firstly the Asheville facility shipped its 100,000th turbine while the Auburn facility shipped its 100,000th additively manufactured fuel nozzle tip.

4. Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman is an American aerospace and defense technology company, founded in 1994. Since then, the company has jumped from strength to strength and built and transformed its business to operate in many areas; Cyber, Air, Space, Land, Sea, and more.

The company says that they are “defining possible” from building some of the world’s most advanced aircraft to providing critical logistics to America’s emergency services.

3. Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin Corporation is American aviation, information security, and technology corporation, birthed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta in 1995. Since then, it has been advancing scientific discoveries and constantly using innovative technology to solve complex challenges and ensure the safety of customers.

2. Boeing

The everlasting battle between Boeing and Airbus continues. Boeing is an American specialist company that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rockets, and many more innovative products. 

For over a decade, the company has been taking the aerospace industry by storm, becoming a household name and racking up revenue of $17.0 billion in Q2 of 2021.

Their most famous products include the 737 MAX, which they have made great progress with getting back into service, the 787 (Dreamliner) but commercial is not all that they do, they serve for defense and space too.

1. Airbus

airplane turbine

At the top of the list is the international aerospace pioneer, Airbus which has been battling with Boeing since the 1990s and taking the industry by storm since 1970. 

Whilst every industry has been shaken by the COVID-19, however, the innovative aerospace company has not let it dampen them, they sold 297 commercial aircraft in the first half of 2021, racking up an impressive revenue of € 24.6 billion in just six months, in what has been a turbulent year.

Their most famous products include the A380, a modern domestic model, and the Eurofighter, a modern swing-role fighter jet.

Manufacturing for the global aerospace industry

The global aerospace parts manufacturing market size is expected to reach USD 1,233.2 billion by 2030. Increasing passenger and freight traffic in emerging economies and the addition of state and local incentives are driving the demand for next-generation aircraft, which in turn is expected to boost the market growth.

A majority of aerospace manufacturing companies are integrated across the value chain and are highly active in the parts manufacturing process. These aerospace companies have in-house production facilities as well as supplier contracts for the procurement of these parts.

Raw Material Procurement

Aerospace manufacturing is also involved in raw material procurement and designing and quality control of the parts offered by third-party suppliers.

Aerospace companies are becoming more global due to heightened competition, growing travel demands, and increased security requirements in emerging markets. Globalization provides opportunities for lower costs and for technologically advanced product introductions.

Increasingly, these products can be designed and manufactured virtually anywhere. Globalization is also affecting product selections, in that military and commercial customers alike are requiring that value be “offset” by placing work closer to their countries of origin.

United States Outlook

engineer working with airplane

This tendency is likely to continue, as traditional countries are pressured to keep their jobs at home, but is balanced by the need for companies to grow revenues and continue to reduce labor costs. The trend in the industry towards globalization is also marked by new market entrants, particularly in the commercial aircraft segment.

Reducing defense expenditures

No matter the outcome of the budget sequester action, there is likely to be continued pressure to reduce defense expenditures. Continued debate on several important questions regarding united technologies US defense and security policy and investment priorities are expected to shape the financial performance of the defense industry.

The formulation of a renewed US defense strategy, coupled with the resulting warfighter requirements, and ultimately the defense budget, will likely provide the guidance necessary for defense contractors to size their workforce appropriately, to understand what revenues they can count on, and therefore what their financial performance will be.

Political leaders of China, the U.S., the Middle East, and Russia are increasingly spending billions of dollars in military expenditure. Overall, the U.S. holds the largest share of worldwide military outlays; the country accounts for around 40 percent of global defense spending. Conflicting interests between countries’ expansion services stress the development of more military technology innovations. For instance, drones have become an indispensable weapon and are in great demand in many parts of the world.

Manufacturing Locally

At BF&S Manufacturing, we use cutting-edge hardware to provide the finest machining services available in aerospace manufacturing today. Our experienced staff has years of experience working with each type and size machine to fit your production needs – no matter how complex the project.

BF&S Manufacturing

aircraft hangar

We are more than just a contract machine shop. We make sure to provide our customers with the best service and products possible by strictly adhering to honest business practices. This way, you save money through efficient operations that keep things running smoothly; without compromising on quality or customer satisfaction.

We are committed to the highest standards of quality. Every step in our process is oriented towards achieving this goal; from inspections and testing all the way through distribution.

We invite you to learn more about aerospace manufacturing in Mexico by continuing to explore our website.

Will manufacturing move out of China?

Companies are leaving China in droves. A Gartner survey of supply chain leaders showed that 33% have plans to move at least a portion of their manufacturing out of China and away from Chinese companies in favor of other countries by 2023.

The list of companies rethinking their subcontracting strategy includes everyone from Apple and Dell to the toymaker Hasbro.

The WTO

china manufacturing

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably, and freely as possible.

Chinese Manufacturing

When China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, it was a minor player on the global manufacturing stage. But after years of reforming its economy around being the world’s factory for global companies, its formal entrance to the WTO helped its production capacity soar.

In the years since it has become the low labor costs global stage. So why are American companies and multinational companies moving production out of China’s manufacturing hub?

Supply Chains

A supply chain disruption is a breakdown in the manufacturing flow of goods and their delivery to customers.

Supply Chains and the Pandemic

The pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of the global supply chain. From raw materials to manufacturing facilities, Chinese exports have been greatly affected by more than just the US/China trade war. 

Scarcity

Scarcity, driven by the supply chain slow down has caused the prices of many things to go higher. The world’s electronics factory in places like China and those utilizing the South China Sea was hit hard by the spread of coronavirus cases in the same period.

Many factories were shut down by the Chinese government or were forced to reduce output at production facilities. In response, shipping companies cut their schedules in anticipation of a drop in the value chain for goods moving out of China and around the world.

Trade War

US Chine Trade war

A trade war is when a nation imposes tariffs or quotas on imports and foreign countries retaliate with similar forms of trade protectionism. As it escalates, a trade war reduces international trade.

Why Trade Wars are started

A trade war starts when a nation attempts to protect its domestic industry and create jobs. Tariffs are can give a competitive advantage to domestic producers of a product by creating lower prices.

As a result, they would receive more orders from local customers. As their businesses grow, they would add jobs.

But in the long run, a trade war can cost jobs. It depresses economic growth for all countries involved. It also triggers inflation when tariffs increase the prices of imports.

How the Trade War has effected China

China’s manufacturing sector slowed for the sixth month in a row last October and experienced weaker consumer demand activity in the world’s second-largest economy.

The slump mirrored a drop in retail sales growth back to a near 16-year trough and the weakest growth in investment in new plant and machinery on record.

Analysts said uncertainty about a possible pact between Beijing and Washington over a “first stage” trade deal dampened business and consumer confidence.

China was hit by a slowdown in GDP growth to 6% in the third quarter, from 6.2% in the second quarter, its lowest level in 30 years. Analysts said the latest data pointed to a further slowdown in growth in the fourth quarter.

China’s steel output fell to a seven-month low in October, while the cement production contracted for the first time in more than a year.

Global Supply Chain Leaders

Global supply chains are networks that can span across multiple continents and countries for the purpose of sourcing and supplying goods and services, such as electronics manufacturing. Global supply chains involve the flow of information, processes, and resources across the globe.

Global vs Local Supply Chain

A global supply chain utilises low-cost country sourcing and refers to the procurement of products and services from countries with lower labor rates and reduced production costs than that of the home country.

A global supply chain will usually flow from your own organisation in your home country as a buyer across your supplier tiers; it is these suppliers who will be located in other areas of the globe.

“Home Grown” Suppliers

supplier godown

A local supply chain will look to optimize suppliers who are regional to your own organization, in some instances organizations will look to leverage “homegrown” supply routes, manufacturing imports so that all suppliers feeding into your supply chain will be located within the country in which your organization is based.

This way, the supply chain can be even closer in to your organization and may even be within the same state/city/district, which often gives clearer visibility of the whole supply chain from raw material through to the consumer.

However, there are both positives and negatives with global supply chains and the total landed cost or total cost of ownership should always be factored into the true costs.

What Are the Disadvantages of Globally Sourced Goods?

  • Longer lead times – While the production time can be quite quick the lead time can often be much longer as the goods will require shipping which can add to the lad time, this means that forward planning can be a challenge.
  • Reputational risks – Risk exposure to modern slavery, brand and financial risk exposure can all be increased.
  • Fluctuations in Exchange rates – Global markets are more susceptible to regional influences that can impact trading markets.
  • Challenges in communication – There needs to be careful consideration of terminology and the type of communication methods used to interface with a global supplier to ensure information is interpreted correctly.
  • Increased risk exposure based on STEEPLED factors – As the supply chain spans over multiple countries there are increased risks of unrest in other countries having a direct impact on your supply chain activities.
  • Loss of control – Due to the distance in the working relationship it can be difficult to manage communications and oversee technical aspects of the production process. Quality issues can also be complex to manage.

For the reasons outlined above, a significant number of companies are leaving China as their manufacturing base in favor of more local industries.

Manufacturing in Mexico

Location

Especially for U.S. companies, Mexico’s location offers huge advantages. It’s easy for managers at U.S. companies to visit facilities in Mexico on a regular basis—you could even get there and back in a day, unlike spending at least half a day just to get to China. Travel to Mexico doesn’t require as much advance planning.

Your Mexican facility will likely be in your time zone, or no more than three hours ahead or behind, so communication will be simpler as well.

Quality

Mexico is now known for having a diverse, highly-skilled workforce—many of whom are at least partly bilingual. Mexico’s labor force is also relatively young, while China’s is aging and declining due to its family planning policies.

When quality issues occur, it’s relatively easy to address them when production is in Mexico. Products can be returned to be repaired or replaced, and managers can visit the plant to fix the problem. Quality issues in China are more challenging to fix.

Labor Costs

For years, wages in China were much lower than Mexico. Now, Mexico’s manufacturing labor costs are 20% lower than in China. When adjusted for worker productivity, the gap is even wider. Mexico also offers steadier wages, so companies can more easily predict labor costs. Exchange rates between the dollar and the yuan and peso also contribute to this change.

Trade Agreements

US and China Flags

Mexico has 12 multilateral trade agreements that provide preferential trade access to 44 countries, making it one of the most open countries in the world for international trade. USMCA in particular has helped transform Mexico’s economy into one driven by manufacturing and exporting.

While Mexico has a strong trade relationship with the U.S., as evidenced by the USMCA, The China-U.S. relationship suffers from battles over import duties and tariffs. Additionally, there is an ongoing geopolitical struggle between the U.S. and China that often impacts businesses operating in both countries.

Overhead & Transportation Costs

Overhead and transportation costs are much lower in Mexico than they are in China. When you manufacture in Mexico instead of China, you can expect to save approximately:

  • 4% in energy costs
  • 60% in natural gas costs
  • 40% in lease rates

 Intellectual Property

Mexico has a strong reputation for protecting intellectual property rights. By contrast, China frequently has problems with counterfeits, and courts are slow to enforce or recognize intellectual property rights.

manufacturing unit

BF&S Manufacturing

Founded in 1988, BF&S has decades of experience manufacturing in Mexico, with over 500 employees in the state of Sonora. Our warehousing and corporate offices are located in Douglas and we are incorporated in the state of Arizona.

The BF&S executive team was born and raised in the United States and runs our organization with U.S management standards and practices.

Learn more by continuing to explore our website.

When Should Your Company Develop Its Own Software?

Every company needs and uses software, and some is a significant driver of business success. But as small companies grow to midsize, software performance gaps can emerge. Finding new software solutions can fix problems and inefficiencies and help teams develop innovative products and services. But midsize company CEOs often face a difficult choice: whether to upgrade through a vendor or develop (a.k.a. “roll”) their own code.

It’s widely understood that software upgrades are always expensive and often disruptive. Sometimes they fail completely, or they don’t deliver on their original promise. That means little or no return on money spent. But sometimes, there’s simply no off-the-shelf software available to address a business’s unique problem.

For small companies, it’s usually easier (and almost always cheaper) to do manual workarounds when their operating software isn’t up to the task. But midsize companies can lose a great deal of money and stunt their growth due to the inefficiencies that inevitably spring from such workarounds. And those tortured manual processes can prevent companies from seizing opportunities in a timely manner. For those companies, custom coding is a viable option. (Large businesses with deep pockets can build software development teams and often have the talent on board to do so.)

Most midsize companies have a “super user” who’s good at helping everyone with the capabilities already built into their software (like report writers, dashboards, etc.). And most modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has layers that allow for customization — often a layer where value-added resellers (VARs) can make changes and a customer layer for customer customizations. If a midsize company can get what it needs from that, fantastic. But what if it can’t?

Many midsize companies get stuck trying to decide whether to buy new software or attempt to write their own code, even if that just means connecting disparate systems. Others try to outsource the problem to a software firm. While outsourcing code creation may be part of a solution, doing so successfully requires rigorous project management — a capability not all midsize businesses have.

Meanwhile, the clock is always ticking. Efficiencies that could be realized with software aren’t retrieved, eating away at margins. Market opportunities are lost to competitors. How can midsize business leaders determine when it makes sense to build their own software?

When to Roll Your Own Code

It’s inefficient to develop custom programs for core business functions like accounting, payroll, sales tax, inventory, and customer relationship management (CRM), and so many options are readily available. But if there’s no software that does what you need it to do, you may have no choice but to roll your own, especially if there’s a high-value opportunity to seize or a significant efficiency to gain. (Creating your own code is only worthwhile if there’s a big payoff; without a strong ROI, forget about it.)

For example, in 2007, BF&S Manufacturing was gaining steam as a contract manufacturer for complex, low-volume — but critical — components for aerospace, military, medical, and industrial verticals. Its customers wanted to oversee the work, but BF&S was based in Mexico, and many of its customers didn’t want to invest the time and money to travel and stay there.

BF&S depended on a close relationship with its customers, often turning to their engineers to solve production problems. But distance and a border were making that ever more difficult. Screen-sharing and cameras alone weren’t going to be enough for its customers, and BF&S feared losing them to more closely based manufacturers, even if those businesses charged more. BF&S needed to be able to port valuable production data from its core ERP system into a format its customers could use.

BF&S CEO Carlos Fernandez looked around but couldn’t find a solution to buy. Instead, he says, “We embarked on a software program that would provide 24/7 real-time data” on the company’s product builds. It started with their “computer guy,” as Fernandez calls him, just out of college, building a tool to track raw materials, work-in-progress, and finished goods inventories and provide visibility internally and externally.

It was completed and first used in 2010. Customers loved it. Fernandez began to grow the software development team in Mexico, supporting four facilities in the state of Sonora with a combined headcount of 500. Customers could now see video of the workstations, their products’ progress at each step, BF&S’s raw and finished goods inventories, who was working on their job, and all the product stories and specs.

This custom coding required a keen understanding of both the company’s business and its customers’ needs. Originally headed by Fernandez, the team of engineers and operations leaders now plan and manage the ongoing support and development of the tool.

Today, although Fernandez won’t claim that his company’s home-built code is a huge competitive differentiator, he believes it gives his customers want they want and what he couldn’t provide through off-the-shelf software: transparency into and a measure of control over the production of their products.

The Journey and the Costs

Rolling your own code is neither simple nor cheap. Software engineers are highly paid. In the United States, that means six-figure salaries. The costs of finding and hiring engineers often involves search firms, which charge 15% to 30% of the first year’s salary, and for the past several years, even they’ve been struggling to find good candidates. On top of sourcing costs, you must interview and assess candidates for technical skills, train and onboard new hires, and provide a digital environment for development and testing.

And then you have to manage the code development tasks, making sure they’re productive. As the development department surpasses five or six engineers, you’ll need a DevOps executive to supervise it — if programmers are undermanaged, days and weeks can be lost while productivity plummets.

And you can’t just hire developers and managers and expect the magic to happen. Engineers make what the business tells them to make. They thrive on clarity. So, you’re going to need to spend time getting your arms around your business’s opportunities and needs to be able to describe the features, functions, and options you want. That software roadmap must be completed before your engineers start coding. Fail to do all this well and on time, and you’ll have very expensive talent sitting on their hands, likely looking for other places to work.

Finally, when you develop custom code, you need to maintain it. Software breaks down all the time. Hackers continually find new attack vectors. New needs pop up and users demand modifications. Even programming languages age, so every five to 10 years, software may need to be rewritten. The costs keep coming.

However, while custom coding is challenging, it can be a pivotal factor and well worth the trouble for some companies that are innovating solutions for their customers.

Corefact (a Mastering Midsized client) is a full-service marketing services provider for the real estate and mortgage industries. In 2005, the company came up with a fresh idea. If a realtor could send a postcard to a potential client with a unique URL that would take the client to a website with their own home at its center, that could be hugely appealing, and a possible game-changer. Corefact’s customers, realtors, were excited, not only by the potential appeal to their clients, but also by all the data this kind of engagement would supply them with.

Corefact couldn’t buy software to do this — it was new. Corefact’s founder and CEO Chris Burnley had always been a technologist. Prior to Corefact, he started several technology-driven companies. Thanks to this technological competency, the company found a way to print variable data — unique URLs — on postcards and then move them on to web servers that would wait for a homeowner to type in the URL, after which a new, unique website would be created instantly. By 2006, the software was launched with a single engineer.

Today the engineering team has grown to 10, located in the U.S. and abroad. They’ve created custom code that’s not only customer facing, but that also efficiently brings together thousands of daily orders through order entry, graphics, and pre-press and automates the efficient flow of work onto presses and through finishing.

Burnley says, “Our original concept put us on a fast ramp for growth, but our ability to innovate with technology continues to propel us. Of course, the investment in engineers is huge and ongoing, but the list of opportunities is long.”

But they don’t build every piece of software they use. When it came to upgrading their ERP, they chose a standard product by Netsuite, into which they’re connecting their self-made order-handling systems. Similarly, they’ve recently dropped a self-made CRM in favor of Salesforce, keeping their development team focused on creating software they can’t buy.

The Three Competencies You Need to Roll Your Own

The examples I’ve discussed require different amounts of the following three competencies, depending on how complex your custom code requirements are:

Translating business needs into software projects.

Identifying business needs — and their solutions — is a necessarily iterative process, keeping in mind the limitations of existing software, as well as your resources and available data. This is neither software development nor business management; it’s a form of engineering where one leg stands in the business and the other in a thorough understanding of how your current software systems work.

This competency could be held by one executive in a smaller midsize company, or by a small team as the organization grows. What goes in is a problem or opportunity, what comes out is a series of detailed steps to create and maintain code: exactly what data is to be used and what logic or processes should be used to produce a solution. Without all these steps, endeavoring to create custom code makes no sense.

Code development.

Depending on the circumstances, a midsize business could have one programmer or a full engineering department. For example, at my prior company, we had Dave, a young warehouse employee who coded as a hobby, come upstairs now and then for small coding projects. For bigger opportunities, code development can grow into a series of engineering teams with different skills and focuses working in a complete DevOps department, led by a VP or chief technology officer.

Software operations.

The operations side of managing custom applications is expensive — you need to maintain the health of the custom code and make sure your processes, people, and tools are kept up to date. Elements of operations include user support/help desks, training, security risk management, bug fixing, ongoing additional customization, uptime and performance attributes, and more.

Leveraging homegrown software to bring innovation to your market or to create more efficient operations can be a strong growth driver. But the buy-it vs. build-it decision is a critical one. If buying the software you need just isn’t possible, building it may make sense. But there’s no denying that’s a difficult path, and only worth it if the upside is big. Before you build, make sure you understand the real costs to succeed over the long term, and only embark on those code-writing efforts you’re sure your business is capable of.

by Robert Sher

Read on site

BF&S Succeeds in Providing COVID Vaccine to Employees Internationally

BF&S is a manufacturing contractor providing products used in the aerospace, defense, medical, industrial, and commercial industries. Founded in 1988, BF&S has decades of experience manufacturing in Mexico, with over 500 employees in the state of Sonora.


As the Covid-19 vaccine became widely available in the United States, many individuals across the border in Mexico were kept waiting for a life-saving dose. As an organization that cares deeply for its employees and works closely across border lines, BF&S was dedicated to keeping their operators safe by providing access to vaccination. 
The Mexican Consulate has been working in partnership with the University of Arizona to roll out vaccines to first responders and employees working in manufacturing. Thanks to the committed negotiations between BF&S’s Director of Operations Robert Fernandez and their human relations team, and the Mexican Consulate, six busses carrying 170 BF&S operators recently traveled across the border to receive the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Departing from Cumpas, Sonora at 1:30am to make the 3.5 hour trip across the border and through US customs, the BF&S fleet was lined up and waiting in the cargo area to receive their vaccinations by 6:00am.


“It was a big company expense,” said CEO Carlos Fernandez, “Chartering 6 buses, providing meals for 170 employees, as well as the lost revenue for the two days we closed the facility to allow our team to travel as well as recover from vaccine reactions. It was one of the easiest decisions I ever made, our employees’ health is always our number one priority.” 


“It was a good day to be a BF&S employee,” said VP Robert Fernandez, “It was seamless. I give credit to our people for being so professional. A special Thank you to H.R. manager Fatima Cabrera for the incredible coordination it took to pull this off and Miria Montano for her support.” 


As Covid-19 vaccine availability continues to be uncertain in Mexico, BF&S has gone above and beyond to provide their employees with their best line of defense against the ongoing pandemic.

Stator Assembly

The stator assembly is a stationary coil in an AC motor. These types of assemblies include a stator core and a coil, which is wound and inserted in the stator core with ends connected to lead wires.

Stator Core

Stator Core Assembly - Electric Motor

A stator core is used in things like hydroelectric power but is also used in more everyday items for customers, like a motorcycle or washing machine. The outer diameter of a stator core will depend on the size of the system or generator. Stacked laminations reduce eddy current (a localized electric current induced in a conductor by a varying magnetic field) by insulating the core. Thin silicon steel plates are stacked on top of one another around the center, preventing eddy current flow. With the eddy current reduced, the stator core can maintain constant power, keeping your motor running.

Stator Core Assembly

A major component of the stator core assembly is the core itself, providing support for the windings to generate power through magnetism. The stator core is comprised of thin silicon steel laminations and insulated by a surface coating minimizing eddy current and hysteresis losses generated by alternating magnetism. The laminations manufacturers create quality rings or segments, in accurate alignment in the rotary system.

Either in a fixture or in the stator frame, having ventilation spacer components inserted periodically along the stator core assembly rotor is necessary for proper controls. The completed core device is compressed in some form and core end heating from stray magnetism is minimized, especially on larger machines, by using non-magnetic materials at the core end of the generators or by installing a flux shield of either tapered laminations or copper shielding. If an error occurred in the past utilizing a non-insulated generator, ensuring heat reduction on the rotor helps to keep the stock or stator core in quality working order.

Stator Slots

Stator Slots of an Induction Motor

Stator of an induction motor consists of stator core and stator slots. Stator core assembly slots: in general two types of stator slots are employed in an electric motor, open slots and semi-closed slots, to keep the stator winding. Operating performance of the coil in induction motors depends upon the shape of the slots and hence it is important to select suitable component slots for the stators.

In open slots, the slot opening will be equal to that of the width of the slots. In such a type of slot, stator core assembly and repair of stator winding is easy. Such slots will lead to a higher air gap, allowing larger components into the grooves. However, the hope is that this would be noted upon install and by following the manufacturer’s instructions, won’t cause an issue at a later date.

In semi-closed slots, the stator core assembly slot opening is much smaller than the width of the slot. In this type of slots assembly of windings is more difficult and takes more time to be installed compared to open slots and has a result has the ability to be costlier. However, the air gap commutator is better compared to open-type slots.

Electric Motor Stator

The stator assembly is an immobile part of the electric motor, which includes several windings. Once an alternating electromagnet current is applied to it, its polarity will be changing all the time, depending on further details that develop with contact.

When the power supply is given to the stator assembly, creating motion, an AC (alternating current) flows through the stator windings to create an electromagnetic field across the bars of the rotor. The alternating current (AC) makes the magnetic field rotate. This includes thin and stacked laminations, wounded by an insulated wire. The core in the stator includes a number of these laminations.

End Your Search for Reliable Manufacturing

At BF&S Manufacturing, the customer is our number one priority. We are able to serve our clientele best by paying attention to detail and machine efficiency to cover a variety of client preferences and specifications. Find the manufacturing to fit your needs and earn more by continuing to explore our website. Contact us for your free quote today!

Electrochemical Machining

Electrochemical Machining - Hydrogen Fuel CellElectrochemical machining (ECM) is a method of removing metal by an electrochemical process.

The electrochemical machining process is a function of electrochemistry: the branch of physical chemistry concerned with the relationship between electrical potential, as a measurable and quantitative phenomenon, and identifiable chemical change, with either electrical potential as an outcome of a particular chemical change, or vice versa.

In this article we will explain everything you need to know about the ECM process by covering the following main topics:

Electrochemical Machining Process

In the electrochemical machining process, the way that material is removed from the work material is unique. The electrochemical reactions take place at the anode (work material) and the cathode (tool), as well as the surrounding electrolyte fluid. As the electrical current is applied across the electrode, ions move between the tool and the workpiece.

Repeated electrochemical grinding using conventional methods will inevitably break down the machine’s current density. Even a concave tool can accomplish an electrochemical or galvanic coating, a coating surface finish produced by the ECM process, with known strength and longevity. This improved electrical conductivity and overall machining accuracy.

Electrochemical Deposition Process

ECM Process - Cathode and AnodeElectrochemical deposition is a process where the metallic ion can become solid metal and deposit on the cathode surface if a sufficient amount of electric current passes through the electrolyte solution. The electrolyte contains charged ions, which form by dissolving a metallic salt in water.

A suitable electrolyte balance can be achieved by mechanical engineers utilizing the ECM process on workpiece material, thus reducing residual stresses on the turning of turbine blades or other workpiece acts.

Turbine blades and other complex shapes or exotic metals can also improve their current density and decrease tool wear beyond conventional methods by utilizing ECM.

Material Removal

Electrochemical machining (ECM) can be performed on any electrically conductive materials by forcing positive ions to move towards the tool, or positive terminal, and negative ions to move towards the workpiece, which then becomes the negative terminal.

This anodic reaction removes material and metal oxides, reducing mechanical stresses by improving the metal surface quality, leaving you with the desired shape of workpiece material for your mechanical engineering process. This also improves machining speed and machining process.

Benefits of the ECM Process

Benefits of Electrochemical MachiningThe electrochemical machining (ECM) process has a number of benefits that make it a great choice for machining conductive workpiece materials.

Electrochemical machining produces an excellent material removal rate and workpiece surface finish once the material removal takes place.

Machine material(s) which has gone through the ECM process requires no further finishing because there is no contact between the tool and the workpiece and no forces of residual stress are produced. This reduces tool wear, streamlining manufacturing processes and saving your machine materials over time.

Less heat is generated in the electrochemical machining process because there is no contact and friction between tool and workpiece.

High metal removal rates are possible at the atomic level, and it’s even possible to cut small and intricate work in hard or unusual metals, such as titanium aluminides, or high nickel, cobalt, and rhenium alloys following material removal with the electrochemical machining (ECM) process.

Drawbacks of the ECM Process

Drawbacks of Electrochemical MachiningDespite the many benefits of the electrochemical machining material removal process, there are some drawbacks. If a saline or acidic electrolyte acts in such a way that it creates a buildup, it can increase the risk of corrosion for the tool, workpiece or equipment making direct contact more necessary than preferred.

An electrochemical machining setup also requires a high initial investment from manufacturing engineers and high electrical running costs. Finally, only conductive materials can be machined. But electrochemical machining does add a very useful option for precise machining of some otherwise very difficult to machine materials.

Improved Quality with BF&S Manufacturing

BF&S is committed to exceeding our customers’ and interested parties’ expectations through certified employees and continuous improvement, providing a values-based environment in the context of the manufacturing organization, where our employees can meet their potential and thrive in an atmosphere of excellence. Our careful process of electrochemical machining allows us to deliver on that commitment again and again.

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