As anyone involved in the healthcare field (either centrally or peripherally) would attest, advances in medical technology come at a rapid clip. It almost seems that, with each week, a new piece of medical equipment is introduced that improves diagnosis or treatment decisions. State-of-the-art technology can seem primitive and passé after only five years.
Such an inexorable march of progress requires input from visionary medical professionals-innovative researchers and clinicians with revolutionary ideas. But it also requires the nuts-and-bolts technological capabilities of those who can actually help bring the designs to life.
That’s where companies like Condor DC Power Supplies come in. The Oxnard, Calif.-headquartered company helps provide the guts of the new technological equipment, so to speak.
For more than 25 years, Condor has provided innovative, high-quality OEM power supplies. Its offerings include an extensive range of standard commercial and custom AC/DC switching and linear power supplies with output ratings from 7 to 6000 watts. The company serves the needs of the communications industry, and it has fashioned a special niche for industrial applications. However, Condor’s most substantial niche is in the medical industry, as it has become a market leader in providing power supplies for medical electronics. In fact, Condor is now recognized as a world leader when it comes to providing medically approved switching, linear supplies and power products.
Providing products for the medical market is a large chunk of Condor’s business. “More than 50 percent of it is in the medical industry,” reveals Mike Kirkowski, the company’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.
Condor serves the “who’s who” of medical manufacturers. Customers include the major equipment vendors, but Condor serves smaller companies as well. “You name them and we probably sell them our products,” says Kirkowski.
Keeping Up with Trends
A special diligence and vigilance is required to maintain a top position in the medical market. As such, Condor keeps up with the latest medical technology advancements and anticipates customer needs. “We have to be aware of the needs and demands, and to look at the medical market moving forward, trying to gear our products to our customers’ future needs,” explains Kirkowski. “Today’s equipment was probably developed about two years ago, and tomorrow’s equipment is already being developed. By keeping up with advances, we keep up with our customers.”
Kirkowski points out that one of the major trends driving development in medical technology is serving the aging “baby boomer” demographic. “Because of this demographic, the medical electronics market is expanding at a very fast rate,” he says. “As people get older, the diagnostic equipment needed to support them must become more sophisticated. Major companies are producing more and more complex diagnostic equipment used for new purposes, moving toward a more preventive type of medicine.”
Other major trends include the introduction of more home-based equipment. Also, the size of some equipment keeps shrinking, and more power needs to be generated from more compact power supplies. In particular, Condor has followed that latter trend. “Today, for example, a three-by-five-inch power supply can now achieve 150 watts where ever used to deliver 40 watts,” relates Kirkowski. “So, users are getting more power out of the smaller size.”
To that end, Condor recently introduced the GNT30 series, a 30-watt AC/DC universal input medical power supply designed for small and compact space requirements for single board computers, battery chargers, small motors, pumps and solenoids. Thanks to the series, which can also be used in commercial applications, equipment engineers realize the benefits of the compact 50mm by 80mm footprint. In the medical field, as equipment becomes more compact and portable, the series provides a quick design solution for applications requiring critical reliability at the highest standards of performance.
“Throughout all of the advancements, we’ve constantly made sure all of our products met medical standards required for power supplies,” says Kirkowski.
Quarter Century of Innovation
Condor was founded in 1979 (it celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2004) by Len Wallace, a pioneer in the power supply industry. The company was privately owned until 1993, when Wallace sold the company to SL Industries, a corporation focused on the $10 billion power and data quality market. “We are their largest subsidiary,” says Kirkowski.
At the beginning, Condor made linear power supplies before branching into switcher mode type power supplies. In the early 1980s, it entered the medical market. In the early 1990s, Condor upgraded its switching power supplies to have universal inputs. “Also, in the mid-1990s, power-factor correction became a prevalent and necessary feature, and we added that to our power supplies,” relates Kirkowski.
Today, Condor employs more than 600 people and has manufacturing facilities in Mexicali, Mexico and China. But the main site is the ISO9001-registered facility in Mexico, which has more than 74,000 square feet of manufacturing space and where high-volume and on-time lot shipments match customers’ production requirements. Advanced SMT and auto-insertion equipment and flexible manufacturing cells enable Condor to quickly meet OEM production needs.
“We’ve been in Mexico since the mid-1980s, and the facility is owned and operated by Condor. It is not a contract manufacturer,” says Kirkowski.
Further, Condor has a sales network of representatives and distributors throughout the U.S. and Europe. The European sales headquarters is located in the United Kingdom.
Customizing the Service
Kirkowski says Condor differentiates itself from competition through the reliability of its products as well as its service. “By service, we mean more than just the customer-type service,” he points out. “We also provide engineering and manufacturing services, right down the line, throughout the company.”
To help its customers meet engineering, manufacturing and procurement challenges, Condor’s engineering team partners with a customer’s project team. The goal is to create the most effective power solutions that meet individual system specifications, cost targets and regulatory qualifications. In fact, a significant portion of Condor’s business involves developing modified or custom products.
In providing custom designs, Condor uses a CAD database of standard, tested circuits, which allows it to develop state-of-the-art custom products for different customers. In addition, Condor uses project management software. This enables customers to see where customized product development is headed through each stage of the process. This ensures that customers will have a good idea of what is coming when it comes time for prototype development and, ultimately, production.
Products and Customers
Though the medical market generates the biggest chunk of Condor’s business, the company also serves the communications and industrial markets. In particular, the communications market has been experiencing tremendous growth in recent years. System suppliers have been hard pressed to provide new products, and Condor has responded by developing a large selection of power supplies for telecommunications, networking applications, and video processing and transmission.
Communications products include OEM switching power supplies (20 to 1000 watts), rack mount power systems (1,000 to 6,000 watts), CompactPCI power supplies, and power supplies and modules for distributed power applications.
But Condor’s second biggest focus, next to the medical field, is on the industrial market. “We have a unique niche in the industrial market,” reports Kirkowski. “We service the tough environments where industrial controls are required. Our customers include anyone in the machine tool industry: the guys that make machine tools and machines that make the machine tools.”
Over the years, Condor has developed power solutions for a variety of industrial and instrumentation applications. These systems often require unique outputs, have special size constraints, and may be used in the harshest environmental conditions. Condor has developed power supplies for automated manufacturing systems, high-pressure liquid chromatography, spectrometers, process control systems, and many other applications.
Often, new products are developed to be used in both the industrial and medical markets. For instance, Condor recently introduced the GPHP 600/700 series and the GPMP 600/700 series. Both are essentially the same series; however, the GPHP is geared to the industrial market, while the GPMP is geared to the medical market. The series are highly efficient 600-to-700 watt switch-mode power supplies, and either version can be customized and can be purchased in two different configurations: stand alone or rack mount units.
Healthy Market Positions
Kirkowski reports that following the downturn that everyone experienced in 2000 and 2001, Condor has responded with a 10-percent growth average in subsequent years. Up until now, company growth has been organic. But Kirkowski indicates Condor seeks future growth from both organic and acquisition directions. “We are keeping our eyes open for opportunities,” he reports.
In the meantime, in the medical marketplace, Condor controls the highest percentage of any power supply manufacturer, according to Kirkowski. “We are number one in the medical field,” he emphasizes.
Indeed, Condor currently produces more medically approved OEM power products for use in patient-connected applications than all competitors combined. All medical switching and linear supplies, as well as customized products, are thoroughly tested for compliance to leakage and emission standards. “When people use our product, they know it will be reliable and high quality. They’re confident this is a product that will serve them as they need to move forward,” says Kirkowski.
Condor products are present in a range of innovative and complex medical equipment that includes computed tomography scanners, patient monitoring equipment, ventilators, defibrillators, bone saws, EKG equipment, blood analyzers, and drug dispensing equipment. “Just about anything used in a hospital and associated with electronics has our power supply inside it,” says Kirkowski.