Dan Harvey reports on what the company describes as an incredible shrinking world filled with new opportunity.
The incredible shrinking man,” a rather good 1957 science-fiction film, depicts the ordeal of Scott Carey, a healthy young man who starts shrinking after radiation exposure. In his progressive condition, Carey starts out as a man of average height and build. By the film’s end, he’s even smaller than the basement spider he confronts. There’s no happy ending, no miracle cure. Carey just keeps shrinking. He wonders where this will lead.
Well, the new frontier he ventures into would more than likely include a landscape filled with Standex-Meder Electronics technology. As the Cincinnati, Ohio-based enterprise points out, consumer, medical and industrial products are getting smaller, and so are the components going into them. It’s an incredible shrinking world, the company describes, adding that it is leading the way by reducing the footprint of custom electronics components while increasing their capabilities. For example, its GR150 magnetic reed switch is the world’s smallest; still, it retains very large performance characteristics.
This underscores one of Standex-Meder Electronics’ biggest strengths. “We go after providing engineered solutions,” says Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tom Gould. “We like it when customers come to us with a problem. We embrace the challenge. We are creative problem solvers. We don’t just throw a drawing over the wall. Tell us the problem. We’ll engineer the solution, and then we’ll manufacture a component or subassembly.”
That has led to product development, and as needs shrink (only in terms of componentry size), Standex-Meder Electronics’ world is enlarging. It exports its products across the globe.
Standex-Meder Electronics manufactures custom electromagnetic components and assemblies, including reed switches and relays, transformers and inductors, proximity and fluid-level sensors, antennas and coils, connectors, lighting products, as well as current sense and planar transformers.
The company provides these custom solutions to clients in a wide range of markets. “We don’t have one predominant niche market,” says Director of Global Marketing Christian Rogiers. “We serve customers in military, aerospace, space, medical, general industrial, automotive, appliance, HVAC, utility metering, lighting, recreation and off highway vehicle, and security markets.”
The company is also moving into “green” markets, such as solar, hybrid vehicles and smart meters. “Currently, it’s only at the inception level,” says Rogiers. “But we’re talking with a lot of people and entertaining a lot of new ideas. While it’s only in its infancy for us, we see this as a significant future direction, even just based on our current activity level.”
Standex-Meder Electronics is quite capable of seizing – and then running with – the new opportunities. As the company relates, it combines product design, engineering, machine shop, manufacturing, environmental testing and laboratory competencies. Problem/solution translates into innovative, cost-effective products. The company’s engineers provide ideas, expertise and assistance throughout the entire process – for the OEMs in its targeted markets. “We’ll design the product for the application,” says Gould. “For instance, in the aeronautics sector, this could be for those who manufacture generator sets that take the power off of the jet engine, which creates the power needed for everything else in the airframe, such as avionics, communications, heating and cooling, lighting and entertainment. These are the things you take for granted when you fly, but all of these things need power. So our wound components – the transformers and inductors – reside in areas where power needs to get distributed and better utilized.”
The company’s world-class engineering is augmented by specific capabilities including in-house molding, stamping, winding, termination and assembly – as well as testing.
For more than 40 years, Standex-Meder Electronics has been a leading manufacturer of custom electro-magnetic components. It is a subsidiary of Standex International Corporation, a diversified manufacturer of products for many markets, and it was established in 1969 when the parent company acquired the Paul Smith Company in Cincinnati.
“That company produced molded coils used in radios and television sets, back in the 1960s and 1970s, when that kind of technology – and its usage – was common to make TVs and radios work,” says Gould, recalling an era before flat screens and digital technology.
Through the years, Standex-Meder Electronics grew by developing new products and by making strategic acquisitions and license agreements. “In the 2000s, we acquired some businesses that were almost exclusively magnetic transformer companies, which moved us from coil inductor technology to the transformers and wound components, which are the two product lines that we supply,” recalls Gould. “These acquisitions include ATCFrost Magnetics , which positioned us in the medical industry and in current sensing technology.”
Other important acquisitions included Magnetico/Trans America (2003) and BG Laboratories (2008). “The latter got us into military and aerospace,” says Gould. “All along, the strategy was to grow into some of the more technology driven markets.”
Today, Standex-Meder Electronics has nine manufacturing facilities in seven global locations: the United States, Germany, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Canada. All facilities are TS/AS ISO 9001 certified for quality assurance.
Capabilities are numerous. As the company reports, these include high-speed production lines; global sourcing and manufacturing footprint for efficient, cost-effective supply chain management; connector and terminal engineering; high-volume, progressive die stamping; manufacturing to UL, CSA, IEC, TUV and VDE standards; complete in-house machine shop; mechanical engineering and electronic component packing; 3D modeling design; plastic molding; wire prep and wire harness assembly; rapid prototyping; glass to metal sealing; laser welding; magnetic component engineering; power supply and other system engineering; foil magnetic component winding; and sensor and reed switch engineering, among others.
Further, Standex-Meder Electronics engages in rigorous testing to validate its innovative designs under the harshest conditions. After all, its products are found cell phones used by technology happy teens and in the satellites that orbit the earth. In its lab, the company conducts testing related to thermal shock, thermal cycle, humidity, vibration, mechanical shock drop, high voltage and high temperature, salt fog, and solderability.
THE PLANAR INNOVATION
In addition, Standex-Meder Electronics places strong importance on research and development. “We conduct R&D in Cincinnati, Canada and the United Kingdom,” reports Gould.
This strong focus resulted in the Planar product line, which the company is very excited about. Planar transformers feature windings made from copper foil lead frames, or windings which are integrated into a PCB. Standex-Meder Electronics manufactures Planar transformers for demanding applications like military and aerospace projects.
“The product line is fairly new, less than a year old,” informs Gould, “and it gets back to our engineering. We develop solutions all of the time. Some are unique in terms of customization; some we can turn into a new platform. And that’s one of the nice things about the way we have been growing. By working closely with customers to develop a solution, we have the opportunity to develop new platforms that we can offer to industries.”
It also gets back to size. In military and aerospace projects, space and weight savings are vital. “That’s a major reason for the development of the Planar solution,” says Gould. “On the magnetic side, it is much smaller than the traditional wound component. A lot of times, for a lot of people, size is crucial, as weight can be a big issue, especially in vehicles. Temperature is also a major consideration. It doesn’t run as hot. That’s important as things become more compact. You’ve got components tightly combined. So the Planar solution is unique and effective.”
He adds: “We see that in our reed switches, too. The reed switch family includes smaller products that are more efficient. More efficient running means less power loss. That’s a major customer concern: conserving energy.”
So, as Standex-Meder Electronics is shrinking its technology, the company is having enormous impact on the world it serves.