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Information and Education: A Roundtable Discussion About the Front End of Membrane-Switch Production

(July 2007) posted on Mon Jul 09, 2007

Membrane-Switch production can be challenging work once you get past the roadblocks to production that customers place in your path. Here a panel of experts reveals how they work with clients to arrive at products that satisfy all.

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Dennis Webster The greatest amount of education we give people is one on one when they bring to us an opportunity for a new part, something for us to manufacture. We review their project and advise them of cost-saving options or options to augment their project. We read between the lines and figure out what they’re really trying to say, and we help them say it correctly. It’s also an education process every day of the week for our sales staff. Our design engineers get involved as well. We have an RFQ form, and when we’re attempting to put together pricing, for instance, the more information the customer can give us, the better our pricing can be. When we get to the point where we’re going to take an order, we have a much more detailed form we use, and we go through that internally to make sure we have everything we need. If we don’t, then we set up a conference call with the customer to go over the items that are left open.

Brad Root We have a preproduction huddle to talk about the project with everyone who will be involved with it. We’re also in the process of putting together a design guide for the Web. Internally, the design guide gives us most of the routine information, such as using ink systems with certain substrates, actuation life of an overlay, and so on. There are some customers who like to come in and understand your business so they can help you. That’s actually help that is not too very well appreciated. It’s usually an opportunity to learn what we’re doing on a level that’s beyond our comfort. They also want to learn what you’re doing so they can debate price with you.

How do you address pricing as part of the customer education process?

Jeff Arbogast Cost increases due to part requirements happen frequently. There are materials that do meet certain performance requirements, so it’s just trying to dial in the materials to meet those requirements. You’re trying to sell quality and service, especially when it comes to membrane switches. Durability always comes up. Obviously, depending on material selection, you can design a product that’s very durable. But as customers look for something that is bulletproof, you get into some difficult situations.


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