AWS, a leading specialist contract electronics manufacturer, has increased investment and expanded facilities in its operation in Slovakia to meet customer demand. AWS manufactures technically complex products and has customers across a wide range of market sectors.
It is one of very few European EMS suppliers to hold ISO 9001 (2000) AS/EN 9100, NADCAP, ISO 14001 and Silver ADS SC21 status for supply chain excellence. Expansion of the company’s facility in Slovakia has been driven by its ability to meet demanding standards while maintaining highly competitive pricing.
Commenting Paul Deehan, AWS Group CEO, said: “We recognise that many of our customers are under pressure to regularly review pricing structures in order to remain competitive in today’s fast-moving and challenging business environment. We have been able to alleviate some of this pressure through offering low-cost manufacturing in Slovakia. Having proved our ability to deliver high-quality products from our offshore facility, many of our customers have moved to a strategy of lower cost manufacturing in CEE. Our expanded facility in Slovakia is now fully self sufficient – all equipment mirrors that within our UK facility. In addition, we have a very strong management team in place, all of whom are fluent in both written and spoken English.”
The upturn in business AWS has experienced has come from two sources: existing customers moving all or part of their work streams to Slovakia to benefit from lower costs, and a number of brand new customers from around the globe placing work in the facility, including a certain amount of re-shoring from S.E Asia into CEE. AWS predicts that the trend for re-shoring or dual sourcing with a presence in CEE will to continue over the next few years, particularly as its cost structure from the Slovakia facility is amongst the lowest in the EU and comparable with countries such as China and Malaysia.
AWS Slovakia Site Manager, Jan Firic said “We have now been part of the AWS Group for seven years. Originally, we were a manufacturing extension to the company’s UK sites, but in 2010 we moved into a new purpose-built facility. Over the last two years, total investment has amounted to more than £2m, and we now boast parallel high-tech production capabilities and a workforce of 160 employees. An ongoing investment programme in people, systems and equipment means growth will continue.”
AWS has also taken a global view to its business development function – for example, its Group Sales Director, whose responsibilities include the whole of mainland Europe, is based in Bratislava. Slovakia also now has its own market research and telesales team recruited specifically to mirror the UK operation and process.
AWS’s facility in Slovakia has the same equipment as its UK site, plus slightly more SMT capacity. Five lines with thirteen pick- and-place machines can place down to 010005’s, and on-site process capabilities include X-Ray, Flying Probe, Mertec AOI, Robotic ultrasonic wash, selective and automated conformal coating, potting, encapsulation and cable over-moulding.
The company has developed its own group-wide fully automated, standardised enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, AWS Control, which covers everything from quotes to contract reviews and manufacturing. The ERP system reports data electronically, ensuring all stages of the manufacturing process is controlled right from goods inwards to despatch. The AWS Control System has a CRM aspect and the investment included setting this up group-wide, allowing all sites to stand alone but be integrated across the Group, as all locations have access to the same database.