What does a Design Chain Champion do for an encore? Texas Prototypes Inc., for one, has continued to hone the business model that resulted in its being named one of Electronics Supply & Manufacturing's 2004 Supply & Design Chain champions.
The private, Richardson, Texas-based provider of factory-independent new-product introduction and design-for-manufacturability (DFM) services has expanded its capabilities to round out its slate of services on the front end.
Late last year, TXP acquired for an undisclosed sum a 10-person prototype printed-circuit-board layout team from a Tier 1 EMS company that continues to rationalize its operations. Previously, TXP farmed out that portion of its services to the EMS provider.
At the same time, TXP purchased a hefty ration of software tools to beef up its board design and testing capabilities.
That investment has been yielding results, enhancing TXP's offering to a wide range of customers, according to company executives.
"PCB layout is really where DFM starts," said Michael Shores, co-founder and general manager of TXP. "Now we're able to do it completely in-house, so we've evolved more on the IP [intellectual property] development side."
TXP's unique service model has been steadily winning over converts that previously outsourced NPI to an EMS provider but either didn't like having production locked in at one contract manufacturer or felt they weren't getting the right kind of support at the prototype level.
The next step, Shores hopes, is to persuade multi-project customers to standardize on the TXP model. While OEMs like Hewlett-Packard Co. have multiple groups that work with TXP, each one is like a unique customer.
"Inside a big OEM, all the product groups have different ways they look at NPI," Shores said. "We'd like to see some large customers bless our model company-wide."