Connector supplier is ambitious for global reach
Smiths Connectors is in the middle of a major reorganisation and re-banding process which will give its sales operations and product strategies a global dimension.
At the centre of the changes is the combining of its Hypertac, Sabritec and IDI connector product brands under a single name.
“But this is more than putting the brands under one name. It is more radical than that,” Gabriel Guglielmi, vice-president of business development, Smiths Connectors told Electronics Weekly.
“We will design platform products that service markets globally and which we can customise locally,” said Guglielmi.
The company is already integrating the specialist contact technologies from different businesses in new combination products.
For example a new range of modular PCB connectors combines high-reliability hyperboloid contacts developed by Hypertac, with high speed 10Gbit/s PCB interconnect design based on the spring probe contacts developed by IDI business in the US.
“We can bring products developed in one location to different markets,” said Guglielmi.
Another example is the firm’s MicroSnap Connector, designed in Italy. The original design used the Hypertac contacts and now the new smaller version incorporates the IDI spring contacts.
Smiths’ most important markets are defence and aerospace where its reputation for producing high-reliability and rugged connectors has been forged. To this it has added high density connectors with high speed data contacts.
Guglielmi now sees the opportunities opening up to bring these capabilities to other markets, such as medical and electric vehicles.
“We are making good progress in the medical market in Europe, particularly in Germany,” said Guglielmi.
“It is not a new market but we address it in a new way,” said Guglielmi.
“In one rugged connector shell we offer high speed contacts and power contacts,” said Guglielmi.
Another interesting ‘new’ market for Smiths is electric vehicle connectors.
“Our connectors are not typically in traditional cars but they are used in electric vehicles,” said Guglielmi. “Here the combination of high currents and harsh condition creates a need for rugged technology.”
“Customers in these new markets realise there will be access to global engineering resource,” said Guglielmi.
To make this happen, says Guglielmi, the company is creating global engineering teams. “There is a huge talent pool in the company and we can map this into different markets and geographies,” said Guglielmi.
“Before the change product development for markets was centred around local teams.”
Guglielmi also sees new opportunities for Smiths in Asian markets, which have not be been a natural fit for the company’s high-reliability and relatively high cost connectors.
“Asian market is becoming more sophisticated in its product requirement it is not just producing lower cost consumer items anymore and this matches our products,” said Guglielmi. “It is not just about cost anymore.”
The company has a factory and a local sales force in south east Asia. “The local company is growing and as a global company we are adapting technology for Asia,” said Guglielmi
The company has manufacturing operations in the US, Europe and Asia. This has not been affected by the reorganisation in the sales and engineering businesses.
“Military customers in the US, for example, expect you to produce product in the US that will not change,” said Guglielmi.
“We have a large traditional business which we cannot change overnight,” said Guglielmi. “It is a journey.”