VEXOS: Custom Electronics Solutions for Complex Needs

When Vexos serves its clients, it not only delivers quality and innovation, but is also responsive to their needs. “The customer wants to be heard,” Vice President of Engineering Brian Morrison says. “Having the right fit for the customer is key.”

Vexos is a full service, high-mix, low- to mid-volume electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider, operating in multiple market sectors such as: medical, industrial, semiconductor, automotive, consumer, safety, security and industrial internet of things (IIoT) markets. Vexos has a global manufacturing presence with sites in Canada, United States and China. The company’s history goes back to 2014, when private equity firm Central Lane Partners acquired and merged two EMS firms, EPM Global Services and STACI Corp.

Both firms, Senior Vice President and General Manager – Markham  Cyril Fernandes says, were well established and had legacies going back more than 25 years. Today, in addition to its EMS services, the company provides custom material solutions to its customers. This includes supplying commodities including Print Circuit Boards, custom plastics, cable harnesses, metal enclosures, membranes switches, touch screen displays, stamped metals and heatsinks.

Vexos operates two manufacturing sites in China in Shenzhen and Dongguan along with its North American sites in Markham, Ontario and LaGrange, Ohio. All sites are ISO-9001 and ISO 13485 certified.  Both China facilities are ISO 14001 and Dongguan, China site also has the automotive certified IATF-16949. The LaGrange and Shenzhen facilities are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registered. LaGrange is both UL certified and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) registered.

“We’re a company that caters to a niche of customers that won’t get serviced by the classic tier-one or tier-two EMS companies,” Fernandes says, noting that these small or mid-sized customers have complex electronics needs “that a good EMS company can provide.”

Vexos understands the changing dynamics of the industry and markets it serves. More so now than in the past, companies like Vexos require a higher level of engineering capabilities because engineering support from an EMS provider is crucial and important today for both the success of Vexos as well as its customers.

Vexos is deeply involved with provisioning highly complex, fine-pitch electronics assemblies, electromechanical assemblies, full turnkey solutions and custom mechanical parts.

Vexos meets these needs with its range of offerings in Manufacturing and Engineering Services. Vexos’ Electronic services include printed circuit board assembly (PCBA), sub-system assemblies and full box-build product. Its Engineering services, Morrison notes, includes Design for Supply Chain, Design for Fabrication, Design for Manufacturability, Design for Test and complementary development services.

Morrison notes, that Vexos provides new product introduction services to highly complex, technical companies, including rapid prototyping for Silicon Support Solutions. “We work very closely with their engineering teams throughout their product development” he says.

On the Leading Edge

Vexos serves a broad base of customers that include several Fortune 50 firms. These range from high-end silicon providers to commercial digital imaging companies. “We’re also very strong in the IIOT (industrial internet of things) space and products that require connectivity,” Fernandes says.

The company also has extensive experience in GPS devices and medical electronics. Vexos’ clients, Morrison notes, often approach the company to help make crucial updates to their designs.

“Some of our customers have come to us after they’ve outsourced to an ODM,” he says, explaining that these clients contracted the ODMs to complete their design and output their schematics and layout. But sometimes, that design can end up with obsolete components driving early product lifecycles and costly respins.

Vexos now offers expertise in design for supply chain intelligence through component engineering and predictive technology tools that provide proactive solutions to Vexos’ customers, giving them feedback such as bill-of-material (BOM) health assessment and risk management analysis driving new technology, quality and cost reduction from current and new customers.

Brian notes, choosing the right component partners is extremely important to our business and customers, one such partner, Freedom is an Independent Distributor founded in 1999 as a full-service Global Supply Chain Partner covering the Americas, Europe and Asia.  Freedom supports all Vexos’ facilities with competitive pricing, quick turn-around quotes, quality products and excellent service day or night.  Our account is overseen by Global President of Sales, John McKay, who is extremely responsive to our needs.  Components are secured from reputable OEM’s and Franchised Distribution as first options.  Components from other sources are fully tested and inspected before shipping to us.

Vexos helps its clients design and manufacture their products with alternate components that enable them to be at least a year ahead of the market. “[We offer a] complete turnkey design support and functional development that we’ve developed from the ground up,” Morrison says.

He adds that Vexos has been able to provide this at a lower cost than its competitors. “[They also can get] on the leading edge that other tiers wouldn’t have been able to offer them,” he says.

The company also stays open to new technologies and new ideas that its customers may provide. “It’s to their benefit to share those ideas and ways of doing things to shorten our time to market,” he says. “We pass those savings onto them.”

Ahead of the Curve

Since joining Vexos last year, Morrison has focused on implementing new best practices at the company, including lean and Six Sigma methods. He also conducted a formalized technology review with its customers.

During this process, Morrison and Vexos’ clients not only looked at what they are designing today, but what they plan to design in the future. “[We looked at] technologies that they haven’t introduced so we stay ahead of the curve,” he says.

This helped Morrison develop a capital plan and proactively identify which Vexos’ sites will have challenges. “We identified early on that additional surface-mount technology lines would be required to meet our customer needs,” he recalls.

Recently, “In Markham, we added a new line that allows us to serve our existing customers,” Morrison says, noting that this will allow Vexos to continue supporting their technology roadmap them as new technologies are introduced.

Perfect Partners

One key partner for Vexos is Panasonic Corp. When the company ran into challenges with placement of high end complex large sized application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips, “Panasonic was there to provide solutions,” Morrison says.

This co-operation, he notes, helped Vexos modify its optics and software to create a larger field of view for inspecting and placing these ASICs with high precision. Without Panasonic, “We would not be able to do [this for] our customers,” he admits.

Vexos also works with Panasonic to leverage its software analysis tools. For example, “We can determine when a feeder has hit its required number of placements before it should be cleaned or inspected,” Morrison says.

After 15 years of partnering with Panasonic, Vexos plans to continue. “They are part of our technology roadmap into 2019 and beyond,” he declares, adding that the company is working closely with other vendors, as well.

Vexos has engaged with its tooling and chemistry suppliers to get the new generation of fluxes, as well as automation companies to look at selective and robotic soldering. “We looked at ways at solving problems through innovation,” he says. “That sets our roadmap ahead of the other EMS partners that are out there.”

Well Prepared

Fernandes joined EPM 13 years ago before it became Vexos. A longtime veteran of the electronics industry, he manages the manufacturing facility in Markham, which has noticed a significant move towards finer pitch components driven by a general technology shift to smaller packages with better performance characteristics. This shift has been accelerated by the currently strained market conditions surrounding component availability and extending lead times.

“We’re seeing a lot of engineering and technology support required from our customers from a connectivity standpoint, but also from a component-size placement standpoint,” he says, noting that the company has encountered this in industrial controllers, automotive and medical communication devices.

Vexos is well prepared for this shift. “Because of our knowledge and experience on different technologies and the complex processes required, we’re able to apply them to different industries for our customers,” he says.

Fernandes sees tremendous organic growth ahead for Vexos. “The strategies that we implemented and followed over the past 2 years are going to yield great success for us,” he predicts.

“There is a large swath of customers in this space,” Fernandes continues. “There are a lot of small, mid-sized enterprises out there that can benefit from our expertise and experience in terms of providing them with a cost-effective EMS solution centered on an effective global supply chain strategy incorporating leading technology capabilities, advanced DFx services and sensible procurement strategies.”

Sidebar — Company Pride

Vexos has a strong record of overcoming the challenges that its clients bring to the company, Vice President of Engineering Brian Morrison says. Usually, “No one has ever seen these things before in their lives,” he admits.

But each time, the company persevered, which has brought Morrison pride. “Our seasoned Vexos team has really provided me with the ability to meet the challenges on time and keep our customer base happy,” he says.