In the interconnect, passive and electromechanical market, the slightest advantage can help secure a component’s spot in an OEM design. IP&E component manufacturer Bourns Inc. is expanding its competitive edge in the power electronics market by acquiring specific assets of the Transtek brand of magnetics components.
Transtek’s product portfolio included custom transformers, inductors and coils for applications such as electrical isolation and voltage conversion in power electronics circuitry. Transtek’s devices were sold principally in the automotive, solar power and consumer electronics markets, and the acquisition enables Bourns to complement its existing standard magnetic components with custom magnetics solutions.
Bourns will retain Transtek’s design and manufacturing operations in Dongguan, China and its sales and support functions in Tucson, Arizona. “Bourns has a very broad and very deep base in standard products,” explains John Kelly, vice president and general manager for Bourns’ consumer division. “But we do have customers that have told us they need a custom design, whether it’s a component with a slightly lower profile, EMI performance or isolation voltage. Our new factory-based engineering team allows Bourns to meet customers’ specific requirements in magnetic performance, and thermal characteristics," he said.
In the price-sensitive IP&E market, customization can be a tricky business. Building a product from the ground up requires a significant investment by a manufacturer. While that investment could mean a long-term relationship with a single customer, component makers must offset development costs with high volumes of production. Suppliers run the risk that a customer won’t order as many parts as expected and customized parts cannot be sold to another customer.
In magnetic components, customization can mean a minor enhancement such as an extra turn of wire or selection of most appropriate insulation or core material, said Kelly. With a readily-available engineering team, Bourns is able to quickly configure a component and rapidly produce samples. “Customers may design a component into their product and then find they are getting too much leakage, or find they have non-conformance at qualification. Our team has the experience and knowledge to make the appropriate changes to the part to resolve these problems,” Kelly said. Typically, these changes can take as long as six weeks. The new Bourns engineering team can do it in less than 10 days.
Customization also plays an important role in Bourns’ efforts to better penetrate customers’ design teams. With its standard products, Bourn’s reputation for quality means its components are frequently designed into an OEM design. “But let’s say an engineer finds a design does not work perfectly with a standard component; we can now offer a custom design that will enable our customer’s product to perform,” said Kelly. “We can make a change to our products in a matter of days. Time to market in this case is a huge advantage: the supplier that gets to market first will win that business.”
Transtek also fits a set of criteria Bourns has for strategic acquisitions. “Bourns has sought to maintain a balance in product lines, geographies and end markets,” Kelly explained. Transtek not only filled in some product gaps, but it has a geographic advantage in China. “Dongguan is the center of magnetics,” Kelly said. “The region has many sub suppliers – materials such as bobbins, wires and cores — and the supply chain there is extensive.”
Through the acquisition, Bourns now has the capability to offer inductor and transformers that meet the UL Insulation System compliance (Class B, Class F) requirements and can also have UL transformer construction approval for specific transformer designs. Bourns' new Dongguan plant manufactures its products in accordance with the TS16949 standard and can test products to qualify them to the AEC-Q200 automotive industry standard. "The automotive industry is known for its stringent quality control and any product that is built and tested to automotive standards is more than sufficient for consumer, solar and industrial applications,” said Kelly. “We also intend to drive continuous improvement in the factory and invest in further automation.”
“Bourns can now offer its valued customers premium expertise in design, development and production of high frequency and high power magnetic components to deliver optimum magnetic solutions,” said Erik Meijer, president and COO of Bourns, Inc., in a statement. "This acquisition boosts Bourns' broad offering of power electronics solutions.”
The acquired magnetics products will be folded into the Bourns product portfolio and marketed under the Bourns brand name.