As of an agreement established in October 2019, FT Technologies (FT) will be increasing its quantity of printed circuit board assemblies ordered through Electronic Manufacturing Solutions (EMS). EMS will also be supporting FT with implementing new company-wide APQP4WIND quality standards.
Founded in 1981 and exporting to 34 countries, FT is now the wind turbine industry’s largest supplier — counting the world’s top on and offshore turbine manufacturers amongst its customers.
In 2019 alone, 45% of wind turbines were built with an FT sensor, and over 70% of all offshore turbines around the world are equipped with FT sensors.
FT Technologies specialises in designing and manufacturing ultrasonic wind sensors, which use the acoustic wave technology Acu-Res® — patented in 1997 by FT’s Executive Chairman, Dr Savvas Kapartis — to measure wind speed, direction and temperature. Using the Acu-Res® Technology results in robust, compact and easily heated sensors which operate reliably under even the toughest weather conditions.
In early 2019, FT Technologies began implementing a company-wide policy to introduce new APQP4WIND quality standards throughout its entire management system, product design processes and component supply chain.
APQP is a well-known concept within the automotive industry and has been instrumental in improving quality performance across manufacturing and supply for decades. APQP4Wind then adapts APQP to the business areas and special conditions which differentiate the wind sector from the automotive industry.
The quality assurance methodology aims to make the process of product quality assurance demands as well as the product release process as clear as possible.
With FT being a manufacturer of ultrasonic wind sensors — often in very demanding markets — the APQP4WIND policy aims to increase product reliability for the end customer and remove the costs associated with poor quality through the product life.
Implementation of the policy will see FT Technologies transition towards full adoption of the APQP4Wind framework by 2020 for all new and existing product development.
To engage suppliers in the adoption of the policy, FT held a Supplier Quality Conference at its UK factory in Sunbury-on-Thames. The conference was attended by EMS’ Operations Director Paul Stone and Quality Manager Robert Goodney — as well as 20 key component suppliers, who gathered to learn about the increased quality standards now required by FT.
Speaking at the conference, FT Technologies’ Director of Operations, David Walch, said: “The vision behind APQP4Wind is to strengthen the entire supply chain as the standardisation increases efficiency. Everyone benefits from improved standards, tools and processes.”
He added: “Working together as an industry, we can produce better components, become more competitive and speed up time to market.” c
Over many years, EMS has worked closely with FT Technologies to build a successful business relationship.
In September 2019, FT had shipped 200,000 wind sensors since it first began selling to the wind turbine industry in 2002. Of these 200,000 sensors, it is estimated that EMS has supplied circa 120,000 sets of the PCBAs for them.
Supporting FT Technologies in implementing the new standards further cements the relationship between the two companies — as does the recent decision by FT to make EMS its supplier of choice.