Efore vicinity than the parts needed for the job in hand. Efore has effective agreements with suppliers of the myriad components needed which enable parts to be fed into the production line reliably and not a moment before they are needed. Both offshore plants have been designed around the lessons learnt from 30 years of manufacturing in Finland and are comfortably producing products by the thousand or tens of thousand. But the mushrooming growth of networks in Asia means it is no longer possible to rely entirely on a system of design in Finland and manufacture in China. These days, much of the development work is also carried out there by Chinese engineers trained in Finland. " Power supplies are very complex," says Starck, " and designing them ideally calls for many years of experience. As you can imagine, finding such qualified people is not so easy. We have to invest considerably in training more junior engineers to take a greater share of the overall responsibility as quickly as possible. We have a regular flow of engineers from our China operations visiting us." With nothing in the way of standard products and everything needing to be custom built, a typical project The products in question are power supplies, designed to convert mains electricity into whatever specific format is required for the device being powered. Although Efore does make equipment suitable for the USA's 110V and Europe's 240V domestic supply, the majority of applications are electronic rather than electrical and as such, work on much lower voltages, as well as delivering DC currents rather than AC. " Our speciality," explains Starck, " is supplying power supplies for mobile network base stations. Last year, for example, two thirds of our ? 64 million revenue came from the telecoms market, with the remainder coming from industry and health applications. We compete well in telecoms because we are fast and flexible and able to develop highly efficient products in short order. But we can't do it with a Finnish manufacturing base." These days, Efore has two manufacturing plants- Estonia for markets closer to home and China for the burgeoning Asian and global market. Both are modern plants using state- of- the- art assembly robotics and are about as efficient as can be. The layouts are clean and uncluttered with operatives having nothing more in their March 10 www. bus- ex. com 69
70 www. bus- ex. com March 10 And there's little respite. The rapidly growing demand for mobile communications is placing huge pressures on suppliers such as Efore to find ways of compressing the process even further. Equally demanding is the cry for ever more efficient products. Efore is working hard on improving the overall effectiveness of its products, some of which are already 94 or 95 per cent efficient. There will always be some loss to supply a base station power supply might have a timescale of up to six or nine months from request to tender to the product rolling off the production line. Efore's 35 years of manufacturing history and a library full of modular designs help to compress the development process; but it still needs to go through the various stages of prototype and testing even before consideration can be given to manufacturing needs. " Our speciality is supplying power supplies for mobile network base stations. Last year, for example, two thirds of our ? 64 million revenue came from the telecoms market"