Providing Cradle to Grave Support

It should be no surprise to anyone that here at Paragon we’ve always been committed to providing dedicated,on-going customer service and product support. Okay, arguably every business says that in one way or another. Why? Because in any sector with a lot of competing businesses, customer service can be one of the biggest differentiators. Some in the electronics industry like to use the term “providing cradle-to-grave support” in the context of their customer commitment. But what does that really mean?

At the Paragon Electronics Group, we put a great deal of emphasis on the early stages of a product design. That’s why we have dedicated resources in the area of New Product Introductions (NPI), in addition to our Engineering, New Business Development and Account Management teams. Each new product is allocated to one of our NPI engineer’s, who report to our Principle NPI Engineer, a senior engineering post we created a few years back. These are all highly skilled people with fine objectives – and they understand customer support. We’re also firm believers in getting the processes right first time, so that the products can be consistently built, to the required quality levels in production volumes. It’s a simple concept that’s well proven in practice.

Perhaps key to our customer commitment, which may make us different, is a willingness to be totally open and honest. We endeavour to provide customers meaningful feedback about their products and their suitability for production volume manufacturing – even if it’s not always exactly what they want to hear. It’s obvious really: if we find anything that helps us to improve the assembly processes, the NPI stage is the ideal time to pick it up and feed it back. Okay, so our customers may not always be in a position to modify their designs to accommodate our suggestions, but we feel duty-bound to feedback those observations and make every effort to implement any appropriate changes to product or processes.

That said, we all know that building products in pre-production & NPI quantities can be a completely
different kettle-of-fish to producing assemblies in regular production volume builds. We constantly monitor our own effectiveness and increasingly involve our customers through the provision of Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) information. FMEA is essentially a procedure in product development that drives the analysis of potential failure modes. It helps us to classify failures by their severity and likelihood of recurrence. Our effective FMEA activity is based on past experience with similar products or processes, which helps our skilled people to advise on designing those failures out.

Our aim is simple: to remain close to our customers’ products throughout their lifetime. Then we can seize every opportunity to implement further improvements if or when the product is subject to design changes. In our experience, across our industry, well-intended NPI observations can often get overlooked or forgotten. In contrast, our FMEA process ensures that those points remain on our customers’ ‘radars’ and that they continue to receive on-going feedback about their products. Who wouldn’t appreciate that?

Naturally, our support doesn’t stop there. We’re fortunate in having dedicated component specialist businesses within the Paragon Electronics Group In the form of Vigilant Components and Paragon Electronic Components PLC. These provide various services to source ‘hard-to-find’ components and combat product obsolescence and avoid counterfeits all in the cause of ultimate customer support. That’s another big differentiator for us too.

Written by John Mayes

John is a business consultant with an extensive career spanning over 30 years. During this time Chris has set up, led, and acquired highly successful component distribution and EMS companies including Paragon Electronics and JJS Manufacturing.