Published October 20, 2009
Volume 17, Number 10

TechniQuip Lights Up High-Precision Specialty Applications

Diane Chau assembles new product at TechniQuip’s Hacienda facility.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

TechniQuip, a manufacturer of specialty lighting equipment, has some very visible projects to its credit, including illuminating a copy of the Declaration of Independence and installing the lighting at Chicago’s Field Museum. The company’s bread-and-butter business, however, is typically much lower profile, coming from sectors like automated medical equipment, microscopy, semiconductors, and machine vision.

“Our business is precision lighting, applications where people care about 30 to 40 different characteristics, such as frequency, intensity, color rendering, color temperature, or angular distribution,” says TechniQuip President David Wensley. “Our customers might need a spot of light on a wafer, a cone of light during eye surgery, or perhaps something with a filter that admits only ultraviolet light.” 

At the moment, the industry is in the midst of dramatic change, as new technologies emerge to deliver greater energy efficiency and longer product life. Witness the rapid rate at which LEDs are replacing halogen and fluorescent lights, Wensley points out.

TechniQuip is committed to staying at the forefront of these advances. “In the last two years we’ve switched a lot of people from fiber optics to LEDs. Now there is a new technology to replace higher intensity discharge (HID) lamps. Instead of using 150 watts of power, they produce the same level of lighting with 17 watts. In three years the power consumption will probably be one-tenth of what it was six years ago, a huge decrease when spread across the economy,” Wensley remarks.

The innovations have been accompanied by increasing competition, primarily from manufacturers in the less developed world where costs are low. But over the past 10 years TechniQuip has learned a very valuable lesson: how to compete successfully against offshore manufacturing.

“Around the dot-com era we were seeing a lot of knock-off products so we took a hard look at our cost structure--and our competitors’—to determine what we had to do to stay in the game,” Wensley recalls. “We asked how much labor we could have in a product, how much tooling we needed. Then we figured out a formula that worked well for us.”

Highly automated equipment that pushes down operator costs is one of the answers. The company also benefits from the deep Bay Area’s talent pool, from flexible production workers to skilled industrial designers and engineers. The key advantage is undoubtedly the powerful combination of TechniQuip’s proximity to customers, its expertise in devising unique custom solutions, and a robust standard product line.

“Unlike many of our competitors, our engineers are available to talk directly to the customer,” Wensley continues. “At the end of the day, we assemble the parts here in California for less than they cost offshore, and if the customer wants a left-handed model, we can produce it the next morning. Overseas, it would take weeks.”

The company’s Hacienda office, at 5653 Stoneridge Drive, is another advantage. “We are a small business, with just 10 employees,” notes Wensley. “When customers who might give us a big order come to visit, I think the location reflects well on us.” For more information, go to www.techniquip.com.


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