In this interview, Consulting Technical Editor Tim Haag speaks with Christine Pearsall, senior director of marketing for Tempo Automation, at PCB West 2018. They discuss what services Tempo Automation provides, what attracts engineers and designers most to the company, and what events they plan to attend in the upcoming year.
Tim Haag: What is Tempo Automation and what makes you different?
Christine Pearsall: We like to say that we are transforming the PCB manufacturing experience because we’re focused on the engineer experience. One of the biggest frustrations that an electrical engineer, hardware engineer, or PCB designer has is once they're finished with their design, it can be an agonizing process to work with the contract manufacturer (CM) to get their board built. What Tempo Automation has done is made it more self-serve with an online multi-tool, which is very much an engineer-focused experience.
Haag: What services do you provide?
Pearsall: We are a quick turn, PCB assembly CM, but what's different about us is that using our platform, we're as much a software house as we are a contract manufacturer. We've built our own platform to automate the manufacturing process. We’ve also created a portal that allows engineers to upload their designs, get design for manufacturing (DFM) feedback, validate their bill of materials (BOM), get quotes, and order. This fires up our automated factory in San Francisco and expedites the process, which all creates a better experience for engineers.
Haag: Do you do design there?
Pearsall: We do not, but we do work with a number of design partners, so if somebody comes to us with a certain kind of product in mind, there are different design partners that we could refer them to.
Haag: What would you say is something about Tempo Automation that would be the most attractive to your customers?
Pearsall: The most attractive aspect of it is that it's a tool and a service that allows them to innovate, but still hit their deadlines. A lot of engineers are under so much pressure to make very aggressive deadlines for their new product introductions that they hold back. They're being conservative and not as innovative as they would like to simply because they're under this time pressure.
By working with our platform, they're able to do more iterations of their design before they go to production than they would have been capable of normally. And with that, they can be more innovative. That is just one of the things that our customers like about working with us; they can load up their designs and get feedback very quickly.
Another thing that's very unique about us is that we provide DFM feedback that's focused on optimizing the design in terms of time and cost. We don't just take the design and build it, we actually look to help the engineer optimize for design and cost. This helps to compress the process for the engineer.
Haag: That's excellent. How long has Tempo Automation been around?
Pearsall: We were founded in 2013, and we started actively manufacturing customer orders through our platform in early 2016.
Haag: You’ve seen a lot of growth.
Pearsall: We have. I joined in November 2016, and probably one of the most significant things that I've seen is a shift in our client base. From startups, predominately, to large enterprises. We've focused primarily in aerospace, automotive, medical devices, IoT, and robotics. It has been very interesting for us to work with innovative startups in the Bay Area. This has allowed us to perfect our process in terms of the platform for automation in the factory and the user experience of working with the portal, which became very relevant and in demand for enterprise engineers.
Haag: That's fabulous. How has PCB West 2018 gone for you today?
Pearsall: It's always been a great show. We've talked to a lot of engineers from companies in the industries that I mentioned, and a lot of other vendors and media. One of the things I enjoy the most about participating in these shows is talking to engineers and seeing and hearing their reactions to our platform. If they haven’t heard of Tempo Automation or worked with us, we do demos at our booth. When engineers see our product, they’re like, "Wow! I need this." It’s so gratifying to get that kind of feedback and witness those experiences.
Haag: That's great. What comes next for you after PCB West?
Pearsall: We’re working to raise people’s expectations about hardware prototyping and PCB assembly. Amazing companies working on incredible projects in the aerospace, medical devices, automotive, and other sectors deserve to have a PCB assembly partner that is as advanced and ambitious as they are. We’re inviting our customers and prospects to visit our new 42,000 square foot factory in the heart of San Francisco to see how we develop automation software and deploy it to deliver high complexity boards with unheard of speed. We’re conducting webinars to help our customers optimize for success. We've been creating a lot of content for engineers. For example, last week, we published a new eBook: DFM for HDI. We did a technical deep-dive to give a lot of how-to's, tips, and pointers for designers that will help them optimize for HDI while they're designing, before coding and manufacturing. And we’re attending lots of trade shows and vertical market conferences this year to show even more people what we do and how we do it. PCB West, Altium Live, MDTX Design and Manufacturing Minneapolis are some recent examples. Up next for us is SpaceCom 2018 in Houston.
Haag: It looks like the future is very bright. Thank you for your time, Christine.
Pearsall: My pleasure. Thank you.