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56 SMT Magazine • February 2016 with innovative new products and the highest possible levels of customer service" and the Electrolube tagline, "The Solutions People." "We like problems!" was the preface to an explanation of the company's focus on research and development, whether by adapting existing products to meet specific needs, or by embark- ing on long-term projects to develop entirely new solutions to existing or anticipated perfor- mance and reliability challenges, guided by a specialist technical support group and funded by a substantial R&D budget. Having R&D in China as well as in the UK enabled rapid re- sponse to local market demands, and closely coordinated collaboration between the indi- vidual teams gave two-way synergistic benefits. In addition to technical performance consider- ations for new products, there was increasing emphasis on finding environmentally friendly solutions. Electrolube was recently challenged to resolve long-term problems experienced by a customer utilising surface modifier materials; the technical team wholeheartedly embraced the challenge and developed a brand new prod- uct that not only met the specifications but ex- ceeded them. The automotive industry is currently a major driver of product development, particularly in conformal coatings and encapsulants for elec- tronics in hostile under-hood environments, and there were numerous new applications associated with power management in hybrid and electric drive systems. The rapid growth of LED technology in automotive, domestic and municipal lighting applications has accelerated the development of new thermal transfer mate- rials and UV-stable coatings. All of the product groups were elegantly described and illustrated in individual techni- cal brochures which gave expert guidance on product selection for typical applications, as well as performance and reliability test results, in several languages. Additionally, full technical data sheets and material safety data sheets were available for each individual product. Time for a plant tour—and not feeling at all conspicuous in my bright yellow high-vis jacket!—I enjoyed a comprehensive walkabout with manufacturing manager Nigel Miller. Start- ing with an enormous raw materials warehouse, with hundreds of different items—every pack- age individually bar-coded at goods inwards, and its identity maintained throughout the process—we proceeded through a series of pro- A look inside Electrolube's huge raw materials warehouse. electrolube: We like Problems!

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