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Why does UK insist on getting so much electronics design done in Far East?

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treez

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Hello,
I went for an interview in a UK Switch mode power supply design and development company recently. They said they get most of their switch mode power supplies designed in the Far East.
They said there was usually no point in doing it in UK.
They only actually design a small quantity of their SMPS products in-house in UK.

Why is this? It cannot be down to cost, as other countries don’t do it.

Why is it that Germany & France, both far more successful industrially than UK, don’t follow this policy of getting Switch Mode power supplies made in the Far East.?

Also USA, which again is far more successful than UK, don’t get that many switch mode power supplies developed in the Far East. Indeed, in USA, there is a rule that in any equipment, at least 50% of the sub-systems must be designed and manufactured in USA.

So why is UK so keen to get switch mode power supplies designed over in the far east? Is it because UK is an oil economy, and we have the money from the oil, so think we should just forget about development and get some other country to do it for us?

I developed a complete Switch Mode Power Supply course, and have approached huge numbers of UK industrial establishments, organisations, and UK politicians, though none are in the least bit interested in giving it a go. I developed the course so as to allow UK companies to have a “supply” of trained switch mode power supply engineers. (I would also be happy to supply engineers to other countries but I am in UK , so concentrate here)
 

Vbase

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Britain invented the INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. Now they want to invent the UN-INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. Britain is a nation of inventors.
 

treez

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Britain is a nation of inventors
thanks, but not any more.
What is confusing is that UK is determined to pay to get SMPS's designed and manufactured in the Far East when it is not any cheaper to do so.
I believe that UK "middle men" are deliberately running down UK based SMPS design and manufacture companies, in order to profit from being the "middle man" for imported SMPS's from the far east.....these few UK based "middle men" get mega rich in the process, but nobody else makes much money out of it at all.....and the poor Far Eastern manufacturing staff appear to see very little of the money.
Do you agree that these few UK based "middle men" and their philanderings, are the sole reason that UK is transferring its SMPS design and manufacture business over to the Far East? Its nothing to do with cost.

The son of the German owner of a german electronics company came over to work at our UK company once, and he was really surprised that we were getting so much electronics designed and manufactured in the Far East.....in Germany , this just doesn't happen...and Germany is a mega successful country.
 

Dan Mills

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I buy in off the shelf switchers because frankly I have better things to do then design off line switched mode supplies and then fuss with getting the things thru LVD/EMC/FCC/UL/CSA/VDE....

Frankly, UK engineering time is expensive, and unless I am working in a market where I an expecting to ship many thousands of units a year (Not somewhere I play), the NRE costs **very** much favor my buying in a few hundred units a year of off the shelf modules even at a cost double the per unit component cost.
Even if I decided I needed a custom job for some reason I would be trying very hard to get the factory to customize an existing design, and for the once in a blue moon real custom job, that is what consultants are for....

End of the day, for most products the power supply is the least interesting part, and the part least likely to be a USP, so expensive and frankly difficult to hire engineering time is better spent elsewhere on more interesting problems.

I also find the combination of the questions you ask here about power supply design and the notion of you putting a course on the subject together to be somewhat worrying....

Regards, Dan.
 

treez

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As far as SMPS design goes, I can demo this using an excel spreadsheet, and break the back of any spec for an general SMPS within some 30 minutes.....inductor values, RMS currents etc etc......and then do a representative simulation in another 20 mins max
....then obviously the feedback loop is a longer calculation, component selection, costing, and obviously PCB layout a day or more depending on spec, testing more time still, etc etc

So I can demo this skill "there and then" to anyone who wants to see it.

To design a general SMPS, there is no requirement for any maths other than "less than A level" standard.

Calculating the RMS of a CCM flyback primary current...easy....its a standard trapezoid wave shape and there is a fixed formula....I proved it by integration yonks ago so theres no need to keep doing the integration every time a new design is encountered.........

So for general SMPS design, there is no need for 3rd order differential equations, Laplace transforms etc...so what makes you think anyone wouldn't be able to do SMPS design?
Yes I ask lots of questions, and get great answers, but nobody ever knows everything about any facet of electronics, so "ask away" is my advice to anyone.

Most of my questions involve general stuff like when datasheets of PWM controllers don't give the internal r(pullup) resistor value, etc.

And forgive me, but it seems to me that you think that only "rocket scientists" can design an SMPS?....so what do you say to companies like Power integrations who do a web based design for people to get an SMPS designed when they don't have the knowledge...are they wrong?
I can show you a load of electronics consultancies that convince people that "other" people are no good at designing switchers, and that people should "Only" come to them for SMPS design...and pay them richly for their "rare and unobtainable" skills.

You say you buy in off the shelf switchers, and indeed we all do, nobody would design fresh if it exists off the shelf. But there are some products where there’s nothing quite right off the shelf, for shape/size/functionality reasons etc…mightn’t be at all difficult, but a new design is needed.
And even off the shelf switchers…why cant uk design these?..and manufacture them aswell?

I can think of a load of "middle men" who are getting minted (very rich) by being "middle man" and importing SMPS's from the Far East...these people would no doubt harp on about how UK staff are "useless" and "lazy"...of course they would say this, they are personally profiting big time by transferring the work overseas.....nobody else is profiting but them...the poor Far Eastern workers don't see much of the money, that's for sure.

If UK isn't going to start designing and manufacturing stuff, then what happens when the north sea oil runs out...UK will become a third world country, and those with enough money will emigrate to the USA.
What is the difference between UK and Greece?
...Greeks work harder, are generally better than UK at electronics, but Greece has no money because it has no north sea oil. After the oil runs out, because uk has no design and manufacture, we'll be like Greece and Portugal, and be in fact poorer than they are.
 
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Dan Mills

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Switchers are not on the face of it rocket science, but even a simple flyback is more then a weeks work by the time you document it properly for the safety agencies and get the thing ready for a shot at EMC & LVD for CE and the FCC approvals so you can sell into the US market (And that is before the can of worms that can be UL).

And almost anything I can do with a simple flyback I can buy off the shelf (or have modified based on something off the shelf by the factory), now tell me that your spread sheet still does it for say 12 - 50V @ 30A, two quadrant with voltage modulation to 15KHz, ripple and noise less then 1mV in DC -> 1MHz....
That one took months to get really right (And actually had an off the shelf switcher at the input), It used a 6 phase synchronous buck with a custom delta sigma modulator in a small FPGA.

Anyone can take a datasheet or app note circuit and punch the numbers into a spreadsheet (and everyone does for the jellybean stuff (Or uses webbench, switchercad or whatever), but frankly that is boring, I would rather spend my time on the hard stuff and buy in the easy bits.

The middle men only exist because it is more cost effective to deal with them then it is to either do it yourself or to buy in from the far east and deal with the shipping and import regs yourself, having dealt with the paperwork to get a shipping can from China to the UK, they are welcome to the markup.

Regards, Dan.
 

treez

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it might be 'boring' but it makes money.
I am talking of making the excel sheet myself , I am sure you appreciate, and not copying something off the web.
Your PSU sounds great, but a great many aren't anywhere near that complicated.
We need this technology know how in uk (as do all countries), and its getting too scarce. People don't know how to make themselves a simple 10w on-pcb switcher, they cant buy it in because it needs to go on the pcb theyre working on.

I worked for a place that needed 3 Amp current sources for uv leds, they had to do it themselves, theres nothing off the shelf with the bit of control cctry on too...an agency (if one existed) could help them..supply staff to them, train their current staff up, and even act as a cheap consultancy.

There are multiple uk electronic co's who are binning projects because they cant do the smple smps they need with it.

...and here's the difference, a uk electronic company doesn't want a training agency in smps because it could help their uk competitiors.......but in Germany, German companies actually want their German competitors to prosper.....because it helps "Germany Plc"....this is why the Germans are vastly superior to UK in industry.
 

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