Tait Talks: New Zealand Manufacturing Facility Sets Tait Communications Apart

Today we explore the current state of on-site manufacturing globally in the post-covid-19 industrial era, along with Tait Communications’ New Zealand factory where the radios and base stations you know and love are manufactured.

The location of manufacturing facilities for high technology companies continues to be an area of great interest among governments, customers, and manufacturers themselves. Geopolitical, cybersecurity, and supply chain issues all come into play with high tech manufacturing. These issues were heightened in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic affected companies and manufacturing worldwide.

Tait Communications’ manufacturing facility is in Christchurch, New Zealand. The factory sits adjacent to Tait’s impressive global headquarters building, meaning engineering, research and development, design, and manufacturing are located on a single campus. It is the largest dedicated electronics assembly plant in New Zealand, and the campus environment allows for rapid prototyping and manufacturability iteration.

The Tait Communications LMR manufacturing factory is also notable because it is located within a Five Eyes country. Five Eyes is an Anglosphere intelligence alliance formed in 1946 comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Even some U.S.-based two-way radio suppliers manufacture products in countries outside the Five Eyes alliance. 

I had the opportunity to visit Tait’s manufacturing facility in person last year, which was an amazing experience. The facility is divided into two main sections: highly automated Surface Mount Technology assembly (SMT) and selective wave soldering, hand-soldering and mechanical assembly (post-SMT). The most significant part of the factory’s capital equipment investment resides in SMT, and Tait has one of the largest collections of surface mount assembly machines in one facility in Australasia, with three modern lines composed of five placement machines each.

 

Tait also has comprehensive automated PCB-level, subassembly, and final assembly testing. There are test records for every product captured and retrievable down to the individual serial number’s test results for any given test. This is where the “Tait Tough” branding gets thoroughly vetted. 

The factory has its own fully equipped workshop, complete with a high-spec CNC machine centre. It also has a suite of sophisticated quality assurance, defect detection and repair tools, including a sophisticated X-ray microscope, and area array package rework capability. 

Covid-19 caused significant delivery delays globally.

Upgrades in 2019 helped Tait continue meeting orders in a reasonable timeframe even amid Covid-19 disruptions, shutdowns, and component shortages. The company also quickly responded to component-availability issues, rapidly redesigning and prototyping with alternative components. This helped Tait continue to timely deliver products to customers during the pandemic and subsequent years. Also during this time, Tait CEO Yoram Benit, then Tait’s Chief Operating Officer, oversaw product engineering to maximize the common elements between the P25 and DMR open standards, which led to the development of Tait’s TP9900 multiprotocol, multiband portable radio and the TB9400 base station, which can be licensed to operate in P25 or DMR mode.  

Manufacturing equipment is constantly upgraded to ensure capability and capacity are continually increasing. The latest placement machines are rated to be able to place up to 90,000 components per hour each. In March 2023, the manufacturing team began running at about double its long-run average production rate and continues to increase production.

Tait’s factory builds mission-critical open-standard P25 and DMR products to order because every customer has variables such as available frequencies, network type, and custom requirements. The company’s aim is to build the equipment and ship it as quickly as possible on receipt of an order. This means the facility is high-mix and lower-volume, but having everything in one shop enables Tait to efficiently switch from job to job while still maintaining high-quality production as different orders move through the manufacturing process. 

The campus environment allows Tait’s many engineers to get a comprehensive grounding in technology development and manufacturing. In addition, Tait welcomes customers and visitors to the Christchurch campus for educational and acceptance testing visits. Our customers can learn about the comprehensive engineering and other services that support our business. In addition, the visits offer an opportunity for a wide group of Tait employees to interact with our customers. This helps Tait improve its products and processes to allow our customers to focus on their jobs of keeping people and communities safe and critical infrastructure facilities and staff efficient and secure.

On top of everything else, the Tait manufacturing facility is certified to ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental sustainability), ISO 45001 (health and safety), and ISO 27001 (information security). The factory’s manufacturing capabilities and responsiveness to customer requirements reflect Tait’s core values: commitment to listen, courage to act, and integrity to deliver what we promise. We encourage you to come to New Zealand and have a look for yourself.

Blog authored by: Sandra Wendelken – Market Insights Manager | Tait Communications
Contributions by: Chris Patient, group logistics, manufacturing, and supply chain manager, and Bryn Somerville, head of communications

Read the previous Tait Talks: LMR and Broadband | Embracing The Past for A Partnered Future


 

 

 

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