By Paul Campbell

When I am asked what Campbell Scientific does by someone unfamiliar with the business, I have found that the simple reply, “We make instruments,” satisfies the cursory curiosity of an initial inquiry. However, there is more to manufacturing instruments than meets the eye, and in this article I would like to offer some perspective on Campbell Scientific’s approach to manufacturing and the value that our manufacturing brings to you, our customers.

To manufacture means to make or assemble from raw materials by means of labor and machinery a product suitable for use. In a broad sense, it encompasses everything Campbell Scientific does as an organization, but in a more focused sense, it distinguishes the activities of production within the business from the activities of marketing and engineering. About half of Campbell Scientific’s employees work in production, with their hands on the products at various stages of manufacture. All other employees think about what the product is, or who will use it, or how it is to be used. My comments are focused on those whose hands actually build the products you use.

One of the keys to good manufacturing is identifying the processes needed. The primary processes supported by Campbell Scientific include:

  • Sheet metal fabrication
  • Machining
  • Welding and brazing
  • Circuit-board assembly
  • Soldering
  • Mechanical assembly
  • Potting
  • Cabling and wiring
  • Calibration and test
  • Packing for shipment

Each process has unique requirements for operator skill, tools, and materials. When the company started nearly 35 years ago, we engaged in many different manufacturing processes because we were limited by the lack of local contract manufacturers who specialized in just one or two processes. It is unusual today to find so many processes supported in one company. While we do buy some products already made and job out some processes such as plating and painting, we seek to maintain our commitment to depth in manufacturing with the following benefits:

  • Responsiveness to unique customer requirements
  • Flexibility to make a broad range of products
  • Quality control with better visibility of the root cause of faults and potential faults
  • Timely preventive and corrective actions with improving quality
  • Direct manufacturability feedback to engineering

I recall early in my career resolving that Campbell Scientific would build world-class instruments. If you see something that falls short of your expectations, I welcome your feedback. We take pride in the craftsmanship with which our instruments are made. I am pleased to express to you, our customers, on behalf of those working in production at Campbell Scientific, a heart-felt desire that your experience with our products will be positive.

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