Innovative Marketing of Manufacturing Equipment

From U.S. Tech Magazine January 2012

Inline wave soldering system.
In the 1960s when transistors began to replace cumbersome vacuum tubes, a new industrial revolution was born. Soon, a young entrepreneur seized an opportunity. From his station wagon, Henry Mann began selling specially designed tools used to insert through-hole components in their holes in circuit boards. Back then, this was all done by hand — but this was soon to change. As the electronics industry advanced, and automated component placement machines appeared, Manncorp moved to the forefront, and today continues to offer state-of-the-art machines that cover the entire surface mount production process, from prototyping to mid-volume assembly.

The end products produced by today's electronics industry are not only exceptional in themselves; they are also marketed with great skill. Just consider the savvy and successful techniques of Apple, IBM, HP, Intel and numerous others through the years. There's another level of sales involved here — the machines that build these products — and that's where there's a big lapse in marketing strategy. Manncorp stands out as a major exception; as a surface mount manufacturing equipment source, it is likely to be acknowledged even by its fiercest competitors to be well ahead of the pack when it comes to marketing.

CEO Henry Mann's formidable list of electronics marketing firsts started in the late 60s with the publication of an equipment catalog containing detailed product descriptions and prices. In the boom era of the 80s and 90s, it was 400 pages thick and mailed to nearly 60,000 engineers. Other firsts included a fleet of 12 roving "Mann Vans" which demonstrated assembly equipment right at the customers' facilities.

Marketing Firsts

Not only did the company excel in marketing firsts, it achieved numerous design and manufacturing breakthroughs of specialized hardware, such as surface mount die sets used in the first LCD watches by Optel and Timex. Manncorp also produced the milspec component-forming tooling and machines for the circuit boards that Hughes Aircraft assembled for early NASA satellites.

These were major achievements for a high tech company whose leader had no engineering or manufacturing background. But those voids were overshadowed by Mann's innate ability to recognize and develop products that fill a need coupled with an intuitive grasp as to how they should be marketed.

When the Web was in its infancy, Mann was among the first in this industry to seize its potential as a marketing medium, erecting a website that was more than just a product showcase — it produced sales by generating instant quotations online, direct-to-user without the aid of a salesperson. Early on, the company also began using e-mail to inform customers and prospects of new products — and still does so on a regular basis.

High-speed pick-and-place assembly system.

Today, on-line shopping carts are filled by OEMs and contract assemblers from all over the world — from $10 parts to $500,000 equipment lines. As a result, the company has been able to spin off two other websites. One is, which is an online source for solder paste sold and shipped direct to end users. In less than two years, the site has reportedly generated significant market share by offering quality pastes a lower cost.

And a recent launch,, is poised to become a new shopping experience for users of surface mount assembly equipment for low-to-mid-volume benchtop categories . According to the company, the new site will be making a major assault on the unbranded machines that wind up on our shores. U.S. purchasers of unbranded equipment — initially lured by low price — unfortunately find that they have no recourse to deal with machine failures because of a lack of service and replacement parts. They are also frustrated by worthless user manuals written in gibberish — often very poor computer translations into English that's not English.

Broad Range of Equipment

Manncorp service, support and warranties will also apply to purchases made at along with "pricing that rivals that of unknown and unsupported brands." Equipment categories include component counters, dry boxes, conveyors, depanelers, lead formers, reflow ovens, wave solder machines, stencil printers, rework equipment and benchtop pick-and-place systems — all available for fast delivery.

Rework station provides both top and bottom hot air heating.

Consumer products win sales based on their inherent glamour and status-generating appeals, along with the ability to improve the user's life while saving time. Most of those benefits don't apply to screen printers, pick-and-place machines, reflow ovens, and other production machines. Successful marketing requires facts, not emotional appeals. Henry Mann does it by simplifying the benchmarking process, allowing web visitors to easily evaluate machines against the competition.

Looking ahead to 2012, plans call for numerous new products as well as upgrades to existing equipment lines. In addition, by late summer of 2012, the company expects to be in its newly constructed 20,000-ft.2 headquarters located less than a mile from its present suburban Philadelphia location.

The company is now taking orders for early 2012 delivery of the new HS series of faster and higher throughput 6 and 8-head pick-and-place models, with placement speeds of 18,000 to 25,000 cph. Starting prices are low, making these machines the company's long-anticipated step-up to high-speed ultra-flexible systems at considerable savings.

LED equipment lines will also be expanded to accommodate the growing demand for high-speed (25,000 cph) placement systems with expanded board lengths and larger feeder capacities that allow the machines to also perform as high-throughput SMT pick-and-place systems. Through-hole LED insertion systems and odd parts placement capability will also be available next year, along with a new fully automatic inline vision printer designed for large LED boards.

Pick-and-Place Systems

Benchtop pick-and-place systems, favored by high-tech sector start-ups and university engineering departments, will also undergo have serious upgrades for ultra-reliable placement of today's parts ranging from 0201s through large QFPs and BGAs.

A new low-cost large-board manual stencil printer for large panels or LEDs with camera for through-stencil viewing will be added. A fully automatic version with fiducial recognition will follow.

In the rework department, a new high-precision model is being introduced that will process ultra-fine chips down to 01005. Mann anticipates that it will be half the price of systems presently available with similar features.

Other post-assembly products include a new low-cost AOI system as well as an automatic solder paste inspection station.

The company's successful affiliation with KIC — which began this year — will be scaled upward with inclusion of KIC's Auto Focus Power as a value-added feature for most of the company's CR Series Reflow Ovens. This process-optimizing software greatly simplifies start-up profiling.

Manncorp also plans to introduce a standalone selective soldering system that combines fluxing and automated point-to-point soldering.

Growing Offshore Markets

When asked if there were any unmet marketing challenges, the CEO admitted that his company has been engaged in a work-in-progress effort of understanding and addressing the PCB assembly requirements of growing offshore markets. "Right now, over 30 percent of our sales are outside the U.S. and Canada. But we still need to improve by making our website easier to understand and by giving ultra-high priorities to installation and after-the-sale service," he said.

Manncorp has sales and demo facilities in Willow Grove, PA and San Diego, CA, with other offices in Guadalajara, Mexico and Shenzhen, China. The company also maintains a major presence at American Competitive Institute (ACI), an equipment training and demonstration facility sponsored by the U.S. Navy, where Manncorp machines are available for hands-on demo. ACI is near Philadelphia's International Airport.

Sales engineers on both the East and West Coast are reachable by phone, e-mail or text to discuss applications and to answer questions. There are also four full-time techs who install, train and service Manncorp equipment. The marketing staff includes a director who also oversees public relations and branding, a graphic designer, tech writer, IT technician, a social media and web analytics supervisor and an administrative assistant. They support the rest of the Manncorp team that includes service personnel, sales engineers — plus QA and logistics personnel based in the U.S. and overseas, who all work in close support with the numerous factories that produce Manncorp equipment.

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