Where Rapid is More than Just a Name

Rapid Manufacturing
Written by Jen Hocken

Global electronics manufacturing company Rapid Manufacturing specializes in assembling custom-designed electronic cables and wire harnesses as well as electro-mechanical and box build assemblies for top-tier original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). It provides customers with engineering support, testing capabilities, supply chain management, program management, product lifecycle management, and logistics solutions. Rapid Manufacturing provides the highest level of service and reliability to its customers.
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Rapid Manufacturing’s cable assemblies and wire harnesses are used in a variety of applications including semiconductor manufacturing equipment, rockets, satellites, other spacecraft, cabin interior and in-flight entertainment systems for commercial aircraft, medical devices and life science equipment, solar farms, and other industrial applications.

These services are governed under the company’s comprehensive, quality management system that is certified to ISO 9001, the global standard for manufacturing industries, as well as ISO 13485 for the medical industry, and AS9100 for the aerospace industry.

Rapid Manufacturing is a privately-held company that was established in 1976 in Santa Ana, California by the founder and current Chief Executive Officer Dan Lang. It started as a one-man business in a five-hundred-square-foot manufacturing plant, and over the past four decades, Rapid has experienced tremendous growth and expansion due to a rock-solid collection of customer-centric values that have been in place since the beginning. “The company was founded on putting our customers first and helping our customers be successful, and in turn, it has allowed Rapid to be successful,” says Ryan Murray, business development manager at Rapid Manufacturing.

By 1993, the company had grown to four hundred employees and had opened a facility in Ensenada, Mexico, just south of Tijuana. In 2007, it opened another facility in Shenzhen, China and grew to approximately one thousand employees. Today, Rapid has nearly two thousand employees around the world and manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, and China.

In 2007, another critical element to Rapid’s business was added when Luis Espinoza came on board as Chief Operating Officer. He has been instrumental in achieving Dan Lang’s vision with his highly-effective strategic management style. “Rapid has become a highly-efficient, data-driven company under the Luis’ leadership. He ensures Rapid has the processes and systems in place throughout every area of the company in order to operate at the highest level on a day-to-day basis, which has, in turn, equipped Rapid to effectively create and handle the extraordinary growth we’ve experienced with our customers,” says Ryan.

There is a culture of hard work at Rapid Manufacturing, and all employees are dedicated to providing customers with the highest level of service in terms of responsiveness, adaptability, and quality. Rapid is always available to its customers, and the entire staff understands how competitive the global marketplace has become. “Employees at every level of the organization have an extraordinary work ethic and recognize that every member of the Rapid team contributes to the quality of the products and services we provide to our customers,” says Ryan.

It is not only the quality department that is responsible for delivering quality; it is every person on staff from the engineers writing the documentation for cable assembly to the salespeople and the program managers providing the information. The importance of quality travels all the way to the warehouse, where employees ensure that products are shipped on time and packaged properly and that they arrive at the customers’ sites in good working order. “Everyone at Rapid understands that, regardless of what your function is, you can contribute to quality of service that is being provided to the customer,” says Ryan.

The company holds regular teambuilding events – including retreats with the key personnel from all Rapid locations – holiday celebrations, and company outings to local sporting events. It puts in the effort to produce an environment where every employee feels like a part of the team.

Rapid is growing quickly; it has an average compound annual growth rate of twenty percent per year over the past ten years, including forty percent revenue growth over the past fiscal year. These numbers placed Rapid Manufacturing in the top ten cable assembly and wire harness companies in annual revenue.

The global footprint of Rapid allows it to support its customers by building prototypes and then transitioning to mass production in lower-cost regions. “Our ability to accommodate our customers’ large production needs has led to tremendous expansion. Rapid has doubled its manufacturing square footage in the last eight years,” says Ryan. All of its existing manufacturing plants have relocated to new, larger buildings, and although the company has only been in its current buildings for less than five years, there are already plans to expand further, including a 250,000-square-foot plant that is currently under construction in Ensenada, Mexico.

It has received acknowledgments from its regular customers. “Rapid has been consistently recognized by major OEMs multiple times for world-class manufacturing, collaboration, and flexibility allowing customers to achieve their goals. We are proud that we are continually able to receive supplier excellence awards from our major customers on an annual basis,” says Ryan.

Rapid’s daily challenges are its customers’ challenges. Every customer has its own set of unique challenges, and these are passed on to Rapid when it works as a strategic manufacturing partner. “We have the philosophy of understanding our customers’ challenges and taking them on as our own. Finding solutions to our customers’ unique problems is a big way in which Rapid adds value for our customers,” says Ryan. A few examples of adding value are dealing with the unforeseen ramp-ups, reduction of cycle times, last-minute orders, and long lead times for raw materials.

Another challenge is the current shortage of electronic components in the global supply chain, and Rapid has numerous strategies to mitigate the impact on its customers. It engages with its suppliers to make sure it has a safety stock of long-lead components as well as a vendor-managed inventory of frequently used components to ensure a continuous supply. It also has a selection of finished goods solutions for its customers. Rapid has many programs and strategies in place to make sure that it does not run out of raw materials and its customers do not run out of finished goods.

Teamwork is at the top of the list of guiding principles of Rapid Manufacturing because when a team works together, it enhances the individual capabilities of the members. Other important values include leadership, accountability, unity, synergy, evaluation, problem-solving, creativity, communication, efficiency, commitment, and integrity. One of the ways that it measures and implements those values is that each employee has set goals that are monitored through key performance indicators (KPIs).

Rapid strives to provide its products at the most competitive prices worldwide and deliver excellent customer service. It achieves such a high level of service by being efficient, building strong relationships, meeting requirements, making continuous improvements, and taking care of its employees.

According to Ryan, the company’s goal is “to be the preferred global cable assemblies and related services resource that enhances its customers manufacturing services by understanding and satisfying their unique needs. We earn customer preference through, continuous improvement, teamwork, employee talent, performance, and constantly and consistently exceeding their expectations. Growth, longevity, and financial success naturally follow.”

One aspect of Rapid that sets it apart in the industry is its ability to provide high-mix, low volume manufacturing services, even in low-cost regions. The volume in China and Mexico is usually high, and choosing to do high-mix, low-volume manufacturing for its customers shows the company’s willingness to go further to serve clients. It also provides impressive quick-turn manufacturing services in as little as twenty-four hours domestically, and it implemented quick-turn lines in its Mexico plant last year as well.

“Rapid is very unique in its ability to support customers with extremely high-mix requirements (some up to ten thousand new designs per year) where time-to-market is critical. The IT systems and process controls we have in place allow us to provide that high-level of support without sacrificing flexibility and responsiveness,” says Ryan.

Rapid is pursuing the ISO 14001 certification this year to help manage its environmental responsibilities. This certification will demonstrate the effort made by Rapid to continually change and adapt to the market environment and satisfy our customers’ needs. Many of the large OEMs want to see that certification to prove that the manufacturer with which it partners is aware of the possibly harmful effects on the environment and sustainability as a whole. The company is focused on minimizing production waste, reducing electricity usage and improving energy efficiency. It also utilizes reusable or recycled packaging materials wherever possible, and it supports its customers’ Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) European reporting requirements.

Rapid is dedicated to creating a continuous improvement culture within the company through its lean manufacturing processes and programs. The plan for the future of the company is to continue to diversify the business. Originally, Rapid was a company that was concentrated in one industry, and fortunately, it has been able to diversify into industries including space and defense, aerospace, industrial, medical, energy, and transportation.

The secondary goal is to double the size of the business in the next five years, which is not out of the realm of reality since it has been the company’s pattern for the last ten years. “We want to continue to experience that organic growth with our customers as we enable them to deliver products, be first-to-market, and grow their business,” says Ryan.

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