Made in the Northwest: Tate Technology

Tate Technology is a small contract electronics manufacturer that specializes in Surface Mount Technology.

“It means we build electronics for other people,” explained Scott Tate, the president of Tate Technology. “So companies all over the globe, but mostly regional, we build their products for them, to their [specifications].”

Those products are typically circuit boards. Tate says the company’s 45 employees make them for all kinds of industries and uses.

“If you push the crosswalk control button, those are electronics that we make. We do stuff for aerospace. We do things for the commercial market, retail market, medical, military.”

And now, they’re making circuit boards in a much bigger, new home. Tate Technology was founded in 1992 and spent a quarter century in a site on Trent Ave. But because the North-South Corridor will come right through that site, it was forced to move. And in September, it settled into an 18,000 sq. ft. facility on Sprague Ave., across from Home Depot.

“The facility being bigger, better, it’s really allowed us to get the automation layed out the way we want,” said Tate.

Not only has Tate Technology streamlined its work flow, it’s invested heavily in brand new, top of the line pick and place machines.

“It’s been a complete game changer for us and it’s just opened so many doors.”

Tate says the four new machines can place about 120,000 components an hour on circuit boards.

“So they are twelve times faster and probably 100 times more accurate than our old machines.”

They can place parts as small as .0010″ x .0005″, which Tate proudly displays on the company’s business cards.

“And those are the smallest electronic components on the market today.”

Its faster and better equipment now allows Tate Technology to compete for higher volume customers. So instead of making 10, 20 or maybe 100 products at a time, Tate says, “We’re able to take that sweet spot and make the thousands and tens of thousands of those products, so we can manage that supply chain from the customer for a longer duration.”

Even its Automated Optical Inspection machine, which every circuit board has to go through, is fast.

“I believe they’re about 50 times faster than a human, which is pretty good,” said Tate.

Tate Technology still relies on some older equipment, like a wave sauter machine, and it has dozens of employees who sauter and inspect products by hand.

And if the company continues to grow?

“Honestly, if we can keep our 5-10 percent growth plan going, we’re going to have to have a swing shift,” said Tate.

And it doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.

“We get to be around and making electronics for a long time.”