Author Topic: Why are Western companies getting offline power supplies designed in China?  (Read 1199 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline free_electron

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6908
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
Speccing a power brick is : here are the dimensions and we need these voltages at these currents.
done.
i dont give a rats ass about the guts of the module , what switching controller they use or what topology. i give an electrical and mechanical spec and that 's it. how it works inside the box i don't care.
As a matter of fact : as technology improves and newer ic's with higher switching frequencies and better topologies come available it pays to have re-shop the brick ever couple of years. you may get cheaper and smaller for the same specs.
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Offline tooki

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2731
  • Country: ch
treez, you have a knack for asking questions without ever considering the answers yourself — or pondering the baseline plausibility.

With regards to power supplies, look at Apple, the world’s most valuable company. Apple has the talent in-house to design its own damned CPUs, whose year-over-year performance improvements are beating the crap out of the competition. Yet if you buy an Apple product, its power supply will be made by any number of power supply specialists, including Delta, TDK-Lambda, and Flextronics. Apple could easily afford to hire power supply experts to design their own PSUs, and then just have a contract manufacturer build them. But they’re not, they’re even designed by the PSU companies, as evidenced by having multiple suppliers for most of their power supplies, whose actual designs vary by supplier. (Meaning that Apple just gave them mechanical, electrical, interface, and performance requirements and let them figure out implementation. I just replaced the internal power supply in my sister’s Time Capsule after the PSU died from water ingress. The replacement PSU was made by a different company, with a completely different circuit and totally different layout. But it’s still a custom part that is functionally interchangeable.)

If not even Apple, with its massive engineering resources and endlessly deep pockets, bothers doing power supplies in house, do you really think there is any  chance it makes sense for you to?!?
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Offline rstofer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4783
  • Country: us
In the govt agencies where I worked, promotion was obtained by competitive examinations, & if you then applied for a higher position, after tentatively  being selected, were still subject to challenge by others with equal or better qualifications and/or seniority.


For the US...

I was thinking more of promotion at the managerial level.  Promotions within the working group are whatever they are, usually  by changing employers.  In the US, public service jobs are all unionized, promotions are more often based on 'time in grade' and not merit.  But the employees have a defined benefit retirement plan, something private sector employers are abandoning.

Our public utility just found a way to cut their labor costs in half.  They invented a shovel that will stand up by itself!

One could argue that our education system (in the US) is a government run operation.  A local school board and a state regulating agency overwatched by a federal agency control everything that happens.  It is an abysmal failure!
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Offline rstofer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4783
  • Country: us
If not even Apple, with its massive engineering resources and endlessly deep pockets, bothers doing power supplies in house, do you really think there is any  chance it makes sense for you to?!?

Not building PSUs is one of the reasons their pockets are so deep!

The concept of 'core competency' runs rampant through businesses.  It is usually used to jettison overhead departments (facilities, payroll, janitorial, etc).

Designing a PSU could be a 'core competency' but it doesn't have to be because there are multiple vendors who do have that ability.  Just tell the vendors what you want and select the low bid (or not, there are reasons to avoid the low bidder).
 
The following users thanked this post: tooki, sokoloff, treez

Offline coppercone2

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 759
  • Country: zw
Speccing a power brick is : here are the dimensions and we need these voltages at these currents.
done.
i dont give a rats ass about the guts of the module , what switching controller they use or what topology. i give an electrical and mechanical spec and that 's it. how it works inside the box i don't care.
As a matter of fact : as technology improves and newer ic's with higher switching frequencies and better topologies come available it pays to have re-shop the brick ever couple of years. you may get cheaper and smaller for the same specs.

This is how its done but you can't seriously tell me as a designer you like it this way. I want to scrutinize every aspect of my product to make it solve the intended problem as good as possible. I even feel this about IC's, custom made asics to your specification will always be a better solution.
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Offline free_electron

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6908
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
Speccing a power brick is : here are the dimensions and we need these voltages at these currents.
done.
i dont give a rats ass about the guts of the module , what switching controller they use or what topology. i give an electrical and mechanical spec and that 's it. how it works inside the box i don't care.
As a matter of fact : as technology improves and newer ic's with higher switching frequencies and better topologies come available it pays to have re-shop the brick ever couple of years. you may get cheaper and smaller for the same specs.

This is how its done but you can't seriously tell me as a designer you like it this way. I want to scrutinize every aspect of my product to make it solve the intended problem as good as possible. I even feel this about IC's, custom made asics to your specification will always be a better solution.
yup. i like it that way. i can't get myself to figure out the turns and wire gauge to make an smps transformer ... and then building it, testing it. getting the empty bobbin alone is a drag ...
go look at the prices at distributers for those things. i can get the whole supply made in china for that price. From reputable manufacturers like antec and delta and meanwell and others
like it or not but making a good SMPS is NOT easy ! especially the transformer part is a specialty.

it can be done in the west. XFMRS inc has good transformer building service. and you can get competitive on price for certain specialty apps. but for your run of the mill power brick ? buy it ready made.
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Offline TimNJ

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 610
  • Country: us
Speccing a power brick is : here are the dimensions and we need these voltages at these currents.
done.
i dont give a rats ass about the guts of the module , what switching controller they use or what topology. i give an electrical and mechanical spec and that 's it. how it works inside the box i don't care.
As a matter of fact : as technology improves and newer ic's with higher switching frequencies and better topologies come available it pays to have re-shop the brick ever couple of years. you may get cheaper and smaller for the same specs.

This is how its done but you can't seriously tell me as a designer you like it this way. I want to scrutinize every aspect of my product to make it solve the intended problem as good as possible. I even feel this about IC's, custom made asics to your specification will always be a better solution.

I'm still not sold on the idea that Widget Company XYZ can build a power supply better than Power Supply Company ABC. And, even if they can, I'm still not sold on the idea that they should. Yes, some companies may have the talent to build custom power supplies for their widgets, but again, why do it? Like many things, power supply design is kind of an art, and can be challenging to do right.

Yes, power supplies aren't perfect black-box devices. They have quirks and peculiarities that might cause you to scratch your head occasionally. But generally, they do behave pretty well.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 09:41:15 am by TimNJ »
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Offline tooki

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2731
  • Country: ch
If not even Apple, with its massive engineering resources and endlessly deep pockets, bothers doing power supplies in house, do you really think there is any  chance it makes sense for you to?!?

Not building PSUs is one of the reasons their pockets are so deep!

The concept of 'core competency' runs rampant through businesses.  It is usually used to jettison overhead departments (facilities, payroll, janitorial, etc).

Designing a PSU could be a 'core competency' but it doesn't have to be because there are multiple vendors who do have that ability.  Just tell the vendors what you want and select the low bid (or not, there are reasons to avoid the low bidder).
Yep, absolutely!!!!

There’s also the related concept of relative advantage, of doing only the things where you are significantly better than others. I’ll never forget the analogy my economics professor used: Suppose you’re on the starship Enterprise. The decks need scrubbing. An ensign can scrub the deck in 4 hours, while Spock can scrub it in just 1. But Spock has science and telepathy talents the ensign lacks, so Spock’s competitive advantage is in sciences and mind melds, which the ensign can’t do. Even though Spock could scrub the decks, the opportunity cost of doing so is enormous, so it makes sense to have the ensign scrub the decks. (Or four ensigns, if you need it done quick.)
 
The following users thanked this post: sokoloff, MK14, treez

Offline sokoloff

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 691
  • Country: us
Speccing a power brick is : here are the dimensions and we need these voltages at these currents.
done.
i dont give a rats ass about the guts of the module , what switching controller they use or what topology. i give an electrical and mechanical spec and that 's it. how it works inside the box i don't care.
As a matter of fact : as technology improves and newer ic's with higher switching frequencies and better topologies come available it pays to have re-shop the brick ever couple of years. you may get cheaper and smaller for the same specs.
This is how its done but you can't seriously tell me as a designer you like it this way. I want to scrutinize every aspect of my product to make it solve the intended problem as good as possible. I even feel this about IC's, custom made asics to your specification will always be a better solution.
Honestly, I do like it this way. I'd rather ship than obsess over minute details of a commodity element of my design... If you need an aluminum enclosure, do you start by mining bauxite as well?
 
The following users thanked this post: tooki

Offline treez

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 763
  • Country: gb
Thanks, yes , I understand what you all mean….
Quote
I'm still not sold on the idea that Widget Company XYZ can build a power supply better than Power Supply Company ABC. And, even if they can, I'm still not sold on the idea that they should. Yes, some companies may have the talent to build custom power supplies for their widgets, but again, why do it?
…sure, if you live in a country  full of companies that make great widgets, then you don’t want to bother with specialising in general power supplies for those widgets.
What I am saying is, that for countries like  UK that don’t  have widget making companies in any  significant quantity, then UK (or others) should  start out by starting a power supply company, -one that can supply  “widget making companies”. The power supply company  should be government  run, because in countrys like UK,  the private sector has totally dropped the idea of a  “power supply company”  and wont do it. In fact, in UK, the private sector has gone on an orgy of selling off  UK owned industry to overseas buyers.
The reason the government run company should be a power supply one, is because its relatively straightforward (compared to eg making radar equipment), and  , I believe, can be done as cheaply as the Far East…or at least, nearly so. Also, engineers who work in it could eventually leave and go and be power supply engineers in widget companies. Widget companies, I find, very often need their first prototype widget to have a custom made power supply for it….so the ex-gov’t_run_PSU company engineers could go and do that kind of stuff. Who knows, maybe  some engineers could start  up a private power supply company and put the government  run one out of business…..thats an excellent scenario because it means the electronics sector has been stimulated.
But in the first place, there is a need for a government  run company to get the ball rolling. Uk (and other countries) cant attract  youngsters to come into electronics because there are too few  electronics companies around…..so government run ones need to be started. The government wont be running it as such……it will be run by engineers employed by the government.
Also, the UK should declare that if anyone in UK starts up a power supply company, then it will be illegal to sell it off overseas. 66% of uk manufacturing industry  (>500  staff) is now foreign owned, and the UK now has not enough companies to  pay off its enormous national debt. The uk will be a third world country within a decade, unless radical measures are taken....
https://massey276.wixsite.com/ukdecline

..other countries too, can look out for this, because politicians have a habit of  nuzzling up to huge companies and making decisions as a result that jeopardise their own country....eg the "enterprise act 2002" in UK  that made sure that the UK govenrment now has no duty of intervention when uk companies are  about to be sold overseas......The sale of UK companies  to overseas  buyers ramped up dramatically after this legislation was passed.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 08:21:42 pm by treez »
 

Online mikeselectricstuff

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 11395
  • Country: gb
    • Mike's Electric Stuff
The West has a shortage of engineers.
It would make no sense for them to sped their time reinventing the wheel, rather than working on more innovative and profitable products. A PSU is something that you just buy from people who have experience and infrastructure to do it.

Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
Day Job: Mostly LEDs
 
The following users thanked this post: Richard Crowley, treez

Online ebastler

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1893
  • Country: de
@treez -- Fundamentally, your problem seems to be that you (personally, and/or the company you work for) are active in a field which the Chinese are perfectly capable of addressing, and which is a large enough market to be attractive for them to address. LED drivers and power supplies seem to be that general field, and your personal area of expertise.

Your response to this, and the topic of many similar-flavoured threads you have opened here, is that government regulation should somehow force the public and private sector to bring this business back to the UK. Honestly, I don't think this is ever going to happen.

Instead, you should think about ways to differentiate the products you develop: Add some unique technical twists, or tailor them to niche markets which are too small for Chinese competitors to bother with. (Or which the Chinese just are unaware of, since they are not close enough to these customers.)

This may require skills which you personally don't have -- digital design maybe, e.g. to add remote monitoring/remote control capability to your LED lighting. Or the skill to listen to potential customers with an open mind, to figure out their unmet needs. Maybe you can develop some of these new skills yourself; maybe you are better off working for a company which has (or can bring in) these skills, and which then needs your "core" analog expertise to design the complete product.

Either way, establishing yourself in product segments which evade the Chinese competition is the way to go, in my opinion. Asking for government action to force customers or companies to "buy British" or "buy European" just won't work.
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Online BravoV

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 5289
  • Country: 00
Ask an average person, does an ambulance is important/crucial to a hospital ? Doubt anyone will deny it.

But, ask again, does "every" hospital need a full blown ambulance car service/repair station equipped with highly trained/experienced car service personnels that can fix almost everything at the ambulance car ?

Your problem is, you've been whining for maybe years here ? That the hospital you're working at, and the country you're living at are not encouraging and supporting inhouse ambulance car repair, and in your case by an enthusiast grade but passionate to fix the ambulance at the hospital it self.

Pretty sad actually, imo you should move to China, or at least change your career, that hopefully will made enough money to support your hobby & passion in power electronics, so you can live happily.
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Offline doobedoobedo

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 184
  • Country: gb
Well some of us don't think Treez has ever set foot out of whichever Eastern European country he's from.

Also who in their right mind would advocate for an industry to be run by government? Unless of course the motivation was to piss away tax income.
 
The following users thanked this post: treez

Online ebastler

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1893
  • Country: de
Well some of us don't think Treez has ever set foot out of whichever Eastern European country he's from.

Why would you think that? No, treez is for real and is working for a lighting company in Southern England. I am not going to dox him here, but he has certainly posted enough detail to be Google-able.
 
The following users thanked this post: SeanB, treez

Offline rstofer

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4783
  • Country: us
There’s also the related concept of relative advantage, of doing only the things where you are significantly better than others.

When Jack Welch ran GE (back when it was running a lot better than it has lately), he had a plan.  If a business segment wasn't #1 in its market or #2 with a chance of becoming #1, he sold it.  If you aren't #1, you can't set the price!

They have dumped ballast manufacturing, are selling off the lighting division for overseas manufacturing, trying to find a way out of railroads and so on.

GE even sold the dog!  The famous "His Master's Voice" dog was an image that started in the UK (Grammophone), was bought by RCA and sold later to GE.  Then GE sold the dog to Thomson SA, a French multinational corporation.  There are a number of licensees...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Master%27s_Voice

How could anybody do that?

I guess if you want to make the argument that companies should build their own PSUs, you could argue that they should make the other stuff as well.  Monitors, disk drives, DVD drives, etc.  All of this is possible, there are people who know how to do it.  But these accessories, like PSUs, are just commodities.  Not unlike a dozen eggs.  And no, I'm not going to raise my own chickens!  You ever smelled a chicken farm?  Even cattle don't smell that bad!
 
The following users thanked this post: treez


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf