The Benchmark Site Profile is an ongoing blog feature highlighting the Benchmark engineering and manufacturing teams worldwide. Tune in to read the next installment in the series. This month features Benchmark Lark Technology's engineering and manufacturing team in Tijuana, Mexico - Rubi.
Located just one mile south of the U.S.-Mexico border and just 35 minutes from San Diego, California, Benchmark Tijuana, Mexico - Rubi is the home of Benchmark Lark Technology. The RF experts in this location design, manufacture, and test custom RF filters, components, and assemblies for critical applications in defense, aerospace, telecommunications, and industrials. Our team comprises talented engineers and technicians with a wide range of specialties committed to providing our customers the best possible experience and results.
Focus on filters
Custom RF filters are critical when commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) filters aren't available to meet requirements. In some cases, such as Lark's work on NASA's Europa Clipper, it's because the end-application is very specialized. In other instances, COTS offerings simply don't offer the required performance or specifications for very high-reliability applications. Without the high-performance custom designs we create and build; our customers would be limited in their design options for RF systems. We like to say we build the filter to your design so that you don't have to design for the filter.
Our customers often come to us in the early stages of product design. They present an idea and share their critical dimensions and specifications. From idea to realization, our job is to partner with the customer to provide our ingenuity and technical skills to execute the design process flawlessly. We solve critical problems for our customers that allow their technology to succeed. In order to serve critical markets, the site is AS9100:2016 and NADCAP certified, as well as ITAR registered.
Customers comment that they expected custom, high-reliability filters to be beyond their budget. Luckily, Lark offers a favorable cost structure that allows us to deliver premium RF products at a surprisingly affordable price. In fact, when the potential time savings of leveraging a custom filter in an RF design is factored in, the total cost of ownership can be very low.
For example, telecommunications applications such as base stations in support of 5G network development require very large volumes of filters. Wireless service providers are adding service in new spectrum bands that may be adjacent to spectrum bands already in use. In these applications, high-quality signal filtering that meets all requirements is just as essential as price. Benchmark Lark Technology works with leaders in wireless infrastructure to develop the best possible filters and components for their needs, driving the future of wireless communications.
Experience is our advantage
The Lark team has specialized in RF for over 30 years, so our design team has seen it all. Since RF is our highly specialized focus, our RF engineers set our team apart. The world-class RF design team includes PhDs and other experienced engineers. Our expertise gives us tremendous insight; we know what works and what doesn't.
We have also outfitted our facility with the right equipment to address many customer projects. Our state-of-the-art, highly-equipped facility includes a nickel-plating operation, CNC machines, and 5G high-frequency test equipment. We have a full suite of Environmental Stress Screening (ESS) equipment to ensure filters can withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, extreme gravitational forces, or other environmental stressors common in the defense, telecommunications, aerospace, and space applications we serve. We leverage this equipment to conduct Highly Accelerated Lifecycle Tests (HALT) for space and other critical applications.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a long-time customer of Lark and we are particularly proud to have worked on technology that was sent to the moon to test gravity. In addition, our technology has been part of missile defense systems and important industrial and telecommunication equipment. We're also in the process of working on RF filters for NASA's Europa Clipper mission, which will send a spacecraft to Jupiter to study its moon, Europa. More information about the complex nature of this project can be found in our blog, The Unique Challenge of Designing RF Filters for Space.
An emphasis on Whatever It Takes
A term that defines our culture is Whatever It Takes (WIT). It's a mindset that means we will always find a way to meet our customers' needs. Sometimes this means working long hours, and sometimes it means being creative and thinking outside the box. We are a solutions site focusing on operational success, no matter how difficult or complex the project may be.
While we are incredibly collaborative and work together to achieve success, everyone at Lark is dedicated to their individual expertise. Each contributor excels at their role and has a sense of ownership over their part, combining their talents with the greater whole to create high-quality solutions.
To foster continuous improvement, we host an annual contest where employees are asked to provide ideas on improving our processes. Last year, the winner came up with an idea to reuse materials to save money, while diminishing our environmental impact. The contest always inspires creative thinking, and it's interesting to see what people bring to the table.
We also pride ourselves on having an open-door culture. We have a suggestion box, and everyone is invited to speak directly with leadership if they have suggestions or want to talk something through. We take all feedback very seriously, no matter where it comes from.
Encouraging a Work/life balance
We work incredibly hard as a team, but we also make sure to provide rewards, a good work/life balance, and fun experiences for our employees. We give out productivity bonuses, on-time bonuses, and numerous training opportunities. Every employee goes through a basic induction that includes all the Benchmark values, policies, any other ethics, general information, and job training. We also host fun events throughout the year, including Mother's and Father's Day celebrations, a summer picnic, and an annual end-of-year dinner downtown. Employees are encouraged to bring friends and family to join in the fun at all our events.
We have an amazing 2.5% employee turnover rate. Most of our employees have worked at Lark for an average of 10-12 years, which is a clear reflection of the culture we have created. The leadership at Lark couldn't be prouder of our team, and we feel more confident than ever that we are the world's premium RF and microwave design and build partner.