Engineering Profile - the Minnesota Team

by Dan Johns / November 27, 2019

The Benchmark Engineering Profile is an ongoing blog feature highlighting the engineering teams located around the world. Tune in every month to read the next installment in the series. This month features our engineering team in Minnesota.

Our Differentiator is Our People

Benchmark’s Minnesota engineering team is made up of roughly 200 highly experienced design engineers and technicians. With a rich history spanning the markets of medical, industrial, defense and advanced computing, this team brings a unique approach to solving customer's challenges and providing proven solutions to meet their business needs.

With a focus on engineering, designing and manufacturing complex printed circuit board assemblies, we’re able to deliver full system solutions and services to address the entire product lifecycle. We can also help navigate the challenges of introducing a new product to the marketplace through managing obsolescence at a product’s end-of-life.

Our Approach

As one of Benchmark’s engineering Design Centers of Innovation, we pride ourselves on how we work with customers to develop leading-edge designs and solutions. From the beginning, we consider ourselves an extension of their team with a focus on doing what’s right for the customer. Our main goal is to be a customer’s long-term strategic partner by employing an extremely flexible product management style. It is this ability to adapt to the customer’s needs that sets us apart from our competitors.

The Minnesota team is also uniquely qualified to work with early-stage medical companies. Our rich medical heritage and extensive expertise in navigating FDA regulations can provide a guiding path to launching a new product in today’s highly-regulated market.

Our Key Capabilities

We utilize many advanced forms of technology in order to solve complex challenges for our customers. Here are some of technologies we employ:

1. Optics – Design & Product Development

Our optical system design capabilities include design verification and process optimization, optical tolerance analysis, precision component alignment, and hybrid optical assembly. The optics team utilizes Zemax software, which helps our engineers streamline workflow and get to a qualified design quicker. The ability to quickly create a prototype is a key differentiator for our customers.

2. Microelectronics Assembly

The Minnesota facilities feature Class 10K cleanrooms and Class 1K clean environments, a critical part of microelectronics assembly. We provide a range of capabilities and certifications to serve highly-regulated industries. Some of these capabilities include:

  • Adhesive and bare die placement
  • Hermetic sealing
  • Aluminum and gold wire bonding
  • Flip chip
  • Failure analysis and process development
3. Automation Equipment

We understand that time to market and consistent quality are the two most important factors in getting ahead of the competition. We provide a host of custom assembly equipment to ensure that we are meeting our customers’ needs and their delivery expectations. Our services include process development, automated material handling, and precision tooling. And our leading-edge technologies include standard precision assembly cells, micro adhesive dispensing and vision and laser system integration, all designed for a Class 10K cleanroom environment.

4. Test & Inspection System Development

The Minnesota team can implement standard test programs or develop a complete manufacturing-ready test solution at the board, sub-assembly or device level. We review customer’s concepts, define the direction, implement the design, build, verify and validate before we release products for production.

5. Rapid Prototypes

We understand that product design validation and time to market depend on a high-quality prototype that will result in a fully realized product ready for manufacture. Whether our customers choose a completely custom approach or take advantage of an existing reference design platform, our industrial design and user-interaction teams can create product solutions for maximum market acceptability.

AccuVein – a Minnesota Milestone

A prime example of our work, which includes a marriage of many of the capabilities listed above, is the AccuVein Compact Vein Viewer. Benchmark was engaged to establish a formal engineering development process, bridging the gap between a working prototype and a viable product. Working closely with the customer, we were able to capture all of the system parameters, stabilize performance and provide a path for design optimization. The product design team and engineering teams worked alongside our manufacturing experts to ensure smooth transitions from design all the way to production.

Focus on Teamwork

A cornerstone to Minnesota’s culture is friendliness, a true midwestern mentality, which is always present here in our facilities. When we hire, we look for individuals who like to collaborate and understand the importance of teamwork. If you talk to anyone in our facilities, this staple will become clear. This unique perspective helps us think outside the box and learn from both our customers and one another.

It takes a group of talented, dedicated and hardworking individuals to solve the technological challenges our customers put in front of us. Our body of work in a wide range of industries is a testament to the team we’ve assembled and the investments we’ve made in key technology building blocks. Let us show you what we can accomplish together.

Principal Industrial Designer Daniel Dion explains how Benchmark's award-winning industrial design team develops products users love.

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about the author

Dan Johns

Dan Johns is Director of Design Engineering in the Minnesota Design Center. He leads the Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, Automation, and Optical Engineering teams. He has diverse industry experience developing advanced products and automated equipment.

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