MG Chemicals – the right formulas for growth
Since being founded in 1955, specialist chemical manufacturer MG Chemicals has built a reputation among electronics design engineers for quality and innovation, continuously researching and developing new products for the electronics manufacturing industry.
Jason Rogers, MG Chemicals Senior VP, explains some of the reasons for the double digit growth the company has seen over the last 5-6 years:
"Much of our growth has been driven by the effort we put into developing new products through significant investment on R&D, enhancing the quality of new high-tech products at the OEM level. We've also built strong relations with key electronic distribution partners such as Allied Electronics in North America and RS Components in Europe."
As he prepared to study chemistry at university, MG offered my son, Patrick, a week’s work experience in their research lab near Toronto, Canada, where he learned about some of their formulas for success.
Chemical production and storage at MG's production unit near Toronto
Formula 1 – Continuous Innovation
On his first day in the lab, Behnam Meschi Amoli, R&D Coordinator and his mentor for the week, gave Patrick an introduction to MG’s clearly delineated new product development process, showing how the company invests in continuous innovation.
What was clear when I interviewed (“interrogated” perhaps) Patrick on his return to the UK was that MG owe their reputation for high quality to putting customers at the centre of everything they do. They stay in close contact with their customers at all times, listening to feedback to generate ideas for new products for the electronics market, or to enhance existing ones. They also keep a close eye on the competition, checking out competing products to keep abreast of the latest developments in industrial and electronic chemicals.
During the week he was there, Patrick had first-hand experience of just one such product enhancement, working directly on MG’s 9200 Structural Epoxy Adhesive, which was specifically developed to offer customers typically working on joining parts and assemblies that would undergo consistent mechanical vibration and/or heat treatment which require stronger adhesive qualities and a more robust, longer-lasting product. 9200 is designed to create load bearing joints between a wide range of difficult to bond to materials, including glass, ceramics, metals, engineered thermoplastics, and thermoset laminates such as SMC (sheet molding compound) and GRP (glass-reinforced plastics).
This continuous focus on customers and competitors generates a long list of new ideas, the best of which are then screened for feasibility before going into a meticulous specification phase. This is when MG hone in to define precisely what the product will be used for, what customers will be doing with it in which industry and environment, and as a result, the technical qualities it will need.
All new prototypes also go through a detailed regulatory review, absolutely vital in the chemical manufacturing industry due to the differing and complex regulation which is in place in different countries. In some cases, ingredients in the same product will need to be adapted for sale in different international markets. For example, the EU RoHS directive for electrical and electronic equipment totally forbids lead solders in most applications except in some very narrowly defined application areas.
Finally, before launch, to minimise any risk before they go out to the marketplace, new products go through a stringent testing regime
Formula 2 - Safety, Stability and Testing
Before launching new products, MG carry out a series of stringent laboratory tests against the initial product specification. For example, during his time with the company, Patrick observed lap shear and compressive strength testing on two products under development and was given a full induction showing how MG test products to make sure they will withstand harsh conditioning.
Critically, the majority of the tests in the MG laboratory are carried out to ASTM standards – ASTM, or the American Society for the Testing of Materials is an international standards organization that develops and publishes technical standards, all designed to improve product quality across a wide range of materials and products – once again, a clear indication of the company’s ongoing commitment to quality.
Once again, if MG receive feedback from customers that new releases are not performing as specified, they are taken back into the lab for retesting, identifying any specific issues and if necessary refining the product further before rereleasing – clear evidence that the company take their customers’ views very seriously
Formula 3 - Developing Talent
As with any successful organisation, people are as important as processes. As I found when I worked with the Canadian company during their introduction to the RS Components range in 2016, MG understand that for a company to do R&D well, it needs to build the right level of technical knowledge among its employees, continually nurturing scientific talent.
From Patrick’s feedback, I understand that MG are a family-run company, committed to developing their staff, building their specialist product knowledge at the same time as creating a relaxed, family feeling where employees feel welcome – all of which help to create an innovation culture.
The workforce at MG is diverse, made up of employees from different nationalities and ages, all with different specialisations, and true to the company ethos they welcome Patrick like one of their own, taking him along to watch the famous Jays (Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Team) one evening, and on a trip to Niagara Falls.
On his first day in the office, Patrick meets Alejandro, who sings the company’s praises and is just one example of MG’s approach to building product knowledge and developing their people. After originally coming into the company to work in their postroom, Alejandro was encouraged to “live the chemistry”, building up his familiarity with product testing procedures. The ongoing training he has received from the company means that he now works as a product tester in the lab, with prospects of a career as an industrial chemist.
Rogers comments: "At MG, we believe that welcoming young students to observe and work in our state of the art R&D facility plays can play a significant role in channelling their talent, putting them on the right path early on in their academic journey. We are proud to offer students opportunities to deepen their interest in science and take the first step toward being the next generation of successful scientists."
RS Components stocks a wide range of specialist products for the electronics industry manufactured by MG Chemicals, including conformal coatings, conductive adhesives, potting compound and conductive paint. Click here to see the full range.