Supply chain
Railway power module business is new growth driver: Q&A with Minmax manager Whittaker Cheng
Joseph Tsai, DIGITIMES, Taipei

Taiwan-based Minmax Technology is the largest supplier of DC-DC converters and AC-DC power supply units for general industrial equipment in Taiwan. Currently, the company is seeing stable demand for railway products from China, while in Japan and Europe it has also experienced impressive growth in orders from the regions' railroad markets. With over 27 years of experience and R&D in the power module segment, Minmax has grown to become a competitive module supplier of applications across industrial, medical, railway and power generation.

Digitimes recently had an opportunity to talk with Minmax's marketing and technical manager Whittaker Cheng to find out about the company's latest business development.

Q: What is Minmax's business structure?

A: Minmax is a supplier of power modules including DC-DC converters and AC-DC power supplies. Basically, Minmax has four major product lines. The first one is the power modules for general industrial applications such as testing equipment, industrial control system, semiconductor equipment, measuring instruments and robotic arms. Equipment and IoT products that are covered within the concepts of Industry 2.0, 3.0 and even 4.0, are all included in our general industrial application category.

The second product line is ultra-high voltage isolation power modules, supplying mainly for power-generation facilities including wind-power turbines and nuclear-power and solar-power plants, as well as smart grids.

The third one is certified power components for railway systems. This has been the main development focus for Minmax over the past few years and we have invested heavily in related R&D, manufacturing, quality control, marketing and sales.

The fourth product line is medical-level power modules. Devices in the sector are mostly used in advanced applications such as medical care equipment and enhanced isolation system. Our medical-level power modules are all certified by ANSI/AAMI ES60601-1 and IEC/EN 60601-1(2xMOPP/2xMOOP) third edition standards.

Q: Can you tell us more about the railway power module business?

A: For a railway system, power modules are one of the core components. Because of such an importance, Minmax usually co-designs the power modules with its railway system designer clients to ensure the system's quality.

The work that Minmax and its clients do are mostly involved in the design, as the manufacturing of the systems will be outsourced to third-party electronic manufacturing service (EMS) providers by the clients' client.

In addition to the business model of working with a system designer, we also have a few cases of directly supplying railway system power modules to international railway companies.

Q: Where are Minmax's target markets for its power components?

A: Currently, Europe is one of our major markets, accounting for a rather big portion of Minmax's operation. We are also seeing growing sales from Asia and have been paying increasing attention to the region's operation.

Taiwan of course is our home market and we are the largest DC-DC converter and AC-DC power supply product maker for Taiwan's general industrial application sector. For Asia overall, we are mainly seeing growth driven by China's demand.

Q: What is the status of the power module market?

A: Right now, business varies from sector to sector. For the general industrial application, competition is growing fiercer as the market sector's entry barrier is becoming lower due to the maturity of the related components.

However, it is totally different in the railway system power module sector where the entry barrier is high. In addition to product quality, railway companies also place a strong emphasis on the supplier's ability to provide services and maintain stable supplies.

Q: What are the prospects of Minmax's product lines?

A: Because of railway systems' characteristics, we expect the business of railway power module to see rapid growth. However, entering the related supply chain is not an easy task as it requires years of investments, cultivation and development.

Although Minmax is benefiting from the rising business opportunity in the railway sector, especially in China and Europe, the general industrial application are currently still the largest revenue contributor for Minmax.

Q: What are Minmax's advantages compared to competitors?

A: One of the advantages that we are very proud of is our delivery time. While most of our competitors need to spend an average of 8-12 weeks before fulfilling their orders, Minmax's average delivery time is between 4-6 weeks.

This means that our clients are able to receive their supply and complete their projects earlier. System designers are able to complete only five projects a year working with our competitors, but with us, they are able to raise the number of projects to eight a year. Of course, for clients that need special customization, the delivery time may extend.

Another thing we consider as an advantage is that all the products we sell are designed, developed and manufactured in house. Our manufacturing plants are also located in Taiwan.

Whittaker Cheng, Minmax Marketing and Technical manager

Whittaker Cheng, Minmax marketing and technical manager
Photo: Company

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