Professional Services, Surging Ahead in Jamaica’s Tech Manufacturing Industry
Recently I have been on a quest for locally made products. Generally I look forward to the day when we can build components as well as finished goods. Thankfully some companies are already on that path. Earlier this week I caught up with high school classmate Cai Tomlinson to talk about her dad’s business.
Professional Services Ltd. builds surge supressors here in Jamaica since 1982. The interesting bit is that although many of the components are imported, the designs of the circuits inside are all done by proprietor Paul Tomlinson. Each unit is also assembled locally on an assembly line. More info below:
What type of products do you make?
Voltage monitors and surge suppressors for home, commercial, and industrial use. (what many people don’t know, though, is that if we don’t already make it, we can most likely design and build it- I haven’t seen a challenge beat Mr. Tomlinson yet!)
Are the power issues with our local provider or with wiring of buildings?
This one is a bit tricky: one can’t blame our local provider entirely. According to Mr. Tomlinson, after having done research on the matter, he’s found that most of the island is prone to salt water corrosion in the power lines. As it turns out, sea spray travels up to 20 miles inland- and Jamaica is less tan 50 miles wide.
If a building is powered by solar or wind energy does it still need surge protection?
Only if it’s hooked up to the local power grid. Anything independent of that we would consider relatively safe.
Does everyone need surge protection?
The only people on the island we don’t feel need surge Oiprotection of some sort are the ones who have managed to set up their own, independent source of power…. And, we suppose, those who don’t use electricity.
Are there different levels of protection?
There ”are ”different levels of surge protection that may be offered, but that comes down to how much money someone is willing to spend on that protection. What we strive to do here is provide a reasonable level of protection for a reasonable price.
How have your products modernized over the years?
One of the biggest modernizations would be the movement from a resistive power supply to a capacitive one. Resistive power supplies use a power wasteful resistor to drop the 110 volts (jps line voltage). A capacitor is a reactive element, and doesn’t dissipate any heat
Everything is made in Jamaica? What would make local production easier or more cost effective?
We only import raw materials where we need to. All the components (cords, cases, circuit boards etc.), and finally the products themselves, are proudly made in Jamaica. We believe in buying local where we can, but the major limiting factor here is that Jamaica has no electronic components industry. Consider, for example, our circuit boards. They were printed (and manually drilled) within the business, but with the move to a production line, greater quantities and accuracy became necessary: the only way to make the quantum leap in production was to incorporate dip soldering, a track, and ‘pick & place’ insertion. The accuracy required for large scale production at this point required CNC drilling- an option not easily available at the time. Even now, for the quantities we order in, doing so locally is sadly still not the most cost-effective option.
There you have it. A local, family owned tech manufacturing company. Hopefully this company and more will benefit from the push for ICT development in Jamaica. I also hope they will achieve their aim to start exporting soon.
If you know of a local would love to hear more about companies like these, if you know of any please let me know!