Derreck Ford, President
One of the world’s largest aircraft, the Boeing 747-8, constitutes more than three million parts and each component—from the tiniest nuts to the blaring engine blades—is marked with a unique identity. The precise and easily identifiable mark is a ‘passport’ with all kinds of information, including the manufacturer name, model designation, and serial number. This helps manufacturers track the parts from cradle to grave to repair or replace them when needed. Further, marking can assist in addressing the issue of counterfeits in the supply chain and identifying parts accurately. Nonetheless, the process of markingposes a significant challenge for manufacturers. There are components with complex geometries and varying metals, which cause expensive rework if not appropriately marked. Besides, stringent industry standards and the Tier 1 manufacturer’s own marking specifications must also be considered. With such critical compliance requirements, manufacturers need a reliable partner who can ensure they meet end customer requirements.
Enter JETEC, a leader in state-of-the-art product identification solutions for the aerospace and defense industry. The company is a single-source supplier for industrial inkjet, dot peen, and laser (including Thermark), electro-chemical etching marking solutions, as well as Department of Defense (DoD) approved IUID labels and metal tags. For more than 30 years, JETEC has been partnering with global manufacturers to satisfy their end-customer requirements and meet various industry standards, whether it is MIL-STD 130, Boeing BAC 5307, Lockheed EMAPS, NASA Low Outgas, or A-A-208 compliance. In fact, the company was instrumental in helping the DoD come up with the data matrix requirement for the unique identification code (UID). JETEC was part of the team that determined how MIL-STD 130 can be defined using industrial inkjet printers. With extensive knowledge and deep expertise, the company reduces rework, improves quality consistency, and eliminates production delays, thereby bringing value to its clients. “We strive to listen to the needs of our customers and respond with a turnkey solution best suited to them,” says Derreck Ford, President of JETEC.
The One-Stop Shop for Marking Systems
JETEC provides a comprehensive suite of part-marking systems that address the product identification challenges frequently encountered by businesses. Ford mentions that one of the pain points today’s customers face is moving away from legacy systems. For instance, there are manufacturers still using rubber stamps, pad printers, or silk screen machines that require low shelf and pot life inks and non-existent spare parts. Through its advanced product identification technologies, JETEC strives to help them adoptnew systems to meet their requirements. The company offers a wide range of system configurations with inks that have excellent adhesion to multiple surfaces and dry immediately to the touch. The latter eliminates rework caused by smearing or inconsistency due to varying pot life. JETEC incorporates printers from manufacturers such as Domino, Leibinger, Markem-Imaje, and Video jet, to name a few. Further, the company provides solutions that can help manufacturers address counterfeit concerns via part marking. One approach, DNA part marking solutions, can facilitate not only unique part marking but also manufacturing location by the use of specific inks per cage code. This can help clients identify whether the part was made at their facility and repair them or cast and charge for new parts if not.
JETEC’s direct part marking technologies include automatic and semi-automatic solutions. Featuring single-axis, multi-axis, single or multi printers, integrated UID verification, and vison based technologies. No matter how small the client requirement, even if it’s just adding a date code or serial number to a product, JETEC ensures that the customer can perform a hassle-free process requiring placement of their part and pressing a button to commence marking, and it’s done. JETEC’s solutions can print single or multiple lines using internal printer fonts or full Windows fonts on aerospace components of various shapes and surface conditions.
For instance, if a client requires 6 lines of 12-point Arial marks on a circular part, the company’s RMS series multi-axis rotary marking system is up to the task.
Along with tabletop and workstation configured systems, JETEC offers portable handheld marking systems under the Flex-A-JET series. Parts can be present to the Flex-A-JET bezel or the gun brought to the stationary parts for printing. The company’s BMS Series is another stellar solution that enables customers to print UID 2D codes, logos, and serial numbers on individual PCBs or defense electronic devices loaded in JEDEC trays or Auer boats. For high speed printing, optional bi-directional printing, integrated bar code, and PCB stackers and destackers are provided. All JETEC systems can address specific ink requirements, such as alcohol, jet fuel, temperature, or marking permanency requirements. Lastly, the company provides a full line of manual, semi-automatic, and automatic label application systems for RFID labels and tags.
Further, JETEC offers complete contract part marking services for customers who prefer to outsource their marking process. With a standard turnaround time of 3-5 days, JETEC service customers across the country. The company’s expert staff with in-depth industry knowledge ensures that their customer’s products are marked as required. A certificate of compliance (CoC) is included with all contract parts marking shipments. Ford mentions that the demand for contract marking services has increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. “Most customers prefer outsourcing because it reduces non-essential customer on-site manpower while providing a safer manufacturing environment for its employees,” comments Ford.
JETEC will work with its’ customers to provide custom turnkey solutions should any of its existing systems fail to match client requirements. This diverse array of solutions has earned JETEC extensive clientele, including Pratt&Whitney, Honeywell, and Teledyne. A past client, 3Com, a digital-electronics manufacturer, would mandate that every part produced worldwide must be marked using a JETEC marking system.
The 7-Point Process of Quality Service
JETEC caters to its client needs with an unwavering commitment to their success, and this diligent focus has helped the company excel for the last three decades. The company has a 7-point process during client engagement to ensure the right solution is provided to their customers. JETEC starts with the initial contact and then ask for a sample to be provided to best understand their ‘AS IS’ (which means what they are doing currently) scenario. Once the requirements are clearly understood and JETEC has demonstrated their marking capabilities, JETEC then suggests a ‘TO-BE’ process for customer adoption. The company’s expertise is illustrated by the fact that most of the customer responses received have been variants of ‘Wow, how did you do that!’ JETEC then defines a solution within the quote provided. As JETEC waits to receive a purchase order, the company stays in contact with the customer and prepares them for installation of the systems or new process. This includes where it is going to be installed in the facility, how to train the operators, the backup methods for the marking programs, and establishing min/max levels for the printer fluids. JETEC offers end-to-end services, guiding them at every step of the process. “This is what we mean by a solution, it’s not just selling a piece of equipment,” affirms Ford.
The JETEC Advantage
With such ingenious solutions and services, JETEC is indeed an unprecedented leader in the product identification space. The company provides superior-quality solutions to its clients with the motto that ‘if you can make it, we can mark it.’ “What it means is that our clients can focus their resources on making their best products and rely on JETEC to mark it the best way to satisfy their end customers,” explains Ford. However, the company’s real cornerstone is its expert team’s profound knowledge acquired over the years. By partnering with JETEC, the company engages with its’ client’s engineers to ensure that they are clear about their end customer’s marking requirements. The goal is to minimize engineers from getting caught up in using technologies for the sake of it, as each decision has a direct impact on the client’s ability to ship in a timely manner.
“There is not a single manager around who wants to explain to their boss that the reason they can’t make shipment is because they lack the product marking capabilities or that the parts were marked incorrectly,” mentions Ford. Also unique to JETEC is its dedication to finding the right solution for clients. The company does not believe in force-fitting its products on clients and will suggest other vendors who can help them, if JETEC cannot provide the best solution. Clients frequently approach the company to learn about the latest updates and marking advancements within their industry. This strong focus on client satisfaction over its own success has ensured high client retention even after three decades.
Making the Mark in the Aerospace and Defense Industry
Established in 1990, JETEC was born out of a game-changing innovation by Ford and his original partner, to address a rising customer demand. This is when the fax machine had just come out, and color printing was yet to be invented. The manufacturers were moving away from the traditional printing methods such as rubber stamp and silk screening owing to the high set up time and pot life. They sought computer-controlled processes that could reduce these constraining factors and enhance productivity. Around this time, Ford worked as the Head of Hughes Aircraft Company’s Process Engineering Group. Hughes was a major aerospace and defense contractor. With one of his colleagues, he had created an industrial marking system for a hybrid micro-electronic facility using technologies originally marketed in the food and beverage industries and decided to establish a company to serve the defense electronics industry.
One of JETEC’s initial partners was Videojet, a world leader in industrial ink jet printers, with whom the company still maintains a symbiotic relationship. With the help of JETEC, Videojet was able to have a strong foothold in the electronics industry for defense, and its inkjet fluids, with the help of JETEC, are a standard today. “We told the president of Videojet that we would get them into the electronics industry and we did,” remarks Ford. With such strong partnerships, JETEC became a leader in providing moving print head systems in various industries, including SMEMA controlled PCB marking systems. The company has also worked with Haagen-Dazs ice cream for printing their flavor information in different languages and helped to implement a vision-based marking system for Campbell Soup, which is still used today. At one point in time, JETEC was even approached to evaluate the printing of Barbie’s eyes using CMYK printing technology. Later, the company decided to focus on a niche market where it had deep knowledge—the aerospace and defense industry. Having gone through two recessions and a global pandemic, the secret behind JETEC’s undeterred success is its perseverance to provide value to customers worldwide.
Trailblazing Innovation Ahead
Moving ahead, JETEC aims to become partners with major clients at a corporate level and positively impact individual facilities and suppliers. One of the problems with large organizations is that they have diverse printing approaches in each facility, resulting in a lack of marking standardization. JETEC looks forward to helping these organizations standardize their internal processes across facilities and to provide clear flow down instructions to their suppliers. Further, the company plans to continue its focus on using product marking techniques to address counterfeit issues prevailing in the aerospace and defense industries, thus improving the distribution of authentic parts from approved vendors within the global supply chain.
Along with such innovative and robust solutions up its sleeves, JETEC continues to bring new technologies to the arena. The company has a long history of staying abreast of technology trends and incorporating them within their solutions to satisfy its clients’ dynamic parts marking needs. Whether it is the birth of CYMK printing or when Mil-STD 130 moved from LOGMARS 1D bar codes to Data Matrix IUID 2D codes, JETEC was at the top of the game, bringing these technologies to clients. “We believe that JETEC is well-positioned to navigate clients through new paradigm shifts in the future and ensure excellence,” concludes Ford.