everything RF recently interviewed Roy Phillips, the Managing Director and CEO of IntelliConnect. He has a 40 year career in the Interconnect industry starting in 1983 with Greenpar Connectors (then the UK’s largest connector manufacturer) before moving on to Radiall and then Midwest Microwave before founding Intelliconnect in 2003. His background is in Procurement, Materials Management and Manufacturing/Operations Management and since he has performed the twin roles of Managing Director of Intelliconnect (Europe) Ltd and CEO of Intelliconnect USA LLC.
Q. Can you give us a brief history of IntelliConnect? When was the company founded? What was the objective?
Roy Phillips: IntelliConnect was originally founded in 2003 at Chelmsford, Essex partly as a reaction to all of the UK’s RF/Coaxial connector manufacturers being acquired and ultimately moved offshore leaving no indigenous UK manufacturer. It was felt that there was a gap in the market for a small, agile, technical connector manufacturer who was willing to listen to customer needs and create a solution that fit their requirement rather than offering a standard off the shelf product. Since day one, Intelliconnect has never had an MOQ, MOV or made any NRE charge.
In 2005 IntelliConnect joined forces with a similar business in the US which was to become IntelliConnect USA. Both businesses have thrived over the years by offering high quality, high reliability products aligned with superb service and a passion for ‘delighting’ our Customers.
In 2008 IntelliConnect won its first major defense contract designing and supplying a suite of connectors, adapters and cables to a company supplying Personal Locator Beacons to Air Forces worldwide. This was the birth of the Pisces range of IP68/Nema 6 waterproof products.
In 2013 IntelliConnect moved its UK manufacturing to Corby, Northants in order to take advantage of the highly skilled labor available due to the closure of Rhophase plant and quickly became a major player in the RF/Microwave cable assembly space.
In 2015 IntelliConnect achieved SC21 Bronze status and in 2019 Silver. SC21 principles define everything we do, not least consistent achievement of 96%+ On-Time-Delivery and 99.95% Quality levels.
2016 saw us take our first steps into the Cryogenics market, a market which today comprises around 50% of total revenue.
In 2019 IntelliConnect appointed a new, young management team which has been key in achieving the extraordinary growth we have seen in the past 2 years and expect to see in the coming years.
Q. What type of products does IntelliConnect develop?
Roy Phillips: IntelliConnect predominantly develop all types of innovative products both as a reaction to Customer demand and pro-actively as we see market potential. Our focus is very much on RF/Microwave cables, connectors and adapters but as the business develops we have seen a trend toward value add and box build type solutions.
Q. What differentiates IntelliConnect from other interconnect manufacturers?
Roy Phillips: As previously stated, IntelliConnect has a passion for being easy to deal with. So many companies, particularly the bigger ones, put barriers in front of customers. Whether it be the aforementioned NRE, MOQ or MOV or not responding quickly and sympathetically to a customer's demand, it seems that so many businesses do their best to make their Customer's life difficult. Buyers and Engineers have a tough job and we see it as our role to make their life as easy as possible.
Q. What market segments do you target and which segment drives the most business for you?
Roy Phillips: We target any market segment that requires high reliability, high quality technical products. Most particularly Defense, Medical, Cryo/Quantum and Marine.
Q. Can you tell us about CryoCoax? What type of products does CryoCoax design and manufacturer?
Roy Phillips: CryoCoax was born in 2018 as our specialist cryogenics division. It is an integral part of IntelliConnect and is essentially a brand by which we can present and promote our expertise in this space. We have a wide range of solderless, non-magnetic, high density interconnects as well as offering a multitude of cables and cable assemblies. A significant part of our business is also engaged in the manufacture of value added product such as coaxial sticks.
Q. What are cryogenic components and how are they different from regular components?
Roy Phillips: The differences are primarily surrounding materials. When working at cryogenic levels, (sub 4K), materials behave differently and so standard copper/brass connectors and cables have to be replaced with a variety of exotic materials not normally used in RF. There is a significant demand for high density interconnects in order to increase signal capacity and IntelliConnect has developed a new high density connector system specifically designed for cryogenics.
Q. What are some cryogenic applications where IntelliConnect/CryoCoax products have been used?
Roy Phillips: Cryogenics covers a multitude of markets including Military, Quantum, Medical, Space and Test & Measurement. We supply into most of these sectors but predominantly Quantum computing applications, dilution fridges for T&M and miltary applications that I can’t talk about!
Q. Do you develop standard products or custom products? What is the typical turnaround time for the development of custom products?
Roy Phillips: Whilst we have an extensive range of standard, waterproof and cryogenic RF/Microwave products, our big strength is undoubtedly in working with customers in order to provide exactly what they require. This will often result in us designing a custom product. If you include cable assemblies in the mix, some 75-80% of our product can be classed as custom. Typically we provide an outline drawing within 48 hours and a complete design in a week.
Q. Can you tell us about the custom product development process that you use?
Roy Phillips: Very simple if we are developing a product specifically for a customer, we assess the brief from the customer, work with them to fully understand their requirement and use our expertise to define a solution. Using solidworks and other design software we create and test the design theory (mechanically and electrically) and then create prototypes for customer appraisal.
If pro-actively designing a product, the process is similar save that the product will go through a rigorous design assessment and FMEA process.
Q. Where are IntelliConnect products manufactured? Can you tell us about your sales channels?
Roy Phillips: We have two manufacturing sites in Crossville, Tennessee and Corby, Northamptonshire UK. We have a Sales and Engineering center in Chelmsford, Essex UK.
Our sales channels are predominantly direct or through worldwide Sales agents. A small percentage is via distribution.
Q. What is the 3-year roadmap for IntelliConnect?
Roy Phillips: In terms of growth, sales are set to almost double this year with further traction in Cryo and some major defense contracts won in 2021. Orders are expected to see similar growth and a further 35-40% growth is expected in both 2023 and 2024.
We have 2 major product launches expected in 2022 with further releases in the next couple of years. We have a major program running currently to augment our team in the US and a transfer of some manufacturing capacity from UK to US.
Intelliconnect is a leading RF & Microwave interconnect product supplier. They use our experience and innovative thinking to tailor their services to each individual customer. They realize that every product is unique and thus requires a unique strategy and outlook every time. They are a supplier of choice for many of the leading American and European Defence, Medical and Marine OEMs and have a Silver SC21 certification. They also work with smaller briefs and companies.
Click here to learn more about IntelliConnect.
Click here to learn more about CryoCoax.