How to Ditch Insanely Long Lead Times: An Inside Look with CoralVue on Switching to In-House Production

An installed HYDROS aquarium automation system by CoralVue.

The aquarium supply company, CoralVue Inc., recently decided to make the switch to in-house production. They are currently using a full line-up of Manncorp equipment and have been receiving training from our SMT experts. We checked in with them, and they were happy to give us the inside scoop on how things have been going, from the buying process, to learning the equipment, to impact on their overhead.

Deciding to Bring Production In-House

The lead times companies are facing right now are devastating. Being unable to get much needed products is why many companies are taking the DIY route. CEO of CoralVue, David D'Aquin tells us he “started getting notices of 52-week lead times on many of [the] critical components for the PCB boards [they] build” and this pushed them to make a decision.

David said it was a combination of these unforeseen “supply chain issues of electronic components” and the rising “cost of using overseas PCB manufacturers” that became the driving force for CoralVue choosing to produce what they need in-house.

First Steps Toward In-House Production for CoralVue

Once they decided in-house production was the best path forward, David D’Aquin says, “we decided to buy up all the electronic components we could get and then start the process of buying our own SMT assembly line.”

CoralVue’s SMT Equipment Buying Process

1. Do Your Research

Initially, David says their team at CoralVue did a lot of research on which equipment supplier they should choose. When asked why they decided to go with Manncorp, David says, “After much research, it was an easy decision.”

2. Trust the Experts

Once CoralVue had chosen Manncorp as their supplier, the next step was choosing the equipment. David tells us that they figured out which equipment would be best by “talking with the Manncorp sales team and leaning on their experience.” They based their decision on their “current needs, as well as being able to increase production in the coming months/years.”

The Equipment Used by CoralVue

Full SMT equipment line installed at CoralVue Inc., supplied by Manncorp.

CoralVue decided on the following equipment for their starter SMT line:

Plus, they have a loader, an unloader, and a conveyor. When discussing their overall experience with their new equipment, David says he has been “very impressed with the overall quality of the machines.”

What CoralVue is Producing In-House with Manncorp Equipment

Since CoralVue was founded in 2002, it has become one of the largest aquarium supply distributors in the United States, serving every segment of the aquaria market—including specialty retailers, public aquariums, educational institutions, coral farmers, and fish breeders.

HYDROS is their newest product line, which offers smart controls and accessories for aquarium automation. This automation helps aquarists of all skill levels monitor water level and temperature, detect leaks or device failures, turn lights on/off, feed fish, and more through a user-friendly app.

The HYDROS automated control system in action.

The PCBs needed for CoralVue’s HYDROS systems are “the heart of [their] product line,” and they are now being printed in house. With their new flexibility of in-house production, CoralVue plans on bringing to market several more aquarium automation controllers in the next 5 years.

CoralVue’s Experience with In-House SMT Equipment

Beyond the buying process, the team at Manncorp strives to offer services that make the transition to in-house production as simple as possible for customers. When we asked David about their experience, he told us, “The quality of the machines and the support after the sale from Manncorp have been exceptional.”

CoralVue has also taken advantage of the installation and training options we offer, working directly with our expert technician, Andy Scheer. “Andy was great,” says David, “very patient with us and willing to stay as long as we needed him—even late into the night.”

Overall, CoralVue has found that in-house production gives them a great deal of “flexibility when it comes to inventory,” because many of their PCBs “use the same components.” This allows them to make smaller production runs and build-to-order.

So, rather than ordering components in bulk to reduce cost, and having them sit on the shelf, they have what they need and run boards as needed. David says this production model has also “helped ease [their] cash flow.”

Their main results? Reduced overhead and increased flexibility.

David and Brandi D'Aquin shown with a printed circuit board from the SMT line at CoralVue.

A Final Note from CoralVue CEO to Companies Considering In-House Production

“Given the state of the world economy and political climate, we felt it was best to take control of as much of our business operations as possible. If PCBs are vital to your business, then an investment in an SMT production line could determine your future success.” – David D’Aquin, CEO of CoralVue