Building Quality In

Building Quality In

When a company outsources manufacturing, its electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider becomes an extension of its reputation as far as quality is concerned. Consequently, in selecting an EMS provider, it is important to evaluate potential supplier’s quality culture. An obvious focus is quality control practices. These are the activities associated with catching the defects that naturally occur due to process variation and component failures during production. Auditing process control activities and inspection and test strategy gives a good perspective of that element of quality.

However, quality assurance philosophy, i.e., the activities associated with preventing defect opportunities, is also important. This whitepaper looks at four areas where quality can be built into products by identifying a defect opportunity or likely process failure and eliminating the ability for it to occur. Read the full whitepaper here.

Does Your Outsourcing Strategy Fully Leverage Your EMS Provider’s Resources?

Business Benefits of Outsourcing

Mention electronics contract manufacturing or outsourcing and the picture that immediately comes to mind is manufacturing that is being done by another company for a unit price. Some view this relationship as being similar to relationships with other purchased part suppliers. An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sends out a quote package with specifications and the bidder offering the lowest total cost wins. However, there is more complexity in the electronics contract manufacturing relationship than is typically found in other supply chain relationships. While quoted price represents a measurable cost, outsourcing drives several lesser measured business benefits. When fully exploited, each of these benefits helps lower cost through improved efficiency, risk mitigation or better resource utilization.

These benefits include:

  • Access to a wider pool of expertise
  • Shortened product development cycles
  • Improved financial turns
  • Reduced internal transactions
  • Better resource utilization
  • Ability to manufacture in lower cost or more logistically beneficial labor regions with minimal investment risk.

This whitepaper looks at each of these benefits and discusses ways to focus contract manufacturing partner selection and relationship framework to better take advantage of these benefits. Examples from some of SigmaTron International’s customer relationships are used, where applicable. Read the full whitepaper here.

Product Development and the 7 Wastes

Lean and Design

Decisions made in product design can impact assembly cost, defect opportunities and inventory cost. While design for manufacturability (DfM) analysis can eliminate many issues, less commonly analyzed decisions related to cost targets, scheduling and work team assignments can have unintended consequences that generate unacceptable levels of waste. SigmaTron International’s Lean manufacturing article in the November 2020 issue of Circuits Assembly magazine looks at how to avoid these unintended consequences. Read the article here.

New to Outsourcing? Five Areas to Audit

New to Outsourcing Five Audit Areas

Companies that regularly outsource normally have well-developed systems in place for evaluating potential electronics manufacturing services (EMS) partners and a standardized process for transferring projects. Conversely, companies new to outsourcing face a learning curve with every step of the process. A key concept to consider in selecting a contract manufacturing isn’t simply the savings represented by the quoted price. Instead, it is the cumulative savings represented by an EMS partner capable of assessing likely needs and offering a solution that minimizes the learning curve of the new to outsourcing process.

From that standpoint, five areas that are critical to include in any auditing process are:

  • Engineering support
  • New product introduction (NPI) support
  • Systems strategy
  • Procurement capabilities
  • Flexibility in supporting your company’s requirements over time.

Learn more about how EMS provider expertise in these areas can add unexpected value to the relationship. Read the full whitepaper here.

Solving the Challenges of Variable Demand

Supporting Variable Demand

Variable demand projects are often the most difficult to outsource. The challenge isn’t finding electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers who are willing to build them. The challenge is finding EMS providers whose processes have been optimized to efficiently support them. SigmaTron International, regularly supports customers with variable demand, particularly in its North American facilities where shorter transit distances can enhance responsiveness to changes in demand. This whitepaper looks at four examples of ways processes have been optimized to address the challenges that this type of production can generate. Read the full whitepaper here.

SigmaTron Source Q3 2020

Sigmatron Third Quarter 2020

This quarter’s SigmaTron Source newsletter looks at a new software tool that automates the design for manufacturability (DFM) analysis process and discusses the Elk Grove Village, IL facility’s recent ATEX/IECEx Audit for products used in potentially explosive environments. Accomplishments related to Lean Six Sigma in the Tijuana, Mexico facility are also discussed. Read the full issue here.

Lean Poka-Yoke and IT Tools

Lean and ITOne continuing trend in electronics manufacturing services is the increasing role IT-related solutions have in supporting a Lean manufacturing-driven organizational culture. This is particularly true of proprietary solutions that automate processes in ways that minimize normally occurring variation or help eliminate non-value-added activity.

One example of this is SigmaTron International’s proprietary Manufacturing Execution System (MES) system known as Tango, whose Phase III system went live at the EMS company’s Elk Grove Village (IL) facility in June. The overarching goal of Tango is to centralize tools used throughout the company for production management, while adding enough flexibility via customization to address facility-specific or customer-specific situations.

The EMS company uses a combination of proprietary and internally developed systems for enterprise and shop-floor management. All facilities utilize a common ERP system, plus third-party product lifecycle management (PLM) tools. Tango is now deployed as an app accessible through computers and handheld devices. It interfaces with the company’s ERP system, and the goal is to have it be the frontend interface for production personnel for all production-related data collection and tracking activity.

Its Phase III iteration strengthens its ability to support data collection and traceability functions in production and eliminate processing defect opportunities in production activities. Our latest Circuits Assembly article looks at ways that Tango improves efficiency and acts as a poka-yoke on the production floor. Read the full article here.

Is Your Design Team Making Costly Strategy Mistakes?

Avoiding Costly Design Mistakes

Most whitepapers focused on design for manufacturability (DFM) look exclusively at specific issues related to printed circuit board (PCB) layout. However, many decisions made in product design above and beyond PCB layout, from schedule milestones to material selection can impact cost to manufacture and defect opportunities. In this whitepaper, SigmaTron’s Design Engineering team looks at the topic of DFM from a different angle, analyzing the unintended cost consequences of some common design practices. Read the full whitepaper here.

Working Smarter: Maximizing Outsourcing Value

Working Smarter Post (1)

If you aren’t leveraging the manufacturing and product commercialization expertise your contract manufacturer has to offer, chances are your company is not unlocking the full value of a strong outsourcing partnership. SigmaTron International, a contract manufacturer with a global network of facilities in the U.S., Mexico, China and Vietnam, sees four areas that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) should leverage to unlock that full value. These areas are:

  • Product development/engineering expertise
  • Commodity management expertise
  • Project visibility/traceability
  • Utilizing the optimum mix of services.

Read the full whitepaper here.

Navigating COVID-19 Related Supply Chain Challenges

Lean and COVID-19

Supply-chain disruption and Lean philosophy rarely go hand-in-hand. In some cases, however, systems created to support Lean manufacturing or the principles themselves help mitigate the chaos the pandemic has created in the global supply chain. SigmaTron’s July 2020 Circuits Assembly article discusses the ways its system strategy and tools such as Kanbans have helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions and demand shifts.

Read the full article here.