11242014Headline:

Trends in electronics manufacturing: Best practices that enhance efficiency

With the growing need for reduced time to market and lower costs across the globe, the manufacturing industry is looking at ways and means to increase efficiency. The electronics manufacturing industry also faces the issue of a commoditised component market in addition to cash flow challenges. With low single digit profit margins, the EMS industry has to continually strive to improve efficiency. While there have been innumerable processes and innovations that have been developed, let us look at two of the best practices that help to achieve increased efficiency as well as sustained business.

Guest Column

SA Srinivasa Moorthy vice president, design engineering, Sanmina-SCI Technology India Pvt Ltd

Thursday, January 12, 2012: The first best practice is the ability to use the vast data that has been collected over a period of time and run time data. Processes use modern data warehousing and heuristic modelling to predict the future. This is especially useful in the two critical areas of finance and global supply chain management.

Figure 1 symbolically shows how the process is implemented. The base element is the operations data that comes from the plants as well as the global supply chain. The basic process is to research the data from the operating units in order to make forecasts. Using the latest modelling techniques, it is possible to combine the collected historical data and the forecasts, to make fairly accurate predictions. The accuracy of the prediction increases when the model uses data from multiple domains (like finance, operations and the supply chain, which is shown in the Y axis). What we get is a unified model, which is predictive as well as accurate. The advantage of this practice is that it evens out kinks in the supply chain across geographies and at the same time ensures that production volumes are maintained.

 

The second best practice is an operational aspect that reduces the ‘lab to manufacturing line transition time’. In most cases, designers do not worry about the manufacturing aspects of the product even when they complete the final prototype. Most designers think that controlling the bill of materials (cost in their terms) is the only requirement when manufacturing a product. They give little thought to aspects like assembly, testing, yield in the manufacturing line, etc. Addressing these aspects after the design is done is an expensive affair as well as being time consuming. Designing under conditions that do not address manufacturing aspects will make the product expensive and perhaps even less reliable.

 

Big OEMs have these functions incorporated into their development teams while small and medium companies, especially startups, do not have this facility inhouse. Sanmina-SCI has created a framework that allows the development team to seamlessly engage with the engineering and new product introduction (NPI) teams during the process—right from the design stage till the product scales into the manufacturing line. This ensures that the product is smoothly transferred to the manufacturing line. The advantage of this framework is the ability to transition the manufacturing of the product in any geography without the design team’s intervention. The touch points for the design team are shown in Figure 2. 

In this figure you can see that the touch points occur right through the life of the product and this early involvement saves a substantial amount of time and effort. From the non-recurring expenses perspective, this can save about 20-35 per cent of the overall cost for the OEM, and also makes the product manufacturing scalable and portable across manufacturing facilities around the globe. 

With the focus shifting to efficiency and saving time (as the margins in the EMS business are always low), development of products has become more collaborative. This mandates an IT infrastructure and the use of robust PLM (product lifecycle management) tools. In addition, the global delivery model mandates that the IT solutions are simple to use and capable of customisation based on the changes in an environment. 

With Sanmina-SCI being a leading manufacturer of medical and aerospace products, it is essential to meet regulatory requirements both from the manufacturing point of view as well as from the document control viewpoint throughout the life of its products. This and other requirements have necessitated that Sanmina-SCI go in for a unified IT infrastructure that not only covers its plants and locations, but also covers the customers who work with the company, enabling them to stay updated on a real time basis.Gu

With the growing need for reduced time to market and lower costs across the globe, the manufacturing industry is looking at ways and means to increase efficiency. The electronics manufacturing industry also faces the issue of a commoditised component market in addition to cash flow challenges. With low single digit profit margins, the EMS industry has to continually strive to improve efficiency. While there have been innumerable processes and innovations that have been developed, let us look at two of the best practices that help to achieve increased efficiency as well as sustained business.

 

The first best practice is the ability to use the vast data that has been collected over a period of time and run time data. Processes use modern data warehousing and heuristic modelling to predict the future. This is especially useful in the two critical areas of finance and global supply chain management.

 

Figure 1 symbolically shows how the process is implemented. The base element is the operations data that comes from the plants as well as the global supply chain. The basic process is to research the data from the operating units in order to make forecasts. Using the latest modelling techniques, it is possible to combine the collected historical data and the forecasts, to make fairly accurate predictions. The accuracy of the prediction increases when the model uses data from multiple domains (like finance, operations and the supply chain, which is shown in the Y axis). What we get is a unified model, which is predictive as well as accurate. The advantage of this practice is that it evens out kinks in the supply chain across geographies and at the same time ensures that production volumes are maintained. 

The second best practice is an operational aspect that reduces the ‘lab to manufacturing line transition time’. In most cases, designers do not worry about the manufacturing aspects of the product even when they complete the final prototype. Most designers think that controlling the bill of materials (cost in their terms) is the only requirement when manufacturing a product. They give little thought to aspects like assembly, testing, yield in the manufacturing line, etc. Addressing these aspects after the design is done is an expensive affair as well as being time consuming. Designing under conditions that do not address manufacturing aspects will make the product expensive and perhaps even less reliable. 

Big OEMs have these functions incorporated into their development teams while small and medium companies, especially startups, do not have this facility inhouse. Sanmina-SCI has created a framework that allows the development team to seamlessly engage with the engineering and new product introduction (NPI) teams during the process—right from the design stage till the product scales into the manufacturing line. This ensures that the product is smoothly transferred to the manufacturing line. The advantage of this framework is the ability to transition the manufacturing of the product in any geography without the design team’s intervention. The touch points for the design team are shown in Figure 2. 

In this figure you can see that the touch points occur right through the life of the product and this early involvement saves a substantial amount of time and effort. From the non-recurring expenses perspective, this can save about 20-35 per cent of the overall cost for the OEM, and also makes the product manufacturing scalable and portable across manufacturing facilities around the globe. 

With the focus shifting to efficiency and saving time (as the margins in the EMS business are always low), development of products has become more collaborative. This mandates an IT infrastructure and the use of robust PLM (product lifecycle management) tools. In addition, the global delivery model mandates that the IT solutions are simple to use and capable of customisation based on the changes in an environment. 

With Sanmina-SCI being a leading manufacturer of medical and aerospace products, it is essential to meet regulatory requirements both from the manufacturing point of view as well as from the document control viewpoint throughout the life of its products. This and other requirements have necessitated that Sanmina-SCI go in for a unified IT infrastructure that not only covers its plants and locations, but also covers the customers who work with the company, enabling them to stay updated on a real time basis.

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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