Electronics Assembly .… Exposed

Exposing PCB Manufacturing, Assembly, and Test processes to improve efficiencies, productivity and business!

17 June, 2014

Tired of entering the same recommendations and descriptions for design DFM issues found over and over again!!! You are not alone.

If you are one of the hundreds out there that are responsible for providing feedback for PCB Design issues, read on!

As the manufacturing expertise moves away from the design organizations and into the manufacturing organizations, effective collaboration tools are needed to ensure communication flow is not disrupted.  Electronic Contact manufacturers are getting involved with design layout decisions earlier and earlier in the product design flow.  Outsourcing design layout is further complicating the collaboration and feedback loop between manufacturing know-how and the designers.  Identifying potential fabrication, assembly, and test problems in the PCB design before moving to manufacturing can offer huge benefits.  Many are also using the manufacturing expertise to provide DFx Services to design organization.

DFM report

Automated reporting

Consider automation!

With new advances in the Valor DFM tools and the updated Manufacturing Risk Assessment functionality, it is now easier than ever before to tag issues, add comments, and export results.

Automation has been developed to automate the process of generating these reports. In most cases, reports that once took hours to create can be done in minutes. This automation provides Valor NPI users a quick and easy method for creating professional looking, consistent DFx reports which are configured specifically for each of their customers.

Auto-populating of Recommendations, Reference Documents (e.g. IPC 7351) based on the category name, componrecommendedent type, etc.. saves hundreds of hours of manual editing.

In addition, collection of design metrics would assist understanding design complexity and risk assessment (DPMO).

Tired of entering the same recommendations and descriptions for design DFM issues found over and over again!!! You are not alone.

Contact me if you want to discuss how to make this happen for you or your supplier!

What are your main challenges with DFx collaboration?  Is the market ready for moving from static reports to something more?

Looking forward to any and all comments!

30 May, 2014

Are mobile Apps becoming more prevalent in the Electronics Manufacturing landscape?

I recently came across a survey at Manufacturing Business Technology magazine by Canvas:

http://www.mbtmag.com/news/2014/05/survey-investigates-manufacturing-firms-use-mobile-apps

The article states “…The survey points to an increasingly mobile manufacturing workforce that is looking to extend more day-to-day business processes to their mobile devices”.  The key areas of mobile device usage seem to be in the inspection of goods areas (48%).  Although this survey is more generic in nature and not specific to electronics manufacturing, I would argue that Quality Inspection, Inventory Management, WIP Management, and Test areas are ideal candidates to deploy mobile app devices.  Locations where data collection is vital to maintaining visibility, aggregating metrics, and feeding manufacturing operational intelligence should be areas of focus.  In addition, real time feedback to the end-user, such that critical quality and management decisions can be made, in-process quality may be implemented and a dramatic reduction of paperwork, manual entry can be achieved are additional reasons these specific areas of focus should be addressed by all electronic manufacturers.  In addition to Valor’s MSS technology that can provide these capabilities, factories are many times looking for internal resources to develop such capability.  Thorough analysis of cost of ownership should be done before deciding on approaching vendors or developing internally.  Are there many electronics manufacturers implementing mobile apps and devices on their factory floor?  Yes!  However, this push seems to be more prevalent in Europe than in the US right now.

So, how does this fit into the Internet of Things?

Internet of Things (commonly abbreviated as IoT) is used to denote advanced connectivity of devices, systems and services that goes beyond the traditional machine-to-machine (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains and applications. – defined by Wikipedia.  I’ve been thinking about how the mobile manufacturing workforce may be extended so that more connected devices are deployed and all types of equipment may feed data-aggregation strategies of business intelligence to drive manufacturing excellence (at Cost, in Quality, on Time).  Some examples may include equipment that order material on its own, when levels are low, or kanban levels that drive shop orders for refill.  With the expected upcoming announcement by Apple of their MFi Certification project, I believe there will be more push to have connectivity between ‘wares’, and that should creep into the manufacturing space as well.

I’m sure there are others who believe as I do, that it’s only a matter of time before the value of business intelligence and push for manufacturing excellence will drive more mobility and connectivity in the competitive manufacturing workspace.

I’m eager to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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5 November, 2013

What if you had a tool that could prevent problems in your processes and products before they occur?

Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is that tool.  FMEA is a formal process of identifying all the ways a process or product can fail, and then determining how to reduce or eliminate them.

Product development groups and quality groups work tirelessly to identify ways their products and processes may fail.  Identifying the ways products or processes may fail is the first step in either designing-in improvements, or taking steps to ensure those failures do not occur.  There are several structured methodologies that can be used to work through defining potential failures and working through their effects.  Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is one of these structured methodologies.  It provides a way to examine the problem area, identify potential failures, identify the effects of those failures, and quantify those effects through various ranking values to come up with a priority rating that will allow teams to focus on the most critical potential failures, or failure modes.  Although initially developed by the military, FMEA methodology is now extensively used in a variety of industries.  The method is now supported by the American Society for Quality which provides detailed guides on applying the method.

There are several steps to using FMEA:

Scope of Study (Area to focus) - Defining the scope of a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis is very important.  It must be well defined, with clear boundaries for the organization (management) and team members.

Identify Possible Failure Modes - The goal in this step is to identify all the ways things can go wrong.  It is important not to get wrapped up around what that effects of the failure are…that comes next

Identify Possible Effects of Failure - Now that all the ways things can go wrong or may fail have been listed, each failure mode should be evaluated for the effects of the failure.

Define Severity Ranking - Severity ranking, as with Occurrence ranking and Detection ranking, are based on a 10-point scale, with one (1) being the lowest ranking and ten (10) being the highest ranking.  Lower rank means a less severe failure mode. Typically in a Design FMEA, no effect would get a severity ranking of one, whereas noncompliance to regulatory requirements, or may cause harm to customers would be assigned a severity rank around 10.

Identify Occurrence Ranking - How often will a given failure mode occur?

Identify Cause of Failure - Brainstorming the cause of each failure should be done at this stage. Typically, subject matter experts, equipment vendors, vendor consultants, or outside consultants are used to fully analyze the causes of the failures.

Identify Detection Ranking - Detection ranking looks at how likely is it to detect a failure or the effect of a failure.  Analysis of current controls to the product development flow should be done to determine the likelihood of detection.

Calculate Risk Priority Number - The Risk Priority Number defines the overall risk of a failure and its effect to the process or product.  The Risk Priority Number (RPN) is calculated with a simple formula:

Risk Priority Number = Severity x Occurrence x Detection

The total risk priority number is calculated by adding the individual risk priority numbers of each failure and effect. Although this number in itself has no meaning, it is a way to gauge RPNs for a specific FMEA study as improvements are being made.

Prioritize Corrective Actions - The failure modes can now be prioritized by ranking them in order of the highest risk priority number to the lowest.

Now that we know how it works, how can we use it?  One of the initial steps of an FMEA study is to identify possible “Failure Mode Causes”.

DFM Solutions as part of FMEA

DFM Solutions as part of FMEA

Identifying ways products can fail in manufacturing is a tedious and often times trial and error process.  Knowledge from years of previous product development and realization processes culminating in “out of the box” set of possible failure mode causes would dramatically improve identification of areas of risks, and effects of failures. Working through the FMEA processes outlined earlier, most DFM solutions come with analysis tools to identify potential design for manufacturability issues.  As DFM manufacturing solutions are implemented, they can serve as both detection and control mechanisms for the FMEA process.

One of the most obvious examples is the potential failure mode caused by copper flooding under components with multiple ground connections, or similar condition.  When assembly manufacturing PCBs which have passive components with uneven copper distribution between their leads, the differential in heat dissipation rates between the two leads may potentially cause cold solder joints and or slightly weaker solder adhesion, and thus leading to a potential tombstone problem.

In addition to aiding in identifying failure mode causes, DFM solutions may play a large part in providing control and managing the detection of the failures, before they happen.  Detection should be managed with dual Design and Process control. This interrelationship between Design and Process should be maximized between Design FMEAs and process controls in place in manufacturing with parallel Process FMEAs in place.

I realize this is an overly simplified overview of a complex and comprehensive quality tool.  However, I’m hoping the realization that good quality tools are out there, and design organization need not look any further than their manufacturing partners, vendors and suppliers alike for best practices and ways to identify and improve product quality.

Looking forward to any comments on the this topic, and FMEA’s applicability within the Design space.

Mentor Consulting provides customers with expertise in electronic design and manufacturing infrastructure and methodology. Valor Services include a worldwide team of professionals including former factory managers, engineering managers, software developers, designers and various experts who have improved PCB Assembly factories globally.  Mentor Consulting solutions are engaged worldwide by forward-looking electronics companies to optimize design and manufacturing productivity and advance adoption of the latest industry best practices. For more information, contact mentor_consulting@mentor.com.

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14 December, 2011

Production Schedules….Scheduled! – “General Guidelines”

In this post, I’d like to review some basic guidelines that most production planners and schedulers seem to agree upon.  Not meant to be the cure-all defacto standard, but based on polling several factories of various sizes and strategy seems to be a core list.

1)     Plan the schedule to ensure up to 99% capacity of the bottleneck operation or resource.

Planners should plan for the bottleneck operation or resource to be constantly and smoothly worked by providing and scheduling material and work for that bottleneck operation or resource.  This may also require larger buffers in front of these specific operations or resources to ensure smooth, constant work even if the upstream operation is starved or goes down for a period of time.  In some factories, burn-in is a bottleneck, while others it might be test or even specific equipment in an operation such as the reflow oven.  If the bottleneck operation or resource stops, there is no chance of hitting the-on time delivery metric.

2)     Align scheduling and planning (work order release) to business goals (on time delivery vs. maximum throughput vs. minimum cost or minimum WIP).  This might vary from quarter to quarter.  However these trade-offs must be considered in the scheduling.

3)     Agree on the metrics and checklists for feasible lead time quoting to Sales.  When sales promises undeliverable timelines, no one wins.

4)     Calculate “lead time variance” and set start dates based on the lead time variance to achieve delivery goals.

Chart distribution of lead time vs. the probability of achieving that lead time.  If the goal of on-time delivery is 95%, then we need to plan job release using a lead time to fall within the 95% lead time probability.  This might practically be eight weeks out, although the average lead time in a factory may be six weeks.  If a planner releases jobs and plans on the average lead time, then by definition the plan will miss 50% of the job’s on-time delivery measurement!  The average calculation determines that 50% will be less than that average value, and 50% above. Instead of relying on the average, plan for the practical job release to hit on-time delivery.

5)     Calculate “quality variance” to plan overage

Calculate yield distributions vs. the percentage of expected overages for an order to meet delivery requirements.  Using this framework, a production planner can use a more reliable metric to calculate the overage needed to produce the required quantities considering quality fall out.  However, if you plan for too low quality, then the overage amounts will be too high, and lead to waste.  The same framework can be used to schedule safety stocks of semi-finished goods.  For high-runners or frequently re-ordered products, only the amount to cover forecasted uncertainty should be calculated and kept in stock, rather than building overage each time.

6)     Use real-time information on assets, resources, material, WIP, yield, etc. to ensure a feasible daily job release and scheduling on factory floor.

7)     Use real-time notification that the schedule can no longer be met.

Production planning and factory management should be notified if schedules can no longer be met due to factory condition changes.  These may include yield, machine availability, productivity levels, and resource availability.  Manufacturing Execution Systems or Manufacturing Operation Management systems (e.g. Valor MSS™ ) would be key to achieving this goal.

8)     Schedule must be available to everyone, and easily understood.

Publish the schedule and have it available for everyone to see.  This ensure visibility to the risks and goals in front of every department.

The above guidelines are a consolidation of discussions by various factory planners, production planners, and ERP users, in addition to references selected.

What of the above is in practice in your factory?  What is not, and should be?

Next installment we cover other factors that affect production schedules.

Stay tuned…..

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1 November, 2011

Production Schedules….Scheduled!

“Strategic Alignment”

There are many variables the influence meeting production schedules.  One of which is factory strategic alignment.

The goals of a factory are heavily influenced by the incentive programs deployed in the factory.  These incentives should be driven by that organization’s competitive strategy in their markets.  Are they focused on advanced technology, low-cost producer, highest quality producer, fastest turnaround, or on-time delivery and customer satisfaction?  These incentives are, in most cases, conflicting strategies, and an organization can only prefer one to two of those.

Are the organization’s individual department incentives aligned with the factory goals?  If Production is incentivized by total throughput (total number of products shipped), there is a risk to quality and of using line capacity for Engineering process improvements or changes.  If there is an incentive for quality, throughput and engineering test/process tests are at risk.  If Production is incentivized for throughput, but Planners are incentivized for on-schedule ship, and the Test department is incentivized only on First Pass Yield or Final Yield, etc., you have conflicting incentives between each department causing chaos and an increased probability that the actual schedule will be ignored.   Each department tries to achieve their own goals and the overall goal of improved on time delivery, on quantity, on cost will not be achievable because of departmental priorities, use of equipment decisions, priorities in schedules, and determination of  individual measures.  Each of these criteria is a shared responsibility with all departments within an electronics manufacturing plant.

Also, with the above variable incentives, it is quite easy to “blame” departments for specific problems when dealing with delivery challenges.  The most common assignments of departmental “blame” seem to be:

  • Sales accepted an order with less than the required manufacturing lead time
  • Purchasing didn’t provide the parts on time
  • Sales agreed to an order without checking into part lead times
  • Production focused on running the high-runners rather than getting the smaller jobs through
  • Production operator errors keep making schedules slip
  • Equipment breakdowns are making schedules slip
  • Production planners have no idea what’s really going on in the factory
  • Process variation due to engineering processes causing scrap and rework
  • etc…

All managers in their departments should be measured on common measurements, aligned with factory strategy, in addition to any department specific measurements.  Achieving these measurements is a group effort, and not only any single department’s effort. When all departments are evaluated, they must work together to achieve the measurement goals and thus more likely to meet the production schedules.

Are the departments’ in your factory incentivized to meet production schedules and aligned with each other?  Are they aligned to the company strategy (even if it changes every 6 months)?  What measurements do you use to know how well production schedules are met?

Next installment we cover other factors that affect production schedules.

Stay tuned…..

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20 October, 2011

Production planning is a dynamic problem to solve, as the variables seem infinite.

As more and more global regions move to high-mix with increasing volume production, the planning task of running multiple products effectively through existing assets and resources poses a significant scheduling challenge. Manufacturing plants today are challenged with shipping the required quantity of products on time, at quality levels, and at planned cost. Over the years there have been many automated systems developed to “simulate” the production environment and try to lock down many of the variables so that schedules can be “optimized”.  Although there is a large diversity in opinions whether those approaches work, there is commonality in goals and factors to consider. Tactical production planning is currently done with tools such as MS Excel or even a large whiteboard on the factory floor.

Many variables affect a schedule. Is there a system in place that can provide the information needed to put together a “good” schedule, then measure it and improve moving forward? As we move from a monthly schedule, to weekly schedule, then to a daily schedule, these variables have a large effect on the schedule’s success.

The goal should be a consistent schedule whereby products are shipped on time, at planned quantity, at planned quality at planned cost.

Let’s explore the best practices, influences, challenges, practical measurements and metrics and finally tools available to meet those challenges.

Stay Tuned….

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9 February, 2011

Still chasing the dream to achieving optimum manufacturing flow?

We have arrived at the 4th and final installment of the series of achieving optimum manufacturing flow.

The previous posts covered Process Engineering, production planning (Scheduling) and material management in the factory and how we can optimize each of the tasks? 

In this blog post, we focus on SMT and the shopfloor.

Bottleneck management in SMT

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a metric that includes throughput, availability and quality.  It is a metric that allows organizations to view performance of assets in the factory. 

  • Availability = operating time/planned production time
  • Throughput (run rate) = (total pieces/operating time) / planned cycle time
  • Quality = TPY = (good pieces / total pieces)

Based on an Aberdeen Group study, top performing organizations are focused on OEE.  Although one would think that improvement in performance might come with increased cost, the information in Table 1 shows that for the top 20% they are able to reduce annual maintenance cost by 8% and overachieve on their Return on Asset (RoA) by 11%.  It is clear that in order to realize these benefits, software tools such as Mentor’s MSS suite and optimized processes need to be employed.

 

Aberdeen Study - OEE

Aberdeen Study - OEE

 Since statistically over 80% of components are placed with automated SMT equipment, we move our focus on those specific assets.  There are 3 main elements to optimizing process performance in SMT equipment, and ensuring high OEE:
1) Ensuring maximum availability of assets by minimizing downtime
2) Ensuring high throughput by ensuring optimal machine efficiency
3) Ensuring high quality by monitoring placement quality real-time.

 

Low Level Warning

Predictive parts-out monitor

 Downtime at an SMT machine typically occurs due to material shortage.  It is not common that SMT equipment is down due to mechanical failures.  One of the most painful bottlenecks in production lines is parts exhaust or parts out.  What happens then?  Typically the SMT Machine alerts the operator, then operator runs to a sub-store or stock area, pulls the material (or worse orders the material and waits), while the machine sits idle.  A software system that has a SCADA level direct interface to the SMT equipment, which is monitoring every placement and ensuring adequate parts are available in real-time can also monitor when material will be exhausted from a feeder.   

This predictive functionality like what is available in Mentor’s MSS vManage product, would alert the line operator that they must be ready with kitted material, so as to minimize the downtime of the machine.  Having a real-time predictive parts exhaust monitor, and regular preventative maintenance programs should ensure high SMT uptime.

Throughput and machine efficiency should also be monitored to ensure that production rates are monitored against planned rates.  Production schedules are based on planned rates of production through the assets.  If the planned rates are unrealistically lower, then production schedules will always be behind.  The key to knowing is having visibility to the actual values.  Actual production rates, many times calculated with the CPH (components per hour) value, should be visible using a real-time production monitoring system.   

Real-time Feeder Errors

Real-time Feeder Errors Monitor

A production monitoring system will allow identification of throughput values, target vs. actual analysis, and alert related production personnel when the rates are unacceptably low.  Typically excessive machine errors due to intermittent component picks lengthen total placement time of a specific board, adversely affecting throughput. Nozzle errors due to vacuum errors or unclean nozzles are one of the causes.  Placement identification errors are another cause of a reduction in throughput.  This is usually on NPI runs, or production part replacement with alternate parts defined in the BOM (bill of materials).  When an alternate part is used, there is risk that a different component vendor may be used which provides the same functionality chip.  However, that chip may physically be a little different in height, lead-length or body width.  AVL Validation tools available in Mentor’s vPlan application can remove this risk.

Finally, ensuring that the quality of the placements is monitored in real-time so excessive pick-rejects are caught before too many parts are rejected. This would allow line operators to stop a machine before component attrition gets too high, further adding to production costs, and troubleshoot the reason for the high errors.

We have ensured high availability and we have analyzed how to ensure good throughput.  Now we must monitor quality.  Ensuring high quality is done by integrating real-time quality statistics to the OEE metric.  Typically an in-process quality step is added at the end of the SMT line to collect this information.  This can be a visual inspection station where a quality inspector is reviewing each board, or an automated inspection system such as an AOI (automated optical inspection) machine.  The Throughput Yield (TPY), also called First Pass Yield, is collected.  A simple approach to TPY can be employed by calculating the number of acceptable units divided by the total number of units produced thus far.  In the real-time calculation reworked units are normally not considered, but in the final TPY calculation, they should.  Mentor’s vCheck system performs real-time calculations of TPY and can feed this information to an OEE monitor in real-time, thus providing the organization a true OEE in a real-time dashboard.  With this visibility of the OEE metric, production and quality engineers are better equipped to analyze and act to optimize process performance.

 On our journey through production planning and scheduling, process engineering, material management and into the SMT area of the shop floor, we’ve seen how systems can dramatically affect manufacturing flow.  Optimizing material flow reduces non-value added tasks, reduces potential areas of production bottlenecks and stoppages, increases the utilization and efficiency of assets, and helps schedule more efficiently with real-time production information, while ensuring material is available where it is needed, when it is needed.  Addressing these areas and bottlenecks can bring you increased manufacturing velocity, leading to an optimized manufacturing factory.

Still think achieving optimum manufacturing flow is a dream?

 

Looking forward to your comments either here or in our Community site!

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18 January, 2011

 Let’s say we are chasing the dream to achieving optimum manufacturing flow? 

This is the 3rd post in a series of how to achieve optimum manufacturing flow in an assembly factory.

There are many opportunities for improvement in factories, and only those willing to investigate, identify, plan and act to make changes, will succeed. Can you lose business because a factory has lead-times and delivery times longer than their competition, due to an less-than optimized factory? Absolutely!

Bottleneck management in Process Engineering

Process engineering has a huge impact on the manufacturing flow, and the effectiveness of the shop-floor producing products in an optimum way.  Process engineering is where a lot of the data originates in the factory.  Manufacturing engineers assess how products will be build, and create the appropriate documentation and recipes to drive the manufacturing equipment and processes on the shop floor. 

When recipes or programs are sent to the production floor, especially into SMT, there are various optimizations that can be done to ensure optimum manufacturing flow. Reducing any usage of production equipment for non-value added activities to production of products, such as program validation or shape-data validation, it would dramatically improve the manufacturing flow. 

SMT Machines use sophisticated cameras and sensors to ensure that the component that is placed matches the shape-data defined in the SMT Machine library, as a way to ensure the right part is placed.  However, the cameras have very tight tolerances, and components outside those tolerances may be rejected by the SMT machine.   Increased rejected parts add to the cost, since those parts would have been purchased, in a specific quantity.  When a Bill of Materials calls for multiple component vendors for a specific part number, to ensure that all of them are ‘within tolerance’ a quick AVL Check should be done.  This ensures that machine downtime is avoided due to parts out of tolerance by the component distributor or vendor.

  Valor AVL Check

The Bill of Materials (BOMs) are created ensuring component Function, and rely on the vendor documentation to ensure Form and Fit.  There are variances in Vendor Part Numbers that are subtle and can lead to incorrectly defined parts.  As a worse case, parts can be ordered that are the correct Function, but are very far from the defined pad stack defined in the Design data.

Using accurate part library modeling technology, overlaying parts from a defined BOM over pad stacks is the only way to ensure correct Fit and Form of components before placing it on the SMT Machine and spending expensive and valuable production time for this validation. 

This activity would eliminate the product-hold that occurs when alternate parts are called in the middle of a production run, which may not be the same form factor (by height, pin length, pin width or body dimension).

Another frequent cause of production delays and lead times is shape-data and orientation validation.  Shape Data must be created to ensure the machine ‘recognizes’ the component, and know which parameters to use when picking and placing that specific component.  Validation of shape-data requires software to have SMT Machine shape-data library managed within the software, where that shape-data can be visually overlaid onto the Design data pad stacks. 

  MSS Virtual Sticky Tape

Mentor’s MSS product, vPlan, has a Virtual Sticky Tape module that will enable an engineer to validate rotations and orientations offline, based on the shape data defined for a specific SMT Machine and ensure the parts (especially polarized parts) are placed in the correct rotations.

Identifying areas of non-value added time and resources is essential in getting a leaner more optimized manufacturing flow.  The production holds and delays described above can add hours or even days to a work order production, lengthened the delivery time.  Lengthened delivery times translate to a delay in revenue recognition!

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11 January, 2011

Welcome to 2011!! 

Just want to take a short break from the next installment of Achieving Optimum Manufacturing Flow blog series to express some thoughts on the past year, and the positive outlook that 2011 is expected to bring.

Being one of the ex-Valor guys, the acquisition by Mentor in March, 2011 was a huge change. Valor had been around for 18 years and the acquisition was finalized almost to the month from its genesis.  Being a significantly smaller company Valor had our own thoughts on how things should be done, and how they can never be done any other way.  Valor worked its way into various markets over the years, and fought to succeed. Valor created tools in the bare board manufacturing market, into the PCB design verification market, and finally into the Assembly market with dominating products in each. The acquisition proved Valor had succeeded. 

In the last 9 months, Mentor has welcomed us into their organization, and now we are Mentor employees, as part of Valor Division (A subdivision of SDD).  Was it a successful integration, well, I would have to say YES.  Here are some facts.  In the first 3 months, HR and most of the internal systems were integrated or migrated.  Most employees were getting paid with little to no gap in payments or benefits. Everyone that needed business cards had Mentor Graphics cards within the first 3 months.  The identity change had begun.  In 6 months we were booking most orders through Mentor order processing systems, and support was being handled through Mentor SupportNet for the Valor Division vSure product line.  Can’t say it was easy, we learned a lot, but for the most part, it was pretty smooth.  I’m sure there are many in the senior management levels of the ex-Valor company that may disagree, but if we look at the 200 employees worldwide, and how many were really affected dramatically by the change, even the skeptics would say the majority of the acquisition and integration was successful. Most employees identify themselves as Mentor employees. The professionals on both the Mentor acquisition team and the ex-Valor acquisition team did an outstanding job.

2011 proves to bring a lot of planned changes for the better.  Valor Division continues to develop our DFM tool kit supporting multiple vendors, further enhancing design verification capabilities, and meeting market needs with the best quality software.  We expect to see tighter integration between our MSS (Manufacturing System Solutions) products, vPlan, vCheck and vManage.  This integration will enable higher-end value as more cross-linked data between QMS, Shopfloor systems, NPI process engineering tools, and material management tools will enable true interoperability.  Enhancements in each of the individual products will also bring higher benefits to current customers, and more offering to improvement productivity and efficiencies in factories globally.

We’ve launched Mentor’s manufacturing community and it’s live! (http://communities.mentor.com/mgcx/community/manufacturing_solutions)

2011 will bring renewed energy in the ODB++ data transfer process, renewed energy in understanding and analyzing real needs of our customers, and product realizations aligned with that analysis.  I hope to meet many new professionals and visit many new factories, companies and sites and continue learning and growing, so that Mentor and our customer base mutually benefit for the interaction.  Best wishes to all!

I look forward to any thoughts and comments……

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21 December, 2010

Let’s say we are chasing that dream…. what would be the goal to achieving optimum manufacturing flow?

This is the 2nd post in a series of how to achieve optimum manufacturing flow in an assembly factory.

There are many opportunities for improvement in factories, and only those willing to investigate, identify, plan and act to make changes, will succeed. Can you lose business because a factory has lead-times and delivery times longer than their competition, due to an less-than optimized factory? Absolutely!

Material Velocity

Without a doubt, the largest variable cost in manufacturing is material. Purchased components sitting in stock depreciate and eat away at value. Material sitting on the factory floor as WIP also costs money and goes into a void where only regular inventory counts or manual material counts bring them back into view…normally a bit too late to make any adjustments before it hits the Inventory Turns metric. Highly interoperable systems allow this communication seamlessly.

However, one of the most painful bottlenecks in production lines is parts exhaustion. What happens then? Typically, the SMT machine alerts the operator, then operator runs to a sub-store or stock area, pulls the material (or worse orders the material and waits), while the machine sits idle. How can this be reduced or eliminated? Again, we go to a systematic approach.

What if there was a way to completely eliminate the problem of material shortages on the production floor? What if you knew exactly how much material was needed and not too much was ordered, “just in case”?

The average factory sees about five material shortages per line per week, according to a study by the Aberdeen Group (Table 1).

Aberdeen-Factory Performance Metrics (Material)

While that material is being pulled, production is stopped, adding to the opportunity cost. To eliminate the possibility of parts exhaustion on the manufacturing floor, material pulled from stock, kitted and prepared for production also needs to be monitored in real-time on the floor. As feeder errors, nozzle rejects and component drops add to the consumption of issued material, the stock room needs to be alerted and advised of:

1. What material is needed (Part Number).

2. From where (Location in Stock).

3. Delivered to location (Line and Machine).

Only if a SMT monitoring system is interoperating with a material management solution in real-time, which is polling the consumption and generating these “material pull” instructions can this be achieved. However, just knowing that a part will be out is not enough. An alert when material is exhausted in a machine or feeder provides no additional value. In most cases, that’s the status quo.

To be of true value, the alert must be predictive in nature. If the monitoring system provided low-level warnings that a part will be out after five boards or 10 boards, then we can truly react in time to provide material “Just in Time.” Eliminating machine wait time due to parts exhaustion and moving material around the factory more efficiently reduces both of those bottlenecks and optimizes the material velocity, further improving the cost of inventory and inventory turns.

Bringing in tools to better optimize tactical factory scheduling would be a huge step in achieving the goal of an “optimized factory”.

This is part 2 of a 4 part series of blogs coming your way to focus optimizing key aspects of a factory.

I look forward to your continued comments….