We have experience of devising and and setting up cost-effective in-house assembly
and test facilities that improve the quality and manufacturing responsiveness of
specialist electronic equipment.
A manufacturer of advanced test equipment was having difficulty manufacturing some
of its products via Contract Electronics Manufacturers and suppliers.
The contract manufacturers and their subassembly suppliers were highly competent
in PCB assembly but had less experience at complete unit electrical and mechanical
assembly, and there were numerous problems with build defects and delays.
Being highly advanced technology, the equipment design was not stable – international
standards were continually evolving, so the product design had to frequently change
to match the standard.
This, combined with the sheer technical complexity of the equipment, put change control
on the shop-floor under considerable strain. It also made product testing and fault
diagnosis particularly difficult. So a review of manufacturing strategy was undertaken.
Our experience in this area includes
Studying the viability of buying in the subassemblies and undertaking all the final
assembly and test at an in-house facility
Undertaking a thorough review, with the product designers and operations experts,
of how the product was designed, built and tested
Preparing a detailed process flowchart and estimating the time, effort and skill
required with the product experts, which allowed us to determine the number of staff,
space and equipment required
Preparing a detailed business plan that showed in-house assembly as being viable;
it would cost approximately the same as using contract manufacturers to do all the
work but had much greater agility – especially in response to standard changes –
and improved quality
Identifying suitable premises and negotiating a lease, designing the factory layout,
and recruiting skilled staff to manage and operate the facility. Working with the
new staff to source furniture and equipment, then fit out the factory, in conformance
with the business plan
Helping the facility’s staff to put in the manufacturing ad material control processes
required to assemble and test the products to the highest standards and to comply
with ISO 9001.
The in-house facility proved itself – it met the business plan budget and timescales,
increased quality and gave shorter lead-times to customers.