The OEM designs and sells precision instruments, which contribute to a high-performance design-through-manufacturing process, allowing manufacturers to deliver premium quality products in a shorter time.
When the OEM first approached us, they had already taken the strategic decision to outsource the control cabinet of their bestselling coordinate measuring machine so they could focus on growing their share of the market.
Unfortunately, the OEM had been experiencing a number of quality issues with the units supplied by their existing EMS provider. Although the unit had been run through a variety of tests before shipping, approximately half of all units shipped then failed during the offsite installation stage.
Between the incumbent EMS provider and the OEM’s engineering team, they struggled to resolve the on-going issue and establish the root cause. A number of obsolete component issues were thought to be contributing to some of these problems but proving out this theory had become a painful process.
To overcome the obsolescence issues, the control cabinet was in the process of being redesigned. So, from an engineering perspective, the OEM saw this as an opportunity to start looking at other EMS providers.
During early discussions, the OEM revealed they were looking for an EMS provider that would be able to support with their New Product Introduction (NPI) and shared their project plan and timings with us. Specifically, they wanted a partner with demonstrable experience in DfM and DfT so that a robust test strategy could be implemented from the outset. It was clear they needed to reassure their customer base and themselves that the previous quality issues that had caused them pain had been resolved.
While auditing our manufacturing facility, the OEM focused on change management procedures and our document control system. They spent time challenging our quality team to fully understand our approach to root cause and failure mode effect analysis (FMEA). Also, they told us they were looking for a financially stable partner that had the technical capability, space, and resources to support their future growth plans, which involved delivering this new product design to market at a price point the end user was prepared to pay.
Having selected us as their new EMS partner, the OEM provided a firm purchase order for three prototype control cabinets and accompanying cable sets. Although the control cabinet was effectively a new design, the OEM had designed in a large amount of material common from the previous version – minus the obsolete items, of course. A number of the bespoke items had nominated suppliers, and we were asked to inherit these by the customer in order to maintain supply chain continuity and past relationships.
Drawing on previous experience, we identified early on that the paint finish of the custom cabinet could be susceptible to aesthetic quality issues, such as light scratches and fingerprint marks during handling. We raised our concerns to the customer and, following agreement, worked with them to change the paint finish to something more robust and less prone to marking.
Although this change in finish helped overcome our original concerns, we found later on during the first production batches that the incoming supplier packaging was not robust enough.
In order to proactively manage the supply chain, and deliver finished units to the OEM within the timescales and target price required, we proposed a bespoke service level agreement (SLA) and set out key milestones over an agreed period.
The first stage included building and testing the first three prototypes within our UK manufacturing facility. This allowed the OEM to prove out the new design and build up confidence that previous “out-of-box” failures had been resolved. In conjunction, a material supply chain would be established to allow the OEM to call off between twenty and thirty units per month.
The OEM agreed to provide us with a three-month firm rolling commitment (plus an additional six months forecasted usage), which we used to pipeline material against.
The second stage would see the assembly and test of the control cabinets transition across to our Eastern European manufacturing. With end user demand expected to increase up to forty to fifty units a month, this option would provide the OEM with the capacity requirements they needed in order to meet future demand.
Two years on and we have now supplied just under six hundred control cabinet units. With the exception of a handful of cabinet cosmetic issues before implementing the revised packaging solution, the OEM has not seen any “out-of-box” test failures.
They had ‘outgrown’ their local EMS provider after increased levels of pressure overloaded the EMS provider. They needed to investigate alternatives to remain competitive and market fit.They had ‘outgrown’ their local EMS provider after increased levels of pressure overloaded the EMS provider. They needed to investigate alternatives to remain competitive and market fit.
They had ‘outgrown’ their local EMS provider after increased levels of pressure overloaded the EMS provider. They needed to investigate alternatives to remain competitive and market fit.
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