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Midtronics Names SigmaTron International Supplier of the Year

Midtronics, Inc. named SigmaTron International, Inc. its Supplier of the Year during inaugural Supplier Day events held on Jan. 27th at the company’s Willowbrook, IL global headquarters. SigmaTron builds printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) and subassemblies for Midtronics.

“As a manufacturing service organization, our goal is to align our support with Midtronics’ evolving needs. We appreciate the trust Midtronics has placed in SigmaTron and look forward to continuing to raise the bar in terms of supporting this partnership,” said Jim Barnes, Vice President of Operations. The day’s agenda featured presentations from Midtronics team members about the company’s products, markets and quality initiatives, as well as discussions around supplier expectations and success stories.

China Facility Receives MFi License

SigmaTron International’s Suzhou, PRC facility has become a MFi Manufacturing Licensee. The Suzhou facility applied for a MFi license through Apple and was audited by a third party as part of process.

Apple’s MFi Program encompasses third-party hardware accessories that use Apple’s MFi-licensed technology to connect electronically to iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple Watch. Apple requires that companies developing and/or manufacturing these accessories to apply for either a Development License or a Manufacturing License. In this case, SigmaTron pursued the process to support two customers developing iPhone accessories.

The Suzhou facility’s financials, material logistics, shop floor control and traceability systems were audited.

“The goal of the licensing program is to en-sure that proprietary technology is tightly controlled. We needed to demonstrate that we had systems in place to ensure that all units produced were accounted for. Our customers wanted it in place to support their new product development efforts,” said Hom-Ming Chang, Vice President, China Operations.

Dual Facility Strategy Provides Local Flexibility and Lowers Cost

The next time you get a hot meal at a fast food restaurant, SigmaTron’s production team may be partially responsible for it. SigmaTron’s Elk Grove Village (EGV), IL and Acuña, Mexico facility are building control boards and timer subassemblies for warming equipment used by the fast food industry.

The project involves two control board models and variations in the box build based on the configuration of the warming unit.

“The nature of the industry created the challenge for this customer. While a fast food chain may specify that a franchisee use certain types of equipment in their restaurants, the individual franchisees determine when that equipment is purchased and what model they buy. Consequently, our customer needed a supplier who could not only provide competitive pricing that reflected the total volumes ordered, but could respond to a production schedule that had variable demand,” said Jim Barnes, EGV’s VP of Operations.

To address this challenge, the production was split between SigmaTron’s EGV and Acuña facilities. Forecasts showed that 60 percent of the order would be for one model. Acuña is building 80 percent of that high volume production and EGV is building the rest. SigmaTron’s systems commonality and centralized supply chain management structure, combined with support from plant level purchasing teams ensure that pricing reflects the total volume.

Lean manufacturing principles are also in use. Production is adjusted based on demand for each model. EGV provides a daily Kanban shipment to support the customer. Acuña is shipping a weekly Kanban LTL to the customer.

The customer does the final assembly and programming at their facility.

“The production scheduling and Kanban models we are using gives our customer local flexibility with cost savings for the bulk of the product,” added Jim.

SigmaTron’s ability to support transfer of work was also beneficial. The product was being transferred out of a contract manufacturer in Asia and there was very little documentation. SigmaTron’s Elgin, IL engineering team helped the customer create the timer bar printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) and associated Gerber file and other documentation. SigmaTron’s production team visited the customer’s operations to ensure they fully understood the requirements. Dfx was performed to ensure the PCBA was optimized for production flow. SigmaTron’s international purchasing office (IPO) helped lower the cost of the display through identification of new supplier. Once the redesign was approved by the customer, EGV established the production process and then transferred it to Acuña. The customer went to Acuña and qualified the process there.

“Our Dfx enhancements, cost reduction suggestions and dual facility strategy have enabled the customer to reshore the product to North American at a lower cost than building in China. Our dual facility strategy has shortened lead-time to three days from Acuña compared to weeks from China, while EGV is providing daily deliveries,” said Jim.