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Tijuana Facility Adds Dedicated SMT Line to Support Growth, Enhance Efficiency

Growth in automotive and gaming related business is driving investment in new equipment and streamlined processes at SigmaTron International’s Tijuana facility.

A dedicated SMT line with a Yamaha YSM20 chip shooter was installed to support a high  volume LED lighting program for a second tier automotive supplier. Existing printed circuit board assembly PCBA handling equipment, reflow, wash and wave solder equipment was reconfigured to create an inline process that minimizes transport and manual handling, while maximizing throughput. The associated wire harness assembly process is being automated with a Schleuniger Crimp-Center unit that cuts and strips wire, plus tins and crimps harness terminals. The harness will be soldered to the PCBA during the wave solder process. A Nordson Asymtek automated conformal coating machine has also been add-ed to support the project.

“In designing production flow, we’ve incorporated Lean manufacturing philosophy to maximize throughput by minimizing process variation, defect opportunities and cycle time,” said Angelica Perez, Sr. Quality Assurance Engineer.

The facility is doing PPAPs and going through a full line validation. The wire harnesses must be compliant with the SAE USCAR21 standard and third-party reliability testing is being done to support that process validation. A preproduction run was done in Q3 and volume production is scheduled to commence in Q4.

An existing project supporting agricultur-al heavy equipment is expanding with the addition of a joystick assembly.

The facility’s LED PCBA assembly business related to gaming suppliers is also growing.

“While we’ve added the SMT line and a new router to support high volume growth, we are also adding additional pieces of equipment such as a flying probe tester to support our new product introduction (NPI) process, since grow in business also translates to growth in project start-up support activity. We’ve added secondary operations for odd form part soldering and touch-up, and dedicated test stations. Plus, we’ve optimized the work cells with fixturing,” said Juan Morales, APQP Manager.

Addressing the Challenge of Component Lead-Times

One point supply chain management professionals in the electronics industry all currently agree on is that demand is outstripping supply for many types of components. Two of the biggest industries driving this consumption are the automotive sector and the data processing sector. On the automotive side, China is incentivizing the manufacture and purchase of hybrid electric vehicles while car buying by more affluent consumers pushes up demand. There have been a number of articles on the short-ages of rare metals this move is bringing and the need to find alternatives. However, the electronics industry is also seeing an impact on the commodity side because there is in-creased demand for copper foil, increasing the price of printed circuit boards, and hybrid vehicles require significantly more auto-motive-grade passive components than a gasoline-powered vehicle. While this is go-ing on, automobile electronic content in general continues to be on the rise globally.

On the data processing front, development of the cloud and concomitant data storage center requirements for companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft is also driving increased consumption of memory devices and many other components.

If those two new sources of increased demand aren’t enough, Apple’s new iPhone has taken significant amounts of components off the market, the global economy is picking up and several large scale natural disasters will be driving a need for replacement appliances and automobiles at an unprecedented scale. Merger and acquisition activity among component manufacturers has limited some sourcing options and complicated order execution as organizations are realigned. While component suppliers are now working to increase capacity, in the short-term shortages and allocation will abound.

The Supply Chain Management team at SigmaTron International is focused on dealing with this issue. SigmaTron’s materi-als systems are linked globally to provide company-wide visibility into inventory lev-els and materials status. The tools are also linked to customers and program manag-ers. This level of system linkage increases (Continued from page 1)

efficiency of centralized supply chain management. For ex-ample, if a production schedule is changed, the IPO in Taiwan can see the requirements up on the system, view the AVL, the stocking levels and demand. This lets them deter-mine immediately how urgent the part requirement is and whether air or sea is the best shipping option. It can also help identify available inventory within SigmaTron’s global network of facilities.

We are changing some of our standard practices including:

• We plan further out. We are now looking at a 15-month planning horizon with many of our customers.

• We’ve found that hard orders beat forecasts. Suppliers can see the differ-ence between orders and forecasts in their systems. Orders win every time.

• We are increasing our number of sup-pliers. Everyone is ordering from the best known suppliers and their stock is in the shortest supply. Some lesser known suppliers of comparable parts still have stock at reasonable lead-times. We have been expand-ing the supply base and qualifying those parts with customers to ensure better options.

• We pick up the phone. We have daily conferences with some of our suppliers on critical parts. Human interaction needs to increase until the mar-ket moves to normal availability lev-els because changes in component availability are often not visible in systems until it is too late to address the issue.

• We work hand-in-hand with customers. The dynamics of the current market ensure that available components often have to be tied down immediately before someone else buys them, often at a higher price. We are taking an open book approach as we discuss these options with customers.

Dealing with the realities of extended lead-times and allocation proactively helps ensure production stays on schedule. While the rules of the game may have changed temporarily, the goal remains the same: ensure each customer’s product is where they want it, when they want it.

Allen Abell Named Corporate Director of Quality and Compliance

Allen Abell has been named Corporate Director of Quality and Compliance. Previously he served as the Quality Director for Spitfire Controls both when it was an independent company and following its acquisition by Sig-maTron International in 2012. He was earlier associated with OTTO Engineering, Shure Incorporated, ACC Consulting, Osram Sylvania and Motorola, Inc. in a variety of quality and engineering management positions.

“As SigmaTron has entered new markets with additional quality and compliance requirements, we see the need to better coordinate activities among operations. Allen brings decades of experience leading quality efforts at companies who are leaders in their fields. I feel that breadth of experience makes him an excellent choice for this newly created position,” said Gary Fairhead, SigmaTron’s President and CEO.

In his new role, Allen is working to stand-ardize communication protocols among SigmaTron’s facilities.

“Within six months of SigmaTron’s acquisition of Spitfire Controls, I actually began working with our IT department on corporate regulatory initiatives such as Conflicts Minerals tracking. This new position is a natural evolution of that role. Our facilities do things the same way, but there can be variations in the communication protocol related to those processes. My goal is to work with our in-plant teams to ensure we are fine tuning that protocol so that working with multiple SigmaTron facilities is a seamless experience,” Allen said.

Industry-specific quality initiatives, shar-ing quality lessons learned across the corporation and interacting with key cus-tomers’ Quality Management teams will also be areas of focus.

“We build a variety of mission critical products and consumer products that are

expected to perform flawlessly. Indus-try-specific regulatory bodies and in-dustry leaders are continually evolving their quality initiatives to better ad-dress the needs of their markets. I’m working with our IT department and our individual facilities to ensure we are aligned with evolving regulatory and customer-directed quality initia-tives. Most of our customers are looking for the same data, but the way it is packaged may vary by industry,” Allen added.

Allen received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State University. He holds ISO 9001-2008 and ISO 13485-2003 Associate Auditor Certifications by RABQSA. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

EGV Facility Adds Selective Soldering Capability

SigmaTron International’s Elk Grove Village (EGV), IL facility has added a Versaflow 3/66 selective soldering machine. It is a fully modular platform that includes fluxer, preheat and solder modules connected by a segmented transport conveyor system.

“We’ve purchased this machine to sup-port automated soldering for densely populated, mixed technology, double-sided product. This allows us to automate the process, enabling increased through-put and consistent quality,” said Jim Barnes, the EGV facility’s VP of Operations.