SigmaTron Source Q3, 2014

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Suzhou, PRC Facility Adding 40,000 SF Building

SigmaTron International has broken ground on a 40,000 square foot expansion to the Company’s Suzhou, PRC facility. The facility is being expanded in support of existing business growth.

According to Hom-Ming Chang, Vice President, China Operations, the new facility is scheduled to be completed in December.

EGV Facility Supports Niche Medical Products

Many niche medical device manufacturers have a challenge: finding a contract manufacturer interested in supporting low-to-mid range production volumes with the ability to provide strong engineering support and a wider range of production location options as volumes increase.  Contractors focused on low volumes often have limited engineering resources and only one production facility. Larger contract manufacturers tend to favor higher volume projects or customers capable of awarding large-scale projects encompassing several product lines.

SigmaTron’s Elk Grove Village (EGV), IL facility provides the best of both worlds. Production processes are optimized for low-to-medium volumes and the facility is registered to ISO 13485-2003. Product development engineering support is available via the Company’s Spitfire Control business unit in Elgin. If needed, longer term, the Company can support a seamless transfer of production to other parts of the world via its global network of facilities. In short, niche medical device manufacturers have a partner who values and can support their project throughout its life cycle.

For example, when a medical instrumentation manufacturer needed to cut time in product development, The EGV/Spitfire team performed design for manufacturability/testability (DFM/DFT) analysis and product lifecycle management (PLM) analysis during the first iteration of the Gerber file. Providing DFM/DFT and PLM feedback early in the process eliminated one design spin. When the bill of materials (BOM) was complete, SigmaTron’s team loaded the BOM and approved vendor list (AVL) data into their internal Production Driven Replenishment (PDR ™) system. This placed the material in the pipeline. Once the final Gerber files were approved, the material was brought in and prototypes were built in less than two weeks to support their validation testing. The project later was able to seamlessly ramp to volume production.

“We’ve taken a very focused approach to optimizing production processes to support low-to-mid range volumes. When we are involved in product development we look for every opportunity to enhance production efficiency and ensure superior quality. Our DFM recommendations focus on eliminating issues that cause production inefficiency and/or defects, rather than drivers of defects alone. We feel ‘working smarter’ is the key to reducing non-value added cost in higher mix, lower volume production,” said Jim Barnes, EGV’s VP of Operations.

EGV’s medical business includes printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) used in medical instrumentation and doctor’s office equipment. The facility’s newest project involves box build of a wearable medical device used in remote monitoring applications.

Vietnam Facility Offers Low Costs and Superior Quality

According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, Vietnam now ranks as the 12th largest electronics exporter in the world. International Trade Center data indicates the country exported $38 billion in devices and components in 2013.

Not surprisingly, SigmaTron International’s global network of manufacturing facilities includes a facility in Vietnam. It is located in Biên Hòa in Dong Nai province, in the eastern part of South Vietnam, northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Dong Nai province consistently ranks high in terms of infrastructure and ease of doing business based on provincial competitiveness indexes.

Several factors are driving growth in Vietnam’s popularity.

“Competitive cost and a stable government that supports business are the biggest reasons
companies are choosing to manufacture in Vietnam. Wage rates are 35% less than those of China. There is no value-added tax on items related to export and no duties on imported components used for product built for export,” said Peter Sognefest, SigmaTron’s Director of Operations in Vietnam.

Additionally, Vietnam is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which eliminates duties/tariffs with countries with which the organization has negotiated free trade agreements.

Logistically, Vietnam is well positioned for access to major suppliers in China, as well as the supply base and shipping infrastructure located within Southeast Asia. Geographically it is also positioned well to support growing consumer markets across Southeast Asia.

SigmaTron’s facility was established in 2005. It produces both through-hole and SMT printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs). Subassembly and box build operations are also performed. Inspection and test capability includes automated optical inspection (AOI), functional and in-circuit test. The facility is registered to ISO9001:2008 and ISO 140001:2004.

As with all of SigmaTron’s facilities, technical expertise is provided through a combination of a strong local team and support at the regional or corporate level. For example, a local purchasing team purchases commodities that have cost advantages in country such as plastics and corrugated packaging. SigmaTron’s International Purchasing Office (IPO) supports procurement of products purchased outside of Vietnam. While process engineering is done in Vietnam, the engineering team in SigmaTron’s Suzhou, China facility handles design for manufacturability/testability (DFM/DFT) analysis and the Spitfire Controls team in Elgin, IL supports test engineering. SigmaTron’s Exact Macola ES ERP and proprietary iScore systems support procurement, shop floor control and production status visibility.

“We have the same level of infrastructure and technical expertise found in SigmaTron’s other facilities plus the advantage of being the Company’s lowest cost facility. That said, we aren’t the right fit for all projects. We do best at high volume, low mix production,” Sognefest added.

Jim Barnes Promoted to VP Operations for EGV Facility

Jim Barnes has been promoted from Director of Operations to Vice President of Operations at SigmaTron International’s Elk Grove Village facility.

“Jim has been making valuable contributions to SigmaTron for over a decade. SigmaTron has grown significantly during that period and Jim has been a key part of that success. One of the challenges for an evolving company is choosing leaders who understand how to drive the right kinds of change.  Jim has done an excellent job of building an organization that embraces continuous improvement and superior customer service,” said Greg Fairhead, SigmaTron International’s Executive Vice President

Jim joined SigmaTron in 2004 as an Inventory Analyst. In less than a year, he was promoted to Program Manager. In 2010, he became Senior Program Manager, with responsibility for the Elk Grove Village program management staff. In 2011, he was promoted to Director of Operations.

He has a Master’s of Business Administration degree in Operations Management from the Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University and Bachelor of Arts degree Business Administration and Economics from Illinois State University. He is a member of the DePaul University MBA Association.

SigmaTron International Active at Two Trade Shows in October

John Sheehan, Vice President, and Director of Supply Chain, and Allen Abell, Spitfire Controls’ Quality Director  will be presenting a paper titled, “Contract Manufacturing and Conflict Minerals: Creating A Workable Compliance System,” at SMTA International at the Rosemont Convention Center on Wed., Oct. 1.

SigmaTron International will also be exhibiting at the MDM Chicago show at the Schaumberg Convention Center in Booth 1033 on Oct. 15-16.

Tijuana’s Use of 8D Methodology Featured in Circuits Assembly

SigmaTron International’s Tijuana, Mexico facility incorporates the Eight Disciplines (8D) problem solving methodology as part of its approach to analyzing customer issues and identifying specific issues.

Circuits Assembly Magazine ran an article in September authored by Rajesh Upadhyaya, SigmaTron International’s Executive Vice President, West Coast Operations.

For example, using the 8D problem solving methodology, the team at SigmaTron’s Tijuana facility identified areas needed for improvement in an automotive-related project  and subsequently initiated corrective actions which included shipping product to the customer in reuseable plastic trays that go directly to their production line. The end result of the team’s focused approach to continuous improvement is that the overall yields on the project have improved 40 percent during the first six months of 2014.