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EGV is Federal Signal’s Supplier of the Year

SigmaTron International’s Elk Grove Village (EGV), IL facility was named Supplier of the Year by Federal Signal. The facility builds printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) and electro-mechanical subassemblies for this customer. There are over 100 different product types.

“This project has been a good example of the level of partnership that can be achieved when customers and our team work together to discuss project goals and the best path to achieve them,” said Jim Barnes, the EGV facility’s Vice President of Operations.

Jody Hearn is the Program Manager at EGV assigned to the project. SigmaTron’s program team has worked closely with Federal Signal to create an automated system that includes:

  • Finished Goods (FG) Kanbans: The majority of the assemblies are released under FG Kanban programs. The inventory is replenished as consumed and adjustments are made when demand trends change.
  • Linkage with Supplier Self-Service Website: Kanban releases, confirmations and forecasts are accessed through the customer’s website. EGV’s team also updates the customer’s planners weekly on work-in-process (WIP), FG and estimated time of arrival (ETA) via this portal.
  • Customized Reports:  EGV’s team has created customized color-coded re-ports that the customer uses to track defined metrics of on-time delivery (OTD) based on combined inventory levels.
  • Efficiency Improvements:  SigmaTron and Federal Signal have partnered to find ways to streamline daily operations such as redefining Kanban sizing and identifying slower assemblies to remove from the Kanban program.
  • Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR):  EGV holds a regular QBR.  This has provided a forum to discuss previous, current, and future challenges, successes, as well as new ideas. Federal Signal now wants this to become the template for all their top suppliers.
  • Design for Manufacturability/Testability (DFM/DFT):  EGV has provided DFM/DFT recommendations both as a respond to customer engineering requests and proactively on new product.
  • Goals:  The customer has set several stocking level performance goals that EGV was able to achieve and exceed.

The end result of this partnership approach is a well-managed program that achieves customer goals in spite of a high mix of products and demand variability.


Vietnam Facility’s System Strategy Cuts Time, Cost

Low cost doesn’t translate to low use of technology in SigmaTron International’s facility in in Biên Hòa, Dong Nai province, Vietnam.

Its systems strategy is focused on four key areas:

  • Minimizing non-recurring engineering activities
  • Eliminating defect opportunities
  • Enhancing internal, supply chain and customer visibility throughout the product realization process
  • Maximizing economies of scale by linking with centralized procurement and engineering resources

“We’ve had ERP system linkage since 2012 and have been adding internally developed systems over the last year. Today, we utilize a mix of standardized system platforms combined with a suite of internally-developed software tools to support areas the core off-the-shelf systems don’t handle as well. We believe that systems cost is easily offset by reductions in engineering labor, excess inventory and cycle times, said Peter Sognefest, the facility’s General Manager and Director of Operations.

The facility has transitioned to an automated data transfer process. This reduces the potential for manually-induced errors in documentation transfer and programming, plus the overall time required for new product introduction (NPI) activities. Bills of material (BOMs) are loaded into a Macola ES ERP system to drive materials acquisition.  All documentation is also released into an Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system, which automates data transfer and creation of manufacturing documentation.

Design for manufacturability (DFM) analysis is performed at the start of every project using Valor software tools. The documentation review process also uses a Valor parts library (VPL) to verify the footprint of all components specified in the BOM against the land patterns used in the layout. This helps eliminate both the opportunity for defects caused by manufacturability issues plus eliminates the non-value added time that can be spent reprogramming machines or re-spinning the printed circuit board layout if component packaging specified in BOM doesn’t match the land patterns used in the layout.

Test and inspection strategy includes automated optical inspection and electrical and functional testing. Functional test systems include a machine vision test that verifies products with LED control panels have adequate light levels and colors. In some cases, test data is provided real-time to the customer.

The newest software addition is an internally-developed Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software called Tango that is used to integrate shop floor control, quality data collection and traceability activities. All material is bar coded at incoming inspection and kitting priorities are set based on demand trends.  Products are tracked through all production processes associated with that work order. Placement and insertion equipment self-checks any feeders based on the work order. If a production process set is missed, operators cannot scan the bar-code until the missing step is completed. Additionally, it tracks the actual operators associated with each production step, the revision level of any software loaded in the unit and the number of units completed.

At the end of the process a Customer Advocacy Audit (CAA) is performed via a sample plan and inspection strategy designed to ensure a 99.9 percent confidence level that no defects are present. If the sample fails inspection, the entire shipment is inspected. While there is a cost associated with both sampling and any required inspections, it is far less than the cost incurred if the shipment was rejected at the customer.

From a defect prevention standpoint, the lockout mechanism makes it impossible to skip production steps or load incorrect components into placement equipment. From a traceability standpoint, the system maintains a device history record which includes components used, production processes completed, operators associated with assembly activities and test results. This level of data supports quick resolution of any quality issues that could potentially develop.

The facility also uses SigmaTron’s proprietary “iScore” system. Through this suite of tools, the Vietnam facility and the IPO have visibility into forecasted demand, actual demand, inventory in each facility and inventory on order. Materials systems are linked globally to provide company-wide visibility into inventory levels and materials status.  Data from Tango is also linked to the ERP system through iScore, but not available yet externally through Score.  Customers can access Score 24/7 via the internet for project status visibility and program management uses iScore to stay abreast of key project metrics. iScore is also used internally to perform “what if” analyses when demand trends are changing or an engineering change order (ECO) needs to be implemented. This has reduced the time to evaluate cost impacts and available inventory from days to less than 24 hours.

The results speak for themselves. The facility has had zero rejected shipments since its inception in 2005. On-time delivery is 100 percent and there have been zero late shipments since 2005. The bar is set high because rejected product not only creates potential inventory shortages it the customer. It also represents wasted logistics cost and wasted time expended in transit and repair. The facility’s inventory turns are averaging slightly over 7 per year.


Dereck Moore Named EGV Director of Operations

Dereck Moore recently joined SigmaTron International’s Elk Grove Village (EGV), IL facility as Director of Operations. He previously served as Production Manager at KeyTronic EMS. He was earlier associated with ACDI, Lighting Science and Jabil in a variety of plant, operations and production management positions.

“EGV is growing and we felt the position we’ve previously classified as manufacturing manager needed to be expanded to encompass the activities of EGV as a whole. Dereck brings 15 years of operations and production management experience that is specifically related to electronics contract manufacturing. He has a track record of implementing programs that improve both performance and efficiency.  In short, I see him as someone who will help us add capabilities and processes important to a diversifying customer base, while helping us become a leaner more efficient organization,” said Jim Barnes, EGV’s Vice President of Operations.

Dereck has extensive experience in 5S and Lean manufacturing philosophy and has pursued studies toward a degree in Electronic Engineering.


Marytherese Walk Named EGV Director of Quality

Marytherese Walk recently joined SigmaTron International’s Elk Grove

Village (EGV), IL facility as Director of Quality. Previously, she was Quality Manager at Omron Automotive Electronics, Inc. She was earlier associated with Philips Lighting Electronics, NA, Senior Flexonics, Inc. and Webster-Hoff Corp. in a variety of quality management, customer care management and engineering positions.

“Marytherese has spent over two decades working in quality management and engineering positions in companies with rigorous quality assurance requirements. She has extensive experience with robust product qualification and acceptance processes, and a track record of driving significant quality improvements. Her experience and expertise are strong assets as we continue to grow and diversify a customer base that requires superior quality,” said Jim Barnes, EGV’s Vice President of Operations.

Marytherese holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree from Northern Illinois University. She is a Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) and Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) through the American Society for Quality. She is also an ISO/TS16949:2009 Lead Audi-\tor and a Certified Instructor for IPC-A-610 and J-STD-0001 workmanship standards.