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40 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2019 One of our factories works on military equip- ment, and all of our factories work on power equipment and communications. We have a very wide set of devices and consumer elec- tronics. We don't specialize as much as most other manufacturers do. Johnson: This makes for a very interesting per- spective for our conversation today, which will focus on how assemblers can help their cus- tomers. Benson: Obviously, it's about making the cus- tomer's job easier, which depends on who in the company we are working with. With the scheduled and forecasted volume manufactur- ing at Milwaukee Electronics, we're working with purchasing agents. With our Screaming Circuits division, we're working directly with an engineer, so it's important to understand what each of those different customers need. For example, purchasing agents need predict- ability while engineers need flexibility. Over- all, the most important thing that we can do to help our customers is good communication. Johnson: Based on how your company is struc- tured, you may have two different answers to my question—one for the production side and one for the engineering side—so, what's the one thing that customers can do to connect better with you? Benson: Well, it's the same answer for both: good communication, as I mentioned, and accurate information. The vast majority of the problems that we run into— whether they be in our forecasted manufacturing with Milwaukee Electronics or our on-demand manufacturing with Screaming Circuits—fall to communication and information. At Screaming Circuits, for example, we may get a bill of materials (BOM) that has three line items that aren't completely filled out. Now, we have three parts, and we don't know what they are. We're not in the engineer's head, so we can't guess as to what they are. Or we'll get three compo- nents that aren't available in stock. We don't know what to do as a substitute because they haven't given us one. Later, in the BOM, there are three components that don't have refer- ence designators, and in the design files, it's a different version, and they're missing some of the polarity markings. We work with a partner for the blank PCB— the foundation of every electronic device— which makes the accuracy of information even more critical. Most of our PCBs are fabricated by Sunstone Circuits. If we are given unclear information from a customer, we may not be able to give the right information to Sunstone. As with the old "telephone game," each time information goes from one party to another, the risk of misinterpretation increases. That information is critical, and if you don't have it right in the first place, you're going to have a cascading set of problems. We will do our best to solve those problems. We'll call you to try and figure it out, but we need good communication and information, and we need people to respond quickly, especially in a pro- totype or on-demand type environment. All companies face this risk, but we built our business around mitigating that risk. We've Components plate on the MyDATA machine.

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