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AUGUST 2020 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 51 we have here in the U.S. They also look at the inventory in China and see what components they have and whether they're dedicated to any other projects. They can feed this facil- ity here with components. It makes sense for us to have this interconnection going between the two. Johnson: In some cases, you're doing global intra-company shipment of components? Ghalili: Correct. We have also designed our own electronic Kanban system. It gets the informa- tion out of the SPI and AOI and puts it right up onto the production floor to help quality. And for the MSD, the cabinet has been a huge help because the cabinets are environmentally controlled. And when the product is out of the cabinet and comes back, we know how long it has been outside of the environmental control. That also has helped us resolve some of our other issues. Those are the two areas where we've had problems previously. We continue to have problems, but we are trying to address them by designing internal systems. Matties: The cabinet is a big help in inventory management, as well as in protecting stock. Ghalili: Exactly. And again, this is a cabinet that's designed by us. We have patents on it, and, in a way, we're marketing it under our PTC, which is another division that's fully owned by Epoch. But it has been a major asset since we've been working on it, and it has been in development for 6–7 years. We have version four or five right now that we're using in our factory. Matties: What would you recommend custom- ers do to help their job go through your factory more efficiently? Ghalili: If they could get us a good forecast, that would be a big help to get us through much faster. Matties: What advice would you give to another EMS for inventory management? Ghalili: That also depends on the complexity. With factories like us doing quick turns of small volumes, large mix, I don't know how it can be done anymore without an electronic system unless you work on a very limited number of products. We have a very large number of prod- ucts that we put out, and the volumes are not necessarily that high. Without an electronic sys- tem, I don't think you could manage it. Matties: You bring up a good point because my understanding is that some EMS companies make a living off a couple of dozen customers, and they don't have to go beyond that. Ghalili: Yes. Manual is fine. And they don't have to invest because it is a heavy investment. The software is more than $500,000. Then, you have to implement that, and it will cost $500,000–$1 million just to get it up and running. It's not a small investment for a company. Matties: What do you expect the timing to be for ROI on that sort of investment? Ghalili: It takes 5–6 years minimum to get that back. Johnson: It's not necessarily a competitive advantage, but it's mission-critical for your business. Ghalili: Exactly. Matties: This has been very helpful, and I greatly appreciate your time and insights. Ghalili: Thanks, Barry. It's always a pleasure. SMT007 Without an electronic system, I don't think you could manage it.

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