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96 SMT Magazine • April 2016 To fully understand the benefits of this ap- proach, it is important to understand some of the EMS challenges these systems are designed to eliminate. In this case, there were six main areas the company wanted to create proprietary systems to support: • "What if" analysis: The largest cost in any product is raw material. In the EMS envi- ronment, raw material is typically tracked and stocked by customer number rather than manu- facturer part number. An EMS provider's ability to quickly determine not only the number of parts available to that customer, but the total number of that part and similar parts on hand and in the pipeline, is critical to understanding the lead-time needed for an increase in produc- tion. Similarly, the ability to quickly look up the total demand for a particular part can be helpful in determining whether or not an engineering change order (ECO) that obsoletes a part will result in excess inventory or inventory that can be consumed by other customers' programs. • Supply Chain Management: Just as ma- terials represent the largest business cost, in- efficiency in managing materials represents the largest potential hidden cost. The speed at which buyers and program managers can identify material availability issues determines whether or not they can be fixed with low or no schedule impact. Good visibility into order con- firmations and inbound shipment arrival dates can reduce inventory carrying costs and opti- mize production scheduling, since kit shortages are visible well in advance of the kitting process. While an ERP system tracks much of this infor- mation, it doesn't typically present it in a for- mat that is optimized for the personnel charged with monitoring material status and cost. • Material Integrity and Traceability: The EMS role in materials screening and track- ing has never been greater. Since this requires some level of manual interface, systems that ensure consistency and efficiency help reduce costs in this area. Additionally, the data collect- ed at this point can support customer informa- tion requirements related to traceability and/or mandated supplier declarations. • Centralized Documentation Control: Today's product lifecycles are shorter and often include frequent ECOs. EMS providers focusing on high mix or variable demand product often need to make frequent line changeovers in as short a time period as possible and digital work instructions help speed that changeover. Re- quirements such as ITAR drive a need to closely control access to documentation. In short, a centralized digital documentation repository with controlled access is the best way to ensure product is built to correct revision levels and that access is limited to only the personnel who are authorized to view that information. • Shop Floor Control: You can't manage what you can't measure. While analysis of his- torical data can result in corrective action over time, scrap and/or inefficiency accrue until the situation is corrected. Real-time tracking sys- tems help identify inefficiencies in production processes plus support customer traceability re- quirements. Real-time tracking of quality data at inspection and test points provides an im- mediate warning of undetected quality issues. The key is making the system holistic and vis- ible enough that the personnel who can ben- efit from the data have easy access to it and can identify issues as they arise. • Production Associate Empowerment: The EMS production environment is dynamic and typically production associates are fully ca- pable of problem-solving, performing multiple WorkinG smarTEr ThrouGh a ProPriETarY sYsTEms sTraTEGY Figure 1: Monitors showing real-time metrics are located throughout the production areas.

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