The One Thing


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A tip of the hat to best-selling authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan who came up in the real estate business; their book The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results is based on a simple, general truth. Often, in major projects, success is greatest and risk is least by just focusing on one key part. As we talked to contract manufacturers, one thing did move to the top of the list of secrets to success in the assembly space: communication.

“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,” said Duane Benson, an I-Connect007 columnist and a representative from Milwaukee Electronics. “As with the old ‘telephone game,’ each time information goes from one party to another, the risk of misinterpretation increases.” Benson pointed out, “If we are given unclear information from a customer, we may not be able to give the right information to Sunstone [Circuits, their partner fabricator].”

Joe Garcia, VP of sales and marketing at Green Circuits, echoed that sentiment, “We want to be as thorough as possible with each customer’s particular job. But, at the same time, we want to match our speed and flexibility to the needs and expectations of the customer—truly being a customer solution provider in the EMS space.”

“Well, I’m old-school, so planning and communication still matter more than anything to me,” stated John Vaughan, VP of sales and marketing at Zentech Manufacturing, “What does the customer think the product architecture looks like? What part challenges do they see? What’s different and unique? Who are our technical liaisons going to be? Because the demand side is really high right now, particularly in mil/aero, and the lead times to deliver both quotes and products are very compressed right now, the more we know about the objectives on the front end, the better we can perform.”

“We like to think of ourselves as a family atmosphere and build relationships with the customers we have,” said Jeff Hamlett, director of sales and marketing at Data Electronic Services (DataED). “Anybody can build a product, but it’s important to have established relationships and treat the customers well, which has led to our success today. We have all of the bells and whistles that other CMs do, but that’s the one factor that makes us stand apart.”

Muhammad Irfan, president at Whizz Systems, put it this way, “Internally, we have the capability to offer from concept all the way to a launched product.” He continued, “Our strength is knowing our strengths and whether we are a good fit for the customer.”

Duane Benson stated, “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 prototype or on-demand type environment.”

Benson further detailed, “Most people think of the design files as being the CAD files—the schematic and layout. And of course, you can’t build it without an accurate layout. But the BOM is the single most important file in this entire setup that has all of the information about the components; it matches the components to the boards, which is where the brainpower is needed.” He drove the point home, “The process of creating the circuit board is about translating a file to board material with precise process control. Adding the parts to it is where there is a higher risk for ambiguity; thus, it requires a transfer of information from somebody’s head to somebody else’s head.”

When asked for specifics, Duane Benson shared, “We may get a bill of materials (BOM) that has three line items that aren’t completely filled out. That means we now have three parts, and we don’t know what they are. We’re not in the engineer’s head, so we can’t guess.” Benson continued, “Or we’ll get three components that aren’t available in stock. We don’t know what to do as a substitute because the customer hasn’t given us one. Later, in the BOM, there are three components that don’t have reference designators, and in the design files, it’s a different version, and they’re missing some of the polarity markings.”

To read the full article, which appeared in the May 2019 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.

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