Laying It on the Line

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What are the current challenges in managing workflow on a manufacturing floor? The I-Connect007 Editorial Team breaks down the process with Jason Sciberras, president of Saline Lectronics Inc., who shares insight into how his team has responded to the challenges faced across the industry. Jason says his key strategy has been the willingness to invest in technology, step back and look at the problems, and be bold enough to take risks. The payoff? A company that’s growing and customers that keep coming back.

Nolan Johnson: We have focused quite a bit on supply chain this year. I’m sure this environment is even more challenging as you plan the work on and through the manufacturing floor. What has that been like?

Jason Sciberras: “Crazy” is a great start. It’s the biggest challenge we’ve had in my 20 years in this industry. Many of our customers have been with us for decades and we’ve built a reputation, so it’s even more challenging. We use a master scheduler to plan out what our production floor will look like for the next four weeks and it’s very difficult with all the decommits we’ve had this year from suppliers and manufacturers.

You often don’t find those surprises until the parts are past due. We’ve had to create a position at Saline, a person who just calls every one of our major distributors with the purchase orders that are coming in the next two weeks to ask, “Are we still on track? Do we still have these parts coming in?” Even with that piece, sometimes we don’t find out that the parts aren’t coming until there’s no tracking number.

We’re being flexible and moving jobs around to not have equipment downtime and then suddenly when the parts do come in, you create these big blobs of work that need to get done. It’s a unique challenge that I haven’t seen before.

Johnson: Can you quantify the decommits? Is it twice what it was before?

Sciberras: It’s a lot more than that. These last couple of months have been better than the first seven or eight months of the year. Still, we’re probably seeing two to three dozen decommits a week.

Johnson: Against how many jobs a week?

Sciberras: Probably releasing 150 to 200 jobs or so.

Johnson: That’s a big number.

Sciberras: Yeah, it’s a big percentage, but it takes thousands and thousands of different parts to do what we do. We build very complex assemblies. There are a lot of little pieces and some parts you can put on later, but that causes other issues. If the printed circuit board gets delayed, I can deviate a few parts, but I cannot deviate the printed circuit board. It’s been a unique challenge.

Johnson: You’ve hired somebody specifically to keep in daily contact with your suppliers to look for decommits. That says a lot. Now, have you had to drop into a more detailed analysis of the bill of materials? It sounds like multiple simultaneous solutions right up front for every job.

Sciberras: We’ve got parts where I can’t get a specific BGA. Instead of re-laying out the entire board, we’ve created interposer boards so we can fit an alternate part on there and translate to the parts that are available on the fly just to keep our customers up and running.

To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the November 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.


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