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GISSMO System ImplementedCONCORD, Mass. Manufacturers' Services Ltd. implemented a global materials and supplier information system known as GISSMO. The move is a part of the company's strategy to build a supply-chain solution that will allow it to serve customers in a real-time environment.

The new system will be used to optimize the company's ability to leverage its worldwide purchasing activity and future requirements while providing immediate decision support tools for a global network of buyers, commodity managers and design engineers. As a worldwide database, GISSMO reportedly will provide up-to-the-minute data for making quick, efficient and cost-effective buying decisions. This should support a reduction of the total cost of landed goods for Manufacturers' Services' customers.

According to the company, design teams, customers and the procurement community already use the standardized platform in the component and supplier selection process for new product design. In addition, the system tracks purchasing information from several perspectives, including part numbers for cross-referencing "like" components, libraries of more than 3 million components, historical information, end-of-life schedules, forecasted demand, competitive pricing, lead time, industry trends, inventory availability and customer-approved vendor lists.

"Our customers are increasingly relying on us to manage design, choose suppliers, recommend components and materials to streamline the supply chain," said Steve Darendinger, executive vice president for supplier management. "This system will increase our flexibility and responsiveness to support time-to-market needs, while helping us to deliver the highest quality products for the most effective landed price."

In other company news, Rockwell Automation selected Manufacturers' Services to provide a full range of services to the company's industrial drive products business unit. The relationship will include design support, procurement, inventory management, high-mix and highly complex PCB assembly, and in-circuit and functional test.

Definitive Merger Agreement SignedHUDSON, Mass. ACT Manufacturing and CMC Industries Inc. signed a definitive merger agreement. The merger is subject to the approval of shareholders of both companies, as well as other customary regulatory and other closing conditions.

"This merger addresses many of our strategic business development objectives, provides a significant opportunity to increase value to our shareholders and strengthens our ability to bring high-quality, value-added contract manufacturing services to our existing and future customers on a global scale," said John A. Pino, chairman and chief executive officer of ACT. "CMC brings a West Coast presence with its Santa Clara, Calif., facility and provides low-cost manufacturing alternatives in both its Corinth, Miss., and Hermosillo, Mexico, operations."

Matthew Landa, president and CEO of CMC, commented, "ACT is an ideal merger partner for CMC. ACT's focus on programs requiring high levels of engineering expertise is consistent with CMC's long-term strategic vision to develop the most flexible engineering-driven operations in the most important OEM technology centers in America. The combination allows for ACT's 'front-end' high-technology production centers in Hudson, Mass., and Atlanta to be coupled with CMC's technology production center in Silicon Valley."

Dii to Acquire Austrian FacilityNIWOT, Colo. The Dii Group signed a memorandum of understanding in which the company, through its wholly owned subsidiary Dovatron International Inc., will purchase Ericsson Austria AG's manufacturing facility in Kindberg, Austria. The plant employs approximately 300 people and is responsible for the production and distribution of products within the business phone and multi-service access areas, including PBX equipment and small multiplexers. A long-term supply agreement, including PCB assembly, box build, and the associated logistics and distribution activities, is part of the transaction.

"It was very important for Ericsson Austria to find a partner that is ready to provide a seamless transition for production of the products we are developing for the Ericsson group," said Rolf Nordstrom, president of Ericsson Austria. "We are committed to serving the region, and needed a supplier that would allow us to do so while maintaining the high quality of our products and services."

Michael Corkery, president of the Dii Group Europe, said, "We're delighted that this acquisition will allow us to begin our relationship with Ericsson in such a meaningful way. We plan to use this acquisition as a springboard for expansion and strengthening of our relationship with Ericsson around the globe."

BTO Production BeginsMILPITAS, Calif. Ingram Micro Inc. and Solectron Corp. announced that build-to-order (BTO) production of branded and unbranded systems available through Ingram Micro's Frameworks total integration services began at Solectron's Newark, Calif., facility. The facility is the first to come on-line as part of the Ingram Micro/Solectron alliance that provides global BTO and reconfiguration services for personal computers, servers and related products in North America, Europe and Asia.

According to Douglas R. Antone, executive vice president, Ingram Micro, and president of Frameworks, "The opening ... marks the first major milestone in our strategic alliance. We have experienced an overwhelming demand for integrated solutions, including channel assembly, unbranded systems and reconfiguration services. We selected Solectron as a strategic partner in preparation for our need for increased capacity. We believe this arrangement will increase the value we provide to our resellers."

Fred Forsyth, president of Solectron's Systems Engineering and Services Div., added, "This alliance was designed to give OEMs, resellers and, ultimately, consumers an additional supply-chain solution to meet the growing demand for customized PCs and computing products. The outsourcing industry also benefits from the creation of a new and more efficient model under which to operate."

In other Solectron news, the company and Sequel Inc. signed a letter of intent for the acquisition of Sequel in its entirety. Solectron will assume responsibility for Sequel's business operations in San Jose, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Reading, U.K. The company will also assume Sequel's ownership in joint venture operations in Japan and Taiwan. Solectron intends to offer employment to approximately 550 manufacturing, engineering, customer service and related support associates.

"Support services are a critical component of the product life cycle and, if managed correctly, can significantly extend a product's life in the market," said Dr. Koichi Nishimura, Solectron's chairman, president and CEO. "With the addition of Sequel, we will strengthen our global leadership in this strategic area by integrating our combined capabilities worldwide. The quick turnaround capabilities of the Memphis hub facility will provide our customers with state-of-the-art, 24-hour rapid response for mobile computers, hand-held computing devices and other high-technology products."

Plexus Opens Raleigh DesignCenterNEENAH, Wis. Plexus Corp. opened a new Raleigh DesignCenter on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University. The new center will further expand upon the company's product development, sales and marketing efforts.

The DesignCenter occupies 15,000 sq. ft. within the newly constructed 120,000 sq. ft. Centennial Campus facility, and will allow for a 70-engineer staff. Plexus also has an option to acquire an adjacent 8,000 sq. ft. in the same building for future expansion. The center will expand on engineering services such as analog, digital, PCB, embedded software and mechanical design now headquartered at the Plexus Technology Group facilities in Neenah, Wis.

"We have been very calculated in where Plexus opens and expands its engineering facilities," said Dean Foate, Plexus Technology Group president. "In the case of the Raleigh DesignCenter, it was necessary for us to move into a significantly larger facility to support our growth in this region. Centennial Campus offers [us] a number of advantages, including access to university facilities, resources and an accelerated transfer of new technology to our customers' projects."

Company's Largest Contract Ever SignedIRVINE, Calif. Pen Interconnect Inc. announced that InCirT Technology, its wholly owned subsidiary, signed a $10 million contract with Imaging Technology Corp. (ITC) to provide manufacturing and outsourcing services. The agreement is the largest in the history of Pen Interconnect.

According to the terms of the agreement, Pen will provide ITC with complete turnkey outsource manufacturing services and logistics support for the company's color-printer controller boards and printer systems. This scenario is designed to allow ITC to maintain high-volume manufacturing, test, packing and shipping capabilities without having to secure its own manufacturing facility.

"The relationship with [ITC] is a milestone for the InCirT Technology manufacturing division, which significantly increases its capacity utilization at its newly expanded, 46,000 sq. ft. Irvine facility," said Stephen J. Fryer, president and chief executive officer of Pen Interconnect.

CMs Combine ForcesOLATHE, Kan. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Midwestern Electronics and NRT Contract Manufacturing combined their electronics contract manufacturing operations, making NRT a wholly owned subsidiary of Midwestern. The combined organization has more than 600 employees, and provides contract manufacturing services such as bundled design, including design for manufacturability and design for test; prototype and preproduction assembly; automated through-hole and surface mount assembly, including ultra-fine-pitch and BGA capability; complete functional and in-circuit test; and box-build and fulfillment functions.

"This partnership extends our efforts to create a network of low- to medium-volume electronic manufacturing operations that focus on high-mix, high-complexity projects in regional markets across North America," said Dave Anderson, president of Midwestern.

Chris Eldred, president of NRT, added, "NRT and Midwestern share a common vision for conducting a customer-oriented, market-facing enterprise. We've chosen to work together to advance our competitiveness more effectively."

EFTC Supplies CCA for honeywellDENVER EFTC Corp. signed a definitive agreement with Honeywell Commercial Aviation Systems to supply circuit card assembly (CCA) services. The agreement includes the purchase of certain assets and transfer of employees associated with Honeywell's former Business and Commuter Aviation Systems (BCAS) CCA operations in Glendale, Ariz., and includes a 10-year supply agreement.

Under the agreement, EFTC will establish an operation in the Phoenix metro area and begin transferring the former BCAS CCA operation, including equipment and employees, to its site later this year. This operation will become EFTC's Southwest Commercial Operations, complementing the company's plant in Tucson, Ariz., which specializes in mil-spec work. The company's Tijuana facility will become EFTC's Mexico Operations, and will reportedly allow the company to offer low-cost solutions for certain high-mix products.

"We are very pleased to be selected by Honeywell as their long-term CCA supply partner," said Jack Calderon, EFTC's chairman and chief executive officer. "We believe the significant investments we have made in pursuing [our company's] vision were a key factor in Honeywell's selection process and will continue to contribute to attracting additional significant relationships with other OEMs who desire world-class high-mix solutions."

Celestica Acquires Czech & HP FacilitiesTORONTO Celestica Inc. entered into an agreement to acquire the Czech Republic manufacturing operation of Gossen-Metrawatt Gmbh, Nuremberg, Germany. Under the terms of the arrangement, Celestica will enter into a strategic long-term supply and cooperation agreement with Gossen-Metrawatt, and all employees at the operation will be offered positions with Celestica. The 50,000 sq. ft. Czech facility currently has two SMT lines and printed circuit assembly capability for products such as computers, printers, test and measurement devices, and cellular phones.

"The acquisition delivers on Celestica's previously announced strategy of expanding into key geographies, such as central Europe," said Eugene Polistuk, Celestica's president and chief executive officer. "[Our company's] continued global expansion provides its customers with worldwide [contract manufacturing] solutions in response to the increasing trend to outsource."

Alastair Kelly, senior vice president of Celestica Europe, added, "We were particularly impressed by the high caliber workforce at this facility."

In other company news, Celestica agreed on principle terms regarding the company's acquisition of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Andover, Mass., Surface Mount Center, the PCB assembly operation of HP's Medical Products Group. As part of the transaction, HP will expand its existing strategic outsourcing agreement with Celestica. All employees at the Andover Surface Mount Center will be offered jobs with Celestica.

"This transaction builds on Celestica's strong relationship with HP," said Polistuk. "It will also enhance Celestica's low-volume, high-mix capability and expand [our] manufacturing service offerings in the medical products sector."

In addition, Allan Hawley, memory development team leader for Celestica, was appointed to the Joint Electronic Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) board of directors. Hawley has been with Celestica for 19 years, 11 of which have been dedicated to research and development for memory.

Finally, on March 31, 1999, the Toronto Stock Exchange added Celestica to its TSE 300 Composite Index and its TSE 100 Index.

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