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The Olympics Are Over

It amazes me that for a couple of weeks every four years, the world is suddenly interested in sports. Not just the popular sports like football, but all kinds of sports, many of which we have only ever otherwise experienced while at school. Not fond memories of that in my case it has to be said.

For athletes, it is a wonderful sense of achievement to be seen and acknowledged as the best in the world. It represents a huge amount of work, devotion and preparation. In individual events, it is all about making sure that they are the ones first to the post. It is the winner of the race that gets the gold.

This is not true though of all races. Think about the “race” to introduce a new product into a production plant.  This has critical importance to the business. There is a lot of competition in the market, if you look at a popular device like a mobile telephone; the advances in technology, styling, usability and software evolve very quickly. As soon as one brand of a phone brings something new and innovative into the market, you see that the others are following closely behind. Everyone is doing their market research, everyone gets pretty much the same answer and they pretty much come up with the same plan. It is then about capability and agility in design. Who ends up making the money then? It is simply the first one to the market, that short time when the product is unique, that short time when customers are willing to pay the asking price or even higher, to be the first to own the latest devices. This short time is for many companies the only time when real profits can be made. The longer this time can be, the more the profit that will be made. Once all of the technical design issues are done, it is an intensive race against time to bring the product successfully to the launch.

In the production plant then, there is significant pressure. The design data comes in, and all of the different product introduction processing needs to be completed. These processes can include numerous similar and diverse things.  SMT programming across a number of machine platforms, test programming, inspection data preparation, documentation for different stations, assembly and repair. The race is on. No-one wants to be the last one holding up the introduction. It is not wise however to rush though, since a simple single mistake can cause very expensive and embarrassing damage to the production schedule and the product quality. The race then is not the first to the post, but the last to the post. This defines the overall time.

Looking at the various processes that need to be done, we see each of them starting off in parallel. Each one has a copy of the product data, the bill of materials, and is working using their different engineering platforms. For SMT, this can involve different platforms, even for the same machine vendor. A lot of what is being done however is duplication. Turning the design information into useful engineering information for production is pretty much the same is each case. The limitation of using many tools means that it has to be done many times. This is a huge waste and does nothing to help us in the race. Once the product data is created, there is still a lot of turbulence involved to use the different tools transferring data from platform to platform for example to do line balancing or common feeder setups.

The ability to consolidate these process preparation tasks into a single common platform can result in the elimination of the duplicate work; any reduction of works inevitably leads to a reduction of lead time and a decrease of mistakes and inconsistencies. The Valor MSS Process Preparation module is available now providing such an integrated engineering platform, with specialist features to communicate directly with third party machine platforms, providing also specialist tools to complete everything that needs to be done to introduce a new product into the production plant. This provides also the basis for the MES operations.

If any of this is sounding familiar or interesting, please join our webinar “World Class Process Preparation” in which we will go into more detail about this concept and how the quite significant benefits can be achieved.

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About Michael Ford

Michael FordMICHAEL FORD SENIOR MARKETING DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, VALOR DIVISION, MENTOR GRAPHICS Michael started his career as a computer software and hardware engineer in 1982. Working for Sony in the UK, Michael became one of the first successful adopters of computer technology into the manufacturing shop-floor, going on to manage in Japan Sony’s global Lean Manufacturing solutions. Joining Valor Computerized Systems in 2008 gave Michael the opportunity to apply his experience into the main-stream of the industry. With almost 30 years’ experience, Michael’s key strength is the instinct of finding solutions and opportunities where there had been challenges and problems. Michael is currently working as part of the Marketing Development team within the Valor Division of Mentor Graphics, focussing on the realisation of real and practical solutions for manufacturing based on the application of Lean Thinking, end to end, from design through the entire manufacturing process. Visit The Michael Ford Manufacturing Blog

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