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When it comes to follow on products, he says, Solectron will have a design and engineering representation team with the customer to help redesign the next product. “Some of it they contract out to us. They tell us what type of performance they want from the product, give us some general parameters, we design it, and we go back to them with proposals and work with them on the next design.” When he worked for an OEM, he says, he had a close relationship time improves so we have a very predictable output per line each day.” It’s easy to think that once you’ve perfected a process, that’s it, but anyone who believes that understands neither lean nor contract manufacturing. Solectron has assembly lines for a customer’s product family which can run for years, but the products are changing all the time. “Some of our lines have up to 15 design changes a week,” says Petta, “but we implement those on the run.” Although the design belongs to the customer, Solectron’s experience and expertise mean that customers welcome its input. “We get more involved as the relationship with the customer matures,” he says. “Naturally, when you’re awarded a contract, the design is what it is. The ramp up is usually so quick that you take notes on what DFM (design for manufacture) suggestions to make. Then as the relationship continues they look to us for what should be changed.” Lead story May 07 Businessexcellence 9 “We do kaizen every third week, like clockwork. Every third week there’ll be teams on many of the lines, usually between four and eight teams, working a kaizen the entire week”

with his engineering managers and could go to their offi ce with prints, point out something that wouldn’t work in manufacture, and work out a solution. As a contract manufacturer, Petta’s role is to infl uence, and this depends on the relationship with the customer. Choice of supplier is as important as design. “Initially we’re given the customer’s AVL,” says Petta. “Over time we explain that we have a relationship with a particular supplier, where we can leverage Solectron’s global buy to save money, or that we already have processes in place for consumption based replenishment, etc. So we go through that process with almost every new customer, working with them to improve their AVL, and improve the manufacturability of their design, but it’s not something you own from the beginning.” Supply chain management is probably the most critical element of contract manufacturing, he says. “We are very good at the manufacturing supply chain, and we have to be.” Solectron’s global presence has established good relationships and processes with world class suppliers around the world. The corporation has a global supply chain management group, but at a local level Petta also has a functional excellence/lean group, in which he puts “very good materials process oriented thinkers. All of them together can then strategize on the best process, because we get parts from all around the world but our order to shipment time may be two or three days. How do you do that and still have very good inventory turns? Those two elements together, the supply chain tools we have as a corporation, plus how integrated the materials processes are with everything we do on site, combine to give us the excellence we have in supply chain.” In the South Carolina plant, lean and six sigma are currently integrated. “Any time we get a new product we put our six sigma team, our lean team and our manufacturing engineering team all over it on the initial build and do a very detailed process FMEA,” says Petta. “From this we get our prioritized list of what our six sigma projects will be. Our preferred tool is poka-yoke.” Petta himself is a certifi ed master black belt in six sigma, so he understands the benefi t of six sigma programs. The plant has half a dozen other black belts and over two dozen green belts, but although everyone in the plant gets trained on lean, Petta has no plans to do the same with six sigma. “I wouldn’t expect everyone on the shop fl oor to know how to do a multiple linear regression analysis,” he grins, “but as far as what poka-yoke and 5S are all about, at that level there is a fundamental understanding of it.” Kaizen is another tool much in evidence. “We do kaizen every third week,” says Petta, “like clockwork. Every third week there’ll be teams on many of the lines, usually between four and eight teams, working a kaizen the entire week.” Changes are constantly being made as a result of design modifi cations and kaizens. “Almost every time a customer comes here, their line is different,” says Petta, “and yet the output’s going up, productivity is going up, and quality is going up. They love it. I’ve had many customers asking if they Businessexcellence May 07 10 Jidoka Also known as autonomation, jidoka represents “automation with a human touch.” Jidoka is a quality control process which applies the following principles. • Detect the abnormality. • Stop. • Correct the immediate condition. • Investigate the root cause and apply a counter measure. When a defect is detected, stopping the process means that the problem receives immediate attention. This slows production for a short time, but avoids longer delays caused by rework further down the line.