AWS Group has announced that following the success of its Fast Track operation at AWS Cemgraft in Newbury, a similar service and facility has been set up at AWS Ltd on its Newcastle-Under-Lyme site, providing a turnaround of prototyping or urgent low volume production orders within five to ten days. AWS Ltd has adopted a similar methodology to its sister company, creating a dedicated Fast Track production area of the factory so that regular production schedules are not interrupted by urgent demands. The 13-strong, specialist new product introduction (NPI) team includes: project management; electronic design and production engineers; dedicated quotation and purchasing staff; and PCB assembly and box build personnel.
Other contract manufacturers attempt to use the same management and operational staff for standard, scheduled orders and NPI work. But the AWS approach of establishing a special team for such immediate, short leadtime work results in many significant benefits. Firstly, all NPI team members are experienced at working with early development projects and understand the technical and process problems that can arise. They are also able to develop DfT (Design for Test) and DfM (Design for Manufacture) approaches early on in discussions, bringing Value add and Value Engineering (VA-VE) solutions and saving customers expensive design changes later. Lastly, customers can see a dedicated facility where their product designs and ideas can be transformed into a manufacturable product.
Phil Ellerton, AWS NPI & Fast Track Manager Comments: Urgent requirements, one-offs and new products were traditionally handled in an account cell, so the account manager would have to fit this work around the regular production flow. Increasingly, we are undertaking more technical and complex work with major OEMs and first tier companies, so it made sense to create, in effect, a technology centre built around the solid foundations of the Cemgraft Fast Track model. A key aspect of this approach is that we not only provide a product, we also provide the manufacturing experience to customers who do not have the necessary systems integration or production expertise. More and more, this calls for an overall electro-mechanical solution requiring several disciplines, not just the PCBA.’