During the past 5 years, there has been an ever increasing demand for HMLV (high mix low volume) PCBs, due in part to shorter product life cycles, agility on up-issues, customer requirements for better flexibility, as well as sensible cashflow realisation with low levels of customer held stock. This trend towards HMLV logically puts special demands on factories, important when there are such a small number of quality factories in China that specialise in producing low to medium batch volumes quickly, reliably, and cost effectively.
With more than 12,000 new parts tooled every year, with as many as 60% of these parts, qualifying as HMLV, NCAB work with a small number of specialist HMLV factories, and have done so for many years, typically, contracting to take more than 30% of their production capacity.
Communication is a crucial component for successful high-mix production. To further streamline this process, NCAB Group, have during 2013, launched its new proprietary software, FMOS (factory management operating system), whereby all NCAB employees around the world can keep track of NCAB’s PCBs during manufacture — in real time, thus enabling them to act proactively.
This direct ERP link with all key factories enables any NCAB employee to always see, where any individual order is within any of its factories, – basically, a real time and accurate status of every single part, in every key factory thus eliminating the time normally spent with normal progressing and order checking processes.
Commenting on the new FMOS system, Howard Goff, Managing Director, NCAB Group UK says “essentially, for us, it is a huge leap forward, and I do not know of any other system that delivers this real time link with numerous factory production facilities. For NCAB UK, these (HMLV) orders represent more than 70% of our order book. This means our customer service team, who are handling 1000’s of transactions monthly always have absolutely up to date information regardless of where any part might be in production. We have found that FMOS has increased our efficiencies tremendously. Our customers not only expect quality, delivery and price consistency, they also rely on us to provide real-times updates on where each order might be, – FMOS now gives us this facility, without the need to rely on phone calls or emails. With better than 99.4% on time delivery into the UK, as well as the cost and reliability benefit of being one of Europe’s largest importers of PCBs, this clearly helps us to continue delivering the lowest possible total acquisition cost to our customers.”