During the past five years, there has been an increasing demand for high mix low volume (HMLV) printed circuit boards (PCB). This is due to shorter product life cycles, agility on up-issues, requirements for better flexibility, as well as sensible cashflow realisation with low levels of customer held stock. HMLV puts special demands on factories, which is 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 and as many as 60 per cent of these parts, qualifying as HMLV, NCAB works with a small number of specialist HMLV factories, typically, contracting to take more than 30 per cent of their production capacity.
Communication is key
Communication is a crucial component for successful high-mix production. To further streamline this process, NCAB Group, has launched its new proprietary factory management operating system (FMOS) software. Now all NCAB employees around the world can keep track of NCAB’s PCBs during manufacture, in real time, thus enabling them to be proactive.
This direct enterprise resource planning (ERP) link with all key factories enables any NCAB employee to see where any individual order is within any of its factories. It provides a real time status for every single part, in every key factory, thus eliminating the time normally spent with progressing and order checking processes.
Commenting on the new FMOS system, managing director, NCAB Group UK, Howard Goff, said: “Essentially, 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, HMLV orders represent more than 70 per cent of our order book. This means our customer service team, who are handling thousands of transactions monthly, always have 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 rely on us to provide real-time updates on where each order might be and FMOS gives us this facility, without phone calls or emails.
“With better than 99.4 per cent 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 helps us to continue delivering the lowest possible total acquisition cost to our customers.”