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Page 32


www.us-tech.com Manufacturing: Bringing it Home Continued from page 19 Odryna assigned his operations


manager the task of looking around for possible manufacturing partners located near their design headquar- ters. They eventually selected Suntron Corporation, an EMS


provider headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, which provides electronics manufacturing services and solu- tions to support high reliability prod- ucts within the network, telecommu- nications and other markets. During discussions, Suntron


and ZeeVee evaluated all the costs involved in the total cost of procure- ment (TCP), instead of simply unit manufacturing costs. Such costs include the so-called soft costs, like cash cycle times, true shipping costs, insurance, lack of flexibility, turn- around time, fuel surcharges, custom broker fees, and travel/support costs. Suntron jumped at the opportu-


nity to demonstrate that U.S. manu- facturing plants can be cost competi- tive. Its state-of-the-art 41,000 square foot facility in Methuen, Massachusetts specializes in system design, integration, new product introduction, direct fulfillment, prod- uct life cycle management, supply chain management services, and embedded computing solutions for OEMs and large end-users.


May/June, 2012


short time, Suntron and ZeeVee got the manufacturing operations up and running. The return to U.S. manufac- turing has greatly increased ZeeVee’s ability to serve its customers quickly. Suntron is working to ensure that products hit the shipping dock virtual- ly on the same day as they are ordered; the company offers direct order fulfillment capabilities, which also improves delivery times. Domestic manufacturing results in an increased flexibility that facilitates the product configuration changes ZeeVee was looking for.


Cash Cycle Issue Resolved The cash cycle issue is greatly


reduced because U.S. firms like Suntron do not require up-front pay- ments for inventory. In addition, the communications benefits are enor- mous. Being in the same time zone,


After working with offshore suppliers for a number of years, this hi-tech company pulled its manufacturing back to the U.S. and is happy with the results.


ZeeVee’s new product needs


resulted in Suntron hiring to fill 20 new manufacturing positions. The positions were a good news story that was a source of great excitement in the local community, which had lost its share of manufacturing jobs. According to Jon Saunders,


Suntron’s Methuen plant manager, “Much of the infrastructure needed for ZeeVee’s products already existed at Suntron. The plant was already functional, and the project was a great way for us to grow our busi- ness.”


According to Saunders, ZeeVee


benefited by the flexibility that Suntron offers over a Chinese manu- facturer. “We can customize our serv- ices to what the customer needs, while larger Chinese manufacturers often can only+ offer cookie-cutter ap - proaches that don’t deal well with fluc- tuations outside the norm,” says Saunders. He adds, “We are small enough to care about the project and offer flexible services, while large enough to make a difference.” In just a


ZeeVee no longer has to wait 12 hours or overnight and halting pro- duction until the factory is open to get an answer to any issues and questions. Now the company can immediately resolve issues and keep the line rolling. The firm is growing rapidly,


more than doubling every year, and initially ZeeVee had a concern that working with a local manufacturing partner might be an impediment to growth. No problem. Suntron has a number of other facilities for scala- bility, including a manufacturing facility in Mexico. Knowing that Suntron offered other solutions should ZeeVee require other options resulting from expansion gave the company a high comfort level. “As we grow, we are comfortable knowing we have a partner who can work with us to handle an increased volume.” Suntron expects that as ZeeVee’s business continues to grow and they introduce new products, they will be growing along with them, expanding to 30-35 employees. “Their success is going to be our success,” says Saunders.


ZeeVee has also met its goals of


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improving product design and devel- opment. When working with the China manufacturing partner, all development work required hopping on a plane for a 16-hour flight and losing a week to complete prototyp- ing discussions. Now, ZeeVee can get much earlier and more detailed feed- back on design prototypes, fostering productive discussions on designing for manufacturability, an in depth analysis that Suntron provides, which will reduce costs to build prod- ucts. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words, so getting together and showing how things are sup- posed to work is essential. But now it’s only 28 miles up the Interstate. “In any product development


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life cycle, there are opportunities to settle issues, make corrections, and continue improving the time to mar- ket. With Suntron, we can test parameters and correlations in the morning, drive to the plant and test it on different equipment and get our answers by the afternoon,” says Odryna. “When you are working with partners halfway across the world, this level of collaboration is just not possible, and that makes a difference when time to market is critical.”


Continued on next page


    


  


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