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Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by John Larkin, May 23, 2007.

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  1. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

  2. Single user is free.

    Buggy, check the forums.
    Problems with Inventory fields and importing data. Particulaly Manufacturer

    Visual Jobshop is a little better, but no indented BOMs.

  3. john jardine

    john jardine Guest

    As a side comment.
    We once had an MRP dumped on us by the new MD. Consumed 12 months and many
    man hours in installation and subsequent maintenance. It never-ever gave us
    anything in return. (could never even be made to understand what a part reel
    of wire was)
    These things tend to be liked by bean counters as they can offer total
    accountability for parts, materials, labour and costs.
    Of good benefit to companies making (say) mechanical products that use a
    set number of nuts, bolts and washers, are carved in Granite and sold
    without change for years.
    MRP can fall over when faced with a typical 'chaotic' electronics company
    and it's continual design changes due to obsolete and unavailable parts,
    design modifications, improvements etc.
    Following 2 MD's then brought with them ideas of 'cell' manufacturing and
    then Kanban. I'd had enough and left.
  4. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Yep. Keep it simple. I use plain databases here (Access) and in a larger
    company we used Agile which worked nicely. But that's more for huge
    enterprises although John has a ton of different products they make so
    something that large could fit.

    Kanban may not be all that bad. Introduced something similar together
    with a production manager. I have never understood the concept of
    "kitting". It just doesn't make sense to me.

  5. It does, when there is a base model with several, or even dozens of
    variations. The base model is considered a component as far as
    production planning is concerned. It is very useful for small runs and
    quick turn job shops. More than once we had an emergency order from an
    important customer, and could pull a complete radio together in under
    two weeks, instead of the six week, or longer order cycle. Boards that
    were already in production were diverted to the emergency order, and the
    ones made for that radio would replace them. We generally shipped
    everything at least two weeks early, so the delay was never seen by the

    At one point we had almost 100 base chassis in the production
    stockroom, so all we needed was the IF and tuner modules, plus any
    options, and that customer's EPROM for the front panel. that way, 90%
    of the system assembly work was done before it hit final assembly. A
    month or so later, most of them were gone, and we were back to a few in
    stock. that extra stock let us claim an early delivery bonus from a
    large contract. If the design wasn't kitted, we would have never made
    it, and the bonus was $500,000.

    In your type of design it wouldn't be very useful.

    Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
    prove it.
    Member of DAV #85.

    Michael A. Terrell
    Central Florida
  6. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Many of my designs are similar. Big ultrasound machines with lots of
    options to pick from. With or without Doppler, ColorFlow, various disk
    drive sizes, filter modules for different transducers and so on. All our
    large systems are custom-configured, there is no such thing as standard
    models like you have with cars on dealer lots. Still the Kanban-style
    pull system was a lot better than kitting. Less inventory, less shop
    space need, plus lots of saving in labor since nobody was kitting
    anymore. So we left it to the floor manager to determine the number of
    starts. They were also allowed to pull whatever they thought they needed
    from stock, whenever they needed it. Of course this require a decent MRP
    system to stay on top of the stock forecasting.

    There was initially some resistance because kitting seems to be the
    usual scenario in the US. But when leadtimes did not get worse and cost
    went down big time people began to like it. Special order leadtimes
    actually shrunk because system production never had to wait anymore for
    a kitting session to complete. They could start building right when the
    order bell rung. Yes, we did have a big old ship's bell that was rung
    whenever Sales called in a firm order. Could be heard clear across the
    parking lot ;-)

  7. Some contracts were for delivery over a number of years, to replace
    older equipment. The kitting allowed the required parts to be reserved,
    so that all the units were identical. We had several hundred
    variations, plus some customer specific modifications. The MRP package
    tied all of the departments together seamlessly. We ahd over 200 people
    at that plant, with over 100 different jobs running at once, and it
    worked for us. It replaced a cumbersome and mistake prone card file

    A board or module level was considered as 'Kitted'. The only time we
    actually kitted a board order for an outside assembly of VME SMD boards.
    We sent out $80,000 worth of parts and got back ten very poorly made
    boards that needed $10,000 worth of rework to salvage. The board house
    claimed they used PickNPlace, but different boards had wrong parts in
    different places, some of the ICs were installed with the wrong
    orientation, and the paste solder they used looked like it was ten years
    old. Lots of scaly joints with slag and balls all over the place. I had
    to reflow thousands of bad joints on each board, but I managed to
    salvage all but one, because of damage they did to the PC board. It was
    framed and hung in the ME office to show to anyone who suggested they
    try it in the future. I wanted the name of the company that screwed it
    up to be put on a brass plate, but they were too chicken to do it. All
    I know is that the crappy work was done by a board house was in Orlando,

    The bell was over the head of production's desk, but they only rang
    it for million dollar orders, or when they had bad news. You KNEW that
    when they offered a 'free lunch', something had hit the fan.

    Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
    prove it.
    Member of DAV #85.

    Michael A. Terrell
    Central Florida
  8. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    For older system support we had service inventory. It was physically in
    the same stockroom as the rest but Service could enter hold qties. Of
    course they had to watch that inventory was at a reasonable level just
    like all the other departments had to.
    My clients pretty much all do it the same way. No kitting. They send the
    whole set of parts over, boards get stuffed and the balance of parts
    comes back with the stuffed boards. Last round was at WD Burch here in
    CA and they did a great job again. Plugged the board (new design) in and
    it worked.
    No free lunches out here when something hit the fan ;-)
  9. Were the folks up here in Grass Valley (Norcomm) able to help you with your
    SMD assembly?

  10. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Not this time. I had sent the files to Norcomm as well but they had to
    turn the job down so we went with the company in southern Cal. It was a
    fairly large job, 10 proto boards with over 500 components each. I've
    tried to keep parts variety to a minimum by using lots of same value
    jelly-bean components but it's still a lot of parts.

    However, I keep Norcomm on file for the next design. It is always good
    to rely on personal testimony like yours when selecting service
    providers, so thanks again for the hint.
  11. I thought kitting meant just that -- sending in all parts and getting the
    assembled boards back? Or did I miss a pun?


  12. Like Lloyds of London:

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  13. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    In the US it usually means kitting with the exact number of parts
    needed. I don't think that is efficient. So, in a production environment
    I prefer handing the folks there some authority to pull what they think
    they'll need. In the case of the ultrasound systems that allowed them to
    keep spares in case something broke off, or pull less than required for
    the whole month so more shop space remained available. One requirement
    in medical is training in stock keeping because they could also return
    stuff that wasn't needed back to the stock room.

    With the circuit boards we just sent the whole stock of parts. Labor
    cost for kitting: Zilch. Time delay due to kitting: Zilch.

  14. That is OK if you don't have several hundered, to a thousand
    different jobs in process at one time.

    Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
    prove it.
    Member of DAV #85.

    Michael A. Terrell
    Central Florida
  15. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

  16. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    In those cases we still did it but the stock remained at the contract
    assembler. Later the contract assembler gradually took over purchasing,
    further reducing our overhead costs.

  17. Almost all of our work was in house, and there was a lot of custom
    aluminum chassis and covers. Every module was shielded, and all wiring
    fed through feedthru capacitors to reduce noise and RF leakage as much
    as possible. It just didn't make sense to farm out numerous small runs
    that were similar, and when it was tried, it was a disaster. A lot of
    mistakes, and late deliveries meant a lot of in house overtime to
    correct the problems, not to mention replacing the wrong or damaged
    parts. As an engineer to order job shop, things were very different
    than a normal electronics manufacturing situation.

    Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
    prove it.
    Member of DAV #85.

    Michael A. Terrell
    Central Florida
  18. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Yes, that's a different scenario. Yet even there a pull system can work
    well. If the guy in production thinks he'll need 50 feedthroughs during
    the day plus some other stuff he could just go and get them. Provided
    there is an ironclad thoroughness in checking the stuff out in the
    computer. Otherwise Kanban can land you in really hot water. I had the
    impression that companies sometimes clung to the old concept of kitting
    because only very few people would be trusted with materials management.
    That's one of the things I changed when I was "da boss".

  19. We had three people in the stockrooms pulling all parts for each job.
    The parts and paperwork were put into an antistatic tray and moved in
    the computer from planning to production. If each assembler pulled
    their own parts there would have been 75 people in each other's way.
    This system prevented a job being started that was missing parts. It
    also allowed the head of production to walk up to someone and hand them
    a critical order that had a higher priority than what they were already
    working on. This usually only happened when a work order had parts on
    backorder, and the parts had just cleared incoming inspection. Common
    parts were in the main stockroom, while bulk parts and sheet metal were
    stored across the hall in the secondary stockroom.

    The assemblers had to be certified for each item they could build.
    When they finished a job it was moved in the computer to the next level,
    and they picked up their next job from a list for their department,
    based on required lead times for shipping and what they were certified
    to build. Some items were a single level, while others were multiple
    levels. Single level would be the wire room or cable line, but PC
    boards were mounted into their cases and the harness attached. Then it
    went to the module line for testing and calibration or alignment. It
    was a complex MRP system, but management, the head of production, and
    the workers could track the location of everything in the company.

    The test department was allowed to keep a small stock of parts for
    select in test and production repairs. These were exchanged when your
    stock was depleted. Customer support and out of warranty repairs were
    considered a separate division, and had their own inventory. It was
    moved from California to Florida, which turned out to be a wise choice.
    The old man who ran it died about six months later, and it would have
    been a nightmare to shut it down and move it if he had still been out

    Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
    prove it.
    Member of DAV #85.

    Michael A. Terrell
    Central Florida
  20. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    No problem. We had a chat about that and the individual managers agreed
    to keep foot traffic lean by urging their folks not to go all at once.
    Typically only 2-3 people from each department would actually show up in
    the stock room. I had a talk with the stock room clerks to see how they
    liked the new pulling scheme. "A lot", they said, citing mostly the
    absence of huge carts during a major kitting session.

    That's exactly one thing we wanted to become able to do. If a set of
    circuit breakers was missing because it was on back order they could now
    begin to assemble the system anyhow. No more waiting because a kit was
    incomplete, meaning we had less of that typical quarter-end ship crunch.
    Which also meant less overtime. Which meant less cost and a happy CFO.

    We could even do that after someone had pulled such a critical item
    because the MRP knew where it went. A quick decision among the managers
    and a part was pulled back from area 1 and brought to area 2, and the
    MRP was updated accordingly.
    That is sad. Happened to the manager of our tool and die shop as well,
    he suffered a major stroke and did not recover. I still miss him.
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