“Screaming Circuits, a division of EMS firm Milwaukee Electronics, specializes in building short-run, one-off, and prototype PCB assembly, with rapid turn times and instant online quoting and ordering. Mike Galloway, technical team supervisor at Screaming Circuits, discusses with SMT Magazine the biggest challenges when it comes to assembling flex circuits, the critical factors affecting yields, and the key considerations for OEMs when selecting contract manufacturing partner for their flex circuit assemblies.”
Read the conversation with Mike Galloway over at SMT Magazine. Download the PDF here.
The goal of any outsourcing effort is normally to help the client company deliver a product to market that is faster, better and less expensive than they could build in-house. Sometimes the best way to achieve that involves multiple parties. In those cases, Milwaukee Electronics is often the bridge, working closely with both a design partner and the end customer. This is the case with the Portland facility and one of its industrial customers.
The product is server/client units used to communicate fuel purchase and secure chip credit card data from the dispenser to a store. The design firm specializes in these products and developed a custom product for the end customer. Milwaukee Electronics is doing a full electromechanical box build with multiple printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) connected together. The original product had nine PCBAs, but a recent cost reduction design spin has reduced that to three PCBAs. The server unit is a rack-mounted network box and the dispenser unit is a sub-assembly mounted in the fuel pump.
Volume production began at Milwaukee Electronics about five years ago. Volumes have increased from an average of 100 servers per month to 500 servers per month. While the design firm has primary responsibility for driving cost reduction efforts, the team at Milwaukee Electronics has supported those efforts in several ways. The Purchasing team has negotiated cost reductions from suppliers. The Manufacturing Engineering team has made recommendations on design changes to minimize assembly labor. For example, on the client unit the team recommended reducing the number of mounting brackets and that reduced labor. They also made recommendations on changes to the PCBA. Additionally, the team recommended changes to the way the metal supplier was packaging the chassis for shipment to reduce unpack time. The original design had specified far more protective packaging than was needed.
The design firm developed the functional test and over time, with feedback from Milwaukee Electronics’ team, has streamlined the test as it became apparent that the product design was generating very little fallout. Milwaukee Electronics’ manufacturing team is now focused on improving throughput so that the higher volumes can be accommodated with no increase in floor space. The team has applied its Lean manufacturing training to re-layout the entire production flow. A supermarket has been installed in the manufacturing area to streamline material transactions. Point-of-use stocking and pull systems are being enhanced in the final assembly work cell. Additionally, the SMT equipment the facility has recently purchased enables offline feeder setup, which reduces setup time.
“Our goal is to continuously find ways to capitalize on the equipment and training investments the Portland facility has been making over the last year, enhancing the value we are offering customers. The increased production in this project provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the benefits our expanded capabilities,” said Michelle McGillivray, Program Manager.
Over the last quarter, Screaming Circuits has upgraded the hardware and software on all its Mydata equipment.
“Since we created Screaming Circuits, MyData machines have been an important part of our formula for success. As we integrated a MY12 into one of our production lines, we saw the opportunity to make upgrades across all our MyData lines and standardize them,” said Ashley Rochholz, Screaming Circuits’ Manufacturing Manager.
The upgrades included new cameras providing improved optics on all machines, software revision level upgrades, new hard drives and a new server.
The optics are particularly important be-cause as a quick turn prototype house, Screaming Circuits must deal with a wide variety of component styles and packaging types. Not all received material places well. The upgraded optics are identifying issues faster and providing more detailed error codes, which decreases the time needed to correct the issue. The new server has reduced programming and offline setup time.
The addition of the MY12 has also enabled the team to increase throughput.
“With the addition of this machine, we were able to take an older MyData ma-chine offline. We are now using it to experiment with offline setup strategies, while the MY12 has provided some nice efficiency gains,” added Ashley.
Ashley estimates that overall, the improvements have increased efficiency by 140 percent.
Milwaukee Electronics’ Operations Manager Terry Martin, Senior Director of Business Development Scott Pohlmann and Design Services Group Engineering Manager Larry Holten recently represented Screaming Circuits at the Badgerloop Pod Reveal Event in Madison, WI. Screaming Circuits is one of many sponsors of this innovative engineering project and has provided prototype circuits.
BadgerLoop is a student organization created to represent UW-Madison in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. The competition seeks to innovate transportation with Hyperloop, an idea presented by SpaceX and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk in 2013. Hyperloop transportation involves pod-like travel down a vacuum tube at high speeds. Badgerloop’s ultimate goal is to win the competition, but more than that, to help lay the groundwork for this innovative new transportation technology.
The Badgerloop team revealed their pod on Dec. 6, at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery to eager transportation enthusiasts, including University of Wisconsin-Madison students, industry sponsors and community members, in preparation for the SpaceX Hyperloop competition this coming January.
The free event featured multiple aspects of the transportation pod, including displays of its motor, software components and magnet arrays. Representatives from many of Badgerloop’s 19 teams displayed and explained their work on the prototype, demonstrating that Hyperloop is more than a transportation dream.
Last January, Badgerloop placed third at Design Weekend, the initial phase of the Hyperloop pod competition sponsored by SpaceX. Badgerloop was the only team comprised primarily of undergraduate students.
In January of 2017, Badgerloop will attend competition weekend at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California and test their pod on SpaceX’s mile long test track.
Above, Milwaukee Electronics’ Operations Manager Terry Martin sits in the Badgerloop vehicle.
As seen in the latest newsletter:
Exciting things are happening at Milwaukee Electronics. Last month we announced a merger with San Diego PCB and we’ve also analyzed the results of our annual customer satisfaction survey.
The San Diego PCB merger is significant because it rounds out our complement of engineering and manufacturing service offerings. Mike Creeden, San Diego PCB’s owner and now our VP of Layout Services will discuss the capability additions in detail in our Engineering in Action article. From my perspective, I see this as very beneficial to both our companies. We chose to call it a San Diego PCB Merger Announced merger because we recognize that the bulk of the value in San Diego PCB is its expert, certified team. They employ some of the best designers in the world and match them with the best CAD tools. We see this team as a strong complement to our engineering resources and wanted to acknowledge the bench strength they represent appropriately.
Another key element that makes this merger extremely beneficial to all parties is our cultural alignment. Mike’s focus is delivering a Rev 1 that has been executed well enough to eliminate the need for further spins. Our focus is delivering perfect product. Together we will both continue that “be the best of the best” culture. We also both believe in listening to the customer. Even when the customer is saying that he or she only wants a specific service rather than all the services we sell. We built Screaming Circuits around the value proposition that you can buy as little or as much as you wanted from us. We will continue that mindset. We offer a full a lifecycle solution that includes layout services. We also sell just layout services.
Listening to the customer is also what drives our annual customer satisfaction survey. This year we saw customer participation rates drop slightly. However, we saw generally improved performance ratings across all locations. There are still specific issues we will be addressing. Cost and changing technology are the most significant concerns among our customers. We plan investments over the coming year that will continue to drive improvements in our responsiveness, ability to support advanced technology and efficiency.
One particularly interesting data point in our Screaming Circuits survey was that over 44 percent of our customers in that business unit are now Millennials. We are continuing to evaluate our customer experience and ordering tools with that metric in mind.
I’d like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. Thank you for your support and business.
P. Michael Stoehr
President & CEO
View our LinkedIn page for additional updates.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Milwaukee Electronics – from our Design Engineering teams and all our Electronic Assembly and EMS Groups in North America! In our latest newsletter, we cover several topics and some exciting events that have happened at Milwaukee Electronics recently!
- Merger with San Diego PCB
- Notes from CEO Mike Stoehr
- Screaming Circuits Machine Upgrades and PCBA Efficiency Improvements
- Badgerloop – Our Sponsorship supports the SpaceX project!
- Q&A With SanDiego PCB founder Mike Creeden
- Aries Industries – Supporting a new product launch
Click Here to read the Milwaukee Electronics Newsletter Q4 2016!
Today we announce the merger of San Diego PCB, Inc. and Milwaukee Electronics. Read the official Press Release
“San Diego PCB, Inc. is a best-in-class engineering PCB layout design service. We see it as a great fit for our engineering-driven focus in the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) market and we have chosen to refer to this transaction as a merger to better reflect the collaborative environment it is creating. Mike Creeden and his team have listened to their customers and created a business model that gives each customer a Virtual CAD Layout Department. From an organizational perspective, we are completely aligned on the importance of maintaining the breadth of expertise and superior training standards found in the organization. Mike has joined our team as vice president of layout services, with a portfolio of responsibility that includes both leading our layout services organization and expanding it geographically,” said P. Michael Stoehr, Milwaukee Electronics’ president and CEO.
“I’m excited about the potential of this merger. My goal in choosing to sell the company was to align with a partner that would enable more rapid, controlled growth than was possible as a standalone entity. Milwaukee Electronics has the same commitment to doing it right the first time that we do. They also understand the value of customer-driven services and the need to allow customers to buy the services they require. Their business model already provides customers the choice of transaction-based or bundled services from engineering through volume manufacturing and our team adds to those offerings. Our customers now have a much broader menu of services to choose from, as well,” said Mike Creeden, vice president of layout services.
On Sept. 5th, Milwaukee Electronics’ Portland facility passed its certification audit to ISO 13485:2003, the quality management system focused on medical device manufacturing. “We pursued this certification to better support the needs of our medical customers. Our team did an outstanding job of updating our procedures to support our certification effort,” said Pam Kimbrough, the facility’s Operations Manager. Milwaukee Electronics will pursue ISO 13485:2003 in other facilities as customer requirements drive the need.