Mario Sciberras

Saline Lectronics Lean Program by Mario Sciberras, President

Saline Lectronics Press

Earlier this year (February), early-stage plans were released to implement a new lean program factory-wide at Saline Lectronics. Upon attending the IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, CA,  feedback from industry colleagues indicated surprise at an electronics contract manufacturer implementing a lean system. They even questioned whether a contract manufacturer could be capable of implementing a lean manufacturing approach while making someone else’s products:  “Is it truly lean when you don’t have your own product?”

The belief at Saline Lectronics is that it is quite possible and they plan to prove it. The entire Saline Lectronics team is committed to developing a lean, learning environment that values a structured system organized to continuously improve customer satisfaction, safety, quality, delivery and profit.

The team at Lectronics is currently designing, developing, and about to launch their first truly lean production manufacturing line with a new medical customer. Lean production manufacturing relies on a clear connection between the customer and supplier for design responsibility. Lectronics has partnered with this medical customer to transform their product and its manufacturing process into a world-class lean system.This new production line will include circuit board assembly, functional test, and electromechanical box build to the final pack-out level. This pilot is only just the beginning, and its structure and program will be used as the first sample to help comprehensively transition the rest of the organization to a true lean system.

The philosophy of lean manufacturing – using a standardized system to help reduce waste, improve quality and empower employees to have a greater role in their daily work activities – has always seemed practical. The hiring of Jeff Riedel as Lean Champion at Saline Lectronics helped transform the philosophy into a reality.  Following the addition of Riedel to the company team, it became apparent that many other executive management members were also eager for a lean system overhaul, making it possible to take a strategic approach to our lean system development.

Using and putting the right tools in place is only the beginning of this lean program. Necessary, simple tweaks will be made to the manufacturing floor including new touch-screen work instructions, logical process flows, ergonomical workstations, Andon signals, and control boards to name a few. However, these tools are only successful when backed with a structured lean system. The lean system must be supported and followed by the entire organization, or the new tools are useless.

Lectronics has been incredibly fortunate over the last couple of years to exceed its sales objectives, and the current forecasts look promising. Adoption of this lean system should allow the company to continue delivering the impeccable quality expected by customers, at a competitive price. This lean program is a big win for Lectronics’ customer. With the tightening of processes as part of the lean manufacturing approach, customer will benefit from reduced cost and increased quality.

A lean manufacturing approach naturally encourages a more open and transparent relationship with customers. Lectronics has long been a customer-centric organization, and placed customers’ needs as top priority. The lean system will put systematic procedures in place to open up communication between Saline Lectronics and its customers for manufacturing and product improvements. It will enable the expansion of partnerships with many of its clients and the evolution of these relationships.

In addition, this new lean program will allow Saline Lectronics to expand its high-volume production capabilities. With reshoring a measurable trend within our industry, the firm plans to compete with overseas electronic manufacturing providers by offering premium product quality at similar costs to the overseas providers.

The adoption of the lean manufacturing system approach at Saline Lectronics is still in the early stages, but has created a great deal of excitement at the company. Although change can sometimes be intimidating, team members at Saline Lectronics are optimistic about the potential of lean manufacturing approaches within their daily work activities. When a systematic, lean structure has been created on how employees will accurately perform their work activities, it will empower each team member to become involved in improving the process flow. Passion always produces fantastic results, so if team members can feel accomplished about enhancing our deliverables, and feel the impact of those improvements as part of the daily work flow, it will continue to spread enthusiasm and passion for the lean manufacturing process.

This new medical line will be the first true test of lean comprehension. Additional articles in this section in future issues will share a case study detailing the company’s progress on the lean manufacturing pilot line. Articles will also detail the full nature of the lean manufacturing pilot program and the impact it has on the customer’s product, as well as the effect on the company’s work environment. Articles will also explore the effects of the lean manufacturing approach on customer satisfaction, safety, quality, delivery and costs. This commitment to implement the lean manufacturing approach at Saline Lectronics complements the mission for the company to be the best global electronics contract manufacturer.

Published in US Tech, May 2015, Page 56: