Development services from EMS partners »Product development is teamwork«

Johann Weber, Zollner: »I must implement quality right at the beginning in the development so that I can accomplish process capability and not have to achieve quality through repairs.«

Members of the initiative »Services in EMS« of ZVEI (German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association) have developed a new initiative under the slogan »Product development is teamwork«. This new initiative was presented at productronica. A foretaste was given at the Markt&Technik »EMS« Forum.

On a yearly basis, EMS companies in varying working groups compile their positions regarding current topics such as the World of Testing or Obsolescence Management. Accompanied by an informative brochure, the initiatives provide a good basis in order to discuss with the customer focal points in the cooperation. “Every one of us here at the table is differently positioned, but the common desire of the entire sector is that the customer gets the EMS and possible further service providers, such as design houses, involved in the development at an early stage,” summed up Michael Velmeden, CEO of cms electronics, the thrust of the new initiative. The topic brochures compiled so far are oriented toward the value creation trend, which shapes the EMS industry since some time: “EMS is increasingly becoming a development service provider and also plays an increasing role as a consultant during development,” described Johann Weber, CEO of Zollner Elektronik.

The important parameters are determined during development: 80 percent of the costs, the Design for Manufacturing (DfM), meaning the optimum manufacturability of the product, and the choice of materials from the point of view of obsolescence. “I must implement quality right at the beginning in the development so that I can accomplish process capability and not have to achieve quality through repairs,” said Johann Weber. With their current initiative, the EMS companies want to show their added value as a development partner and accomplish that customers – OEMs and EMS, and further development partners – jointly bring their competencies down to a single common Design for Excellence (DfX) denominator. Under the term DfX, the EMS industry gathers together the aspects of: Design for Manufacturing (DfM), Design for Testability (DfT), Design for Cost (DfC) and Design for Logistic (DfL).

Re-establish the link between development and manufacturing
Many EMS companies are spin-offs from large company groups, in which the complete vertical integration was concentrated under one roof. According to the paradigm of „core competencies“, these production facilities have, in the meantime in very many cases, been split off and are now separate EMS companies. “Over time, the link between development and manufacturing has been lost. Products were developed and then at some time or another it was determined that they also had to be produced,” described Bernd Enser, Vice President Global Automotive at Sanmina. “Such a way of thinking may work with very simple products, however, the products we manufacture today are highly complex products and without intensive communication along the supply chain – and we are an essential part of the supply chain – it will not work. We simply no longer have the time to repeatedly run through specific loops and repeatedly NOT do specific things in parallel; otherwise, at some point, a gap between the actual development and the final product will prevail in exactly the same way as between specification and application.”

The initiative is going to help to once again implement these interfaces between EMS and OEM and underpin the added value of EMS companies at this point. For some time now, the message that development and manufacturing must be closely linked is being taken seriously by EMS companies; however, it has not yet reached everyone. Indeed, EMS companies are perceived as a value creation link; however, frequently not yet at the right time. A reason for this is that the term „EMS“ does not have a firm place in certain process diagrams such as the standardized V diagram. Additionally, not every customer is enthusiastic from the outset when the EMS intervenes in their territories, as Herbert Schmid, Managing Director at productware, described: “As a small mid-sized company, it was very difficult for us in the beginning to bring our added value in development services and in manufacturing optimization closer to our customers, who normally all have their own development.” Initially, with its first sample reports and proposed design modifications, productware met with incomprehension. After all, a service provider should not ask too many questions, but simply do what he is being paid for. “In the meantime, this has changed and customers value our competence and have recognized our added value,” said Herbert Schmid.