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Seeking EMS Quality and Customer Satisfaction
A large production floor handles SMT assembly operations.

With operations in Winchester, Massachusetts, Palm Bay, Florida, and Zacatecas, Mexico, MC Assembly (www.mcati.com) is a major contract manufacturer based in Palm Bay with annual revenues of about $200 million. The firm provides manufacturing services for medium-volume printed-circuit-board (PCB) assemblies and box builds, with capabilities that include surface-mount and pin-through-hole technologies. The company also offers PCB and box build design-for-manufacturability (DFM), design-for-test (DFT), and design-for-assembly (DFA) engineering, along with in-circuit functional and environmental testing, and full box-build and direct-order fulfillment.

The company is focused mainly on aerospace, defense, medical, industrial, and niche telecommunications markets. MC recently received the 20/20 award from Zeiss (www.zeiss.com), a global leader in the medical technology area, as a top performing supplier of electrical commodities purchased by Zeiss. The award requires near-perfect on-time delivery and outstanding quality score for the applicable 12-month period. MC's medical products can be found in medical applications around the world, including in minor emergency care, research centers, specialized women's health-care services, blood analysis centers, military MASH-type units, and trauma centers. Earning the award requires a commitment to quality and shipping products that meet customer specifications, on-time and within budget.

Supply-Chain Software
MC is supported by superior supply-chain software tool sets. It uses these tools to aid a customer with such functions as bill of materials (BOM) management at any time during the product life cycle. The investment in software tools helps MC to provide customers with numerous electronic manufacturing services (EMS) functions, including BOM optimization, BOM expansions, restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) conversions, end-of-life management, and obsolescence parts management. MC also employs advanced material planning tools that allow the "mass customization" of specific supply-chain solutions that are tailored to each unique customer profile. Often, multiple solutions may be developed to serve the complex and diverse needs of a single client.
Depending on the project, some hand assembly may be required.


MC has made a strategic decision to offer design for excellence (DFx) engineering services free of charge for production clients, in contrast to many companies that charge nonrecurring engineering (NRE) fees for DFx engineering support services. By not charging for these services, the company intends to have focused customers take advantage of the services, allowing it to fully service customers with long product life cycles typical of many of the company's markets.

Globally Competitive
With the "scalability" of its EMS capabilities in its two domestic and low-cost-regional central Mexico facility, MC Assembly is globally competitive. The MC Mexico facility provides competitive labor without sacrificing inventory time or cash-to-cash cycles, and helps an OEM remain flexible in terms of delivery schedules. The MC Mexico facility takes advantage of an extremely stable central Mexico workforce with extremely low turnover, which many clients find quite attractive.

MC Assembly works with every client with a goal of "zero detect" manufacturing, even though many OEM designs may not invite this approach. But instead of forcing design rules on its clients, MC Assembly attempts to optimize the initial designs by means of its extensive DFx services. The use of custom thermal profiles for each PCB assembly helps ensure optimum solder flow and coverage.
X-ray inspection is an important part of maintaining quality control.


Raw materials are aggressively screened at incoming inspection with the goal of detecting and removing nonconforming components. To maintain control, part number assignments unique to each customer are given to all raw materials. The incoming material quality-control system integrates a variety of tools to ensure that the correct raw materials are being received, including optical bar-code readers with embedded radio-frequency (RF) communications, configuration management (CM) tools to verify tolerances for all mechanical components, board fabrication core laboratories for verifying complex raw PCBs, and electrical measurement tools for incoming inspection. In addition, extensive quality histories are maintained for every part ever purchased.

Once kits are pulled from individual stocking locations, off-line SMT setup and validations are used to ensure that the correct components are loaded onto the correct feeders. Scanners at the SMT base platforms are used for final verification that the right feeders are installed in the correct sequences as well.

Paste Height Inspection
When the manufacturing process begins at MC Assembly, automated three-dimensional (3D) paste height inspection, color in-line automated optical inspection, and a paperless work flow system monitor in-process manufacturing activity and verify that the highest quality standards will be maintained. First-pass SMT, in-circuit test (ICT), functional capacity test (FCT), and functional quality audit (FQA) testing are recorded within the paperless system for analysis, reporting, and corrective actions. When visual verification is not possible, powerful x-ray tools are available to inspect solder reflow and other circuit features. Such manufacturing process support is backed by considerable test capability, with test systems that can measure PCB assemblies and box builds for requirements established by their customers or by MC Assembly for its customers.

Robust quality management system (QMS) gear at the three plants reinforce the manufacturing process and test equipment. The QMS equipment and procedures applied at each facility are focused on the specific needs of each customer and the specific markets that they serve.

All three manufacturing centers are guided by a culture and belief that for a business to be successful, it must pay attention to its stakeholders, shareholders, vendors, and customers. The firm often refers to the "four-legged stool of success." For a business to be successful, it must build on its relationships with its stakeholders, shareholders, vendors, and their customers, and to excel at maintaining focus on each over the entire year in order to be successful.

In spite of its many capabilities, MC does not work with a large number of customers. Rather, the firm tries to seek out customers that will appreciate its capabilities. This up-front investment in achieving the best possible alignment between MC and its customers tends to support longer-term relationships. This approach to serving customers also includes targeted expansion of service offerings in support of these customers, covering an entire product life cycle, to help deepen the relationships with those customers.

The more that an OEM and an EMS supplier such as MC Assembly can achieve a working relationship, and share strengths and weaknesses, the more that an alignment can be achieved on the important aspects of the business. Such efforts can, for example, help reduce the risk of making sourcing decisions. MC Assembly believes it is important that the company is as much a part of that process as the OEM and as such, tends to develop very long-standing and enduring engagements in targeted markets.

Contact: MC Assembly, 2755 Kirby Circle, Palm Bay, FL 32905 321-253-0541 E-mail: jkulp@mcati.com Web:
http://www.mcati.com

 
 
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