In the world of custom engineered flexible circuit boards, a robust part number introduction process is critical. With dozens of parts quoted weekly, and hundreds of customers supported annually, All Flex places heightened scrutiny when new part numbers are introduced onto the factory floor. Many people recognize NPIP (New Product Introduction Process) as the acronym for this initiative.
All Flex believes that one of the best ways to achieve consistent high quality and on time delivery is to ensure that the new part number introduction is continuously monitored and improved.
When done right:
- The design will fully meet the customers specification
- The design can be manufactured at acceptable yields
- The tooling and documentation are ensured to be 100% accurate
- The best material sets are chosen to maximize flex circuit performance
- Personnel fully understand the requirements
The most effective way to assure on-time delivery and acceptable costs lies in the initial part number start up. This is why All Flex gives an intense level of focus to this process. In fact All Flex created a unique start up process known as Jump Start™
Jump Start ™ is a ten point continuous improvement effort to supply intensified customer support during initial part number quotation, design and delivery. This coordinated effort spans multiple departments with performance measurements for several metrics. The ten points are listed below:
- Respond to all inquiries within 24 hours
- Optimization of conductor pattern (“Flexize” the design)
- Provide CAD data to customer for approval
- Set-up the part for serial production
- Establish short cycle fabrication time
- Complete engineering design review
- First article inspection
- Communicate shipment tracking information
- Review initial run results and capture lessons learned
- Send out customer satisfaction surveys
The All Flex business model requires us to quote, design, engineer, and fabricate hundreds of part numbers per year. We are using the Jump Start™ process to track our success with new customer part numbers which helps identify improvement efforts.
This process is patterned after PDCA (Plan»Do»Check»Act), an iterative four-step management method used to control and continuously improve processes and products. It was made popular by Dr. Edward Deming and is also known as the Deming cycle of learning.
- Plan: Plan your product start up, establish controls, and create a schedule.
- Do: Monitor the plan –build the product with increased engineering involvement during initial runs.
- Check: Review results vs. metrics and identify areas for improvement.
- ACT: Implement corrective actions and plans for improvement. Then start the process over again.
The Jump Start™ Process gets to the fundamentals of quality, delivery, and customer satisfaction. Delivery of initial parts is often done under a compressed timeline and heightened scrutiny. The process is driven by a high level of management commitment and a sophisticated understanding of process improvement. Success comes with an intense focus on executing the basics. By performing the “blocking and tackling”, it’s a lot less likely a “Hail Mary” pass will be required.