Since I am a writer, as well as an electronics professional, I have the quirky habit of really thinking about words. Which is why I started thinking about the commonly (if not overused) term Supply Chain Management today. Having pushed off from the dock of my former narrow focus on Printed Circuit Board (PCB) fabrication--particularly those of the RF and Microwave variety--I now find myself in the deeper and more complex waters of Contract Manufacturing.
The company I work for, Zentech Manufacturing, offers "Fully Integrated Supply Chain Solutions" which can give a wordy person like me a headache! When it comes to electronics, and sub assemblies, there is an order to things; Schematic Capture, PCB layout, PCB fabrication, Assembly and Test. Along that continuum there exists experts in each given area. Electrical Engineers of different varieties, PCB layout people that use a myriad of software platforms, PCB fabricators (Standard, Rigid, Flex, RF/MW, Hybrid, and such) and assembly which encompasses material acquisition (or management) and thru-hole and SMT placement, and then test--which may be very simple or incredibly challenging. Due to the inherent complexity of our work, we have become a bit like the medical industry which boasts an endless variety of "specialists." Until last Fall, I was one of those "specialists" in the PCB industry, particularly when it came to RF and Microwave technologies.
My new role demands I become indoctrinated in a far broader view of the electronics landscape--like a satellite image from Google Earth panning out from my neighborhood to encompass a view of the whole planet. From up here it becomes clear, that with all these areas of "specialties" becoming ever more complex, as we drive technology forward, there is great risk to loose sight of the big picture. We tend to hyper-focus on the multitude of concerns that plague our little "neighborhood," or area of specialty, with little thought for the overall intent of the end product's function or even the next sub-contractor's processes. Completely understandable given the complexity of the products.
Now, back to my word puzzle. So, what does it mean to offer Fully Integrated Supply Chain Solutions? Fully: Without lacking or omitting anything.Integrated: To coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole. Supply Chain: Supply Chain Management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities. Solution: An action or process of solving a problem.
In short, Zentech Manufacturing, sees the big picture and understands the inherent needs and challenges of every step. It cohesively integrates all the "specialists" and greatly reduces the risks to OEMs and contractors who manage a multi-source, fragmented system of bringing electronic-based goods to market. Zentech sees the whole picture--from schematic capture to final test. It oversees worrisome things like counterfeit mitigation of parts, and manages the complexities of parts purchasing and distribution. It finely tunes a stocking program that is incredibly efficient. It's more cost and time efficient, it is more reliable and controllable, it's more integrated!
It is very gratifying, week after week, to get feedback from customers, many of whom are Mil/Aero, Medical, Space or RF experts (meaning the hard stuff!), that express that they know they will get better yeilds at Zentech than their other partners because our processes are more tightly controlled. They know that, while we dive-deep into the details of each speciality, we understand the overarching objectives. But most importantly, they know we have their back.
Now that's real partnership--no matter what word you use.