Creation Ships First We Share Solar Units

Creation team members first heard about We Share Solar when Diana Ferrari, Director of Central Engineering at Creation Technologies learned about a suitcase building event at St Agnes of Assisi, where her daughter Julia attends school.  Diana couldn’t stop thinking about how to help this program as part of Creation’s Making a Difference initiative and one phone call to We Share Solar Co-Director and Co-Founder Gigi Goldman and they both realized that it was a perfect match.

The VAVE engineers at the Creation Milwaukee Business Unit connected with Hal Aronson, Co-founder and Director of  We Share Solar, and discussed different avenues for creating a lower cost  educational kit, the WSS601.   Our commodity managers and Vice President of Commodity Management, Steve McEuen sourced and quoted the material and was able to create the kit at a price below We Share Solar’s target.

Once we agreed to move forward and quote the project for manufacturing it was turned over to Robert Flores, Business Development Director for Creation Express Services out of San Jose, California.  Robert met with Hal Aronson to discuss their cost expectations and timelines.   Robert also worked very closely with Creation team members Chuck Herman, Customer Focused Team Leader and Juanita Wright, Procurement Specialist to make sure the project went smoothly.     “What really helped to get the project quoted and into production was communication,” said Robert Flores. “I was in constant communication with Hal, and then Chuck, Juanita, and I were meeting on a daily basis to discuss any changes to ensure the project kept moving forward to meet the aggressive deadlines, and we made sure everyone involved was kept up-to-date.“  Chuck and Juanita both agreed communication was the key to success.  Hal had given Creation some very aggressive timelines for delivery which could have been challenging due to some long lead time parts.   Juanita was able to find substitutions for those parts with shorter lead times and while we had already exercised a VAVE to drive out cost, Juanita was able to find even more cost savings and the project actually came in under budget.

Wendy Cross, Program Manager with We Share Solar, which is the specific group focused on these cases, was very impressed with the team in San Jose.   “Once everything was approved we were in a time crunch to ship with the start of the school year.  Chuck and the team in San Jose were able to ship 30 kits a day.    We exceeded the estimated schedule and shipped out well over 200 in the first week,” said Wendy.

We Care Solar facilitates the international deployment piece.  The model is that each school gets 6-8 suitcases, they keep 6 and deploy 2.    Each year participating schools will fundraise to try and buy more.  The teachers are very excited to have humanitarian project based learning as well as an opportunity to learn about wiring and circuitry.    Currently most of the cases are deployed to Kenya and Uganda so students can have lighting giving them more access to resources.   We Share Solar works with partners in Kenya that do the installation work, liaison in terms of choosing schools and in addition can help with maintenance.

And there is more!!!  October 24-25 there will be a Creation We Share Solar training event in Creation’s San Jose Business Unit.  Creation representatives from various business units and Creation Design Services will be on hand to learn how to lead suitcase building workshops. They will eventually host workshops with children in their home cities. Look for future updates on these events!

Learn more at: https://www.wesharesolar.org/

How a VAVE Risk Mitigation Strategy Improves the Bottom Line

A VAVE analysis is considered a game changer to OEMs because of its potential for major cost reductions.

VAVE is not about a quick fix to cut expenses. Good EMS providers can leverage VAVE to improve product quality and lower lifecycle risk. This focus on risk mitigation will translate into long-term savings and greater revenue opportunities for OEMs.

Here are the ways VAVE teams are achieving this.

Entering the Market with Confidence

Being first to market is important, but it is ineffective if you are not priced appropriately. An OEM may have a great product but will fail in the market because of its high unit cost.

If a VAVE analysis is performed during the prototype phase, you will get expert opinions from your EMS partner on pricing strategies. Early supplier and engineering engagement, before the design is finalized, will ensure there is feedback and approval from all stakeholders.

Putting that upfront investment in VAVE will drive the unit cost down and allow you to enter the market at the right price point. You have an opportunity to capture a competitive market share and maximize revenue potential.

Extending your Life Cycle

A thorough EMS partner will put a large emphasis on quality and risk management when conducting a VAVE analysis. They will make sure that the product and all of its components will last the entire product lifecycle. This is usually done during the risk analysis phase, where your partner evaluates your bill of materials (BOM) and identifies areas of improvement to reduce risk within the product lifecycle.

Making sure that the product BOM has longevity will avoid redesign costs in the midst of the products life.

Part of their task is to get as many approved sources in the design as possible (more on that later) so that if one or two sources become obsolete in a few years, you still have a supply chain that won’t cause you shortages.

Experts in the Supply Chain

Mitigating risk is all about being able to foresee barriers and having a contingency plan to address them without missing a beat. OEMs that aren’t prepared will not be able to react quickly if a major quality issue arises.

Almost 93% of critical shortages where delivery is effected is attributed to OEMs single sourcing their components. That means there are other supply chain options available that haven’t been vetted or approved. When your customer wants an extra 10,000 units, a single sourced component on your BOM can cause you to lose revenue if the supply chain can’t react in time.

We often see in startups or smaller companies, a design engineer is simply not looking for multiple component sources under the pressures of a launch schedule. If they are looking, they may not have the supply chain relationships to identify the lowest cost options.

A capable EMS partner can help you design a sustainable supply chain. They can lessen your risk during a VAVE analysis by identifying and qualifying a second or third source for components, so if there are quality issues, you have the flexibility to adapt.

The BOM might start off with 80-90% single sources, but can drop to 20% single sourced after a successful VAVE analysis. This will not only improve the products longevity, but will eliminate unnecessary long-term costs.

 

 

The Conflict Minerals Effect Video Series Part III: Impact on Creation & Our Partners

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The ethical sourcing of materials from conflict-free regions is a responsibility that most of us in the global EMS industry take very seriously, and not just when emerging legislation tells us it must be so.

Prior to joining Creation, I was president of a company manufacturing bare printed circuit boards, and so I understand first-hand the impact of responsible commodity sourcing upstream in the supply chain.

The ultimate responsibility to comply with the Conflict Minerals legislation in the Dodd-Frank Act falls on the US’s Securities and Exchange Commission’s publically traded companies, many of which are Creation Technologies OEM customers. At Creation we do our best to guide our partners through the process and implement systems to help them comply with formal regulations.

In the third and final installment of our first Conflict Minerals Effect video series, I discuss the direct impact – cost, resources, and opportunities – that the Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals legislation has on our company and customers.

The role that the electronics industry can play in leading change is complex.  In our view, no matter the legislation or challenge, it is most effective for all partners throughout an OEM’s supply chain to have an open dialogue, as much end-to-end visibility as possible, and a plan to work together to do what’s right, as well as what’s necessary.

The Conflict Minerals Effect: Part 3 – Impact on Creation & Our Partners

And if you missed it:

Click here to watch The Conflict Minerals Effect: Part 1 – The Origin

Click here to watch The Conflict Minerals Effect: Part 2 – Industry Challenges

How Strong is Your Bullpen? Baseball and the Electronics Manufacturing Services Industry

action shot of a high school baseball pitcher winding up to throw the baseball

For those of us who live in the Bay Area, there are three constants in life: we love our weather, we love our sports teams, and most of all, we love to win. Based in San Jose, where I am the Western VP of Business Development for Creation Technologies, I am no different.

That is why the San Francisco Giants loss to the Chicago Cubs in the National League Divisional Series was so disappointing. Not because the team didn’t put forth a great effort, but because the loss was probably preventable.

Anybody who watched the series knows that the weak link for the Giants was their bullpen (aka the relief pitchers), who gave up four runs to the Cubs in the final inning of Game 4, costing them the game and the series.

If they’d had strong closers, there is a good chance that the Giants would be battling the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship right now, and who wouldn’t want to see that?  (Cubs fans, don’t answer that).

So what do the San Francisco Giants’ playoff loss and pitching woes have to do with Creation Technologies or the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry?

 

Partnering to Win

After the Giants’ loss last Tuesday night, I realized that there are plenty of similarities between baseball and the EMS industry.

In baseball, in order to win, you need to be able to close out games and deliver in the clutch – no matter what game situation comes your way. If you don’t have a strong bullpen, you will not win consistently.

Well our industry isn’t that much different. Think of your supply chain as your team, and your EMS partner as your bullpen.

Just as the Giants will be re-evaluating their bullpen this offseason, OEMs should be doing the same thing with their EMS partners.

  • Can your EMS partner perform under tight deadlines?
  • Does your EMS partner have the people with the necessary skills and experience to get the job done?
  • Can your EMS partner adapt to changing market conditions?

The more skilled and proven your closer is, the faster your high-quality products will be ready for the market. This will give you a competitive advantage and position yourself as a reliable and credible manufacturer.

 

Offseason Changes

Companies need to invest in the parts of the team that get them to the final inning as well as in the “closers”. If you can’t close, then all the hard work to get you to that final inning could all be for nothing.

You don’t want to be the Giants, leaving your fans (customers) frustrated with lack of performance and missed opportunities. Fortunately for us, basketball season and hockey season just started. And if the Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks don’t pull through, at least we still win with the weather!

Let me know if you want to know more about how Creation keeps our customers hitting it out of the park.

Tips for Engineers to Avoid Hidden Development Costs and Delays

I have yet to meet an engineer who enjoys seeing costs pile up during the design and development process.

And unexpected costs are definitely unwelcome visitors in the drive for product commercialization.

If you’d like some new, actionable ideas for getting a new product to market quickly and without those unexpected, expensive guests, here’s a suggestion for you…

Attend ‘How to Avoid Hidden Costs and Delays in the Product Design-to-Commercialization Cycle’ next week at PCB West in Santa Clara.

How to Avoid Hidden Costs and Delays in the Product Design-to-Commercialization Cycle: Creation Technologies Technical Workshop at PCB West

In this two-hour, technical workshop, Todd Dierking, Creation’s Director of Design Services and Todd Baggett, Creation’s EVP of Integrated Services, will share their engineering and component expertise to help you:

  • Get the right tradeoffs between Time and Money
  • Assess and define requirements to meet design controls, minimize costs, and still bring your creativity to the project
  • Simplify the prototyping process with some cost-effective technical techniques, as well as a checklist for commercial considerations that will help you make the best choice for each stage of prototyping
  • Uncover the ‘hidden costs’ of designing in the wrong materials

While you’re there, drop by Booth #216 and meet a team from Creation–San Jose, our rapid prototyping/manufacturing facility that’s about 10 minutes from the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Hope we’ll see you there!

More information here in our recent press release.

The Conflict Minerals Effect Video Series Part II: Industry Challenges

In the second installment of our video series on conflict minerals, I discuss industry challenges and the effectiveness of the Dodd Frank legislation.

Regulating the origin of raw materials is easier said than done. While it has good intentions, the Dodd Frank Act is flawed and presents significant compliance barriers for electronics manufacturers.

This is a complicated issue that is constantly evolving. I believe that the more honest industry discussion we have around ethical supply chains, the quicker we can eradicate the inhumane practices.

The Conflict Minerals Effect: Part 2 – Industry Challenges

And if you missed it, click here to watch The Conflict Minerals Effect: Part 1 – The Origin.

Introducing Our New Video Series: The Conflict Minerals Effect

Supply chain awareness is critical for OEMs. Especially when the raw materials used to make their electronic products might have ties to terrorist groups and human rights abuses in Central Africa.

I recently had an opportunity to talk about this complicated social and economic issue, and am excited to announce a new three-part video series on the effect of conflict minerals on the EMS industry.

In the first installment, I talk about the controversy surrounding conflict minerals and the legislation put in place that aims to address it.

The Conflict Minerals Effect: Part 1 – The Origin

Understanding the origin of raw materials is not only important from a corporate responsibility standpoint, but for all publically traded companies in the United States, it is actually required by law. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, companies filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to determine whether the minerals used came from the DRC or nine adjoining countries.

And the topic of Conflict Minerals continues to make headlines.

A few weeks ago the EU announced the framework for its own legislation, and new levels of cooperation between the US and China are being announced.

We hope our Conflict Minerals Effect video series provides you with a good overview of the increased focus on emerging legislation, its rigorous requirements, and its global business impact.

Enjoy Part 1!

ARE YOU READY

FOR CONFLICT
MINERALS
REPORTING?

What the Recent Conflict Minerals Compliance Ruling Means for Companies

United States Capitol Building, Washington, DC

Conflict minerals compliance is once again a hot topic in the manufacturing industry.

As companies are preparing to file their 2015 reports due May 31st, 2016, it’s important to note that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidance for this reporting year has not changed, despite the recent legal headlines.

Confusion arose when the SEC allowed the April 2016 deadline to challenge the previous ruling of the Court of Appeals to pass.

The issue at hand was a specific phrase of the conflict minerals rule’s disclosure requirements, specifically, that disclosing that a product has “not been found to be DRC Conflict Free” violated the First Amendment.

Ultimately, the court found that requiring a company to make this statement in their SEC filing, which is posted on the company website, was unconstitutional.

Going Forward

Now that the SEC has decided not to challenge the ruling to the US Supreme Court, what does this mean for us?

Nothing should change for the upcoming May 31st 2016 reporting period. We forge ahead continuing to use the April 2014 SEC statement for guidance. Companies are not required to describe their products as “not found to be ‘DRC Conflict Free’”. They may choose to voluntarily describe products as “DRC Conflict free” if they have had the independent audit passed, however the requirement for independent private sector audits (IPSAs) had previously been removed for the 2014 and 2015 reporting year.

As we wait for the court of appeals decision to go back to the district court for further proceedings, we begin a new reporting period using the newly released CMRT version 4.10 released by CFSI.

In other words, it’s business as usual.

EMS Industry Still Conflicted over Conflict Minerals

PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of National Geographic magazine dated October 2013 and exclusively in conjunction thereof.  No copying, distribution or archiving permitted.  Sublicensing, sale or resale is prohibited. REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must bear the copyright notice and be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and must be accompanied by a caption, which makes reference to NGM.  Any uses in which the image appears without proper copyright notice, photographer credit and a caption referencing NGM are subject to paid licensing. You MUST follow these requirements if using the images: 1. Include mandatory photo credit with each image © Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic 2. Show the October cover of National Geographic somewhere in the post (credit: National Geographic) 3. Provide a prominent link to: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/conflict-minerals/bleasdale-photography 4. Mention that the images are "from the October issue of National Geographic magazine.” Workers rip the earth apart in search of gold at the Sufferance mine in the Ituri region. Much of Congo’s gold, more than $600 million worth a year, is smuggled across borders.
Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic

How well do you know your supply chain? Does your supply chain have Conflict Minerals?

These are the questions manufacturers around the globe are being forced to answer as part of the Conflict Minerals legislation.

The aim of the law is to dissuade companies from engaging in trade that supports regional conflicts and human rights abuses.

A worthy cause, but many electronics companies – even global giants like Apple and Intel – are discovering that complying is no easy matter.

Under Section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, companies filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to determine whether their products contain conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) that are necessary to the functionality of the product.

If so, they must determine whether the minerals originated from the legislation’s Covered Countries, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known to have associations with terrorist groups.

And unless the materials are from a recycled or scrap source, companies must also conduct due diligence on the origin and chain of custody.

The Cost of Compliance

The time, resources and capital necessary to identify the origin of these raw minerals has been challenging for companies, if not impossible.

According to a recent WSJ article:

 “90% of the 1,262 companies that filed conflict-mineral reports with U.S. securities regulators last year said they couldn’t determine whether their products are conflict-free.”

As commodities, a good portion of these minerals are bought on the open market, making the paper trail for some raw materials almost untraceable.

So what’s a company to do?

At Creation, we’ve seen many of our OEM customers face this challenge head on by outsourcing this process to leaders in the compliance reporting field.  These providers, like Creation partner GreenSoft Technology, help by gathering intelligence and maintaining product and component data.

We’ve even seen some OEMs adopt a very proactive Design for Environment / Design for Supply Chain strategy in order to describe their products as “DRC conflict-free.”

CM3
Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic

Evolving Requirements

Despite all of the challenges and the approach a company takes, most organizations are on side with the legislation.  After all, it’s intended to eradicate the exploitation of people, terrorist-funded operations, and human rights abuses.

The business challenge remains how to navigate the reporting requirements as the legislation continues to evolve.

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals reaffirmed its previous ruling that requiring companies to declare a Conflict Minerals compliance status is “compelled free speech” and violates the First Amendment. But that doesn’t let companies off the hook as the rest of the legislation remains in effect.

As GreenSoft said in a recent blog post:

Although Affected companies will still be required to report or disclose their conflict mineral data, the provision requiring companies to state whether their products are “DRC conflict free,” “not been found to be DRC conflict free” or “DRC conflict undeterminable” has been struck down.

Making Smart Supply Chain Decisions

While the debate continues, and the legislation and the guidelines evolve, the fact is that companies are still struggling to comply. The IPC association has recently published a white paper that is designed to help guide companies through the process.

OEMs, (especially those filing with the SEC directly), rely heavily on their partners to help them navigate the changes, collect the necessary information, and stay informed.

At Creation, we will continue to help our customers make smart Design for Environment decisions, as we work with our supply chain partners to make the data collection and reporting process easier.

We believe the key is partnering with the right suppliers.  Suppliers that are responsive, ethical, credible, and educated about how they impact product compliance in the end-to-end supply chain.

 

How do you feel about the recent U.S court of Appeals Decision? Will it affect your current strategy to comply with Conflict Minerals legislation?

“Why Did You Become A…?” A Series on Inspiration & Motivation

Why Did You Become...?

The other day I happened across a great post over at Design News. (If you’re at all interested in Design Engineering, you should give the site a look).

“Why Did You Become an Engineer?”, was the question Design News posed to their System & Product Design Engineering group on LinkedIn. The roundup post by Alexander Wolfe tells some of the group’s stories, giving us a peek into the mind of the weird and wonderful specialist that is the Design Engineer.

Though I’m not a Design Engineer, I can certainly relate to the moments and people in my life that captivated and motivated me. It’s also human nature to seek out social connection and to wonder “Why?”, and so it’s always interesting and inspiring to read the personal stories that people are willing to share.

I thought the “Why Did You Become…” idea was one worth spreading, and started asking people at Creation, “Why?” Luckily, we have great people and they were happy to share.

Here’s our first story, from Perry Nader, the Supply Chain Leader in our Dallas business unit.

It will surprise you.

“In the late 70’s I moved from Ottawa, Canada to San Francisco, California. An old friend and I had decided to open a small restaurant in San Francisco’s financial district.

The restaurant was a cute little breakfast-and-lunch diner, called MARAZCEK’S after a fictional character in a book that my friend had read in his childhood.

We were both the cooks and also managed all the suppliers, inventory, registers, employees etc. The restaurant was located right in front of the big old Mamma Bell (AT&T) building, and at lunch time we practically had people lined up 3-deep along the sidewalk.

Life was good until the early 80s, when a court decision forced Mamma Bell to break into a bunch of little Baby Bells, and the big building with all of the ‘lunch bunches’ went poof!!

We filed bankruptcy and lost every penny we had.

I practically became homeless.

I was lucky to have another old friend who lent me a hand and took me into his house in a suburb of Los Angeles.

My friend attended a university that catered to government employees and aviation professionals, and I was able to get a part-time/on-call job at the university’s cafeteria. I was hopeful that once I showed them my skills, part-time would turn into full-time and maybe I could even manage the place.

That year at the cafeteria, I met Janice. Janice was the Secretary, (yes, in those days that was the proper title), to Dean of Government Sponsored Educational and Training Programs. She and I became very good friends.

I often went to visit Janice in her office while she was on her break. One day, I started telling her the story of the restaurant and of my past. As I was talking, the door to the Dean’s office opened and the Dean stepped out.

“May I see you in my office please?” he said, pointing. Of course I said yes.

The Dean told me that there was a government grant for re-training of government employees on Closed-Loop Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP II). He took the time to explain it to me, referred me to the work of Joseph Orlicky and Oliver Wight, and invited me to meet with him again.

After a few more meetings he told me that based on my basic knowledge of procurement and inventory management, he thought that I could qualify for the training. Two months later I got the grant approval and training acceptance letter.

The program was 12 months, full-time, not only for MRP II but also some government-specific manufacturing process training. Our first project was setting up the entire planning process for a garage door opener.

We entered the BOM and routings in an ERP system, configured, planned, scheduled, managed inventory, sales orders, A/P, A/R, G/L… You name it, we did it. This was cutting-edge stuff.

Six months into training I received my advanced certification.

It’s funny how life works.

Several years before coming to Creation, 30 plus years after starting my career in supply chain, I was working as Director of Supply Chain and Operations for one of the divisions of a company called Chamberlain….one of the largest manufacturers of residential garage door openers in the world.”


How have you been inspired by the experiences of others?

What are some of the great ways you’ve seen these experiences change people?

And of course, why did you become an engineer, supply chain professional, teacher, historian…wherever your career led you?

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