Benchmark Electronics Reduces Defect Rates through Process Improvement Services
Since 1974, Turtle Mountain Corporation (TMC) has provided award-winning contract electronics manufacturing services to leading commercial and electronics manufacturers internationally. With annual sales of $45 million and 375 employees, TMC is ranked in the top 86 electronic manufacturing service providers in the world. Located in America's heartland, Dunseith, N.D., this company with a "can-do" attitude produces low to medium volume products up to 100,000 units per year. Its high mix products include pin-in-hole and surface mount parts, often on both sides of the printed circuit board. Customers acknowledge TMC's quality performance. In 1996, the company received its ISO 9002 registration. Plus, semi-annual ISO audits by Underwriters Laboratories confirm TMC continually works on improving its internal process, while striving to be the best in its business.
High Defect Rates
TMC, long known in the electronics industry as a supplier of high quality electronic components, discovered a huge business growth spurt in 2001 that caused serious performance issues. For the first time, TMC was having problems with quality and on-time shipping. Prior to the spike, TMC had a defect rate of less than 2,000 parts per million (ppm). The defect rate had since peaked at 60,000 ppm.
Lean Tools, Plant Layout, Value Stream Mapping
Jodie Mjoen, whose title is now Six Sigma Black Belt and Product and Process Quality Engineer, attended a Lean 101 workshop hosted by Impact Dakota in Minot, N.D., in June 2001. TMC Executive Director Bob Wilmot said Jodie came back excited about what he had heard. Jodie wanted to get the training onsite and have more people being involved. Bob welcomed the idea. TMC hosted twelve sessions of Impact Dakota Lean manufacturing training which involved 253 employees. Lean Manufacturing is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste through continuous improvement. Six Sigma is a business and operational management system that emphasizes quality improvement applications to eliminate defects before they occur. They also became knowledgeable on Value Stream Mapping and realized the TMC plant was very inefficient. The first training session was held in October 2001. In April 2002, TMC began working diligently to incorporate the Lean concepts. By August 2002, the first equipment and plant layout changes were complete. Instead of having manufacturing groups that each handled a part of the end products, cells were formed. Today, each cell has ownership and they are able to see the product through from beginning to end.
Significant Reducation in Defects
- Reduced defect rate from 60,000 parts per million (ppm) to less than 2,000 ppm.