Inevitably as trust builds over time between  OEMs and contract manufacturers, there are  and can be specific times when it can be  strained. A particular problem may come up in  New Product Introduction (NPI) or during  steady state production which involves some  heavy conversations on both sides to resolve  the problem.

These problems become serious “firefighting” situations when time-to-market is delayed or shipments are being held up to important customers. Critical problems like low yield and critical quality defects are the main culprits in these firefights.

The process for most companies caught up in this whirlwind is to engage R&D, Manufacturing, Quality etc people from both sides in Kaizen or committee settings to rapidly root cause the problem. This would take the form of large meetings and frequently key people would be flown to the problem manufacturing sites.

With a typical North American domestic business trip expense of $1000 (source American Express 2009 Annual Global Travel Forecast) and international trip expense of $3400, these trip costs can quickly add up. This does not even include the daily loaded cost of employees for these firefighting sessions which can be on average $1000/day. A typical issue can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars in costs for an OEM and contract manufacturer to diagnose, fix and verify.

I suggest that increased visibility of key product data such as yields, test runs etc can significantly reduce the cost of this resolution process. Providing access to this information would engage the right persons, at the right time (typically teams are engaged across different time zones) and allow for better collaboration across the sites eliminating travel.

Harsh Wanigaratne, IntraStage