Hunter Technology on Design Operations and Business Strategies

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Dack: Part of the curricula in the CID program includes using standards and specifications that have been developed to allow parts and designs to be manufactured anywhere, by anybody; it's really neat to see two designers who are embedded in an EMS company, who can design. They have the answers and can design for manufacturability and are right down the hall.shop_floor5.jpg

Grover: That is well said. In fact, that's exactly what they said when they came back. They are very experienced designers, without question, but what they learned and came back with is knowledge of fab and assembly and industry terms and maybe even specs. In fact, they are sitting with a customer right now. When the customer found out they had passed the CID course, he said, "Now you're going to be able to tell what you can and can't do, right?" So with more knowledge comes more experience to say what we can and can't do.

Dack: Since you do design and assembly here, the missing link on site is fabrication.

Grover: It's the worst part of the whole manufacturing process. That's why we're not involved (laughs).

Dack: Tell us how it works. How do you qualify a bare board vendor?

Grover: I'm going to tell you from my perspective, because from a design service bureau mentality, we engage with customers, like I alluded to earlier. We engage with them in their current supply chain where we're going to do design help for that organization, outsource and then it goes right back into to that organization. They pick their own fab path. That's already set in stone. In other cases, we engage with the customer with an initial product and if they have no option or have no experience, we drive that selection. That's what you're referring to.

Dack: Yes.

Grover: In that case, we typically want to use a local Bay Area shop. The reason that's important is turn time. If they can drive the fab over here when it's done, the three-day turn really is three days because it can get here that third-day afternoon. So that's key.

Those organizations typically tend to be Streamline, Viasystems, TTM—those kinds of fab shops. We pick them based on the complexity of the board, the technology, and their price.

Dack: That's a good concept. It's a good topic from the standpoint of acknowledging that everything's got a tolerance. Everything has a range that we're trying to fit into. Everything has a risk. When things do screw up, how is it resolved? How does your customer or your supplier resolve it?

shop_floor3.jpgChris Alessio: If there's a fab issue, we'll first try to understand what that fab issue is and then get the quality department involved and their supplier corrective action request. Then there's also mitigation, which is financial. Depending on at what point in that process we found the problem and what the root cause of that problem is, whether it's a design-related aspect or a fab-related aspect, we have arrangements with key suppliers to cover bare board costs, consequential loss type of components, and labor content. It's across-the-board.

Grover: From my perspective, though, Kelly, if somebody screws up I'm just going to use the next guy, because I have kind of free range in that environment of the front-end engineering prototype world. To Chris’s point, that's more on the production side. To be honest, really, that's the production model of Hunter. I'm kind of a rogue entity where I can pick and choose what’s best for the initial protos to get built, tested and delivered on time and free of defects.

We side-barred into what happens when things go wrong. I think we got a good answer. You audit, you check and you go through a process that doesn't lop their head off right away.

Grover: They're still in the queue, still in the AVL, but we just start using another guy. Dack: Importantly, you keep a queue or a stable of sources/fab shops, and that is very wise.



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