Only connect: On planning for Cable Assemblies

Welcome to another post in the series by Nick Locke, of Nicab Ltd, who has over 15 years experience in the electronics manufacturing industry specialising in interconnection cable assembly.

As we start to return to normal after the holiday period we can take this opportunity to take a fresh look at how we can help ourselves to being more efficient with our time and get more done with less cost.

One thing we know is that Cable Assemblies in Electronics take time to manufacture, in fact cables just eat up workshop time.  

The reason for this is that unless you’re into mass manufacture, cable assemblies are built largely by hand and that’s labour intensive.  How many times have you had an urgent order come over for a complete build only to find there are a load of cables that need building which holds you back for shipping the order.

The easy solution is to build for stock. That’s what we used to do pre-recession, however – how many customers are not willing to build for stock these days?
 
I’m going to go ahead and guess that when the urgent order comes over if you are already busy you put people on overtime just so that you don’t let your customer down.  This is all fine except it’s eating into your bottom line.  So is that urgent order really a profitable order?  Or is it just a customer pleasing exercise?

So what is the solution?  Well it’s simple but requires you being brave.  The simple answer is to get your customer to commit to allowing you to build for stock.  At this point you’re probably saying we have tried but they just won’t.  

If that is the case then follow this simple yet effective plan on your repeat offender customers.
1:     Arrange a meeting when you are between urgent orders and people can think clearly and sensibility.
2:    Explain that you must build for stock because panic orders are a sure-fire recipe for disaster, giving examples of where it all went badly wrong.
3:    Give clear examples of how this will reduce errors and the levels of stress.  Remember your customer is not interested in your stress levels, only in theirs.
4:    Demonstrate how building for stock will enable them to react to their customer’s urgent order requests faster.
5:    Agree a mutually agreeable payment arrangement so that no one is sitting on paid for stock. For example paying for parts upfront and the labour on completion.

If you can take the lead and give your customer a plan of how to move forward you will be seen as being pro-active and thinking of their best interests.  I firmly believe that people who fly by the seat of their pants are people who attract disaster and you usually find them hopping from one emergency to another you must avoid these people – if you can’t help them get better organised then noting will change and unless you develop a distance from their panics you will eventually be dragged down with them.

If you can work smarter in partnership with you customers then everyone wins, there is no down side to this type of smart working.  

Finally, don’t be afraid of taking charge, sometimes even customers like someone else to make the decisions, so go ahead and help your customer avoid the same old panics by working smarter.  Let’s go out there and get some orders to build for stock!

Previous Only Connect entries:

* Only Connect: On quality (and Olympics transmissions)

* Only Connect: Facebook invests in undersea cable project

* Only Connect: Only Connect: On Good Use of Multimedia #2

* Only Connect: Top 10 Industrial connector manufacturers

* Only Connect: On Far-East sub-contract manufacturing

* Only Connect: Going Green #11 – plastic packaging

* Only Connect: Top ten connector manufacturers

* Only Connect: On good use of multimedia

* Only Connect: On innovation in Electronics

* Only Connect: On new technology (II)

* Only Connect: On new technology

* Only Connect: Only Connect: On branded manufacturers using multimedia

* Only Connect: Tin plating on contacts

* Only Connect: Marketing to the electronics manufacturing industry

* Going Green #10 – electronics sections

Tags: cable, cable assemblies, cables, locke, Only Connect, overtime, repeat offender

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