Wednesday, September 28, 2016
VOLUME -23 NUMBER 10
Publication Date: 10/1/2008
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Archive >  October 2008 Issue >  Electronic Mfg. Services > 

QPL: Filling Critical Niches
The production floor stresses quality inspection.

Finding support for low volume, complex projects is a key challenge for many OEMs. QPL (Quality Production Ltd.) meets these complex and unique customer requirements every day. Founded in 1995 as a quick-turn prototype manufacturer, today, QPL offers a full range of electronics manufacturing services to customers in the displays/instrumentation, defense/avionics, industrial, medical, and high-end consumer market segments.

Services offered by the company include:

  • New product introduction (NPI) support and quick-turn prototyping.
  • Material management of both turnkey and consigned projects.
  • PCB assembly.
  • RoHS and leaded processing.
  • Surface Mount Fine Pitch, BGA, MLF, CSP and 0201 placement.
  • PCBA-level and product functional test.
  • Box build and product packaging.
  • Fulfillment and repair depot support.

Flexibility, strong customer service focus and robust systems help QPL's team address typical project challenges such as frequent design changes, aggressive ramp speed requirements and highly variable demand. This flexible mix of services supports customer requirements for both turnkey and consigned production, as well as leaded and RoHS-compliant production. The company's New Product Introduction (NPI) process includes design for manufacturability (DFM) and design for testability (DFT) assessments. Information systems tools are used for ECO management, equipment programming and test development, ensuring rapid and accurate process setup. Post-manufacturing services are also addressed. QPL supports repair requirements either as local source for repair/ECO implementation for volume product built offshore or as repair depot for field returns. As a product nears end-of-life, the company effectively supports variable demand and low-volume production requirements. 
 
Efficient Program Management
Each customer is assigned an Account Manager who serves as a central point of contact. A matrix organization structure is used, in which key resources including engineering, manufacturing, materials and accounting are shared among customers, thereby minimizing costs that would be associated with a dedicated team for each customer. Customers are distributed evenly across Account Managers ensuring that each manager has the time to proactively address his or her customers' current and strategic needs.
Strategic relationships are maintained with industry-leading suppliers for the purchase of electronic components. These primary suppliers receive a weekly forecast of future demand to ensure optimal availability. Printed circuit boards and mechanical and electronic components are sourced both domestically and offshore. There is a supplier certification program in place for custom component suppliers, and suppliers receive quarterly reviews of their performance.
RoHS-compliant material is clearly marked and separated by part number. A RoHS x-ray fluorescent (XRF) analyzer is used to test incoming material. QPL procured material is verified against purchase orders for conformance to requirements as part of the incoming inspection process. The company, on request, will provide testing for RoHS-compliance of customer-provided inventory. Inventory control procedures include incoming count verification, standard labeling, secure storage and a cycle count program based on ABC parameters. All inventory is tracked through the ERP system. The component numbering system is unique to each customer ensuring that materials are never mixed. RoHS and leaded inventory are also identifiable by part number. Finished goods kanbans are maintained when enhanced flexibility in supporting variable demand is required. Customers have the option of three levels of materials support: turnkey, hybrid and consignment.
In the turnkey model, QPL plans and procures all material from established approved sources. The company manages the supply chain, keeps customers informed on any critical component issues, works on cost reduction opportunities and shares the cost savings. Materials personnel also investigate alternate sourcing opportunities and present these periodically for consideration.
The hybrid model is a blend of turnkey and customer consigned materials. Active consigned component inventory is stored in a segregated and secure area. Consigned inventory is supplemented with turnkey inventory according to a well-defined material plan. As existing customer-supplied inventory is consumed, replenishment can be managed as a combined consigned/turnkey program when customers desire to continue to supply a portion of the inventory.
In consigned materials projects, customers supply their materials in kit form. Kits are verified upon receipt to assure that they are complete and meet the customer's specifications. The audited kits are then released to manufacturing for assembly. 
 
Automated Production Support
QPL's ERP system supports master scheduling, material planning, inventory control, procurement and shop floor control. The line scheduling system utilizes a visual dashboard to identify production priorities and data are updated in real time.
Automation and personnel team to build quality into every product through disciplined process control. A manufacturing execution system supports product definition, process definition and automated reporting.
In manufacturing, a variety of tools and procedures are used to further ensure robust process control:
  • Thermal profiles are developed using a computerized profiling system, which supports accurate and rapid profile development through use of a Process Window Index (PWI) which automatically calculates the most efficient and stable process.
  • Ionic contamination in the cleaning process is measured to ensure compliance to MIL-P28809A.
  • Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) and a BGA X-ray imaging system are used to monitor quality on complex assemblies.
  • The facility is fully ESD Compliant and all ESD control procedures adhere to the J-ESD-325A standard.
Committed to Quality
The facility is registered to ISO 9001-2000. Workmanship standards training is conducted by an onsite IPC-A610 certified Class A instructor. Account Managers are certified through the IPC EMS Program Management Certification Program (ICPM).
Lean manufacturing implementation and 5S training have been conducted in all departments. Kaizen events are used to support continuous improvement efforts. Where appropriate, joint customer/QPL Kaizen events may be scheduled.
Customer satisfaction surveys are completed annually using a random sample of the customer base. Once data are compiled and analyzed, corrective actions are implemented as needed. Quarterly review meetings are held with customers to look at both current and strategic account requirements. Account Managers actively plan and monitor customer needs to ensure that necessary internal communication and planning are in place. Formal account growth plans are developed for each major account to ensure that key customer strategic needs are thoroughly evaluated and QPL is positioned to support them.
The end result is a business model nimble enough to support unique, short-notice customer needs, yet disciplined enough to support the technically complex, variable demand board-level or box build projects found in leading edge OEMs.
{x}Contact: QPL, 21420 G NW Nicholas Court, Hillsboro, OR 97124 503- 617-0210 fax: 503-617-0170 E-mail: pforker@qpl-ems.com 
 

 
 
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