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Publication Date: 02/1/2009
Archive >  February 2009 Issue >  Electronic Mfg. Services > 

Millennium's Special Approach

Combining a very special approach to Total Customer Satisfaction, and a business model that supports "Focused Factories", Millennium Electronics, Inc. (MEI) has managed to serve customer requirements ranging from prototype/NPI (New Product Introduction) through high-volume SMT assembly. Since the company's inception in 1995, it has strived to make good on its claim as "The Northern Illinois Manufacturing Center of Excellence".

The company has been recognized as one of Chicago's 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For four years running (2005-2008). It enjoys status as SBA registered (listed on, woman-owned business, serving an impressive list of Fortune 500 and independent Clients in the military/defense, telecommunications, measurement/test equipment, medical/dental, transportation and industrial controls segments. The facility is registered to ISO9001:2000 standard, while workmanship standards training is conducted on-site by an IPC-A-610 certified instructor.

Millennium maintains a roster of customer-focused teams, where upon receipt of "first order", a client relationship is supported by a designated customer service representative, process engineer, project engineer and a buyer. These customer focus teams have their own "repository" e-mail addresses for general communications and one for client purchase orders. Surrounding the teams is the company's initial Ring of Support, the component engineering and quality assurance functions.

State-of-the-Art Facility
The MEI manufacturing center, which occupies two-thirds of the 60,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility, operates in a paperless mode, with all assembly equipment programs being simulated, coded, and ultimately downloaded to the appropriate piece of machinery over the internally-hosted web site maintained in Engineering operations. When calling for a new assembly work order, Operators simply load in the appropriate ASM-XXXX assembly number and hit the ENTER key at the operator console. This command sets conveyor speeds, widths, oven profiles, etc. — all parameters that are specific for this unique assembly process. Although operator input regarding the actual assembly process is always encouraged, improvement suggestions are assimilated back at Engineering operations where they can be captured and communicated electronically as modifications to the assembly work instructions. Work instructions and BOM revisions are cross-referenced and compiled with the help of Aegis Industrial Software, with production planning being aided by the MRP/ERP system from Made-to-Manage. The six production lines supported at the company's Crystal Lake, Illinois headquarters facility have been custom-tailored to meet various volume/mix and demand forecast scenarios. First there is a Prototype/NPI line, consisting of Assembleon Topaz and Emerald Series chip-shooting and fine-pitch part placers, capable of placing components down to 0201 and even 01005 SMT package sizes, along with BGAs, µBGAs, flip-chip packages, etc. As with the entry points of all SMT lines at Millennium, it starts with 3-dimensional solder paste inspection for dialing-in the Golden Board sample, and DEC 2-dimensional paste inspection stations/screeners for predictable solder application.

Two highly flexible Assembleon SMT lines support the company's low-to-medium volume, non-forecasted business (focused factory) with a "first-come, first-serve" approach to production planning. A production slot is reserved for customers based on the confirmed receipt date of the last BOM item. Many "kitted" jobs, along with partial and total turnkey builds are completed in this area. Batch Automatic Optical Inspection (AOI), X-Ray inspection of all BGA and selected fine-pitch devices, and on-demand Flying Probe Testing highlight the process capabilities of this Focused Factory. Two Panasonic SMT lines support Millennium's Medium-Volume, forecasted business segment. Customers supported by this Focused Factory receive regular component obsolescence reports, compliments of a Part Miner database search conducted on a Quarterly or on-demand basis. These lines are supported by the same process capabilities as in the low-to-medium volume area, with the added benefit of nearly all business in this area being conducted in total turnkey parts procurement mode, since clients provide usage forecasts stretching from 90-180 days+.

High Volume Focused Factory
Finally, the High Volume assembly Focused Factory is equipped with the newest, state-of-the-art Assembleon AX-5 chip shooter and MG-1 fine pitch placement machinery, capable of placing an astounding One Million+ SMT components in a typical production day. Here the company makes use of in-line VITech AOI and GenRad in-circuit test platforms (two each) to maximize production throughput.

All surface mount processes at Millennium flow into flexible leaded or RoHS-compliant wave solder lines, along with semi-automated and manual assembly areas. The few odd-form and other accessory components requiring placement onto a client assembly will be attached in this area by assembly/soldering technicians certified to the IPC 7711/7721 Repair/Rework standard.

Throughout this Focused Factory environment, MEI hosts an average of 3 Design for Manufacturability (DFM) reviews per month, evaluating new Client designs, then applying the principles behind a 30-page, IPC-based DFM guidebook to maximize the efficiency, and therefore cost-effectiveness, of new client assemblies.

The company has been assisting clients for 11 years, helping them to establish an Asian linkage for production of high-volume assemblies targeted for the commercial and consumer marketplaces. For example, MEI International, located in Chung Ho City, Taipei, Taiwan has executed programs for Fortune 500 companies in a variety of ways, providing:

  • Turnkey assemblies wholly-produced in Asia, certified and drop-shipped to customer-designated locations.
  • Turnkey assemblies wholly-produced in Asia and sent to Millennium for final testing and warehousing for fulfillment out of Crystal Lake, Illinois.
  • Blended Production Programs, executed simultaneously out of Crystal Lake, Illinois and Asia, providing the extra protection of duplicate tooling and Disaster Recovery.

Oftentimes, "Product Incubation" will occur in Crystal Lake, where we can work closely with clients to finalize product manufacturability; when a new product design is deemed ready for mass production, we will transfer tooling and production documentation to Asia to take advantage of Low Cost Region (LCR) sourcing.

The company's Sales and Marketing function is executed through a combination of direct and independent Field Sales Representatives. All quotation activities are conducted with the help of PolyDyne QuoteWin software and a dedicated Quotations Coordinator, who strives to meet a target of 24-48 hours turnaround time for Labor-Only (LO) and 1-2 weeks for turnkey quotations.

Contact: Millennium Electronics, 300 Millennium Drive, Crystal Lake, IL 60012 815-479-9755 E-mail: Web:
Millennium's automated production floor.

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