ACTIA is continuing to digitalise its factories by introducing the New Product Introduction (NPI) programme on the group’s three industrial sites. This important and unifying project is a clear demonstration of ACTIA’s ambition: to become more competitive, adapt to fluctuating demand for new products, and survive the crises that are shaking the EMS market. ACTIA has chosen the Process Preparation solution by Siemens in partnership with Cadlog, one of the leaders in this area. This solution is a logical step in the Group’s digital trajectory, after the choice of a new ERP solution and the launch phase for its PLM tool (2019). It maintains the digital transmission chain from the product design centres to production.
ACTIA’s NPI programme will help to maintain the group’s high level of industrial excellence and stimulate innovation.
What is New Product Introduction (NPI)?
A key process
NPI is an essential process. It covers all the activities within an organisation aiming to:
- – define;
- – develop;
- – launch a new product or improve an existing product;
– starting from product design packages delivered from the internal engineering centre or from customers.
It covers the entire value chain connected to the creation and production launch of a new product, from the engineering phase (prototyping and pre-production) to machine production and assembly.
This all happens in a demanding industrial context that requires control and reproducibility.
Implementing NPI on an industrial site requires substantial reorganisation and a proactive synergy across all departments:
- an overhaul of the stages of production preparation, also known as industrialisation;
- the distribution of the activities between the various parties in the chain;
- interconnection with production equipment, for the digital preparation of machine programmes.
And above all, it strengthens collaboration between engineering and production.
Planning and coordination
This programme requires significant planning and coordination. It involves several of the company’s areas of skills and expertise: engineering, production, industrial methods, processes, quality, procurement, data, etc. The NPI programme ensures a smooth and safe transition for each stage and for everyone involved in the process.
Introducing a new product requires substantial investment in terms of both time and resources. Precise planning takes place at every stage, to ensure optimum results.
A critical process
New Product Introduction (NPI) is the most complex and strategic area of work for an industrial player like ACTIA. The group operates in a highly competitive industrial market. The NPI process is particularly critical for industrial performance in the electronics sector in terms of cost, quality, and time. Developing and following a robust NPI process is important for the success of a new product launch.
Why introduce an New Product Introduction (NPI) solution?
To improve efficiency and competitiveness
NPI helps to boost competitiveness by optimising the development processes for circuit boards, from design to production.
There are direct effects on:
— Cost of development, which is reduced by making data exchange with customers easier and more reliable. Integrating their requirements early in the project helps to avoid late changes, multiple revisions, and costly repeated validation tests.
— Time to market: reducing the time needed to introduce a new product accelerates profitability.
— Manufacture: defining good manufacturing processes makes production more efficient.
— Quality: the NPI process integrates tools designed to consistently guarantee product quality.
This overall efficiency increases the usage rate of lines and therefore the cost-effectiveness of production facilities.
To adapt to smaller, more varied and more personalised production runs
EMS demand is moving towards ever greater diversification and a constant need for innovation. ACTIA is strongly focused on digitalising its production methods. The aim is to optimise production processes for small and medium production runs, to digitalise the introduction of new products into production, then to achieve continuous-flow manufacturing with minimum halts in production for restocking.
ACTIA must be able to produce increasingly small batches of products with numerous variants: special runs. Production and assembly lines need to be adapted to a growing volume of orders, but for reduced quantities per order. This requires a faster and reliable new product introduction process.
Meanwhile, pressure on prices remains high, particularly in the automobile market. We therefore need to move towards one-off production at mass production prices.
To secure industrial expertise
NPI automates matching processes, while teams are now devoting more time to high-value-added actions. This is connected with the work of the Design for Manufacturing (DFM) teams allowing us to better support our customers by proactively proposing ways to improve the balance between quality, cost and deadlines.
The solution allows us to secure the company’s expertise by transposing numerous production rules established through experience into a smart database.
To adapt to fluctuating demand
Flexibility is a further challenge. As a result of the health crisis, entire sectors of the economy suddenly ground to a halt, while the supply crisis affecting electronic components is causing shortages in other sectors. Adaptability to fluctuations in demand and to unstable supply conditions is becoming indispensable for survival. To rise to these challenges and get through these crises, it is essential that we accelerate the digitalisation of design and production processes for printed circuit boards.
Valor Process Preparation by SIEMES:THE benchmark for New Product Introduction (NPI)
ACTIA’s NPI solution: Valor Process Preparation by Siemens.
ACTIA has chosen the Valor Process Preparation solution by Siemens and has been supported by Cadlog for its roll-out. This tool simplifies and speeds up the preparation of design data for the assembly of circuit boards.
The wide variety of assembly and control machines, their respective languages and the highly diverse product design data normally make this stage very repetitive and time-consuming. Valor Process Preparation handles a wide range of tasks. It capitalises on the work already completed and on a unique centralised database containing all the definitions of the production process and of the engineering data.
In particular, the solution integrates:
- – data preparation;
- – documentation;
- – programming for CMS or other production equipment such as AOI (optical inspection machines);
- – Stencil Design.
It leads to a more reliable production process while offering a good level of flexibility. This allows ACTIA to move between different suppliers and machines, and between different production sites, while optimising CMS programmes at group level.
It therefore facilitates product portability within the factory or to another of the group’s industrial sites, to provide the same level of quality and efficiency to the group’s global customers.
Methodologies that guarantee competitive, high-quality ACTIA products
ACTIA regularly invests to improve its tools and methods, and is pursuing its digitalisation roadmap. The Process Preparation solution from Siemens is part of this. More precisely, it builds on the recent introduction of Design for Excellence (DFX).
Design for Excellence: starting in the design phase, it is possible to improve the access of new products to the market, while reducing errors and costs by checking their manufacturability. This is DFX.
Valor Process Preparation greatly simplifies the creation of documentation by using a standardised model of the documentation process. It also enables the preparation or simulation of certain stages of manufacturing and makes data exchange more reliable.
It offers many advantages:
- – significant reduction of errors and the ability to detect them and make changes as early as possible;
- – reduced iterations;
- – capitalising on existing designs;
- – rapid application of the configurations for a given product or line to another product or line.
All of these methods are applied at every stage to reduce production costs without compromising compliance with the relevant quality standards. Digitalising all of these operations considerably reduces the time required to get from the finished project to the start of production, or Design to Machine.
ACTIA’s NPI is fully consistent with the factory 5.0 strategy and is a step further towards Digital Manufacturing. It helps to improve competitiveness, product quality and customer service, while consolidating EMS expertise that can be applied on all the group’s industrial sites.
This step will soon be followed by a vast programme for the development of a Manufacturing Execution System within the group, in order to unify all those involved in the factory and achieve a real-time digital vision of ACTIA’s multi-site production. There will also be prediction or artificial intelligence tools for production processes.