Case Studies

 

AWS Electronics Group has several examples that demonstrate its capabilities in a wide range of high technology services covering the whole electronics product life-cycle, from design and prototyping; through manufacture, test and installation; to after sales care, such as MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul).

The scale of the benefits for AWS customers as a result of using our services is significant; the implementation of manufacturing efficiencies through Design for Test (DfT), Design for Manufacture (DfM), Value Analysis/Value Engineering (VA/VE) and concurrent engineering techniques means direct savings in labour and material (BOM). Other case studies explain the savings that customers have made by outsourcing their repair operations to AWS. The table below provides an overview of the specific areas of improvement. 

Case Study 1: Security

 

Product resume:  In response to terrorists using explosive in fluids on planes and also drug smugglers carrying via fluids, the customer was prompted to design and develop an X Ray spectrometer that can immediately assess atomic structure of fluid in a bottle. Customers expertise is in X Ray detection mechanisms not manufacturing.

 

AWS Involvement: Involved at early detail design, turning concept into workable production solutions. Concurrent activity at AWS site on both mechanical and electronics: Reviewing prototype build problems and engineering solutions, specifying functionality, sourcing alternatives, alternative design solutions.

Solutions:

  • From point to point wiring to modular cable harnesses

  • Functionality that was distributed in several areas integrated on two PCBs

  • Standard parts used – reducing material costs

Benefits:

  • Cost reduction of 33%

  • Assembly time reduced from 66 hours to 28 hours (58%) & de-skilled assembly

  • Connectivity testing reduced by 75%

  • Added functionality

Case Study 2: Medical

 

Product resume: The RF generator is manufactured for AWS customer and is a mass spectrometer with applications in science, petrochemical, medical and food industries. It produces 2kW of RF power at 27 MHz to produce an Argon Plasma at temperatures of 10,000 degrees Kelvin (hotter than the surface of the sun) to allow grating separation for a sensitive camera to analyse.

AWS Involvement: AWS production engineers involved in design and production start up in 2006. Production at 25 units/ week (2257) with regular cost down initiatives. AWS was involved in new replacement design during 2010.

Solutions:

  • Reliability design changes to protect devices from excessive voltage

  • Improvements in machine set up and test

  • Design for Cost (DfC) and Value Analysis/Value Engineering (VA/VE) projects (e.g. use of single PCBA)

  • Improved metal work solutions

Benefits:

  • Overall cost reduction of 20%

  • Assembly time reduced by 15%

  • BOM cost reduced by 22%

  • The new replacement design has AWS build knowledge and experience built in

 
 

Case Study 3: Data Storage

 

Product resume: The AWS customer is a leading provider of energy efficient disk-based storage systems designed for the long-term storage of digital information. Hardware and software systems that store medical images, email, business documents, video images, research data, and digital media of all types.

AWS Involvement: Involved at concept stage with the customer. Prototype build through AWS Fast Track area of one unit. Design for Test (DfT), Design for Manufacture (DfM) review with customers design team. Full turn key assembly.

Solutions:

  • Generation of full production test

  • Review of BOMs for lower cost alternatives

  • Design checks on maintainability, obsolescence and repair support

Benefits:

  • Cost reduction of 45%

  • BOM cost reduction of over 15%

  • Test Time reduction of 35%

  • Skill levels reduced from engineer to operator for test.

  • Full life support for ‘out of warranty’ products

Case Study 4: Defence

 

Product resume: AWS customer already uses AWS Electronics Group for a wide range of its electronic manufacturing services. In response to market pressures it found itself developing an increasing number of new products requiring more specialist electronic engineers. Many of them were tied up in repairs, upgrades or maintenance. As a prime with full IP and process ownership its core skills were about new product introduction and ideas rather than the manufacturing or repair. Following a review of its Satellite repair support team it was decided to outsource repair. The product was 25-year-old legacy equipment that was supporting defence systems across Europe, representing thousands of units in the field. Maintenance was centred on power supply, RF amplifiers and over 10 types of PCBA in RF and high voltage application.

AWS Involvement: The AWS customer was aware of AWS dedicated repair facility and asked them to tender for repair. They had three main objectives:

  • Reduce number of engineers on repairs to enable them to transfer onto NPI projects.

  • Release the current repair workshop space (for new projects and production).

  • Improve repair performance – turnaround times, availability & cost

AWS had no experience of this product, so knowledge transfer was a key issue. Typically, a lot of the ‘repair’ knowledge was in a handful of engineers’ experience. Whilst documented diagnostic fault trees, engineering data and test procedures existed, due to ‘other’ priorities not all information was complete or up to date.

Immediate problems:

  • Treated as secondary support operation within the customer site

  • Knowledge transfer – perceived as a ‘black art’ of the specific product

  • Ad-hoc approach to repair process – different engineers operated in different ways

  • Lack of meaningful data on repair times, turnaround time and true cost

  • Drawings, BOMs and data packs not up to date

  • Low volumes (stranger) meant long learning curve

Solutions provided by AWS:

  • AWS provided new focus and performance improved

  • Initial repairs were jointly documented

  • Repair process defined and agreed – including standard repair scenarios

  • Repairs fully costed – times all measured and variation understood

  • Agreed performance measures- turnaround time

  • New data packs, diagnostics and fault trees developed

  • Work transfer/training three months – with three months ‘hot line’ support from AWS Customer

Benefits:

  • Labour Cost Saving (£100k annualised) - three direct heads on engineering MRO support transferred to new projects. Value of savings (non –recruitment) – £100k per annum

  • Improved Performance (50%) - Turnaround times – from average of 12 weeks to 6 weeks (50%), Monthly reporting on quality, cost and delivery (tracking) introduced

  • Space and other savings (£28.7k annualised) - 24 sq metres released to new projects (£3k annualised). 6 sq meters store space released to new projects (£0.7k annualised). Indirect labour savings (£25k per annum): Stores, Logistics, Transactions (POs)

  • Customer satisfaction - AWS customer now involving AWS in developing MRO contract support to 2022

Case Study 5: Road & Rail Infrastructure

 

Product resume: AWS customer already uses AWS for repair services. They had high cost facility in the Midlands that they wanted to close to realise capital from the asset. Whilst most of the activities could be transferred into the existing businesses, they had no solution to re-locating the repair department. The repair department had 4 electronic repair engineers and covered 55 square metres of workshop and component stores. The products were largely CCTVs, telecommunications and traffic management systems.

 

AWS Involvement: The AWS customer was already aware of the AWS dedicated repair facility and asked them to tender for the work including the transfer of 2 staff under TUPE. They had three main objectives:

  • Transfer all repair work to AWS – repairs were circa 150 units per month

  • Take the two engineers under TUPE

  • Complete the exercise within six months to align with closure of facility

 

AWS had some experience of this product and with two staff transferring under TUPE, there were no knowledge transfer issues. The physical transfer of equipment and setting up facility was a significant challenge, especially as existing site (55 square meters) needed to go into 25 square meters.

 

Immediate problems:

  • Creating seamless transition over six-month period so customers did not have deterioration in performance

  • Reducing space requirements

  • Setting up and negotiating TUPE

  • Redesigning the invoice and repair returns process/procedures

  • Physical transfer of all equipment

 

Solutions provided by AWS:

  • Dedicated engineer to manage transition

  • Setting up project meetings to cover transfer of:

    • Equipment

    • Logistics

    • People

    • Technical

 

Benefits:

  • Realisation of asset - This enabled the AWS customer to vacate existing factory and sell site

  • Labour Cost Saving - 2 direct heads transferred under TUPE (Saved £80k redundancy cost)

  • Improved Performance - Turnaround times improved existing 38-day turnaround reduced to 28-day turnaround (26%)

  • Space and other savings - 55 square meters reduced to 25 square meters (54%). Indirect savings: Stores, Logistics, Transactions (POs)

  • Customer satisfaction - Success with this project lead to second outsourcing contract

 
 
 

Case Study 6: Road Traffic Signal Systems

 

Product resume: AWS customer had acquired a traffic systems company and they wanted to close one of its facilities on the South Coast. The site had engineering, R&D and repairs. The repair facility was for traffic management systems and the customer wanted to outsource this work. Three engineers currently doing this repair work did not want to transfer.

AWS Involvement: Following the success of outsourcing project in the Midlands, the AWS customer wanted AWS to transfer Traffic Systems repairs. The subsequent bid and contract were agreed. Unlike the previous transfer, the engineers did not want to move so knowledge transfer was the main issue to be managed. They had three main objectives:

  • Transfer all work to AWS

  • Improve repair performance – Turnaround times, availability and cost

  • No one internally who could manage - they requested AWS to lead the project management

 

Immediate problems:

  • Knowledge transfer – perceived as a ‘black art’ of the specific product

  • Lack of meaningful data on repair times, turnaround time and true cost

  • Drawings, BOMs and data packs not up to date

  • 140 different product types (with only 20% runners) so long learning curve

 

Solutions provided by AWS:

  • AWS provided the project management and leadership

  • Repair process flows developed

  • Repair process defined and agreed – including standard repair scenarios

  • Repairs fully costed – times all measured and variation understood

  • Agreed performance measures - turnaround time

  • New data packs, diagnostics and fault trees developed

  • Work transfer/training three months

  • Six months ‘hot line’ support from the customers engineering team

 

Benefits:

  • Labour Cost Saving (£100k annualised) - 3 direct heads, value of annual savings of £100k

  • Improved Performance - turnaround times – average from 8 weeks to 4 weeks (50%), Monthly reporting introduced on quality, cost and delivery (formal review)

  • Space and other savings - Site released for closure/sale. Indirect savings: Stores, Logistics, Transactions (PO’s)

  • Customer satisfaction - Improved performance noted by customer

 
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