October 7 was Manufacturing Day which is an opportunity for manufacturing organizations to share the work that they are doing, the improvements they are making to the infrastructure and processes and to generally shine a light onto what they are doing to grow and expand their business.
Throughout this week, here at Veethree, we will be sharing our knowledge, work and innovations with three groups of teenagers, totaling 120, from three high schools in Bradenton and Sarasota, FL. They will be visiting our plant to learn about the manufacturing industry and to see all the innovations we have installed as well as find out more about the industry in general. The visits are part of a careers advice program and will show the potential that manufacturing has and the future opportunities it could hold.
It’s an exciting time for the marine industry and for Veethree Electronics and we are proud to be at the forefront of innovative technology and improvements.
Despite the difficulties caused by COVID and the subsequent shortage in component parts, over the past year Veethree Electronics has seen growth with an increase in customer demand which has led to investment not only in plant machinery but also in the workforce.
Obviously meeting such an increased demand, while being great for business, does have its effect on the current staff but the team has risen to the challenge of keeping customers supplied. William Allen, Plant Manager said:
“I am really proud of our team members; everyone has been helping out by taking additional shifts and some working weekends to keep production going. We are facing challenges never seen before and the support shown by colleagues throughout the business is fantastic.”
But increased hours and six-day working weeks are not sustainable, so last year Veethree created 15 new roles throughout the operation to enable us to add additional production cells and put our effort into high demand product lines. This has increased our staffing levels from 87-88 at the end of 2021 to 93-94 employees at the end of July 2022 meaning we have more capacity with direct labor.
Staffing improvements have included ensuring we have a cross-trained workforce who are flexible enough to deal with customer demands or constraints, as well as adding a strategic buyer and sourcing in India. We have reviewed the manpower requirements to reach customer orders in order to introduce staggered shifts to increase productivity.
In addition to increasing staff there have been a number of other small changes which add up to some substantial improvements to our processes and infrastructure. These have included a dedicated ‘Customer Day’ in order to build product in plant.
Investment has also been made in inventory, rising from $5,688k at the end of 2021 to $6,980k at the end of July 2022. In order to ensure careful budgeting and inventory control, we run daily material planning meetings to review material needs based on incoming customer orders and to ensure we have the necessary components to complete them. This is further supported by consignment inventories, KANBANs, and blanket POs for high volume components to ensure material availability when needed.
In order to streamline our processes and to increase plant capacity, automation has played a much more prominent role in recent months with investment in two new Apollo Seko robots to perform soldering of circuit board components for the CANbus display and analog gauge product lines. This has ensured better quality solder joints for electrical connections and the robots run for six days a week for between 10-12 hours a day.
An additional $450,000 of more efficient equipment in the circuit board area to support the manufacturing cells has been procured as well as providing additional resources in the purchasing and procurement departments to help process the products through the system faster while at the same time maintaining stringent quality processes.
This investment has included an Inovaxe SMART Storage Automation System which has improved efficiency and reduced the set up at the SMT line during changeovers. This system is 60% space saving which helps in adding our third SMT line.
There are a number of benefits to this system including:
- Green beacon lights which are lit, as are reel locations.
- Recognizing every location so when completed, insert into any open area and the system recognizes the location for the next pull.
- The elimination of ‘bad pulls’ of wrong components as the system flashes red and sounds an alarm.
- Tying into our ERP and BOM systems.
Investment has also been made in a new Chicago rivet machine and new and upgraded crimping equipment which will improve efficiency.
It should be clear that in the past seven months of 2022, here at Veethree we have been busy with a great deal of activity designed to improve growth of the organization and to further streamline the processes and increase productivity and capacity.
By increasing our staff and therefore direct labor capability, coupled with increased output and capacity of all electronic circuit boards for the manufacturing cells, we are making it easier to meet increasing customer demand. Add to that the improvement of automation, the retirement of old plant and machinery and the automation and SMT systems in place which have reduced the set-up times mean we have been able to increase production and efficiency.
While this has made a big difference to our ability to meet increasing demand and prepare for future growth, we are not a company to get complacent, and therefore for the next twelve months until the next Manufacturing Day we will continue to listen to client and staff feedback and maintain our growth and development arc through investment in capital in order to support the growth of our customers.