Solectron: A virtual factory to manage worldwide trading partners

Solectron Corporation, founded in 1977, is a leading global provider of electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and integrated supply chain solutions. Solectron serves the world’s most innovative companies in industries that rely on high-tech electronics. Solectron’s 50,000 employees have a hand in designing, making and servicing products that people around the world rely on every day: PC’s, mobile phones, PDA, GPS…

One year ago, Solectron developed and launched a virtual factory floor – – based on Internet technologies, to manage its worldwide trading partners.

I know quite some about Solectron as I was heading a 6-month management-consulting project for their french plant – originally IBM – located in Cestas, near Bordeaux. Solectron was already a reference, being at the leading-edge of supply-chain solutions, using I2 technology, VMI and Lean Six-Sigma  techniques to run their common 6-month-life cycle product(mobile phones, PC mother boards…) design and manufacturing. Just imagine: hundred’s of high quality electronic components are to be purchased and procured  – at the right time/quality/price –  to 9 production-plants located all over the world. From that perspective, it is not a surprise if DELL hired Michael Cannon away from Solectron – in February 2007 –  to head its newly formed global operations organization, which consolidates manufacturing, supply chain and procurement globally.

So yes, Solectron has developed a virtual factory floor – – based on Internet technologies. By Web-enabling all essential applications and services, team members anywhere have full-time visibility into all aspects of the manufacturing process through a personalized portal. ” This comprehensive system has improved communication, planning, sourcing, procurement, and collaboration between its customers and Solectron’s worldwide resources and global capabilities. “

Bottom Line Benefits

Solectron’s virtual factory extends its manufacturing network to its supply chain entities. This enables Solectron to both streamline the manufacturing process and better manage both suppliers and customers. This provides a number of benefits:

  • Improved product quality and performance: Analyzing the data from constant monitoring of the manufacturing process highlights problems, and where potential improvements can be made. This information is also used to manage supplier relationships.
  • Higher service levels: Product teams have access to their virtual factory floor, and the associated data, on a 24×7 basis. Customers can quickly monitor performance and manage their production line over the network.
  • Better reporting: There is a faster and more concise information flow. Weekly reports have given way to real-time monitoring. Wherever customers are, they can get the information they need when they need it.
  • Improved ROI: Data mining and analysis has shortened by 50% the time it takes to manufacture and test systems. This reduces the level of investment needed to manufacture at the forecasted level, and improves overall ROI.

You can read more about Solectron’s Virtual Factory here.

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