Category Archives: Blog

quality award for Silcotec Europe

Silcotec quality put under the microscope by FEI

Silcotec Europe have received a fourth supplier award nomination from world leading high performance electron microscopy manufacturer FEI.

Silcotec Europe have been a preferred supplier to FEI since 2009.

In 2010 they were nominated as ‘Best New Supplier’, in 2012 for “Best Overall Quality’, and again in 2013 for the same award. In each instance Silcotec Europe emerged as winner after nomination. The company has been delighted to be nominated this year in the category of “Best Performance – Operational Excellence’.

Group Operations Manager, Paul Bullock and Key Account Manager, Enda Bonner travel to Hillsboro, Oregon in late January for the awards ceremony.

Bullock commented: “We are proud of our relationship with FEI. They are a world class company with, as you would expect, a number of world class supply partners. Simply to be nominated is a huge honour.”

FEI’s Operational Excellence award is based on long term measurement of both quality and on-time delivery.

Silcotec Europe has achieved a 99.8% quality score and 96.8% on-time delivery across the period with delivery measured globally including Netherlands, Czech Republic and USA combined.

Key Account Manager, Enda Bonner noted: “This nomination is a huge vote of support for the whole Silcotec Europe team especially those in our Centre of Manufacturing Excellence in Komarno. We would love to be picking up the award on behalf of all of them. This award is all about our teams focus on manufacturing and service excellence – even to get shortlisted is a huge accolade”

FEI is a leading diversified scientific instruments company, featuring electron and ion-beam microscopes and other instruments for nanoscale applications across many industries. Across their product portfolio quality matters – that’s why they choose Silcotec for their low voltage cable supply

With more than 60 years of innovation and leadership, FEI enables customers to find meaningful answers to questions that accelerate breakthrough discoveries, increase productivity, and ultimately change the world.

In many ways they represent a ‘typical Silcotec customer’ in that they are a leading OEM in their sector and manufacture devices for critical applications.

Silcotec Europe’s focus on quality and exceeding customer expectations is why they have been chosen by some of the World’s leading electronics businesses not only to supply them but to receive their commendations as their key partners – not just in this sector – but across their entire customer portfolio.

To find out more about how Silcotec Europe can help you meet your critical manufacturing goals contact Paul Bullock on +44 7715 405515

“One who has attained mastery of an art reveals it in every action.”

Away from the cut and thrust of the work environment one of Enda’s passions is to get away to Lough Corrib to battle with the local trout and salmon. Lough Corrib is Ireland’s second largest freshwater lake.The River Corrib or Galway river connects the lake to the sea at Galway, right at Silcotec Europe’s ‘home turf’.

For many aficionados fly-fishing is a way of a life, a philosophical attitude which correlates to values such as respect for nature, tranquility, tolerance, self-composure and self contemplation.

As the ancient Samurai maxim tell us: “One who has attained mastery of an art reveals it in every action” and those who know Enda through his work can probably see aspects of his mastery of the fly in his approach to business. Fly-fishing is hardly a hobby you can approach in a half hearted fashion. It teaches one to focus, to reflect, to gain understanding and the importance of research and planning. Couple this with patience and the technicalities and intricacies and complexities of tying the fly. Add the art of fly casting and you begin to see that the “simple” sport of fly fishing and casting is about focussing a complete level of awareness with the task in end. It’s no coincidence that these qualities, approach and focus exhibit themselves in Enda’s every day work.

As a family man and having a career that involves travelling between Silcotec Europe’s centres of manufacturing excellence and client partners sites across Europe, time on the Lough can be hard to get but all the more appreciated when the opportunity arises.

 

lean procurement

What does lean mean at Silcotec Europe?

Often, Lean has been viewed as the domain of the manufacturing floor but this is not the case at Silcotec Europe.  Lean principles and practices go beyond the firms centres’ of manufacturing excellence  to all of a its processes, as well as being extended to Procurement and supply chain management.

At Silcotec Europe Lean is more than just a toolset, but a methodology that extends across the enterprise  and represents a way of thinking that when appropriately applied and led by senior management can provide benefits to Procurement, Supply Management and the entire enterprise.

Ann Flaherty, who has been with Silcotec in a purchasing role for over 20 years and currently coordinates the various purchasing activities between the sites has been involved in many lean improvements over the years.  From her perspective the concept and practice of lean are commonly misunderstood in relation to procurement, sourcing and supply management.

Ann commented: “At SIlcotec Europe we are committed to adding value, and reducing waste  at every touchpoint of of our processes but when I talk to people about lean in the procurement process I seem to come across some common misconceptions.

 Sometimes people think its just about being “lean and mean”, by running the company as lean as possible in order to reduce costs, thereby starving their operations of the necessary materials to produce product effectively.  When we are dealing with the kind of customer partners we do this is simply impossible.

When I talk with other procurement professionals. some seem to think that “lean is just for the manufacturing floor and not for purchasing  and even if it does extend to purchasing that it is a set of tools used to focus on cost reduction and that  having the tools will make the company lean.

 The last of the common misconceptions is that computerisation on its own, by default, will lead to a lean procurements and supply chain  function.

Talking with Ann it is clear that 20 years of working with Silcotec Europe suppliers has given her some interesting insights into the procurement discipline. It is as if their supply chain is its own dynamic ecosystem that is made up of processes, products and companies working together extremely smoothly, adding value to the entire network as they meet their goal of exactly meeting customer requirements in the most cost effective manner.

From Ann’s perspective, lean in procurement can be approached from many angles: The most important perspective is, of course, that we specify value from the standpoint of the end customer. This includes: quality, speed, cost, flexibility and service. So with this in mind we look at four key areas in order to gain perspective.

 From a logistics and transportation perspective: how do we keep goods and services flowing in a smooth, uninterrupted and cost-effective fashion from suppliers to customer firms to end customers?

 Inventory optimisation: how do we keep minimal, but sufficient inventory in the supply chain pipeline in order to provide appropriate service levels without disruptions?

 Lean Procurement: how can Procurement scale and streamline its processes to minimise transactions, reduce total cost, and work with the best possible suppliers who meet its requirements?

 Lean supply chain (adopting Lean within and between both customer and supplier firms): how can each business work to eliminate waste while adding value to its customers?

It is clear that finding new perspectives produces clarity for Ann and her procurement team and understanding that it is not just about ‘cost down’ purchasing.  There is a specific focus on the long term, not the short term which makes sense as Lean works best when continuous improvement is ingrained in the culture and becomes a way of life and it is totally ingrained in the culture at Silcotec Europe.

Does Ann see the culture as being the only reason for success  within a lean environment ?

“ No, the culture is naturally an imperative, but as far as I see the leaders of the enterprise must support Lean by actions, not just words.  The Silcotec Europe leadership fully understand Lean and then expect and require success. Our Lean Procurement gains additional traction as part of an overall Lean initiative as other functions better understand and support the effort.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

innovative cabling solutions

True partnerships deliver innovative cabling solutions

Here at Silcotec Europe we work hand in glove with our customer partners to deliver innovative cabling solutions.

Our customers choose our cabling solutions when they need to make critical connections.

Although we have a diverse range of customers, the market leading companies we serve do have some commonalities. Primarily they work in the Ideas to Market (I2M) space. They work at the forefront of technology and need to deliver leading edge new products in their respective sectors.

We have always worked closely with our ‘customer partner’s’ engineering teams to develop innovative cabling solutions. When critical connections are required, they need to be robust, durable and be delivered on time, and to budget.

We have also always worked closely with procurement teams. In recent years, it has struck us that procurement is transforming to become a more agile, strategic key player in this Idea to Market (I2M) – space. We are finding Procurement is ,now, not just about price down purchasing but increasingly looking to work with suppliers to bring market insights to the product and service creation process.

More and more we find our ‘customer partners’ are seeking to ensure the early involvement of Procurement to make sure Procurement is leading in the Idea to Market space. They are, in turn, seeking to gain insights from key suppliers like Silcotec Europe at an increasingly early stage in the product development process. In this way innovative cabling solutions are born.

All our ‘customer partners’ can sensibly be considered “best-in-class” in their respective sectors. A significant part of this success is due to the  integration of their suppliers in both innovation and business fulfilment. These sort of new age buyer / supplier relationships are based on transparency, clear goals and honest relationships, creating a win-win situation for both parties through mutual trust, long-term contracts, and accountability and stretch targets.

From our own perspective it is where our “customer intimacy” strategy pays dividends. At Silcotec Europe, we have constructed our business to put our customer partners at the centre of all we do.

Our engineering and customer account teams work as seamless extensions of our ‘customer partners’ teams. They recognise us as experts in our business and count on us to innovate on their behalf. We find they are eager to listen to suggestions about how to reduce complexity and to gain feed back on Tech Specifications.

Our investment in building these ever-closer relationships is at the core of our continued ability to build some of the most innovative cabling solutions in Europe.

 

off shoring trends reversed

Financial Times points to reverses in the off shoring trend

Over the last decade, there have been many manufacturing companies who have chosen off shoring for some of their key parts of their supply chain,particularly to the Far East and China.

There has been much coverage in recent months about this off shoring trend reversing – known as “reshoring” or “insourcing”. When this trend started to become apparent many commentators put the emergence of it down to the economic growth and development of the Chinese economy, which meant that labour costs had increased which, in turn, was eroding that particular competitive edge.

However a recent article in the Financial Times points to “other factors” that have reversed the trend towards bringing production back to the Western world.

In an EEF (Engineering Employers Federation) survey of 300 companies, the main reason given for re-shoring was to improve the quality of products and components, cited by 35 per cent. This was closely followed by certainty and speed of delivery and the desire to cut transport costs. The risk of supply chain disruption was cited by 23 per cent of companies surveyed, whereas only 16 per cent identified the erosion of labour cost benefits as being a significant factor in the decision making process.

Silcotec Europe works well with suppliers in China for “ off the shelf” components in their complex cable harnesses and electromechanical assemblies and, in fact, a delegation from the group visited China this quarter to meet with their Chinese colleagues.

Stephen Bullock, Silcotec Europe’s CEO, said: “While it will always be two-way traffic, the increasing need to be closer to customers, to have ever greater control of quality and the continued erosion of low labour costs in some competitor countries means that in many cases it makes increasingly sound business sense to reshore products which are critical to the supply chain”

Paul Bullock, Group Operations Manager who led the China delegation commented: “We put huge value on the work of our Chinese suppliers. However, we are now finding increasing concerns raised by our European customers many of whom are becoming far more nuanced in their approach to supply chain management. The notion of “risk” is now higher on their agenda in this context. ”

 

csustomer intimacy at the heart of Silcotec Europe success

Organisational changes strengthen customer intimacy strategy

There are many reasons for “change” within any organisation but change driven by growth is probably the most positive.

Silcotec Europe’s development has come through a healthy mix of organic growth and acquisition. CEO, Stephen Bullock commented: “ As we work very closely with clients, especially their technical teams we find ourselves working cooperatively in developing new solutions to their technical challenges so organic growth develops that way”

However the acquisition of BST Electronics has been extremely succesful, primarily due to a strong cultural match coupled with solid and well executed integration programme.

The culmination of this has been a recent set of organisational changes in order to put the structures in place to manage the increased scale of the business globally.

Bullock continued: “ Our customers have always been at the centre of our business. We have always strived to gain a granular understanding of their challenges and needs and then set out our organisation to meet these demands completely. With the increase in scale of the business I felt we needed to make sure we maintained the highest possible levels of customer intimacy and to look at how we need to adjust our structure to do this.”

Enda Bonner has been with Silcotec Europe 21 years. During his career he has occupied quality, engineering, project management and sales roles. Enda has an intimate knowledge of the business, its capabilities, methodologies, culture and philosophy. Enda has worked closely with customers at the initial stages of the commercial relationship to ensure the smoothest transition into the Silcotec Europe outsourced model. With this sort of background it made sense that he moved to a full on customer facing role as Key Account Manager for our customer partners in Holland an Norhern continental Europe.

Kevin Granger brought with him 30 years of mechanical and electronic manufacturing experience across a number of demanding sectors when he joined the Silcotec Europe senior management team.

He and his team have a strong legacy in not only in delivering on current customers requirements but using their design skills to work with clients to develop mechanical and electronic solutions for new critical technologies. Given this rich history of working ‘hand in glove’ with clients he has taken the role of Key Account Manager for the UK.

Paul Bullock has taken over the role of Group Operations Manager.

 

Cable Harness China

High quality cable harnesses without frontiers

Silcotec Europe manufacture high quality cable harnesses and cable assemblies and supply them to clients right across the globe.

Of the highest importance is the World class level of service of on time delivery of fault free product for which Silcotec Europe is renowned. With a 99.6% on time delivery statistic and 99.7% final inspection pass rate to protect putting the customer at the centre of all the company’s activity is key to achieving this.

Not even the Great Wall of China is sufficient frontier to get in the way of customer relationships and support. In January Paul Bullock, Kevin Granger and Tibor Barath made their latest venture to China to work with four key customers and suppliers.

The trip pulled together the key executives from Silcotec Europe for high level summits with their counterparts from partner customers and suppliers.

Paul Bullock commented: ” We work hand in glove with major electronics OEMs right across the World.They rely on us to not only provide high quality cable harness products but no matter where they are needed for us to provide the same high level of support. The trip to China exemplifies this. We were keen to extend our level of customer intimacy with our Chinese partners – it was a huge success”

 

 

Komarno – bridgehead for European cable harness production

Silcotec Europe’ s cable harness production is strategically placed in Komarno, Slovakia. Take a look at a map of Europe and it could hardly be more central.

Supply of cable harnesses to major European electronic OEMs is often time critical and with a 99.6% on time delivery record to live up to the siting of the facility was crucial.Komarno is at the crossroads to Budapest (Hungary), Vienna (Austria) and Bratislava (Slovakia) with approximately 100 km from all three capital cities with major international airports. Komarno has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and its geography has meant that it has been a centre for manufacturing and distribution throughout the ages. Its position on the Danube and the central Europe road network means that it provides a fantastic bridgehead for manufacture and distribution of both cable harness and electro mechanical assemblies to Silcotec’s portfolio of European customers.

Group Operations Manager, Paul Bullock commented: “For fast turnaround and consistent high quality, production methods such as lean, cell manufacturing, 5S are implemented but,of course, delivery on time is key. We work hand in glove with major European electronics OEMs like Philips and Elekta.They rely on us to not only provide high quality cable harness products but also ‘just in time’ so Komarno is perfectly placed to allow us to do this”

Crucially sitting between three international airports means that when customers and potential customers want to inspect the site its easily accessible from just about any European destination. Tibor said: “Not only do we have a great team here but our continuous improvement programmes means that we believe are at the cutting edge of lean manufacturing. It’s great to introduce to our team and showcase our systems”