Management Tool #3 is: On-Time Shipping

This newsletter is #3 in a 10-part series to explain the 10 great management tools that we use to help us be the thin film circuit supplier that you can really depend on:

USI's Management Tools

  1. Continuous Improvement
  2. Employee Training & Certification
  3. On-Time Shipping Infrastructure
  4. ITAR Controls
  5. Change Controls & Certification
  6. Contract & Quality Review
  7. Statistical Process Controls in Manufacturing
  8. AS9100 Quality Management System
  9. Risk Management Processes
  10. UltraFAST Program

WE GET IT!  Delivering late is as expensive and disruptive than it has ever been. Since we exist to help our customers succeed, we know we need to be extremely competent at shipping on-time. And, we are!

ERP IS KEY! Our factory is complicated so we use a sophisticated, customized ERP system to help us plan capacity and schedule the shop floor. We’ve learned that successful on-time performance can only happen when capacity is painstakingly managed and maintained. Our automated ERP system monitors our production cells and tells us where we need to take action.

THE DAILY SCHEDULE IS KING! We generate daily schedules for 90% of our cells and we ensure that all employees understand that perfect on-time shipping to customers can only happen when we execute perfectly on the shop floor.
 
COMMUNICATION IS VITAL!  We review any production misses at a daily production meeting which includes managers, team leaders, and support staff and we ensure that corrective actions are identified and put in place. This daily communication helps to keep everyone up to date and invested in our OTS performance.
 
At UltraSource, we believe that our ability to ship on-time provides our customers with a distinct competitive advantage. Our customers place their orders with us knowing that we will ship perfect quality thin film products to them on-time. This helps them to be more successful with their own customers!

An Operational Excellence Industry Consultant says:

"UltraSource's overall use of their ERP system is impressive. USI does a great job with date management, scheduling, and execution. Based on my 43 years of experience, they have accomplished what most companies can't even comprehend ...." 
     John E Boyer, Jr., President
     J.E. Boyer Company Inc.
     www.jeboyer.com

About Us
UltraSource was founded in 1991 with the mission of building high quality thin film circuits and interconnects in key industries, including defense, aerospace, and telecommunications. We consistently invest in our infrastructure, technology, and our people so we can provide our customers with the best service and custom built thin film products available anywhere. Please take a few minutes to visit our website and learn how we can help you on your next thin film project.

To learn more, contact us at:  (800) 742-9410 or visit our website

UltraSource Thin Film Circuits 

UltraSource Inc - Management Tool #2: Employee Training & Certification

Management Tool #2 is:Employee Training & Certification

 

At UltraSource, we think there are 10 great management tools that we use to help us be the thin film supplier that customers can really depend on:
  1. Continuous Improvement
  2. Employee Training and Certification
  3. On-Time Delivery Infrastructure
  4. ITAR Registration
  5. Change Controls & Certification
  6. Contract & Quality Review
  7. Statistical Process Controls in Manufacturing
  8. AS9100 Quality Management System
  9. Risk Management Processes
  10. UltraFAST Program
Several years ago, while analyzing data on internal errors and defects, we realized that we needed to improve our employee training systems. By helping our employees develop exceptional skill levels through improved training and certification, we've been able to turn employee training into a competitive advantage.


Here is how we do it:

                              
At USI, we realize that the proper transfer of knowledge and skills to all employees who build, inspect, and test product is a critical building block for quality and on-time delivery. We've mandated that we only want people who are skilled and qualified handling our customer's products.

All new Manufacturing, Test, and Inspection employees attend a quality orientation where we explain the importance of quality and process controls.
 
Then Engineering and Manufacturing build a training matrix for each new employee. The matrix is a list of skills that they need to become certified to before they can perform work on their own. We use a 4-step approach when it comes to training and certification:

1Explain the Job:
The purpose and method of each specific job step is explained so the employee gets a high level understanding of the job details.

2. Present the Job in Detail:
Step 2 is an actual "show and tell" of the job steps by the trainer, with focus on detailing how and why each piece of the job is done.

3. Try Out the Job:
Employees perform the job on their own, and explain each step as they go. Step 3 is repeated until each employee shows that he or she understands critical job content and can perform them well. 

4. Perform the Job:
Employees perform the job under the watchful eye of the trainer for 5 separate lots. If and when they complete 5 lots in a row without any quality or workmanship issues, they will become certified. Their skill matrix is updated and their capacity is added to the master capacity plan.

   

These training methods help us to develop employees that are trained, competent, and able to perform their job functions consistently. The exceptional skill levels that our employees develop through training are critical for helping us build product that meets all customer quality requirements and ships on-time.
 
"We have no quality issues with product from UltraSource, the quality is always perfect"
Customer Testimonial
September 2016

                             

Management Tool #1

Management Tool #1 is:  
Continuous Improvement

In our last newsletter we explained how we think that partnering with a good, trustworthy, supplier like UltraSource (USI) can benefit your company in many ways:

  • Lower waste and rework in your operations
  • Improved on-time deliveries and product quality
  • Increased yields and productivity 
  • Faster time to market by using UltraFAST
  • Lower total cost for doing business 

And in that newsletter, we explained that we use 10 great management tools to help us be a consistent, trustworthy thin film supplier.

 

Management Tool #1 is Continuous Improvement. 

Our management team has developed rigorous Continuous Improvement (CI) methodologies in order to eliminate problems that affect the cost, delivery, and quality of the custom thin film products we build. These CI methodologies can best be summarized as:
  • Finding the true root cause(s) of undesirable events
  • Identifying and implementing corrective actions
  • Assessing the effectiveness of corrective actions
  • Preventing recurrence of the undesirable events
We really like to use the 8D or 8 Discipline approach as a team-oriented problem solving method for tackling problems. The 8D process was invented at Ford Motor Company in 1987 and follows the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model. We find the 8D format is easy to teach and use if you follow the 8 steps:

To look at an example of a recently completed 8D project click here
 
Why do we do all this?

  1. CI Helps make UltraSource run smoother because we don't just "band-aid" problems and issues, we fix them.
  2. Using these CI methodologies to resolve problems makes good business sense because it helps to minimize problems for us and for our customers.
We would love to help you with all your thin film requirements!
Contact us at:  (800) 742-9410 orat the email links below:

IMS 2016 Follow Up

Thank You! 

IMS2016 in San Francisco

As they say: "Location, location, location!" We feel that IMS2016 was a busy show this year with more foot traffic than we've seen in a while! We think San Francisco as the location is hard to beat! 


Our Business Development Team had many people stop by asking about "thin substrates". UltraSource has been fabricating on ultra-thin substrates for over 25 years. For a list of thin materials, see our website at  Thin is In! (And We Can Help) for more details.

Ultra-Thin Circuit Samples

Many customers also told our Business Development Team that it is taking up to 6 weeks to receive their prototypes from our competitors. UltraSource has a means of building prototypes much faster than that  with our UltraFASTprogram - some in as little as 4-7 Days (for program details, click the UltraFAST link or contact us.

UltraFast - Thin Film Rapid Prototyping

If ever in San Francisco, Michael Casper, USI's CEO and President, highly recommends the "Helmet Nachos" at the AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play baseball. (Yes, that's a batting helmet filled with Nachos!)


To learn more, contact us at:  (800) 742-9410 or visit our website

UltraSource Exhibiting at IMS2016

UltraSource Inc 25 Years

IEEE-IMS 2016
Booth #1329
May 24-26, 2016 
Moscone Center  --  San Francisco, CA

25 Years of Thin Film Service!

It's a great time to drop by and visit UltraSource's Business Development Team to discuss any of your current business or design challenges like new product introductions, cost reduction efforts, etc.

If you have specific design guideline questions - we'll have answers! We will have our Updated Design Guidelines available in print at the show. If you won't be at the show -- you can download it now  - 2016 Updated Design Guidelines.

View our Thin Film Technologies Overview video here.


UltraSource - a Proud "Made in the USA" company


To learn more, contact us at:  (800) 742-9410 or visit our website

UltraSource Thin Film Circuits

 

 

To see the entire newsletter online please click here.

Choosing a Trustworthy Supplier

Choosing a Trustworthy Supplier

A company is very fortunate when its supply chain consists of good, trustworthy suppliers.

On-time delivery of high-quality, reliable products at reasonable prices helps ensure smooth operations, generate high productivity, and helps the company's own products succeed with their customers.

Companies that select their thin film suppliers on the basis of cheap deals shouldn't be surprised when those suppliers have quality or delivery issues. Most companies know quality and delivery metrics are important but seldom measure how well a supplier actually meets them. But partnering with a good, trustworthy, supplier likeUltraSource (USI) can provide your business with many important benefits:

  • Lower waste and rework
  • Improved on-time deliveries
  • Increased yields and productivity
  • Faster time to market
  • Lower total cost for doing business

At UltraSource, we think there are 10 great management tools that we use to help us be a good, trustworthy thin film supplier:

  1. Continuous Improvement
  2. Employee Training and Certification
  3. On-Time Delivery Infrastructure
  4. ITAR Registration
  5. Change Controls & Certification
  6. Contract & Quality Review
  7. Statistical Process Controls in Manufacturing
  8. AS9100 Quality Management System
  9. Risk Management Processes
  10. UltraFAST Program

Selecting suppliers is undoubtedly one of the most challenging tasks that companies undertake and now is a great time for you to assess your thin film supplier relationships. To help you assess us, we will use the rest of the 2016 newsletters to explain how we use each of the management tools listed above to assist us in producing high-quality, reasonably priced, reliable thin film products that ship on-time.

To learn more, contact us at:  (800) 742-9410 or visit our website

UltraSource Thin Film Circuits

UltraSource Turns 25 Years Old!

25th Anniversary

Today marks the 25th birthday of UltraSource, Inc. (USI) which was founded on March 15, 1991, by Michael D. Casper. Armed with knowledge of the microwave and hybrid circuit industries and entrepreneurial spirit learned from working at his Dad's printed circuit board company, Casper started USI in order to create jobs in the USA and answer a market need for complex, high quality, thin film circuits, interconnects, and components for a diverse range of customers and markets.

From 1991 to 1993, USI occupied a small lab in Lowell, MA. Producing complex and high quality products with quick delivery enabled rapid growth and continued customer opportunities. The company expanded to a 3,000 square foot facility in Chelmsford, MA in 1993 and then moved to its present 25,000 square foot location in Hollis, NH in 1997.


Today, USI employs 70 people and manufactures custom thin film products for satellite, defense, optical, industrial, and medical applications. UltraSource, Inc. is a uniquely focused company with outstanding thin film production capabilities for customers to partner with on their design challenges. Our close-knit employee team benefits from solid leadership and management where we maintain a culture of pride and dedication to delivering superior service and value to our customers.


On this proud day, we need to recognize and thank all of our customers for their business and loyalty! We would not be here after 25 years if we didn't have the privilege of serving a diverse collection of strong, successful, capable companies as our customer base.

    We sincerely thank you for your ongoing business!

Here are some interesting "Birthday Factoids" from our 25 year history:

25 Years of USI

To learn more, contact us at:  (800) 742-9410 or visit our website

To view the full newsletter online please click here. 

 

16: Lowest Cost versus Best Value?

Experience Our Reliable Quality and Best Value Services

IEEE IMS Show 2015
UltraSource Booth #3429
May 19-21, 2015
Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, AZ

 

UltraSource enjoys the privilege of providing thin film substrate manufacturing services to customers in many different markets and industries. The UltraSource Team works hard to be the preferred thin film supplier to many customers who use our quality, delivery, service, and costs to help them be successful in their own businesses. After 24 years in business, USI has built a strong customer base that understands that the lowest cost thin film substrate supplier is often not the best supplier choice.
                     top secret

Many new customers come to us requesting price and delivery quotations and often give us price goals as their sole means of determining qualification. And typically, when we are approached by new customers seeking a new thin film supplier, the reasons why they are looking for an alternate supplier are often kept “Top Secret”, meaning they do not wish to share their concerns about the incumbent supplier with us. Eventually the dialogue opens up and more often than not, the reason they are looking for a new supplier is based on poor delivered quality.The Hidden Costs of Poor Quality:
                 rejected

Poor delivered quality has “hidden costs” associated with it when it happens. A few examples of the “hidden costs” of poor quality are:

  • Increased receiving inspection and purchasing costs when managing poor quality
  • Rejections on the shop floor that drive high rework costs
  • Source inspection increases costs when incurred
  • And, factory build plans and yields may be affected, causing customers costly delays and hindering shipments to their own customers

At UltraSource, we have learned over the years that being focused on lowest price means that new customers may be missing critical parts of the supplier qualification process. At UltraSource, we strive to be a “best value” supplier by offering the following to our customers:

  1. Expert sales and technical support so that communications and issues are handled simply and effectively.
  2. A history of providing excellent delivered quality so that poor quality does not affect build schedules or product yields.
  3. The ability to rapidly produce prototypes and development orders to support customer product development initiatives.
  4. Implementation and use of a quality management system (QMS) like ISO 9001 and AS9100.
  5. Dependable delivery performance due to systematic execution by balancing demand and capacity.
  6. Using "lean methodologies" to generate competitive pricing. 
  7. The ability to develop and maintain long term supplier agreements (LTSA) to reduce pricing for regularly placed orders.
  8. Training to ensure the entire organization understands the customer’s quality expectations.
  9. When issues arise, skillfully developing robust root cause and corrective actions that foster a problem prevention mindset.
  10. A comprehensive system of process controls in order to manage process variation and risk.

Undertaking a new thin film substrate supplier qualification that evaluates technical support, delivered quality, lead time, on-time delivery, pricing, and LTSA’s is a significant project that takes time and effort, and we know that Buyers and Purchasing Managers are busier than ever. Today’s companies tend to stay lean in order to control overhead to generate profits and stay competitive. We understand that Purchasing Departments carry a heavy workload and this brings to mind a poem that we came across while writing this newsletter:
           paperwork

 


“The Purchasing Agent stood at Heaven’s gate, Her head was bending low.
She merely asked the man of fate,
Which way she ought to go.
“What have you done,” St. Peter said,
“to seek admittance here?”
“I was a Purchasing Agent down on earth, for many and many a year.”
St. Peter opened wide the gate,
and gently pressed the bell.
“Come in,” he said, “and choose your harp. You’ve had your share of hell!”
- Author Unknown
 
At UltraSource, we understand the issues and complexities of thin film supplier selection and we will continue to work with new customers to become their “best value” thin film substrate supplier.
                    100 percent quality

Please share the Purchasing Agent’s Poem with your Purchasing Department; we know their job is not easy and let them know that we are happy to talk to them about Lowest Cost versus our UltraSource Best Value performance metrics.Stop by to see us at IEEE IMS 2015 Booth #3429 between May 19 - 21, 2015 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

View Newsletter

 

15: Got Snow?

We sure do!  And Thin Film too!

snowHave you seen the news? Yes, we have lots of snow here in New England – and more on the way!

Our snow banks may be high – but – we are open for business here in snowy New Hampshire! Although we have over another foot of new snow to clear, we have dedicated snow plow operators and committed employees who do their utmost to ensure our customers’ thin film orders are delivered on-time.

This month we take delivery of a brand new Mitutoyo Optical CMM to help increase our measuring capacity. We purchased a new machine because we make thousands of measurements daily for first article reports, in-process monitoring, and final mechanical inspection. The investment in our new CMM will provide us with high speed measuring capability, offline programming, improved optics, and 1.5 micron accuracy. Once the unit is installed and calibrated we will conduct gage repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) studies in order to ensure that the new CMM is acceptable for its intended use. Before we begin using it in production, advanced notice about the proposed equipment change will be given to all of our major customers.

Don’t forget if you need speedy delivery on any of your prototyping projects our UltraFAST program provides you with our "ships on-time or its free guarantee". Contact your local sales representative or our corporate sales office to discuss how we can help you.

With UltraFAST, we offer the best rapid prototyping service in the industry.

View Newsletter

 

14: UltraSource Achieves AS9100C Certification

UltraSource, Inc. is proud to announce its certification to AS9100C by TÜV SÜD America, effective November 11, 2014.

AS9100C CertificationUltraSource selected TÜV SÜD America for our AS9100C certification because they are an internationally accredited certification services firm and a leading management system Registrar in North America, Europe, and Asia. Receiving an accredited AS9100C certification assures our customers that we meet global standards and can deliver performance benefits from improved processes and continuous improvements.

The implementation of a documented and standardized Quality Management System (QMS) is a distinct choice that an organization undertakes as a means of controlling and improving its quality and performance. UltraSource decided in 2013 to pursue a management system that meets the requirements of AS9100C, as defined by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IACG). The term QMS is used to describe the collection of processes that an organization uses to direct and control its ability to meet customer, product, and regulatory requirements, as well as to drive continuous improvement.A properly implemented QMS does the following: 

  • Sets corporate direction
  • Ensures customers' expectations are met
  • Provides a "process-based approach" to management
  • Improves process controls
  • Reduces waste
  • Lowers costs
  • Facilitates training
  • Improves ability to mitigate risk
  • Enhances awareness of quality throughout the organization

AS9100C is the QMS specified by IAQG, which is a global cooperative established by companies involved in the aviation, space, and defense industries to help their suppliers improve quality and reduce costs. Currently, IAQG has many active members including Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Bombardier Aerospace, GE Aerospace, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, and United Technologies. AS9100C is based on all of the elements contained in the ISO 9001 quality management standard. Both standards are organized in the same way. The AS9100C standard actually consists of all of the ISO 9001 requirements plus additional AS9100C requirements. Some important additional requirements of AS9100C over ISO 9001 include:

  • The AS9100C management standard states that it is specifically intended for use by organizations that design, develop, and/or produce aviation, space and defense products.
  • An organization must ensure that personnel have access to quality management system documentation and changes. 
  • Top management shall ensure that product conformity and on-time delivery performance are measured and that appropriate action is taken if planned results are not achieved. 
  • The Management Representative of the organization has unrestricted access to top management to resolve matters involving management and quality. 
  • An organization must monitor the implementation of improvement activities and evaluate the effectiveness of the results. 

The adoption of an AS9100C certified management system at UltraSource was a substantial undertaking and is already helping to deliver improved quality and process performance to our customers. We are seeing benefits in the following areas:

  • Manufacturing safe, reliable products that meet or exceed customer, statutory, and regulatory authority requirements.
  • Improving our focus on the key requirements of our customers.
  • Improving product and process quality by reducing variations in the quality of our products.
  • Improving our employee knowledge of quality systems and how to use those systems in order to improve product quality.

For over 23 years, UltraSource has delivered millions of high quality thin film products to our customers. Our AS9100C certified management system will assure that we will continue to provide our customers with quality and performance that meets or exceeds all of their expectations.

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