Matric Group Delivers Breakthrough Operational Improvement with Koh Young

This case study shows how Matric Group has leveraged their partnership with Koh Young to be the first in the industry to use pre-reflow AOI as a game-changer for line efficiency and improved yield. All while creating a central inspection war room to allow just one person to manage all inline inspection, increasing automation and control and mitigating talent shortages.

Business in the US is good and for companies like Matric Group growth is the order of the day. But how can you grow when the local labor pool is limited, all while being competitive with overseas manufacturers and improving quality and efficiency? Well that’s the challenge that Matric’s team, under the leadership of Vice President of Operations Patrick Stimpert, rose to, and delivered on with a little help from their technology partners including Koh Young. 

According to their Vice President of Business Development, Bradley Turner, “the regional population base is not growing. Plus the ability for a human to be right 100% of the time is just not feasible.” That’s why Matric really made a push into more optical inspection and as Bradley says, “part of that plan was Koh Young with pre- and post-oven AOI, making sure that boards are inspected before they get flowed, so there’s no waste or scrap boards.”

Bradley explains that “more product, and more placement with less people working on the lines has been critical in simplifying our manufacturing steps, allowing us to remain competitive with the rest of the globe.” 

“We don’t go into vendor relationships without it being a partnership”

The man driving this manufacturing revolution is Vice President of Operations Patrick Stimpert who states unequivocally “we don’t go into vendor relationships without it being a partnership. I will not do it. And if you’re going to have me take machine one or two and go out on a limb for you, you’re going to be right there and we’re going to fail together or we’re going to succeed together.” He adds, “it’s been really, really nice to see Koh Young and Panasonic, work in partnership and to be able to pull both parties into a room and say, ‘hey, this is our next step, and I need you guys onboard’ and for them to say, ‘yes, they’re going to do it’.”

Patrick looks at EMS with fresh eyes, he explains that, “coming into the industry, not knowing everything about the industry, I just wanted to use industrial management techniques and see what we’re going to get out of this, and so it’s really taken us down a path and I’m really excited about the future, not just the future for MATRIC, the future for this industry.”

Patrick’s view is shared throughout the organization and goes right to the top. President and CEO, Richard Turner, explains, “We’re using Koh Young equipment on all of our surface mount placement lines in three locations: solder paste inspection, pre- and post-reflow AOI. They are all networked together and we have just one person monitoring all the production coming off all the machines at one location. It’s helped us immensely to make sure that the products that we’re producing are meeting the specifications and standards.” 

Vice President, Bradley Turner adds, “we’ve had a particularly strong relationship with Koh Young. When we were walking around, I brought up a challenge that they’re immediately ready to meet. And even some of the software challenges that we’ve presented to them, they’ve risen to the occasion. It’s really helpful to have that collaboration, because I understand we’re not the biggest contract manufacturer out there, there’s much larger, so it’s nice to know that even for a contract manufacturer of our size, when we want to have that open dialogue about what we’re looking to achieve and how we want to get there, Koh Young has is ready to take that step with us. Sometimes they even have to think a little bit outside of what their normal parameters are.”

Bradley concludes, “it’s a partnership that we’re looking for when we bring in customers, and we’re looking for partnerships when we are looking for new equipment, not just get this because it’s fancy and fast, is this going to work for us for the next five, ten, fifteen years as we continue to expand?”

Analytic, analytics, analytics

Patrick explains that analytics make or break everything to include margin control, pricing and everything else. He explains, “once we rearranged the building to where I felt we finally have our flows correct and we really started performing, it was pretty apparent that the optical inspection would have to keep up, the Panasonic placement machines would have to keep up, all of our go-no-go checks, all had to keep up, the testing had to keep up! The one thing we knew we couldn’t do is take every PCB board and go through a visual inspection to look for exceptions. You cannot do that and think you’re going to keep up at the pace that we need to run at.” 

Patrick came out of the Toyota production, and knows that “you just don’t touch anything twice. Nothing good is coming from that. And so I put a lot of pressure on Koh Young to say, hey, we’re going to make these calls and I want to make that call before the post-reflow AOI, so we’re going to put pre-reflow AOI on everything.”

Vice President, Bradley Turner loves these analytics and says that it all “ties back into our weekly ops meeting and our reports. Then that further ties into our strategic goals when we’re looking at capital expenditure and seeing where we have scrap or job issues. Actually it allows us to turn around if we’re having issues on a board, and have that conversation with the customer that generates engineering revenue dollars, but also lets that customer know that we’re trying to build the best product possible.” The data and images that Matric is getting from the optical inspection equipment really helps with that conversation. Bradley adds, “that’s been extremely helpful and is part of the reason that we’ve been rolling it out across all of our lines, and why it’s going to be company-wide, so we’re excited about that.”

Pre-reflow AOI – Stop Buying Chairs!

Pre-reflow AOI means Matric is not sending anything they shouldn’t into the ovens. They can wipe a board and move on very cost-effectively and then turn around and do something to make sure that this problem is fixed at the root cause. Patrick is extremely proud that Matric is the first EMS in the industry to do this. Patrick adds, “we’re also one of the first ones in the industry to reduce to one person making all the calls across all of our equipment, and so we’re basically setting up a war room. There’s going to be one person making those calls, a couple of highly skilled technicians that are going to have headsets and they’re just going to go take care of the identified problems, and we’re not going to have people sitting at the AOI. You just don’t buy chairs. Stop buying chairs. The human eye can’t do it anyway, so you might as well get your optics down. 

Learn more about Matric Group at https://www.matric.com/

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