Fostering Continuous Improvement at Sanmina

Tim Guido
Tim Guido

Senior Master Black Belt & Corporate Director, Performance Improvement, Sanmina

Continuous improvement is a key objective for any successful company. Along with our world-class quality system, the Lean Six Sigma and Kaizen programs at Sanmina focus on continuous performance improvement and waste reduction across our plants worldwide. Leveraging the expertise of our employees helps us identify specific areas that can be changed or refined, ultimately leading to better outcomes for both our customers and our company.

In the spirit of sharing best practices and recognizing employees for these efforts, we held our first fully global Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Convention in December 2021. While the LSS Convention started as a divisional event in Asia several years ago, involvement from an increasing number of Sanmina plants over the years has culminated into making it the global event that it is today. Last December was the first time that we came together virtually across all regions to tap into the great minds of our employees with the goal of institutionalizing some of their most successful projects.

Lean Six Sigma Convention Agenda

The first two days of this year’s LSS Convention centered around live virtual tours at our plants in Mexico, San Jose, Singapore and Hungary, as well as best practices presentations on topics such as automation and culture transformation. The last two days focused on project presentations from finalists that were selected by an esteemed panel of internal and external Master Black Belt judges to promote successful projects as part of an annual awards program. Categories included Process Improvement, Business Support, Inventory & Supply Chain and Customer Satisfaction. Awards finalists presented both a short video and project report for consideration, based on project guidelines.

Additional awards were also granted to teams outside of these categories that illustrated out-of-the-box thinking and innovative approaches to improving business processes beyond the manufacturing lines. We also gave an award for the replication of a previously reported project to reinforce the importance of sharing and reproducing best practices across the company. In this latest instance, a particular successful project was replicated across six other plants.

Sanmina teams from around the world participated in the virtual LSS Convention last December.

Winning Projects

While the list of impressive projects and awards is too long to share in a single blog post, highlighting a few of the winners will help illustrate the great return that a culture focused on LSS and Kaizen initiatives has brought to Sanmina:

* Best Kaizen of the Year: Shenzhen Team Reduces Excess Inventory by 17.5% for Key Telecom Customer

Last year, the team at our plant in Shenzhen, China took on an excess inventory reduction initiative for a major telecom customer. The customer wanted to reduce excess and obsolete (E&O) inventory by 15 percent of total E&O to cut cost and reduce waste.

The team developed a project plan and then investigated dominant factors that were negatively impacting the customer’s inventory. Key areas of focus included demand changes, last time buys, minimum order quantities and product end of life (EOL) rates. From there, they developed an action plan and worked closely with the customer on areas that needed improvement. New processes were put in place that reduced the demand change rates, minimum order quantities and EOL rates. As a result, the team reduced E&O inventory by 17.5 percent which accounted for more than $100k in savings.

Now, the customer is more satisfied because improved communication with Sanmina helps them avoid these these types of problems. Based on what was learned, this winning project is also currently being replicated at Sanmina for another customer.

* Best Project of the Year: Kunshan Team Improves Laser Welding Machine Performance Resulting in More than $1 Million in Savings

Sanmina’s team in Kunshan, China was plagued with a lot of scrap due to the over welding of parts for metal products during production. They wanted to eliminate over welding, which was determined to be occurring at a rate of 1.3 percent. The team estimated that correcting this problem could translate into significant cost savings.

After establishing a schedule, the team researched inputs and outputs of laser welding using very detailed measurements. They determined acceptable working specifications and evaluated what really was a ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ part through statistical a capability analysis. From there, they were able to optimize settings during laser welding, make performance improvements and conduct preventative maintenance on the machines.

Not only did the team eliminate over welding completely through this effort, they also improved welding capabilities by 15 percent and saved more than $1 million to the bottom line. They also created a Control Plan and Failure Mode Effects Analysis to ensure continued optimization of the laser welding machines moving forward.

A Rewarding ‘Meeting of the Minds’

The 2021 LSS Convention was a great success. A total of 144 projects were submitted that involved teamwork from nearly 900 employees. We had excellent virtual attendance at the event, with several hundred employees tuning in each day. Special thanks goes to our team in Guadalajara, Mexico. They hosted the event and were heavily involved in the production and event planning aspects, which was by no means a simple task due to the scale and virtual nature of the activity. They managed to make it a very engaging, rewarding and fun experience.

Ultimately, Sanmina’s LSS Convention energizes employees and makes them more enthusiastic to implement processes and tools that boost our performance and fosters a culture of continuous improvement across the company. I look forward to witnessing the successes that last year’s winning projects will contribute to our programs in 2022.

Sanmina employees celebrating their award win during the virtual LSS conference.