Teledyne Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS), a business unit of Teledyne Technologies Inc. of Thousand Oaks, Calif., is a premier build-to-print manufacturer of high-tech circuit card assemblies and box build assemblies for the aerospace and defense industry. Teledyne EMS has a long heritage of providing the aerospace and defense industry with highly reliable sophisticated assemblies and engineering services since 1967.
The company’s 170,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is located in the small town of Lewisburg nestled in the rolling hills of southern middle Tennessee. “The aerospace and defense marketplace in which Teledyne EMS competes is highly competitive with quality, delivery and price being some of the prime drivers to success,” explains Norman Wolstein, vice president/general manager of Teledyne EMS. “Cost is always a factor when competing within this market, and it is essential that price be competitive. However, quality and on-time delivery are becoming much more of a discriminating factor when evaluating contract manufacturers.
“Therefore, ingrained in the culture of Teledyne EMS is the attitude of, ‘Do It Right the First Time’ to allow for timely deliveries by removing waste and excess, which adds to cost,” Wolstein continues. “Everything has to work right the first time. Our country’s war fighters need the products that are used to protect our country and themselves to work the first time and every time.”
Wolstein states that since 2009, the budget of the Department of Defense (DOD) – one of Teledyne EMS’ largest market segments – has been under much scrutiny. “Cost has become more of an issue, and we see it being more of an issue going forward,” he says. “In today’s environment, everybody from the prime contractors all the way through the DOD supply chain is conscious of the defense department’s push to reduce budget and control expenses while maintaining, and even increasing, the demand for continuous improvement in quality and delivery.”
In spite of the new pressures that are being placed upon DOD contractors, this push may help contract manufacturers like Teledyne EMS, who are considered to be a lower cost solution for the aerospace and defense industry and their associated prime contractors. “The companies who can meet those requirements will continue to succeed,” Wolstein predicts.
Mike Estes, director of business development, says, “Companies like Teledyne EMS have become more integrated and strategically aligned with customers so they can respond to the increasing demands of the marketplace and not be left behind. Teledyne has brought its suppliers and military customers together to seek new ways to reduce costs.
“It has become imperative that the contract manufacturer become an integrated collaborative partnership with the customer and supplier,” he continues. “By working together with the customer as a team on the design, manufacture and testing aspects of the program, the necessary interaction required to optimize the product for quality, manufacturability, testability and reduced cost are achieved.”
On one specific project, Teledyne EMS builds a receiver box for a missile platform program. “We’ve been building it for five years now,” Wolstein reports. “The customer developed the product and transitioned it to Teledyne EMS, which reduced the cost of the box, since we run leaner than an engineering design facility. Then the customer required an additional cost reduction for the program.
“Collectively, Teledyne EMS, our customer and our supply chain went through a major design change over a 16-month period and took an additional 17 to 18 percent of cost out of the program,” he recalls. “This was done over many collaborative meetings. You tend to look at the highest cost components and try to take cost out, either by a new design or by working with our suppliers. Teledyne EMS often will get our supplier in with our customer to work as a team.”
Wolstein compares Teledyne EMS to a wheel’s hub – parts come from many different suppliers, are assembled into products and then sent
to the customer.
“We know what reduces our costs, but we don’t always know what will reduce our suppliers’ costs,” Wolstein notes. “We may be buying a power supply to put into our box assembly, but we’re not the expert on that – the supplier is. So we bring the supplier in to see how they can help in achieving the program objectives. This method can reduce lead times, some of which have been cut by as much as 80 percent.”
Teledyne EMS produces circuit cards and box build assemblies at its Lewisburg facility for its mostly military customers.
“We’re in the high mix/low volume, so when you set up a product line, instead of having a line set up and run for two to three weeks, we set up and tear down a product line every day to build lots of different small volumes,” Wolstein reports. The facility has five flexible manufacturing cells.
“Each has their own surface mount technology equipment, which is the capital-intensive part of the production, but each cell is more set up around a customer,” he says.
The company can manufacture small quantities of 20 to 30 circuit card assemblies or larger amounts. “Our average circuit card production is 2,000 to 3,000 per month,” Wolstein estimates. “You may very well have 50 or 60 different parts numbers making up that 3,000 – some in hundreds and some in the 20s and 10s.”
Production is not continuous, so one order for a quantity of circuit cards may be received in February or March and another for the same product in October or November.
Teledyne EMS has been fulfilling a market niche for highly reliable sophisticated equipment for military, commercial, industrial and medical customers. In today’s economic
environment and global economy, Teledyne EMS offers a flexible, adaptable work force which produces highly reliable products at a competitive price. Teledyne EMS has integrated supply chain/engineering/manufacturing solutions to put its customers over the top in competing in their respective marketplaces.