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MMS 'sees' gains through new factory software.

Electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider Milford Manufacturing Services (MMS, Milford, MA, www.milfordmfg.com) has invited original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to enter "The Looking Glass," a comprehensive software program that allows customers and suppliers to "see" into the MMS factory to check the status of their order, inventory levels and items on order.

According to Doug Voiland, vice president and general manager at MMS, the number one issue with the supply chain is lack of information: "About 80% of the noise at the customer level is in the vein of general business questions, such as 'Where's my order?' and 'What's the status?'"

President and chief executive officer Ed Price believes EMS firms are sometimes spending millions to solve the problem of getting information back to the customer. "They want to be as informed as if they got up and looked in the factory themselves," he said. Additionally, customers want the ability to transact through the Internet--not just buying or selling, but also sending detailed status information.

MMS' software solves these problems by allowing customers to view the manufacturing processes and supply chain. The software shows order status and manufacturing yields in real time and can be used to make engineering change orders (ECOs), change parts, monitor inventory and hold discussions among suppliers, OEMs and MMS. Each order has a bar code that gets scanned at each step of the process. Also, MMS appoints a customer service team for each account so that alerts, questions and changes are sent directly to those who know how to respond, not just a program manager, thereby reducing bottlenecks.

The software also enables customers to see their inventory levels for certain components, giving them the ability to monitor their liability by reviewing inventory excess and work in progress. MMS believes the online program management tool is one way to pare general administrative costs and raise the material-to-resale ratio. The company says 85% of its major customers are using the tool.

Robin Norvell, assistant editor; reporting by Mike Buetow, editor-in-chief, PCD&M
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Title Annotation:Industry News; Milford Manufacturing Services
Publication:Circuits Assembly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:336
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