Fero Strategic Development

Sam Fulton

March 3, 2015

Fero Strategic Development

“To be the first choice in connectivity in the Australasian Manufacturing Industry”

Fero - Strategic growthThere has been a lot of thought going into our business here at Fero lately. We are about to enter into another period of growth and development and the end goal has been clearly outlined for us.

 

To communicate strategy is never an easy task, especially for a business as complex as ours. To start with an overall goal is never a bad way to go.

Ours is:

 

TO HAVE A 5 DAY PRODUCTION LEADTIME IN 18 MONTHS, WHILE PROVIDING AN UTTERLY RELIABLE SERVICE TO OUR CUSTOMERS.

 

The reason that this is such a great way to outline our strategy is that there is so much that cascades down from it. For instance in order to achieve this we must have;

 

  • Data accuracy. Our stock and BOMs must be 99% accurate.
  • Complete reliability. For our customers to be working to such short lead times our DIFOTIS must be at 100%
  • Deep and lasting relationships. We need to be working in a partnership type relationship with our customers
  • World class facilities
  • A highly engaged workforce
  • Focus on lean business practices
  • Robust forecasting processes

fero - Strategy

We have spent the last few months investing considerable time and resource into developing a detailed strategic plan that will continue to set us apart from the competition.   It takes a lot of focus to implement significant strategic change while still continuing with business as usual, however our desire to be a company of continuous improvement is becoming engrained in our culture and we feel we are on the right track.

 

Last month we kicked off our Lean Journey. Our whole team has now undergone a detailed and intensive training course and are excited to get going with a number of initiatives. We have a number of customers that are already a long way down the road with their lean journeys and we have been able to learn a lot from them and see some real benefits in reducing waste in our business and increasing value to our customers.

 

In the next couple of months we will be commissioning machinery that will see up to 50% increases in our capacity and ability to deliver high quality, cost effective solutions to the local manufacturing market, with very quick turn around times.

 

Fero - Customer Survey ImageSignificant input from the recent customer survey that we ran has gone into our strategic development. We understand that manufacturing is not an easy business and that there are some common issues that we need to help solve.

  • We will be working to make our engineering team much more accessible to our customers, so that we can use our knowledge and experience to help solve your problems.
  • With the best of intentions there are always those urgent requirements, we want to be able to supply to our customers to ensure that manufacturing time is not lost on waiting for sub assemblies
  • Reliability is paramount and the ability of suppliers to Deliver In Full, On Time, In Spec can be the difference between success and failure.
  • Local manufacture is very important these days and we must be able to produce world class products in New Zealand that allow us to keep competing, and dominating, on the world stage. On the other side of the coin we must also have the ability to source from global markets to ensure that we are delivering what we need to ensure success.

 

It is going to be a great year for Fero, and one that sets us up to really provide the best service to the manufacturing industry. We know where we need to go and how to get there, and I look forward to keeping you updated.

Tasi Samu

February 21, 2015

Interselect’s Selective Soldering Machines

FERO BRINGS INTERSELECT’S SELECTIVE SOLDERING MACHINES TO NZ.

An increasing number of businesses are needing more accuracy, greater flexibility and a higher throughput in their soldering requirements. It’s a tough challenge, but InterSelect’s selective soldering systems are designed to meet that challenge, whilst still remaining cost-effective.

Fero is delighted to be distributing these machines in NZ.

 

“From the beginning InterSelect have been listening to their customers, and it is because of this InterSelect are in a leading position when it comes to customer satisfaction, quality, and performance.”

Sam Fulton, Sales and Marketing Director.

InterSelect’s selective soldering machines integrate new technologies such as:

  • Laser solder-wave monitoring.
  • Adaptive wave height correction.
  • PCB warpage Control.
  • Precision X,Y,  Z-axis control.

Nitrogen Generators Image

Greater Control throughout the process.

 

InterSelect’s selective soldering solution achieves unprecedented levels of accuracy and consistency.

 

Pyrometer control and heat-profiling make the thoroughness with which these systems work visible throughout the entire process. All data can be read straight from the machines impressive 19inch monitor, then saved and exported (through the network or USB stick) for the purposes of traceability. It’s that simple.

 

The IS-PhotoScan software solder programs can be designed completely independent from the machine’s location, on any PC or laptop without having to stop production or even being on the machine. To describe the design software as user friendly is an understatement. From a simple photo upload, to a click and drag, to entering basic parameters, this is by far the easiest piece of programming software you will ever use.

 

All InterSelect machines have a MicroDrop Jet Fluxer which provides precise drop by drop flux application. The Fluxer can process both individual points as well as entire lines at once. The flux quantity of any droplet is precisely metered and adjusted. Thus, the flux application can be adapted precisely to the requirements of each solder joint. Through the selective flux wetting, in contrast to the traditional “wet the entire circuit board” wave solder approach, the flux consumption is drastically reduced and the contamination by flux residues is minimized.

 

Monitoring the fluxing stream and counting every individual drop increases efficiency and consistency. The Flux-Control can operate in various modes, as a simple drop-counter or as a position check of the drop on the PCB, and more.

Selective Soldering Machines

Inline or Offline – You Choose.

 

InterSelects selective soldering machines are available as inline or offline systems. The modular design of inline systems allow the system to be matched exactly to the requirements of the assemblies. Machines with multiple solder pots allow the benefits of using different alloys and switching from one to another without effort – just by a software click!

 

Producing more assemblies in less time is no longer a problem with the multi-wave technology. If it has to be even faster the IS-I-460 modular systems and parallel modular systems leave nothing to be desired. Several soldering , flux-and preheater-modules can be connected in series so that the system can be scaled as per the output requirement.

 

In some cases customers need an efficient way of dealing with low-med volume, but on various different boards. This is where InterSelect’s standalone offline system comes into its own, as it combines:

  • Small machine footprints (from 1m2 floor space).
  • Universal PCB frame for large printed circuit boards.
  • Flexible equipment options.

 

The intelligent design of the offline machines and carefully selected automation features enable professional results in a selective soldering process with minimal effort. In a production environment with cell production, InterSelect’s standalone offline systems can be seamlessly integrated. Thanks to pre-assembled 2-way handling, a PCB can be prepared, while a second PCB is already being processed (fluxed, preheated, and soldered). The boards are loaded and unloaded at the same point so in most cases you will only need a single operator.

 

Nitrogen supply is a necessary component in selective soldering, and InterSelect have a range of Nitrogen generators available to suit the any one of their machines. The Nitrogen generators incorporate pressure swing absorption technology which enables a supply of purity up to 99.999% (5.0 Grade). Take a look here for more details.

 

F&P Healthcare, who are a world leader in medical equipment manufacture, are the first in New Zealand to use InterSelects selective soldering machinery, and they are genuinely impressed by its overall performance, and ease of use.

 

All machines come with a standard 1 year warranty (with options of extending) and are proudly serviced locally by Fero ltd.

Sam Fulton

February 2, 2015

Customer Survey Results

The first step in exceeding your customers expectations is to know those expectations.   Roy Hollister Williams

It is with this quote ringing in our ears that we embarked on finding out what our customers thought about us. We created a survey and then asked all our customers to complete it, as honestly as they could. Were we a little nervous? Of course. As a business we’ve had our fair share of problems and issues, but we really felt that we’d overcome these over the last few years and that our business had seen growth as a result of a clearer focus on our core competencies, resulting in top service and quality.

Research for discoveryWe wanted to discover a little more about you and drill down a little further into what you like and dislike about working with Fero. This wasn’t an exercise in stroking our own ego’s, but rather an important step in understanding the issues and making changes to our business accordingly. We didn’t expect to hear all good news, and we have clearly heard what we need to be working on!

Overall I was not surprised with the results.  We feel that we are ahead of our competition in most areas but still have some way to go to become the benchmark for the industry.  Fero will lead the industry as “the first choice in connectivity”, and this survey helps us to see where our efforts are best focused in achieving this vision.

RESULTS

diagram showing good results in service82% of customers see Fero as being very or extremely professional. 

88% believe they have a good or very good relationship with Fero.

86% of customers think that Fero understands their needs quite or extremely well.

Personally I would like to be in the mid 90’s for these measures.  I feel that they are key indicators of performance and market perception and we need to be higher.

Delivery on time is critical to our customers and to our ongoing mission of supporting “sustainable local manufacture and ensuring that NZ manufactures are leaders on the world stage.” At the moment we have been rated at 92% for delivery on time.  I feel that this is close to where we want to be sitting.  Our goal this year is to have a DIFOTIS rating of over 95% and we are well on the way to achieving that.

Somewhat disappointingly only 50% said that Fero’s quality was better than the competitors, 43% said that it was the same, and 7% thought it was somewhat worse.  In our industry quality is very important and we need to ensure that we are leading the market in this area.  7% gives us a strong message that there is improvement to be made here.

75% of our customers thought that our service is better than the competition.  While it is reassuring to be this far ahead of the rest, a goal of at least 85% has been set.

THE POWER OF RECOMMENDATIONImportance of word of mouth

We firmly believe that a good indicator of how well you’re doing in business is whether your customers are prepared to recommend you. After all, NZ is a small country and word-of-mouth is vital to success. So, we were delighted that 86% of customers said they would happily recommend us to a colleague. And we ask you to tell as many of your colleague about us as you’re able, in 2015.

 

ADDING VALUE

importance of adding valueFero has core competencies and experience in a broad number of areas. It’s important to us that customers benefit from our experience, so we were delighted that 80% of respondents believe that we add value to their business. This takes us beyond being simply a supplier, and more towards being a partner.  When assessing relationships they range from the bottom, being price based relationships, to the ultimate of being strategic partners.  Moving forwards as a business, we want to focus more on long term partnership relationships, in which we feel we can make a real difference to a customers’ business; a relationship with open dialogue and mutual understanding.

BENEFITS

What customer love about feroWe asked you to highlight the main benefit of working with Fero and were delighted with what you had to say. Key words kept coming up again and again, so we analysed them and placed them in a word cloud where the size of the word is linked to the number of times it was used in your feedback. You acknowledged how important it is that we’re local, the strength of our relationship and that we offer good quality. We work hard at developing our customer relationships and continue to invest in QA to ensure quality – thanks for noticing!

On the subject of our account managers, the feedback was very positive here too.  As you can see from the below diagram they are definitely doing more than drinking coffee all day, and it is very satisfying to see that we have a team who have great relationships with our customers.

What customers love about FeroWe received some very clear messages in terms of what you want to see us improve and change.  Two subjects continually popped up in your comments.

  1. Leadtimes.  You want these to be shorter.  We hear this loud and clear and as part of our strategic planning we are working out how we can provide a turn around that cannot be equalled in the market.  More on this in future correspondence.
  2. You want us to help with better solutions.  Somehow word has got out that we have a bunch of engineers that know their stuff.  You have asked that we provide more technical expertise to help you with key issues and provide answers through our engineering team.

When asked what we could do to make your business more profitable you all told us to drop our prices…(I think we walked into that one) however when compared to our competitors, 50% of you said our prices were about the same and 31% said they were lower to a great deal lower.  It is not easy to provide better service and quality than the rest at lower prices but we seem to be doing it!

When asked what frustrates you when dealing with Fero, 80% said nothing!  89% of you were satisfied with Fero as a supplier to your business.

I am glad to be able to provide a summery of the results of the survey.  If anyone would like a full report then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me on 021 889 691 or at sam@fero.co.nz

We all appreciate the feedback and will be using it to continue to improve our delivery to you.

Sam Fulton

December 2, 2014

Hi Tech Manufacturing solutions in China

“Helping our clients to source offshore when the time is right, is a key part of our future. We’re working closely with our partners abroad to ensure we deliver successful offshore manufacturing solutions.”

 

Map of ChinaManufacturing in China to cut costsIt has been a few weeks now and time in the office seems to fly by, however the trip to China in October is still fresh in our minds, as is the way forward for us in a very dynamic market.

 

Greg, Grant, George and myself were in China for two weeks and we were working flat out.  There seems to be no other way in China, as the energy and drive is apparent everywhere.  China is a place where things get done and a sense of urgency really prevails.  Unfortunately if you are not there and giving face-to-face time, that sense of urgency seems to slip.  You become a second priority and it can be hard to get action.

 

Traditionally manufacturing in China is seen as a way to cut costs and increase profitability.  This can certainly be achieved but it is a long, hard road.  Management overheads, quality assurance, communication, shipping, MOQs, engineering turn around, and lead times are all a mine field of hidden costs and can absorb resource faster than anything.

 

Relationships are key in doing business in China.  What, at the time, is a lot of long meetings, dinners and copious toasts, does lead to the personal relationships that can help to smooth some of the difficulties of dealing with this massive powerhouse of production and often will help to give our relatively small NZ demand a great leg up.  It requires a big investment and I am pleased to say that the relationships that Fero has had in China stretch back over a decade. It is very obvious that this gives us a real advantage when dealing with our Chinese partners, and ensures our success in achieving Hi Tech manufacturing solutions in China.

 

I think it is time that Fero used these relationships to contribute more to our Vision of contributing to sustainable local manufacture and helping NZ manufacturers to be leaders on the world stage.  We have very strong relationships in China and we need  to be the conduit between the low cost manufacturing model and the niche market that is Hi Tech Manufacturing in NZ.

 

Building relationships is key to doing business in ChinaOur relationships and experience allow us to greatly reduce the hidden cost of having product manufactured in China, however we can still greatly improve this.  During our visit I realized that if we were to treat out customers the same way we treat our suppliers we wouldn’t have anyone dealing with us.  Supplier relationships are vitally important to the success of any business and we must remember this and ensure that we are nurturing our relationships in China.  It is not enough to visit annually and expect that we are going to get the highest level of service and quality with a few emails.  We need to be spending time at all levels of the business, from the Managing Director to the process worker on the floor, they all need to know what drives us and our customers.

 

How can we expect immediate action and focus on our projects, when we are a small fish in a huge pond?  As usual we Kiwis need to think of other ways to get the results we want, and can not rely on our purchasing power…

 

Workers in a Chinese Hi Tech Manufacturing plant

2015 will see us contributing more resource to building our relationships and in turn developing our capabilities to satisfy the manufacturing market back home with increased service out of China.  It is very hard for New Zealand  manufacturers to go to China and receive the kind of DIFOTIS that we require and expect for our businesses, without the benefit of long term relationships and extensive experience of a company that is dedicated to linking both these markets.

 

Don’t worry…. We are in no way going to be taking the eye off the ball at home, and in fact this trip just confirms how important it is to have reliable onshore manufacturing capabilities close to our customers.  We have big things coming up in the new year and some very exciting investments that are going to hugely increase our capacity and capabilities on shore and ensure that we are providing an even better and more comprehensive service to our customers.  WATCH THIS SPACE…I look forward to telling you all about it soon!

Sam Fulton

November 6, 2014

The Team Vibe@Fero

Happy staff, Happy Customers

 Fero’s staff make the difference.

We firmly believe that there’s a direct correlation between contented staff and happy customers. Recently we invested in getting some feedback from our team on how they were feeling about working at Fero. We’re sharing these results with you because we believe it sets us apart from many of our competitors, and explains why and how we do such a great job.

 

Happy staff care about the work they do. They enjoy coming to work and are interested and motivated to do well, and to see the company do well as a result.

 

Happy staff stay with companies for longer, and that experience provides a better service to customers.

54% of staff have been with us over 3 years

 

Over half of our staff have been with us for over 3 years – that’s a huge amount of experience that we’re able to plough back into the work we do for our customers, whether assembling wiring looms on our production line or our engineering team collaborating on design blueprints. This result is even more exceptional when you consider how fast Fero has grown – in the last 3 years we have increased our workforce from 40 to 60!

 

85 satisfied85% of our staff said they were satisfied with working at Fero and 87% said they were satisfied in their role within the company. A massive 90% said they backed us in the journey towards even greater success and are motivated to see us grow. We like to recognise the good work of our staff, and it’s obviously working as 78% feel satisfied with the recognition they receive at work.

 

 

 

 

Any army needs good leaders. 85% felt that our senior managers demonstrate a commitment to quality, which should be reflected in the completed work you receive from us. 82% felt very happy with their manager, whilst 76% felt valued by their direct supervisor.

 

 

When we asked our team what one thing they loved about working at Fero, here’s what they had to say!

What do you love about working at Fero

 

We’re delighted with the results of the survey, and we’ll be running it each year in order to measure how we’re doing against this benchmark. We’d like to say to all our staff for making Fero a great place to work, and for continuing to deliver exceptional work to our customers.

 

Thank You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Fulton

September 22, 2014

Believing in Hi Tech Manufacturing.

Making NZ attractive to the best global talentI was recently going through old emails and came across a video of the late Sir Paul Callaghan speaking about what we can do to grow a better NZ for future generations, and what common myths there are out there that are holding us back from this. I watched it again, twice!

I felt that, even though this is about 3 years old, it is still very relevant to us today and even more so after such a tumultuous election. With all the hype and distraction from people more focused on trying to propound conspiracy theory and their own agendas, than what is working for NZ and what needs working on, we missed a lot of rhetoric about what we need to do to make a better NZ. Hopefully the ‘cusp of something great’ that John Key describes will have a lot to do with the development of niche technology manufacturing, of which NZ is so good at and which is so good for NZ, and the retention of good talent to our shores.

With all that we hear from the media these days on the importance of different industry sectors to our economy, it is very important that we understand the contribution that hi- tech manufacturing makes to the economy and the huge potential there is in this sector.

“Manufacturing is our biggest industry and probably the only one that can be grown sustainably and significantly.”

We are a country of innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs. We punch well above our weight on a world scale in all that we do. Hi Tech Manufacturing fits the New Zealand culture, it is what we have always been good at and what will drive our economy forward, making this the place that everyone wants to live in.

Attracting talent to New Zealand must be a focus of our industry. The flow of talent off shore has been stemmed but we must keep attracting more. If New Zealand’s mission statement is ‘to be a place that talent wants to live’ then the manufacturing sector must lead this.

attracting talent to NZAt Fero, we are always looking to attract talent. We know that we are only as good as our team. In the last 18 months we have gone through significant growth and as we grow our team to meet this demand, we are always asking how do we get the most talented people on board?
Recently we have relaunched our website and have put our core beliefs out there for all to see. More than just a mission statement, our core beliefs are why we get out of bed in the morning, what makes us feel that we are working towards a higher purpose than just producing high quality, cost effective wiring technology solutions. We feel we are here because ‘ we believe that sustainable local manufacture should thrive and NZ manufacturers should be leaders on the world stage’

A lot of the top technology manufacturers in NZ are customers of Fero. We want more, and to do that we have to work with our customers to help get them there. We need to attract talent to our company so that we can deliver the service and products that our customers need to be ‘leaders on the world stage’.

We know this is going to create a better New Zealand, which is great because this is where we live and play.
We know this is going to create a more prosperous New Zealand. More jobs is not enough, we need better jobs, and Hi Tech Manufacturing provides this

Callaghan lays down a challenge to us: To be leaders in growing New Zealand and making it a better place to live, more sustainably. Hi Tech Manufacturing has the ability to lead NZ and contribute above all others in making New Zealand the place where we all want to live.

Watch the video

Mike Playle

August 26, 2014

Collaborative Manufacturing

FROM CONCEPT TO COMPLETION

Fero has its roots in OEM component supply and Wire Harness manufacturing and today can provide a complete collaborative design and manufacturing service from Concept to completion.

 

How we do itBLog_Thinking

Fero values intellectual capital and has a history of successful collaboration with other manufacturers and designers. Our approach is based on conceptualization and collaboration to provide solutions. Each project has unique challenges that must be overcome. Whilst applying a disciplined planning and design process we are able to tailor our approach to ensure that we find the best possible outcome for the brief.

Through our experience in manufacturing and our detailed understanding of key areas such as look and feel, design for manufacture (DFM) , functionality and commercialisation we are able to tailor solutions across a wide range of applications.

 

BLog_CollaborateCollaborative Manufacturing

Fero supports a concept of collaborative manufacturing using our network of trusted suppliers and manufacturing partners. We have the belief that no one is better suited to do what they do than those who specialise in it. By bringing these entities together we can manage the project through a number of processes that ensure a quality and cost effective solution. Professional project management, in house engineering and manufacturing services mean that we can react quickly and effectively and reduce the time taken for most projects.

BLog_penConcept to Commercialisation

Through an understanding of every facet of the process including aesthetics ,form and fit , functionality , market channel s, and distribution Fero can provide a total service to manage projects and product development in the domestic, industrial and consumer product sectors.
A very special part of Fero service is our unwavering commitment to provide the highest level of service across all spheres of our business. Acordingly we have developed a specialist model to assist with commercialisation of ideas and designs. This enables us to quickly evaluate and cost projects and provides a structured planned approach to the end result, thus effectively maximising your return on investment and allowing you plan your expenditure over the whole phase of the project.