Technical Supervisor for Software and Database Services
Technology manufacturing backed by data transparency
Vecima Networks optimizes its production process with SAS® Visual Analytics
Any frequent traveler has a routine when checking into a room. Sprawling out on the bed. Unpacking. And, for many, one of the first tasks is to turn on the TV and see what’s on.
When you access the TV in your hotel room, chances are that you’re doing so courtesy of Vecima Networks. The company makes the cable boxes that deliver high-quality TV signals to viewers, and it works with leading brands like Comcast and Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable) to get digital video to your screen.
Manufacturing technology products like cable boxes is a challenging process. Mark Horseman, Vecima Networks’ Technical Supervisor for Software and Database Services, manages the architecture that helps its manufacturing lines run smoothly.
“Vecima Networks wanted to refine its manufacturing process by making decisions based on operational data, but no one had access to it all,” Horseman recalls. “Employees were using a plethora of different tools. There were these pockets of analytics happening, and people were trying to understand the data on their own with very little governance.”
Even when employees used their own Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for number crunching, it created data silos within the organization. As a result, each team only had a partial view of the situation, leaving them unable to make fully informed decisions.
A platform for data-driven decision making
The first step to improving the analytics function across the company was to implement a unified technology for visualizing and analyzing data. Vecima Networks wanted to standardize its analytics process to give all teams visibility across the entire organization.
Vecima Networks chose SAS Visual Analytics, which allows users to explore, share and collaborate on data from a common environment. “With SAS Visual Analytics, we could deliver governed data to employees in a reporting platform that was standard and covered the entire company,” Horseman says.
A quick win on the production line
Vecima Networks quickly began applying SAS Visual Analytics to problems that it couldn’t easily solve with piecemeal spreadsheets. One of its most pressing issues was managing an important operational metric called the “rolled throughput yield.”
Manufacturing sophisticated electronic products is a complex process with many operations that take place in different areas and with different personnel and equipment. At each stage of the process, there is always a possibility that something will go wrong, such as malfunctioning equipment or a product that does not pass inspection. Each problem increases the manufacturing cost above an ideal predefined standard. This, in turn, has an impact on Vecima Networks’ bottom line.
To help avoid costly defects, SAS Visual Analytics gives the company fine-grained visibility into its manufacturing performance. Vecima Networks now can monitor the rolled throughput yield across the manufacturing process. In fact, it’s improved by an average of 32 percent since the solution was implemented.
“SAS Visual Analytics has identified not just how many units are having issues, but at what steps and what interactions they are taking place. And we can trend the improvement immediately – it is awesome.”
“SAS Visual Analytics has identified not just how many units are having issues, but at what steps and what interactions they are taking place,” Horseman says. “For instance, is it a certain part that doesn’t have the right tolerance level? Is it a certain manufacturing process that’s creating issues? Or are equipment failures causing a problem?
“We can actually see this in SAS and then change our manufacturing accordingly. We also can see different manufacturing techniques being applied to certain production lines and then see the improvement right away. And we can trend the improvement immediately – it is awesome.”
In fact, the solution has enabled Vecima Networks to drive its manufacturing costs closer than ever to the ideal standard.
Analytics drives cultural change
SAS Visual Analytics has gradually begun changing the culture at Vecima Networks in significant ways. For example, the company installed a big-screen TV on its production floor showing key performance indicators, such as:
- Production goals versus demand.
- Days of inventory (how long the floor will run based on current inventory levels and capacity).
- Rolled throughput yield.
- The projected volume of inventory coming in versus production.
“We had a vision of using SAS Visual Analytics to bring data transparency to all employees at Vecima Networks,” Horseman says. “The solution proved so popular that the data began driving spontaneous business discussions. People started making evidence-based decisions based on real data that we had in our data warehouse.”
The company now uses SAS Visual Analytics to drive even greater understanding. “We really want to start telling the story of everything that we do as a company,” Horseman says. “From the very beginning of our R&D team’s production inception all the way to how happy the customer is at the very end.”
Vecima Networks’ innovation shows that analytics can be more than just a discrete project within an organization. When used to its full potential, it becomes a platform that can drive unexpected changes in the way that a company does business. Now, Vecima Networks is well positioned to get ahead of the rapid evolution in technology manufacturing.
“As we bring new products to market, we can do so in a much better way, decisively based on the data that we see from manufacturing,” Horseman says. “Our customers are going to be happier than they’ve ever been before, and we’re thrilled to be able to do that with SAS.”
- Multiple tools and spreadsheets created data siloes and governance issues, thereby limiting visibility and usefulness of operational data.
- Employees were unable to properly evaluate manufacturing performance and improve productivity.
- Data transparency and improved collaboration drive business decisions about continuous refinement of the manufacturing process.
- The cost of manufacturing is closer to Vecima Networks’ goal than ever before due to avoidance of costly defects.
- The company is well positioned to introduce new networking technologies and enhance customer satisfaction.