The Importance of Ramp-up and Manufacturing Agility in an Era of Mass Customization

The Importance of Ramp-up and Manufacturing Agility in an Era of Mass Customization

Agility in manufacturing can be defined as the ability of a business to respond quickly and effectively to changes in market demand so as to meet diverse customer requirements in terms of price, specifications, quality, quantity, and delivery.

Ramp-up is a key phase in the product lifecycle and plays a major role in reinforcing a company’s agility. However, manufacturing ramp-up comes with a range of complexity related to high uncertainty, lack of process maturity and required skill sets, to name just a few of the issues which must be address to ensure success. An effective ramp-up management process effectively looks beyond the obvious objectives of time, cost, and quality to also consider domain-specific expertise along with the operational and business objectives of the stakeholders.

Ramp-up Challenges

The growing demand for customized products in smaller quantities and shorter product lifecycles have led to more frequent product development and production ramp-up. Manufacturing systems have to be continuously reconfigured to meet new market or demand situations. Furthermore, several goals need to be concurrently met, such as target output volume, quality, speed, and cost-efficiency.

These objectives are challenged by uncertainties related to both external factors (e.g., market volatility, product lifecycles, etc.) and internal factors (e.g., low process maturity, assembly complexity, etc.). Ineffective strategies to address these potential challenges can result in low production yields, equipment breakdowns, slow set-up times, component and sub-assembly quality issues, as well as production delays due to supply chain interruptions.

These challenges are further heightened when ramp-up operations are not staffed with the right skills and experience. The intrinsic uncertainties associated with ramp-up situations, specifically those with low production quantities and short product lifecycles, require a degree of domain-specific expertise to minimize risk and more realistically estimate cost, time and resource requirements. Therefore, aggressively identifying and addressing ramp-up challenges as early in the process as possible is more important than ever in this era of rapid product innovation and mass customization.

Agility Solutions

At Suntek Global, we know that time, cost and quality are the main concerns for most decision-makers during the product ramp-up phase. However, ramp-up in the context of low-volume production settings (e.g., high levels of product variety and customization), involves additional inherent complexities which we have learned, through experience, how to successfully address to meet our customer requirements. These potential ramp-up complexities include volume uncertainties, lack of device-specific process maturity, and required skillsets. We take a three phase approach to effectively addressing these concerns.

Organizational Agility

Suntek Global has invested in resources which support both scalability and convertibility required for production ramp-up in an HMLV manufacturing environment. Our assembly line flexibility, via the reconfigurability of our production automation equipment, puts a priority on productivity and quality to maximize throughput during ramp-up.

In addition to this flexibility, our supply chain relationships are a critical factor for meeting our ramp-up objectives and reducing time-to-market. We have fostered strong, collaborative relations and actively involve our suppliers in early ramp-up planning to ensure cost and delivery requirements can either be met or workarounds identified in advance.

Risk & Resource Assessment

Early in the product development process, our project and production management teams proactively commence ramp-up planning in collaboration with our clients. Our experience has shown that plan reliability increases and process “unknowns” are fewer and less costly when planning is commence at the inception of the project.  Many of our clients are in environments where ramp-up is recurrent and products often reconfigured to meet new market requirements. Therefore, clearly identifying and addressing ramp-up challenges early is now more important than ever.

Tribal Knowledge

Ramp-up is a key phase in a product’s lifecycle and the ability to successfully manage this phase plays a major role in a company’s overall competitiveness. Due to the intrinsic lack of process maturity for new product ramp-ups, experience and skills transfers are essential for success. This process becomes even more complex with the increasing demand for customized products.

At Suntek Global, our 20+ years of accumulated ramp-up “Tribal Knowledge” (i.e., internal knowledge which is iteratively improved and applied to subsequent projects/processes) has made us highly effective at handling diverse product ramp-ups efficiently and seamlessly.


Contact us to learn more about how our agile ramp-up management can help your firm, in a more effective and structured manner, deal with product ramp-up in this era of mass customization and shorter product lifecycles.

Suntek Global

Proper Handling of Humidity Sensitive Components

Proper Handling of Humidity Sensitive Components

Components are an important component of electronic products. The quality of electronic components has a direct impact on the reliability of a final product.  The handling of certain types of electronic products at every point in the supply chain has a great impact on their ability to perform as expected. Unfortunately, we’ve found that the mishandling of a lot of these parts can lead to serious oxidation to the point where the component can be unusable. Since we’re often consigned parts, this can easily happen to parts that are sent to us from customers. When this happens, it’s a significant waste because, oftentimes, the parts cannot be used. Even if they are used, the reliability cannot be guaranteed and, as often is the case, they may not even make it through SMT. It’s a less serious problem for high volume components, but it’s a huge issue for small lot, high value components. Therefore, it’s important to take proper care in handling these. That’s he topic we’ll explore today. 


1. Storage requirements

The first step in proper handling is proper storage when not being actively used. These types of components should either be stored in 

  1. in the vacuum packaging bag with desiccant storage (generally silica or some derivative) or
  2. stored in a drying chamber (humidity <10%rh)


If no dry storage cabinets are available, then a minimum of  requirements should be observed in the storage area: 

  1. The warehouse must have basic temperature and humidity control at a temperature: 23℃ (±3℃) and a humidity: 30%~40%rh
  2. The rack must be grounded, control the static electricity 
  3. If the package has been opened, it needs to be vacuum sealed and have a tracking card to verify when it was sealed. Temperature of the drying cabinet : 23℃ (±3℃), Humidity: <10%rh

The SMT factory should also observe these requirements for transportation and storage of humidity-sensitive components in their workshop.

2. Usage requirements

Opening the shipping box must be done carefully in order only to cut the tape and not damage the components inside. Once the package is opened, the contents must checked using the humidity sensitive card that should be contained inside. This needs to be in the normal range. If the dot is blue, it generally signifies normal. In the red ranges means its been in a damp environment. This is the first step in making sure the parts are ready for use. 

If the production process is interrupted and the components must be exposed for more than 5 hours, then the humidity sensitive components must be sent back to dry storage until production can continue. If the components are opened at room temperature in an environment of 10% RH, then they can be used again within 12 hours. If they are exposed for longer, they can be put into a 60℃ oven for 4 hours to be prepared for placement. Below are some guidelines for drying these components if they have been exposed to limited moisture.

As is is the case with all electronics, assembly, welding/soldering, repairs, and other operations should be done in strict accordance with ESD guidelines so as to not damage the components with static discharge. In addition, it’s recommended that the final assembled board be tested bare and in it’s packaging before using an ion spray to eliminate excess static charge.

3. How Does Suntek Global Handle Your Components

When components are ordered through Suntek Global, our supply chain ensures that sensitive components are handled correctly throughout their storage, handling, and shipment. Once at Suntek Global, we store all humidity sensitive components using proper precautions (as outlined above). We also require that all SMT facilities that service our customer products also adhere to proper handling guidelines. 

If components are consigned to us, then it is the responsibility of the customer to ensure that the components are handled properly between their supplier and our stock room. Once they arrive here, the components will endure an IQC process to confirm they have not been subjected to any undue stress, moisture, or other factors that could make them unsuitable for assembly. 

If you have a project that has sensitive components that you’d like us to help make a reality, please contact us