Jacqueline Hochheiser, Corporate Communications
Much of Mini-Circuits’ business centers around the manufacturing, design, and shipping of our products and the people who make these processes tick, but it all starts in one crucial place: the Knapp Street Receiving, Receiving Inspection and Kit Room departments. The receiving team greets incoming materials at the door, counts the material to make sure the order is correct, and picks a sample to send to Receiving Inspection. Receiving inspection ensures that incoming materials undergo a thorough vetting and inspection process and that the components and raw materials that pass testing are stocked in the warehouse. This enables the kit room team to carefully pick and package material for various production runs, and ship them to the appropriate Mini-Circuits facilities for assembly whether down the street at Neptune Avenue or half-way across the world in China or Malaysia.
In this way, receiving and receiving inspection act as the immune system making sure only the best materials enter the production process, while the kit room is like the beating heart driving the flow of those materials through the workflow. With tens of thousands of purchase orders processed in a given year comprising thousands of unique SKUs, maintaining quality and quick turnaround is no easy feat.
The receiving department is the true beginning of the manufacturing process, led by Nabil Mahmood, Senior Warehouse Manager. This is where shipments of raw materials needed for Mini-Circuits’ products are delivered. At the point of receipt, the team enters a Receipt-to-Dock (or “RD”), entry in the AS400 system. This logs the arrival of the material. From there, each item is given a Q-number, which becomes its identity and provides a way to track that component as it moves through the receiving department and other work stations down the production chain. A sample from the overall shipment is pulled to undergo inspection by the receiving inspection team, led by Rose Morgan, Incoming Materials Manager, to determine if the batch is good or faulty.
At this stage, the material has transferred from the receiving department to the receiving inspection department, after it gets an “RI,” or Receipt-of-Inspection. This means the material can move on to undergo the various test that operators in the receiving inspection department perform to determine if the material is of good quality or flawed in some way. This includes everything from detailed visual inspection, electrical testing, mechanical measurements and more depending on the item in question.
If the received materials pass these tests, they get a final look over before being packaged and stored in the warehouse. These materials are logged in the software system as “RP,” or receipt to production, giving the go ahead that they are fit for assembly, and to keep an account of items stocked in the warehouse. If the materials fail at any point in testing, they are brought to the DMR (defective materials report) room, where paperwork is filled out for the items to be sent back to the manufacturer. This is logged in the system as “RV,” or return to vendor.
From receiving inspection, the baton is then passed to the kit room team, led by Judy DeJoie, Kit Room Supervisor. Kit room team members have access to all the materials that passed inspection and are stocked in the warehouse. While picking and packaging material for each kit may seem straight forward to an outsider, being efficient and accurate in picking the items is trickier than it sounds. With some kits containing as many as 50 components, the members working in the kit room need to know the warehouse and the locations of each item well in order to find all the parts, log them into the software system, and package them quickly to maintain a fast turn-around.
After the kits are assembled and packaged, they are shipped to Mini-Circuits facilities across the globe that will then assemble the runs into finished goods. Some runs even pass through multiple facilities before completion. Requests for runs are sent to the kit room team from production test, via electronic request (EREQ) in the software system. Any request logged into EREQ is displayed on the kit room’s end, which includes the bill of materials needed to make the kit. The identification number from each item must also be scanned into the system as the kit is assembled, which eliminates risk of human error if the wrong item were to be picked.
As hundreds of requests are placed each week, keeping up with the quota is certainly not an easy task, but DeJoie’s team is up for the challenge and maintain a fast-paced work environment to ensure kits are shipped on time.
Kit room team members receive a comprehensive training course at the start of their tenure, to teach them how to identify part numbers, find the locations of each item, log expiration dates, and use the software interface to accurately record the components in the kits they are assembling.
Manufacturing is a core part of what we do here at Mini-Circuits and understanding how the process begins highlights our emphasis on quality and efficiency from the very start. The sheer quantity of raw materials Mini-Circuits receives each week is enough to phase even the most seasoned professional, but our capable receiving team runs like clockwork to ensure testing of these materials. By the same token, the kit room team also receives hundreds of requests each week, but their goal is to turn out kits and ship them as quickly as possible, while also maintaining strict quality control. The care and attention to detail the members of receiving and the kit room bring to task sends ripples all the way down the line, setting every unit of every run up for success from the start.