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A Better Build to Print

Elevating quality standards and expectations for contract equipment manufacturing

Modular have built their reputation on delivering innovative, bespoke solutions to complex production challenges for advanced manufacturers worldwide. However, customers return time and again because Modular also do contract equipment manufacturing to the same industry-leading high standards they’ve established for their custom solutions.

So was the case in 2016, when a long-standing customer and renowned multinational leader in medical device solutions approached Modular to replicate several machines.

The Challenge

“In medical devices the quality of the equipment is critical, our customers require a partner who is experienced in building to the highest quality standard” says Martin Dolan, Chief Business Development Officer.

Operating at their sector’s cutting-edge of innovation and solution development, the customer typically develop and build their own automation equipment. When they are at maximum capacity, however, they turn to Modular.

The Approach

When the Modular team receive a package of drawings for a contract manufacturing project, they run the plans through the same risk-assessment and quality-control processes used for custom built solutions.

This often leads to improvements in the machine’s design and engineering—a key benefit of choosing Modular as a build-to-print provider and one that’s recognised and appreciated by their customers.

“Our standards for quality and safety are the highest in our industry, which means when we’re asked to replicate a machine, we will build it better and make it safer,” explains Dolan. “Our customers know they get it back better than it was given, and we’re glad to be doing that because it helps raise standards to where we feel they should be.”

The in-house expertise of the Modular team offers a significant advantage to build-to-print customers. As drawings are evaluated, Modular identifies opportunities for improvement in both design and engineering, from wiring to tooling to the machine’s finish. The team can help machines meet regulatory requirements, such as making a solution CE compliant, and improve the drawings package for future contract jobs.

Modular’s commitment to quality extends beyond engineering and manufacturing to their project management and customer communications. Dedicated project managers organise and oversee all aspects of a job and communicate progress back to customers on a weekly basis. Often customers receive weekly photo updates of the build so they can see the work being done, including tangible improvements being made.

Modular have also invested heavily in a custom enterprise resource planning (ERP) system designed specifically for the needs of automation solution production. Key to Modular’s quality and efficiency is their well-developed supply chain, which includes the highest quality tooling manufacturers available. The scalable suppliers are situated both locally and in Malaysia, in what Dolan describes as “the Silicon Valley of tooling”, these precise, accomplished toolmakers have been supplying Modular with high-quality, reliable components since 1995.

“They’re the absolute best for tooling,” explains Dolan. “We wouldn’t think of using other suppliers. For our machines, the tooling must be the best available”.

Modular takes their contract manufacturing another step further, by conducting full factory-acceptance testing of every machine before it is shipped. Once they’ve built the contracted machines for their customer, they will install the software and test the newly improved solution. Most build-to-print manufacturers simply assemble and ship the machines; yet to Modular, the job seems incomplete if they haven’t tested the machine to ensure perfect operation.

“Even though you know the machine will work, it doesn’t seem right not to turn it on and make sure it’s doing what it needs to do,” says Dolan. “It’s just not in us to leave anything unchecked, and I think our customers really appreciate that.”

When the machines are complete, assembled, tested and shipped, Modular’s customer will have the reassurance that they received a top-quality, reliable solution that works. And when they need another contract job done, they will likely return to Modular. It’s a cycle that benefits everyone involved—and demonstrates the value of the automation leader’s commitment to quality at every step.

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This case study was written for Modular Automation, a global leader in automation technology. View the original here.