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Western Electronics Uses Arena Software to Control Revisions, Reduce Errors and Improve Customer Doc

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Foster City, Calif., Mar 25 - Arena Solutions, a provider of on-demand software that helps small and mid-size manufacturers manage their complex and constantly changing product record, today announced that Idaho-headquartered Western Electronics, a regional contract electronics manufacturer serving primarily the western portion of the United States, has taken a strategic step forward to advance its organization and remain at the forefront of the contract manufacturing industry, even in this challenging economy, by employing the very best business practices on behalf of its customers.

Western Electronics further boosted its competitive position by adopting Arena software, a collaborative bill of materials (BOM) and change management solution that helps the company better deliver the kind of industry-leading customer service and expertise that has earned it many lucrative long-term client relationships. Arena helps the company harness and control the tremendous amount of product data and engineering change information that Western Electronics exchanges daily with its clients to stay on track for getting their products to market in a timely, accurate and cost-effective manner.

As a contract manufacturer, Western Electronics doesn’t manufacture its own products, but instead manufactures electronics assemblies on behalf of its customers, many which are in start-up mode and often lack direct manufacturing experience. Customers regularly deliver BOMs without any consistent structure and often do not use revision control when communicating changes, putting themselves at high risk for time-draining miscommunications, costly errors and possible rework. These customers rely on Western Electronics to ensure their products are built correctly the first time and meet compliance requirements. Western Electronics, in turn, relies on Arena to help it assert control over the process and lead its customers into following the industry’s best practices.

“We have about 40 active customers between two sites in Idaho and Colorado, each with an average of six or more SKUs (stock keeping units). This means we manage more than 200 active assemblies at all times,” said Rob Subia, chief executive officer of Western Electronics. “Since margins for our industry are low, we must manage activities and expenses very tightly.”

With data complexity amplified by multiple clients and projects, Western Electronics is using Arena to help control the tremendous amount of data that is being exchanged daily. The company’s success often hinges on accuracy and timeliness—both of which can cost it and/or its customers dearly if done poorly. In this tight-margin business, when some manufacturers believe going overseas is a reasonable option, Western Electronics can’t afford to get it wrong, or the errors will quickly eat into company profits.

Arena is helping Western Electronics eliminate errors created by using ineffective desktop tools like Excel for enterprise-level activities. “I can’t believe we used Excel for so many years—it was very inefficient. The structure offered by Arena works well for us and our customers. Now, engineers, program managers, functional area managers and others who once had to dig through data to find something can go straight to it. It saves so much time, frustration and money,” said Randy Manfull, Western Electronics’ Idaho plant manager.

“There are companies that provide essentially the same services we do. However, we offer a team of professionals that have a tremendous amount of industry and manufacturing experience, and now have the tools to offer structure and ensure accuracy. Using Arena, every single one of us is well supported to do our jobs in the best possible way and help our customers bring their products to market on time and on budget. We’ve been very successful at out-servicing our competitors in the areas of delivery, quality, continuous improvement, flexibility, responsiveness and overall total cost,” said Subia.

“Western Electronics is an example of a forward-thinking, customer-centric company that, for a relatively low cost, has been able to reap the benefits of using the Arena collaborative BOM and change management solution to contribute to both its customers’ and its own success,” said Craig Livingston, chief executive officer of Arena Solutions. “With the current economic situation, we see more and more small and mid-size manufacturers taking advantage of the low cost and high return of Arena to gain a competitive edge. Implemented in a matter of weeks, Arena is a quick and easy way for companies to boost their operational efficiencies and ultimately, their bottom line.”

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