UK: BEST FACTORY AWARDS 1995 - ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY - HIGHLY COMMENDED.

UK: BEST FACTORY AWARDS 1995 - ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY - HIGHLY COMMENDED. - AT&T Global Information Solutions

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

AT&T Global Information Solutions

AT&T Global Information Solutions

Activity: Manufacture of automated teller machines

Task: Production of complex and innovative equipment on tight lead times for despatch worldwide

Complexity: High

Size: 700-plus employees

Outstanding Features: Breadth of technologies, just-in-time purchasing, ability to cope with fluctuating demand

Hole-in-the-wall cash dispensers - more correctly known as automated teller machines, or ATMs - are among the more anonymous devices in common use. No one seems to know who makes them.

For the record, some 40% of the worldwide installed base is produced in Dundee by AT&T Global Information Solutions (formerly part of NCR, before that company's acquisition by AT&T). The factory is Scotland's seventh biggest exporter - and second biggest exporter of IT. A further 30,000 ATMs were dispatched last year.

Although 'highly commended' in our Electronics and Electrical category, the factory was also a contender for the Engineering sector award. It possesses electronics and mechanical engineering capabilities in roughly equal parts: there is a sheet metal machine shop, a printed circuit board assembly plant, and other assembly, configuration and test areas - suggesting an impressive range of skills.

Since the factory has nine products but 1,129 variants, it's clear that kitting, manufacturability and configurability are of major importance. Every ATM is built to customer order, and in view of the distances involved - and the fact that sales are often made on the basis of promised delivery date - lead times are exceedingly tight. Complexity is compounded by highly variable demand, so that output ranges between 90 and 150 machines per day. There is a rigorous internal kanban system with computer-based scheduling, backed by slick just-in-time procurement of 5,300 components. It is planned that 80% of the $330 million spend will be placed with 30 or so suppliers - compared with the current 42.

An executive explains that the bonuses of the plant's senior managers are calculated on the basis of 'measured customer delight, employee delight, revenue growth and profit growth'. Each is weighted at 25%, with the 'employee delight' factor being taken just as seriously as the others. All full-time staff (700 or so core employees may be supplemented by up to 250 temporary workers) are eligible to attend a degree-level course at a local university. Three secretaries gained MBAs in this way - they are secretaries no longer.

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