It happens. A client comes to us with a truly enormous project and a seemingly impossible deadline. To ensure that aggressive timelines are always met in these cases, Columbia Tech is able to leverage the capabilities of its deep “bench” of strategic suppliers.
When a global leader in the IT sector recently engaged Columbia Tech to engineer and produce a cloud-computing, mobile data center solution for what would turn out to be the biggest project of its type in that well-known company’s history, the tight delivery schedule made it necessary to secure assistance from our preferred suppliers list. In other words, we brought in a talented player off the bench to help.
In 2013, Columbia Tech (then known as DCI Engineering) asked Fourstar Connections to support prototype builds that required 100 assembly configurations to be outfitted. Their ability to create engineering processes, provide design for manufacturability recommendations, and fast-turn manufacturing while utilizing manufacturing locations in Hudson MA, Hartford, CT, and Tijuana, Mexico, enabled on-time delivery.
Flexibility and the ability to makes decisions and changes while working within a very tight timeline were the two top criteria necessary to navigate through the layered reach of this project. Early in the process, it was recognized that a collaborative, proactive approach to resolve engineering challenges, in real-time, was necessary to maintain the schedule. To ensure technical inquiries could be addressed without delay, Columbia Tech placed an engineer in Fourstar’s facility. This open line of communication also extended to the procurement and program management arms of the project. Both companies understood the constraints of the rapid development cycle and they worked in tandem with mutual trust and respect for each other’s expertise.
By the end of the project, Fourstar had produced over 500 individual configurations of cable and electro-mechanical assemblies. The “time to market” timeline was critical; the first delivery deadline was within weeks of the first contact between the two companies. Fourstar built the first prototypes within that time frame, and from March 1 to October 15 completed two additional builds—manufacturing 39 sets, for a total of 13,200 assemblies.
The System 1 build (24 systems consisting of 300 configurations for a total of 7,200 assemblies) was completed in just four months. The initial engagement to first article was five weeks. System 2 required more content and approximately 200 new configurations. The System 2 build (15 systems consisting of 400 assemblies for a total of 6,000 assemblies) started mid-August and completed in October of 2013.
The end result was a project that met all deadlines and cost targets and exceeded the end customer’s expectations. Columbia Tech was able to deliver on a commitment to our customer, once again fulfilling our Time to Market at WARP SPEEDTM pledge, because we knew that we could do it with Fourstar as a valued component supplier.
In times like these, our customers find it reassuring that Columbia Tech has such a deep bench of talent from which to draw.