RFQ Cycle Time Reduction…What is The Hard Part?

Posted by Ben Biron on Thu, Feb 06, 2014 @ 03:00 PM

Whether the demand is for Fiber Optic Cable, Wire Harnesses, or RF/Microwave Cable Assemblies, everyone wants their quote within a day or two…Why is it so darn hard to achieve that on a regular basis?

With a clean handoff of contemporary, comprehensive, accurate, complete, and proper information, the goal of 24-48 hour RFQ cycle time can be achieved.

Without a clean handoff, it is virtually impossible to complete and submit a proposal with any level of predictability in terms of response time. 

Communicating the demand and technical requirements to Cable Assembly suppliers is typically achieved through the use of an RFQ, an Outline drawing, and a Bill of Materials. Other requirements are often added, such as First Article Inspections, Environmental Screening, Electrical Performance Verification, etc. These requirements are sometimes attached as part of a Statement Of Work, as separate line items within the RFQ, or as Quality Clauses included in a Purchase Order. 

Let’s take a look at the information needed to address the RFQ, and some of the most often encountered show stoppers.

There are five essential elements of Cable Assembly procurement documentation (supplied by the customer to kSARIA):

  1. Outline Drawing (OD)
  2. Bill of Material (BOM)
  3. Request For Quote (RFQ)
  4. Statement of Work (SOW)
  5. Purchase Order (PO)

Outline Drawing

The Outline Drawing (OD) is typically a pictorial representation of the finished cable assembly. The OD will include the assembly’s physical dimensions, electrical and/or environmental screening requirements, and processing notes. It is imperative that the drawing received at the RFQ stage is of the correct revision, and is totally legible. Reducing an E size drawing to an A size drawing and then faxing it is begging for a delay.  Nothing will more surely bring an RFQ to a halt than a print that can’t be read.

Bill of Material (BOM):

The BOM is a listing of materials and documents needed to complete an assembly. Components are listed by Find Number (FN) and defined by part number, description, quantity required, unit of measure, and source of supply.

The absence of any of this information is likely to cause delay in completing an RFQ. For example, a FN with a customer’s part number and a description of “Connector, RF” is of little use to the estimator without a drawing or a supplier part number associated with it.  On the other hand, a description of “Connector, RF, SMA, Plug, 0.141 S/R, 50 Ohm” is very helpful as it defines the connector type, genre, and type of cable it is used on. It is important that any customer drawings listed in the BOM be sent to kSARIA along with the RFQ

Request for Quote:

The RFQ is a summary of exactly what the customer has a demand for, usually focusing on product(s), quantity, price and delivery. Allpertinent aspects of order fulfillment should be listed within the context of the RFQ including Quality Clauses and Terms and Conditions. While the RFQ is not typically the problem, it does start the clock ticking. 

Statement of Work:

Typically a supplement to the RFQ, the SOW outlines specific tasks to be accomplished withinCable Assembly procurement documentation statement of work the scope of the procurement effort. These tasks can include extraordinary efforts such as Design Reviews, Program Management Reviews, Data requirements, qualification plans, etc. Delays can be expected if and when there is a need to negotiate the scope of the SOW.

Purchase Order:

The PO is used to define the work contract and includes hardware, software, and other cost elements needed to satisfy the procurement requisition.  As such, it must be complete and totally accurate. Of particular concern is that there exists a match between the PO and the RFQ/SOW/Quote. Any errors or omissions will result in delays in the order entry process and perhaps spill into the downstream procurement function, the actual fabrication efforts, and ultimately the On Time Delivery (OTD).

It should be noted that it’s important to realize that while it is certainly achievable to provide a quote for several cable assemblies within a few days, an RFQ with dozens of assemblies can take weeks to complete. Buyers and Sales teams need to discuss the need date, and the plan to get there, before any cycle time expectations are set.

So in Summary:

In order to achieve a 1 to 2 day Request For Quote response time, kSARIA’s engineering team is prepared to work with our customers to ensure that all drawings are available, legible, and of the current revision, that Bills of Material are accurate, reflect actual supplier part numbers, or at a minimum, include sufficient piece part descriptions to allow kSARIA’s component engineering team to research and find the exact component and supplier needed.

Given a clean documentation package including proper and thorough reference to materials and specifications, kSARIA can routinely provide a Proposal/Quote within a 24-48 hour window.

Your comments and feedback will be very much appreciated as we strive to continually improve our quote process.  Please feel free to share some of your experiences, struggles, and suggestions for reducing the cycle time for turning a RFQ into a Proposal.

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Tags: Fiber Optic Cable Assembly, RFQ Cycle Time, Cable Assembly procurement documentation