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2Maximizing Economic Potential
The Cicor Group understands that prolonged planning is only possible when the company is financially stable in the short, medium and long term. It knows that a strong financial position creates flexibility for strategic decisions. This is accomplished by providing customers with high-value materials that enable Cicor to achieve good margins on manufactured products. Furthermore, the Group recognizes that efficiency in tooling management will lead to faster setup and production and that increasing productivity will strengthen the Group’s capability to produce more with no capital investment.
Cicor implements a multilevel approach to manage its economic performance. In addition to constantly reviewing prices, the Group analyses requests for quotes (RFQ) in relation to business segment, technology and competitive environment. Cicor also ensures all managers are aware of assets and expenses when making managerial decisions, and share information with key managers in monthly meetings. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are in place to monitor the Group’s economic performance, including measuring sales performance and Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT). Cicor also compares its actual production output against planned output.
In 2022, our production site in Arad introduced an internal continuous improvement department. The aim of the department is to identify and implement possible improvements to processes in order to enhance efficiency and resource consumption in the company. The production sites in Bedford and Suzhou, on the other hand, focused on cost control. In Bedford, one of the measures taken was to consolidate customer deliveries in order to reduce shipping costs, while in Suzhou a project was carried out that resulted in cost savings and higher productivity in spare parts manufacturing.
2.2Customer value creation
The Cicor Group is a service provider, and as such, creating value for its customers is a prerequisite for establishing and maintaining long-term partnerships. Customer acquisition is a crucial component of Cicor’s business plan – the company works hard to win customers and projects in the medical, industrial, aerospace, and defense sectors, in both production and development phases. Long-term customer retention is then achieved through high production quality and close customer contact. Key elements in value creation for customers include having highly qualified employees, using high-quality materials with high availability at the best possible prices, and committing to technological leadership and continuous process optimization.
To maintain Cicor’s position as a market leader, creating customer value by boosting customer satisfaction, improving customer experience, providing additional service benefits, and eliminating wasteful processes are all important. Cicor will accomplish this by shortening delivery times, developing a superior supply chain, and pursuing competitive costs for materials.
Cicor implements growth targets to measure and expand on its value creation for customers. To develop close relationships with its customers, the company ensures customers are listened to and their needs are clarified. The Group emphasizes delivery of goods and services at the agreed level of quality, quantity and timing, while seeking out ongoing customer feedback and responding accordingly.
While Cicor’s reaction time continues to be somewhat affected by global issues regarding long lead times for raw materials and availability issues for electronic components, Cicor’s services have been maintained without interruption.
Cicor maintains regular alignment with customer requirements throughout the organization by ensuring customer consulting, supplier management and operational excellence. For example, the production site in Bedford held purchasing meetings with customers and worked with suppliers to align on supply chain objectives. This cooperation not only increased customer loyalty, but also led to cost savings for Cicor and its customers.
Cicor endeavors to solve its customers’ challenges by helping customers address issues they cannot resolve themselves or by finding more affordable solutions than they can access on their own. The Group increases customer satisfaction by improving efficiency, reducing costs, and upgrading quality, while respecting the relevant standards and laws and ensuring compliance with regulations and rules.
Cicor pushes for stronger customer relationships with better communication and continuous technology exchanges. This can lead to a greater understanding of customer needs and enables more foresight and flexibility. Additionally, the Group is striving to reach its full potential by improving its business selection and introducing a design-to-manufacture approach. Cicor uses customer input for its innovation and development planning, with a portion of its innovation initiatives focused on novel processes and newly available materials.
Progress on Cicor’s customer goals is monitored through KPIs, including on-time delivery (OTD), customer complaints, revenue increment tracking, first pass yield and quality reporting, response time, technical competence, product quality and lead time, as well as an annual customer survey. For example, every year the production site in Arad aims to reduce the average number of customer complaints per month compared to the previous year. In 2022, this target was achieved. In Bedford, the rolling twelve-month average for both delivery and quality performance exceeded 99% in the reporting year. This was achieved through customer focus and a culture of continuous improvement. Cicor also takes recommendations from customer audits to improve the company and its services.
2.3Product quality and compliance
Poor product quality harms not only the customer’s reputation, it also damages Cicor’s. Therefore, delivering high-quality products is a non-negotiable aspect of Cicor’s competitiveness. Providing superior performance that meets its customers’ expectations is crucial. The Group seeks to perpetually expand its know-how and technological capabilities and develop innovative applications with improved performance from new materials. The Group believes that quality is achieved by processes rather than inspections, and thus has implemented safe working practices as a way to maintain and improve quality control.
Cicor’s customers trust the company to comply with their requirements and specifications, while ensuring that products are produced in adherence to all relevant laws and regulations. In particular, since Cicor is delivering to the aerospace, defence and medical markets, quality is an extremely high priority.
ISO 9001, 14001 and 45001 certifications also reassure customers that Cicor has a well-managed system to ensure high product quality. As part of the certified quality system, all responsibilities are defined and employees must qualify on the required skills, including retraining within a defined time interval. All Cicor’s processes are documented in detail and their observance is regularly audited.
The Group has clearly defined work instructions and processes to comply with specifications, as well as an extensive quality management and approval process in the production phase. Cicor’s Integrated Management System provides process descriptions, behaviors and responsibilities assigned as per a RACI matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed). Policies and processes for the handling of chemicals and hazardous substances according to the European Union REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) and RoHS directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment), conflict minerals and other regulated substances are also implemented.
Materials are purchased from authorized sources with quality guarantees. The Group fosters a strong network of material suppliers to maintain its place at the cutting edge of the latest technical trends.
The Group verifies that its product quality and compliance are managed effectively with a series of KPIs, including defect rates, such as parts per million (ppm), number of complaints, and non-quality cost. For some product certifications there are periodic third-party audits. Moreover, suppliers are rated by key customers using a scorecard that covers all relevant business parameters, such as pricing, OTD, technical support and innovation.
Cicor holds monthly management meetings, during which KPI achievement within the ISO 9001/13485 certifications and customer audits is assessed.
Engineering is fundamental to the Cicor Group. Around 200 well-trained engineers with interdisciplinary competencies work on customer projects, making the engineering department a unique selling point of the company. In many cases, engineering is the primary entry point for Cicor’s customers. Cicor’s engineers support the Group’s customers in the areas of hardware and software engineering, printed circuit board (PCB) layout and component selection, test engineering, tool design, printed electronics, and process and quality management throughout the entire product life cycle.
Usage of green technology or the level of energy efficiency is largely based on the product design, which is carried out exclusively by Cicor’s customers. However, Cicor’s manufacturing approach with customers enables the company to positively influence the manufacturability of the products and their production efficiency. Cicor chooses technologies and production methods that use fewer valuable resources, reducing material consumption and minimizing waste, such as the miniaturization of circuits, or consolidating the type of chemicals used in production, using one rather than multiple types of coating material. In addition to decreasing the use of these materials, the Group also reduces dross and reprocessing cost. The implementation of requirements such as energy efficiency and green technologies is verified at the customer project level.
The Group has interdisciplinary teams driving the implementation of new technologies. Cicor constantly evaluates new process materials and methods with continuous improvement programs to reduce scrap rates, increase yield and first pass yield rate, and decrease the amount of wasted materials. As responsibilities and processes are defined during the development phase, the requirements and standards are identified by the customer and are largely their responsibility. However, in addition to this, Cicor conducts in-depth verification of engineering requirements.
For innovation projects, Cicor undertakes milestone planning and monitoring. In the reporting year the engineering pipeline was well-filled, and thus many products were developed and improved. Cicor has noted that its customers’ requirements for energy efficiency are increasing, especially in connection with the Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity.