Our capacity to supply major agencies and companies like NASA, ESA or OneWeb is the result of rigorous and enthusiastic teamwork. To discover the keys to this success, and how to ensure that products always arrive reliably and on time, even in situations like the present with the war between Russia and Ukraine, we interview María Márquez, Supply Chain Manager for Solar MEMS.
About María Márquez
– What is a normal day like for you as Supply Chain Manager of Solar MEMS?
The Purchasing Manager is responsible of finding, negotiating, and monitoring suppliers for orders already committed and long-term plans. In order to achieve this, the supply process must be planned and executed according to two fundamental premises: ensuring that the components are of the highest quality while obtaining them at an optimal price.
My day-to-day tasks also include all the document management for all the purchases from the moment an offer request is created in our ERP system until it reaches the point of payment to the supplier. Therefore, it is extremely important to coordinate with all departments of the company to be able to optimize the purchasing process and thus collect all the necessary information about the product/service bought.
-Broadly speaking, the job involves managing the whole supply chain from when the client places an order until it is in their hands. In the case of high-tech products, which are so delicate and often made to order like those of Solar MEMS, where are the main problems to be found? With the suppliers, the technical testing, international permits and standards…
The products that Solar Mems needs to manufacture its units are high-tech components, and to this, we must add that they are for the space sector, so it is not easy to find suppliers who have expertise in the space sector.
Furthermore, the technical requirements for the components are very specific, as they always must comply with specific regulations, in addition to being tested mechanically and thermally under extreme conditions, in order to guarantee that the final product will work properly and will be feasible.
– What is the best thing about working in Solar MEMS?
There are a lot of good things about Solar MEMS, but I would like to highlight the commitment it has to its employees and the value the company gives to the team.
It is crucial that everyone in the company feel like a part of a great team, because this way will ensure your company’s success.
– What are the main achievements of your team?
Solar Mems is known for its flexibility and ability to adapt to its customers´ needs. This allows us to achieve a very high level of compliance in the deliveries, reaching a maximum in the Oneweb project, where we have been able to complete all the deliverables without any delay.
To make this happen, it is crucial that the planning is followed, which can only be achieved through an extensive monitoring of the deliveries confirmed by suppliers.
-What are the keys to successfully ensuring that Solar MEMS’ products and services reach the client on time and with every guarantee?
In my opinion, the proactive and dynamic teamwork is essential from the time the product is in the engineering phase until it is packaged to be shipped to the customer.
Also, it is essential to surround yourself with reliable, highly qualified suppliers with whom you have mutual understanding and can turn to at critical moments to resolve complications or incidences.
About Solar Mems
– What products and services are most in demand at the moment?
In Solar MEMS, our most commercial unit is the nanoSSOC-D60 unit. It is a very small digital sun sensor that was designed to be easy to integrate (“plug & play”) in nano satellites.
We have delivered around 2000 units of this kind of product and, as it is very competitive in price and have very good reliability, we have customers all over the world that demand it.
On the other hand, our engineering support is also very well valuated by our customers. We have great experience in all engineering skills related to attitude control systems and we provide fast answers and help to our clients when needed.
– How long does it take for an order to reach a client once they have placed an order?
We can usually deliver a standard sensor within 6-10 weeks, and if the customer requires a customized product, the delivery time is between 14-18 weeks.
At Solar Mems we work proactively every day to maintain and improve these deadlines following very clear guidelines that always benefit our customers.
– Do you expect the current situation in Europe to affect the suppliers of some of the raw materials or components that Solar MEMS needs for its work?
Right now we are experiencing a critical situation regarding delivery times and prices due to the chaos caused by the pandemic.
Additionally, we must consider how this affects the recent war between Russia and Ukraine.
Following the pandemic and the resumption of the economy, there has been a lack of availability of electronic components in general.
Due to a drop in consumption, many factories closed production lines in 2020.
After a prolonged period of decrease in consumption, consumption is starting to increase again and manufacturing capacity cannot keep up with demand, so we have a big problem, several component manufacturers offer very long lead times for their products or do not guarantee a specific delivery date.
Consequently, the shortage of components is translating into price increases.
– What makes Solar MEMS products different and so attractive for some of our important clients like NASA, the ESA, OneWeb, etc?
In space sector, it is very important to have long flight heritage, that means to have a lot of hours products, operating properly while they are in orbit. In our case, we have flight heritage since 2009 and more than 2500 flight units delivered.
On the other hand, to fulfil with quality levels required and to be on time is also very important.
Solar MEMS team is young and proactive so, communication between us and our customers is very easy, and we are so flexible with all proposals we reive from their side.
– What is the next major delivery that Solar MEMS has planned for this year 2022?
We still are in the 1st quarter of the year, but we estimate to deliver around 500 sun sensors. Let’s talk again by December to check if we exceed this figure!