EchoStar: The Future of Supply Chain Management Done Right

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The supply chain is a challenging process for many companies to manage. Starting with the wrong supplier can lead to severe consequences. The I-Connect007 team recently set out to look at which challenges and issues are plaguing the supply chain by conducting a survey across our readership. Overall, the results indicated that delivery time was one of the largest areas of frustration, along with product quality. We also asked specifically what our readers would like to learn to improve their supply chain management.

Aside from the role of a supply chain manager, best practices were mentioned many times. We invited a few experts to share their knowledge on this topic, but aside from that, I set out to find an OEM that was really utilizing best practices and would openly share their strategies with our readers. I like to say the universe always provides and, as it turns out, the OEM found me.

My good fortune came about on a flight from San Francisco to Shanghai, when three gentlemen sat down next to me. I overheard from an inquiring flight attendant offering preflight beverages that they manufactured product for Dish Network and were heading to China for some meetings. When the flight attendant turned her attention to me and asked if I was also with Dish, I told her that I was in the publishing industry.

As people always do, she went on to ask what I publish, and I gave my usual answer, "Magazines for the electronics industry, but nothing you would know." One of the three guys across the aisle asked the name of the publication and when I told them, they said, "We love that magazine!" As we got to know each other, it turned out that not only were they readers of our magazines, but they were with EchoStar, the manufacturing and satellite half of Charlie Ergen's satellite empire, responsible for producing all of Dish Network’s satellite set-top boxes, and a company that purchases a remarkable $100 million worth of PCBs every year.

This is how I came to meet Les Beller, Andy Thomson and Micah Moore. They explained that they were on their way to Shanghai to meet with a couple of their EMSs. Our conversation led to the supply chain and the challenges that I had learned about in our recent survey.

With 14 hours left to Shanghai, I asked Les if he might be interested in doing an audio interview, which we completed on the plane. I quickly realized from our discussion that EchoStar isn’t your typical OEM. They take supply chain management to a whole new level. Without hesitation, Andy invited me to come visit their EMS partner in Shanghai, DD & TT Electronic Enterprise (DD&TT), to take a look at what they are doing. He assured me that I would be very impressed as DD&TT was the first and, at that point, only EMS supplier to receive the coveted EchoStar Diamond award. I knew my search for finding the right OEM for this article had been realized—all because of my seating arrangement on a flight to Shanghai.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of SMT Magazine.


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