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Humans of Velodyne: Nancy Rhoads
May 13, 2022 | By Velodyne Lidar
Nancy Rhoads, Senior New Product Introduction (NPI) Planner for Velodyne Lidar

Planning for Success in Lidar Sensor Production

Velodyne has an unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality lidar sensors. Nancy Rhoads, our Senior New Product Introduction (NPI) Planner, plays an essential role in helping us delivering on this commitment. She facilitates the transition of our new products into the production environment at Velodyne and with our contract manufacturing partners Nikon and Fabrinet.

Nancy Rhoads has been with our company for over four years, working to help ensure all resources are in place to move new products into a controlled production process and meet supply chain needs. She plans and manages the release of work orders and build plans to support our overall sensor production plans.

We sat and chatted with Nancy to learn more about her and how our global manufacturing supports our growing business.

Q: How did you get into production planning?

Nancy: I kind of fell into production planning in my first job out of college. I was a business major at Cal Poly and didn’t really know what part of “business” I wanted to pursue. I landed a job at Amdahl and spent 11 years there learning about high tech production planning and master scheduling.  After a (long) break staying home with my kids, Velodyne gave me an awesome opportunity to re-enter the workforce.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you in your role at Velodyne?

Nancy: Like a lot of the Operations team, I start my day with the daily production morning meeting. We discuss the build plans, quality concerns, upcoming process/engineering changes and make sure we are all on the same page. I spend time making sure Alen Mekertichian, our Director of Production, has the material he needs to build our products in the right quantity and timing. 

I identify any potential shortages and work with purchasing and our contract manufacturers to resolve issues and provide forecasts. I work with the program managers and engineering to make sure supply chain and Operations are in the loop on upcoming design releases and product builds.  

During my day, I answer a LOT of emails, slacks and in person questions regarding our inventory and our ability to meet our production goals. One of my favorite parts of the planning role is that I get to interact with many different departments and people all day long.  

Q: We have strategic manufacturing partnerships with proven global suppliers. How do they help us reliably produce sensors at scale?

Nancy: As our sensors move through the PLC (product life cycle) and the design and output become stable, we are intentionally moving the production and test of sub-assemblies and full sensors to our contract manufacturers. We count on them to leverage their manufacturing expertise to provide quality sensors at lower costs. 

Q: Disruptions in global supply chains are in the news. How are we navigating supply chain challenges to deliver high-quality sensors that meet customer demand?

Nancy: Yes this is a huge concern within the organization and Tom O’Brien and his supply chain team are working diligently with all our suppliers to first identify the upcoming supply risks, and then work to mitigate the problems. The biggest hitters right now are mostly integrated circuit (IC) chips. We have a “tiger team” meeting multiple times a week to track shortages, find brokers and other supply, and coordinate with engineering any possible alternative part solutions. The team is doing a great job helping us deliver quality sensors to our customers on time. 

Nancy Rhoads with her husband

Q: Please share a little about your life outside the work world.

Nancy: I like to keep busy and active! I power walk several times a week after work with friends and enjoy pickleball, tennis and a lot of volleyball. My hubby and I play in a weekly volleyball league and travel several times a year for senior tournaments. I am also an avid reader and enjoy a monthly book club with my girlfriends. I have 2 grown kids – my daughter lives in Florida and just got engaged, and my son is a recent UCLA graduate working in Southern California.

Nancy Rhoads in Florida with her family
Nancy Rhoads with her family

About Velodyne Lidar

Velodyne Lidar (Nasdaq: VLDR, VLDRW) ushered in a new era of autonomous technology with the invention of real-time surround view lidar sensors. Velodyne, the global leader in lidar, is known for its broad portfolio of breakthrough lidar technologies. Velodyne’s revolutionary sensor and software solutions provide flexibility, quality and performance to meet the needs of a wide range of industries, including robotics, industrial, autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Through continuous innovation, Velodyne strives to transform lives and communities by advancing safer mobility for all.

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