Business conditions are more competitive than they ever have been. Global sourcing has placed extra price pressure on companies. Competitors domestic and offshore are lobbying for business which was once secure. Profit margins are slim with little or no margin for error. Manufacturing in North America has unique challenges and those challenges are especially acute within the wire processing industry.
Regardless of the region a company is based, there is one common objective each company has. That is finding the best processing solution that will optimize their production efficiency while lowering overall processing costs. And making the best use of people resources. The purpose of this article is to outline some of the processing types, offer examples of those processing types related to wire processing and guidelines for application.
Manual Processing Tools.
Manual tools are the most basic of processing types. One person and one tool process a single step in an assembly process. Manual assembly is used in low volumes assembly, where access is restricted or where the tool needs to be brought to the work. Worker fatigue can be a factor in the use of manual tools. This can affect overall output and quality as volumes increase. Excellent processing solutions for companies who process low volumes in a high value added production envirnoment. Examples of manual tools include hand crimp tools, heat guns, wire strippers and wire cutters. High production flexibility with manual tools. Minimal set up and maintenance time. Acquisition cost is low.
Single Process Bench Tools.
Single Process Bench Tools extend the manual process to a bench processing machine. One person and bench processing machine process a single step in an assembly process. Output is moderately higher than a manual process, but operator fatigue is much lower and quality is higher due to the power assist and repeatibility of these units. High flexibility with single process bench tools, minimal to moderate set up time especially with newer motorized units. Minimal maintenance time. Examples of single process bench tools include wire cutters, wire strippers, wire crimping (loose piece and reel mounted contacts) and heat shrink processing machines. Acquisition cost is low. Ultrasonic wire splicing and laser wire stripping are other example of a single process bench tool but the acquisition costs for these solutions are higher.
Multi-Process Bench Tools
Multi-Process Bench Tools combine two or more processing steps into one machine type. One person and processing machine process a multiple step in an assembly process. Output is much higher than with more than one assembly machine processing the same steps. Processing time and labour content is lower than with manual or single processing bench tools. Set up and maintenance skills are higher while operator skills are moderately higher. Examples of multi-process bench tools are wire and tube measure to length and cut, wire measure to length cut and strip, coaxial wire strippers and terminal stripper-crimpers. Acquisition cost is moderate.
Wire Processing Automation
Automation combines many processes into a single automation system. One operator monitoring output and unloading finished leads. Output is generally designed for high volume global production. Due to quick change press applicator bases and programmable motorized machine motions, set up is quick so lot sizes can be reasonably smaller. Set up, operation and maintenance skills are high. Examples of processes which are typically automated include terminal crimping, wire doubling (two of the same wires crimped to one terminal), wire twist flux and tin, ultrasonic wire tipping and weather seal insertion. Acquisition cost is high.
Installation, training and ongoing support
In all categories, proper training services are critical. The first 30 to 60 days of an installation are important especially in the automation category as the business adapts to the new installation and personnel get used to the operation of the equipment. A good supplier commits to ensuring the installation to operation period and beyond goes smoothly and they resolve routine questions or issues as they occur.
WireProcess Specialties supplies wire processing solutions from our Global Technology Partners Group. We have over 3 decades of service to our valued customers. Connect Your Way to find our how WPS can support your processing requirements.