Archive for February 2017

ETCO at 70. Our Story

This year (2017) marks the 70th anniversary of ETCO Inc., our first Global Technology Partner. A partnership that spans three generations on the ETCO side, two with WPS. If you have not read our interview with John Stiness, VP of Sales, it can be found here. In recognition of this event, I thought it would be appropriate to document our journey with ETCO though more than half of the 70 years ETCO has been around.

Our connection with ETCO began several years before WPS even existed. The founder of WPS Jim Curtis, started working with the previous ETCO representative in 1973. During those years, Jim spent a considerable amount of time working with existing ETCO accounts and developing new relationships.

In 1978, Jim formed James Curtis and Associates (JC&A) and the Wire Process Specialties name was born. JC&A was awarded the representation of ETCO in Canada (known at the time as Electric Terminal Corporation).

From this time through to 1992, JC&A and ETCO built up a local Canadian division to manufacture and distribute terminals. In 1982, our first stamping press was delivered and we commenced producing terminals. For the next 10 years, we jointly grew our customers and supply of terminals across the country using our manufacturing and distribution system. A number of those customers still exist today and continue to purchase items that we produced back then.

In 1992, with new trade agreements between countries still fresh and the reality of tariff elimination in the future, the local division was consolidated into other ETCO divisions. But the relationship between WPS and ETCO continued. From the early 90’s until 2006, WPS grew the WireProcess brand name, adding complimentary lines but with ETCO as one of the flagship relationships.

In 2006, the mantle was passed to me (Terry Curtis) and I took on the responsibility to manage the relationships that have grown over the previous three decades. With solid mentor-ship built up over 25 years of service and a vision for the next stage of the company, I took on this responsibility knowing the challenges behind us and preparing for those before us. And with a resolve to see the company evolve as business conditions changed.

Some years were hard and challenges were tough to face and get through. But with every situation we encountered, the company grew stronger and I am anticipating the next stage in WPS’ journey.

With ETCO into it’s third generation and WPS into it’s second, I pause to recognize the relationships built up over these years. Solid working relationships and friendships that stand the test of time. I also remember those associates, friends that have passed on. Their legacy within ETCO are part of the building blocks of where the company is today.

So to ETCO I say Happy 70th Anniversary. I am proud to be called an ETCO representative. I believe we are always stronger when relationships run deep. In ETCO’s case and by extension our other partners, our solid business relationships mean our customers get the best of all of us. And that is a solid win for everyone.

Connect Your Way with WPS to start a dialog on your terminal requirements.

Terry Curtis

President,  WireProcess Specialties a division of TJ Curtis Technologies Inc.

What can other industries learn from Automotive standard USCAR21?

USCAR21 Title

USCAR-21 is the quality standard that can strike fear into companies who deal with automobile assembly companies.  USCAR-21 is a universal standard which applies to suppliers of electrical assemblies to The Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Companies who are not involved with automotive wire harnessing can quickly dismiss this standard as not applicable to their business and industry. Although this is true, some of the components of USCAR-21 are valuable and can be directly applied to the validation of wire terminations for any industry. Companies not considering some of the key features of USCAR21 can miss out on the benefits to quality improvement.

We will drill down to reach those best practices which can be applied to your company.

Prior to the formation of USCAR-21, each automobile manufacturer had their own testing and validation standards. The adoption of a common standard meant more efficiency in the testing process, especially for suppliers who provided wire harness across a number of automobile OEM’s listed..

The USCAR-21 standard includes mechanical and accelerated environmental tests which are designed to duplicate potential operating conditions a wire to terminal connection can experience through the expected life cycle of an automobile. Demands on the electrical system are increasing with smaller wires carrying communication signals and larger wires used in current load in applications such as EV batteries. A comprehensive standard was required to address the performance requirements through the full range of harness size and complexity. At the same time, to reduce some of the bureaucratic burden from the supplier end.

Lets bring USCAR-21 down to it’s most basic objective: Electrical connections must maintain low electrical resistance through the expected life span of an automobile. This is achieved by adhering to critical crimp design and validation criteria.

Ultimately, monitoring the crimp process during production is important to ensure specifications from the validation stage are maintained.

Here are a few considerations to the actual electrical crimp.

  • The terminal supplier’s recommended crimp height and width is the starting point of all initial and pre-production crimp validation. Wire terminations should perform acceptably though the tolerance range of the recommended terminal crimp height.
  • Crimp compression, the process of encapsulating the wire into a crimp barrel with sufficient force to deform the strands from their round shape is a major factor in acceptable electrical resistance. Compaction of the strands by 15 to 20% provides the best opportunity to pass electrical resistance testing. There is a direct correlation between the amount of wire strand compression and electrical resistance. Especially leading up to and through the above compression range.
  • Crimp barrel and wire size must be carefully matched to ensure the optimal compression is achieved. In combination with the proper crimp tool design. Factors indicating a poor wire to terminal match:
    • Wire strands under-compressed.
    • Strands not evenly distributed in the crimp barrel
    • Crimp wings curl and touch the bottom (floor) or sides of the crimp barrel.
    • Crimp wings with a gap at the top, with strands not fully encapsulated in the crimp or pressed on top during the crimp process.
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Cross Section showing under compressed strands and voids.

 

  • Serrations in the crimp are designed to break oxides present on the surface of wire strands, providing better electrical connection. Also to assist in the mechanical secure-ness of the crimp.longitudinal cross section 5

Consideration of measurement methods.

  • Crimp Height is the primary test factor in a validation and in-process measurement.

CHT Mic

  • Tensile (Pull) testing is a secondary testing method to ensure the wire termination has “sufficient mechanical strength”. It is not a determining factor of electrical performance as low or high compression can affect not only mechanical but electrical performance.WhatsApp Image 2016-11-10 at 9.31.28 AM
    • In all cases, insulation support on terminal crimps must be peeled back or not crimped at all for pull testing. Pull test readings should be made on the wire to terminal crimp only.

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  • Crimp Cross Section un-covers the actual crimp condition from wire/terminal match and crimp tool profile. As well, crimp applicator setup can be checked (i.e.: terminal feed position).

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  • Visual inspection criteria ensures the proper machine setup provides the best crimp. Visual factors of an acceptable crimp are:
    • End of wire protruding on the contact side of the wire crimp. Known as brush.
    • Insulation and wire (roughly 50:50) present in the “window” between the wire and insulation crimp.
    • Bell mouth present on insulation side of the wire crimp to protect wire stands. Bell mouth can also be present on the contact side of the wire crimp.
    • Insulation crimp wings should not penetrate the insulation and make contact with the internal stranding and should fully encapsulate the insulation.

Electrical and Electronic devices that are not assembled into an automobile will have their own performance parameters. In most cases they are not subject to temperature and humidity fluctuations that are present in an automobile. But totally dismissing good crimping practices and not applying some of these best practices can expose your products to premature failure which carries a high cost (and liability). That’s the important factor when Acting on the Cost of Quality, understanding the Benefits and avoiding the risks of Inaction.

WireProcess is equipped and ready to deploy the tools you need to take your crimp process to the next level. Connect Your Way to WPS.