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.

Global Technology Partners in Focus: Wezag Tools

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Wezag Tools is a valuable Global Technology Partner to Wire Process Specialties. Wezag is a global leader in loose piece crimping solutions. Our customers appreciate the quality of tooling and equipment that is used in their assembly processes.

I am pleased to introduce Mike Lobkovich, Vice President for Wezag Tools in the USA.  Mike has agreed to contribute to our Focus series. Thank you for your time Mike.

WPS: Mike, can you give us an overview of the Wezag Product line.

ML:  WEZAG’s focus is the design and manufacture of ratcheting specialty tools used in 3 critical applications.   Cable cutters, which are used by the utility and industrial industries to cut stranded cable ranging from 32 – 100mm in diameter, crimp tools used by the electrical and electronic industries for termination of open and closed barrel terminals and compression tools used by the plumbing industry.

Crimp Tools are our largest and most diverse market in the areas of customer base and applications.   We offer both a scissor and straight action frame to provide our customers with high quality and repeatable performance.   Because we have standardized our frames we can offer our customers flexibility to perform many applications

One of our key benefits is that we allow the die set to be removed from the hand tool and then inserted into our portable and benchtop power solutions.

WPS: Can you outline the Wezag locations here in North America and internationally.

ML:   Since 1949, WEZAG has been headquartered in Stadtallendorf, Germany which is 60 miles northeast of Frankfurt.   Our facility provides 100,000 square feet of floor space for our manufacturing, engineering and Sales & Marketing teams. 

WEZAG is a vertically integrated manufacture.  Outside of raw material and packaging, we machine, mold, and assemble over 1,000,000 hand tools per year. 

WEZAG’s North American Headquarters is in Naperville, IL which is 35 miles west of Chicago.    WEZAG’s first North American facility opened in 1987 in Addison, IL.   Opened in March of 2011, the Naperville facility provides WEZAG with enhanced office and inventory space convenient for our employees and local customers.

WPS: The Naperville IL office is the North American office for Wezag. On top of managing the customer base domestically, do you maintain an inventory of tools and machines?

ML:    We opened the Naperville facility with the intention of supporting both the existing customer base and allow for expansion with new customers.    Manufacturing is currently centered in Germany but we offer added value capabilities here in Naperville.   We have a large inventory of both frames and dies which gives us the flexibility to assembly tools to meet the customer application. 

Our inventory philosophy is based upon the understanding that when a customer needs a tool they need it today not 8 weeks from now.

The Naperville facility allowed us implement a “Demo Room” where customers can visit to see the tooling options as well as bring in their applications for review.   

WPS: As mentioned, Wezag supplies loose piece crimping solutions. Can you describe the range of processing capability for the hand and bench based tooling platforms.

CS30 Hand Crimp Tool

CS30 Hand Crimp Tool

ML: Loose piece crimping is a challenge for any OEM and Sub-Contractor.    The Quality Department is concerned about the integrity of the crimp while manufacturing is focused on the process and potentially the consequences of the process mainly carpal tunnel syndrome   

Semi-Automatic and Fully Automatic applications provide high quality and repeatable terminations through the use of specially designed applicators. The loose piece sector is not as defined so WEZAG’s goal is to provide our customers and their end users with comparable terminations.   

I feel many people under estimate the amount of engineering that goes into each crimp tool we manufacture.    If you start to map out all the different parameters in loose piece crimping you can quickly see the value of having a company like WEZAG as a partner.

Here are some of the parameters we consider when designing a crimp tool.

  • Wire Size: AWG or mm2
    • WEZAG views wire size in 3 categories
      • 30 – 20               Mostly Electronics   Carry more data than power
      • 18 – 10                  Industrial Applications    More Power than Data    
      • 8 – 4/0+ High Power and Voltage Applications 
  • Open or Closed Barrel
    • Open Barrel
      • Center conductor crimp and insulation crimp completed during the same cycle
      • Each has their own unique crimp attributes
      • Wire Stop and / or terminal locator
        • To support the repeatability of the crimp from terminal to terminal and operator to operator
      • Closed Barrel
        • Bare conductor inserted into 1 crimp barrel
        • With or without insulation sleeve
          • 10 AWG and Higher      Hand Tool Comfortable
          • 8 AWG and bigger Powered solution needed
        • Frame Style
          • Scissor Action
          • Linear or Straight Action Crimping Process
            • Provides uniform crimping force on all die pockets

A key benefit I mentioned early regarding WEZAG is the ability for the die set to “migrate” from a hand tool frame to a powered solution.    This further increases the repeatability and safety of the crimping process.   We cover the full range of applications listed above and can support your requirements from 1 tool to 100 tools.  

WEZAG’s powered solutions range from portable to benchtop.     Portable in the sense that the application requires you to bring the crimp tool to the work and benchtop in the sense that you bring the work to the crimp tool.   Machine set-up from terminal to terminal is as easy as changing the die set.   Powered solutions can be segmented the following way.

UP60 Pneumatic Crimp Press.

UP60 Pneumatic Crimp Press.

Force Generation

  • Rechargeable Battery Hydraulic Pump
    • Portable Solutions
  • Benchtop Solutions
    • Pneumatic
    • Electric
    • Hydraulic

Crimp Force

  • 5 Tons (Electric and Pneumatic)
  • Most hand tools generate about 2 Tons of crimp force. Customers can use these machines in a “High Mix, Low Volume” crimp application where only a die set is needed between applications or a “Low Mix, Medium Volume” crimp application where they want to ensure the repeatability of the crimp process and protect their labor force from the risks of repetitive motion injuries
  • 4 – 5 Tons (Pneumatic)
  • Larger terminals down to 6 AWG
  • “High Volume – Low Mix”
    • Dedicated machine set up for each terminal
  • 5 Tons (Pneumatic)
    • 8 – 4/0 AWG
    • Terminal construction can define largest AWG
    • Battery and High Voltage Applications
    • Flexibility provided by adapters for industry standard die sets
  • 13 – 19 Tons (Hydraulic)
    • Very large terminals used in power generation

WPS: WPS provides customers with the support they need and resources required to successfully operate their business.  How does support like what WPS offers its customers fit into the overall business approach of Wezag?

We identify ourselves as an engineering and manufacturing company with the goal to be the preferred supplier of loose piece crimp solutions.   Because of this philosophy we are seen more as a partner than a supplier.   Our process is to understand your production challenge and then provide solutions for you to consider.   We are also involved in the implementation process to ensure that the operators are happy with the tools.   We look to be a long- time partner for each customer

WPS: Any new products that have been introduced recently that you can share with us?

ML: Being an engineering focused company we are constantly looking towards innovation.  From manufacturing practices to alloy composition we constantly strive to enhance our products.    Some areas always under consideration are the following.

  • Ergonomics
    • Weight, Balance, Hand Force
    • LED Lighting in critical crimp areas
  • Production / Quality Management
    • Cycle Counter
    • Crimp Force Monitoring
    • Bluetooth Connectivity for quality control

A new technology that we are excited about and involved in is the development of material for 3-D Metal Printing.    Most people are familiar with 3-D Plastic printing.   Similar concept but with the result being production quality pieces such as die sets.   This will allow us to provide custom die sets within 48 hour period.

A new solution we are excited about is our CS10-APP hand tool frame.   We worked in conjunction with Delphi to develop a hand tool frame which will accept the perishable tooling (Punch & Anvil) from the applicator.   The challenge in the automotive wire harness industry is to provide production level crimps in the Post-Production environment.     Delphi recognized they had a gap in their loose piece hand tool portfolio and worked with WEZAG to bring a solution to their customers. 

Mike, thank you for your time to answer these questions and provide a peak into the operations of Wezag Tools. For more information on Wezag Tools and how WPS can help with your crimping requirements, Connect Your Way to WPS.

Counting the Cost of Quality: The Benefits

Every Decision has a cost.

This is the third and final part of our series Counting the Cost of Quality. In Part One, we discussed The Cost of Action, those decisions that are made on the basis of acting on information that has been provided. In Part Two, The Cost of Inaction covers the implications of not acting. Part Three will cover the Benefits.

As a company with a bias towards action, we consider the benefits of action far surpass the benefits of not acting. But acting after thoughtful analysis of the decision being considered. We acknowledge that any decision even a decision to act, carries some risk. Decision paralysis can take hold when the fear of making a decision is greater than not acting, part of the reason the cost of inaction can be high. We can consider as many variables as possible but there will never be enough information to completely mitigate risk from a decision.

So to consider the benefits of making a decision to act, let’s use an example of acquiring a Crimp Cross Section Lab to enhance your company’s quality process validation and monitoring capability. You have considered the upfront cost which includes the actual cost of acquisition, employee training and integration of this system into the company infrastructure. Consider the benefits which can apply to this decision:

Internally, individual employees directly involved with the new acquisition will be happy to see the company has provided new tools to help in their day to day work. As a collective, employees feel a higher sense of security that the company is investing in the company’s future.

As a company, new tools that are used can improve the overall quality of output. In the case of quality validation like our example, this provides a measurement tool to track the quality of output. Any tool to measure progress is critical (and may I say essential) to a company’s survival never mind growth.

Externally, existing customers will have a higher chance to keep existing business with your company when they see investment in infrastructure. Investments that can benefit them. And provide new opportunities to grow the business relationship through added contracts as they come up.

Potential customers will be more driven to work with you as they see investment in new infrastructure. In some cases, new processing or validating tools (like Cross Section Analysis as described) are minimum gateways to a business relationship even starting. For others, they will see your company set apart from your competition as internal investment in hard processing systems (capital) and training (human resources) are made. Where the investment is emerging and state of the art, you separate yourself from others who have not advanced as far as your company has.

These are just a few benefits to making the investment to improve quality. I am sure there are other direct and indirect benefits not mentioned.

This series was created to illustrate the opposing sides of a decision, to act on a decision or to stay the course (which in and off itself is a decision). You may not be in a position to be part of the decision making process of the company you are currently employed with. But regardless, you will be affected by any decision (or non decision) made.

In a perfect world all companies will err on the side of action and see the positive aspects of acting to improve the company. But some will stay the course and not act. And may not see any difference in the short term. The same with an action decision, there may not be a positive result in the short term. But the difference will lie in the long term implications. And if I were to consider the long term survival prospects of any company, the bias toward making positive action on decisions would make me more confident in that company’s future. Certainly that is the goal for our company.

WireProcess Specialties has many decades of experience in processing and validating technology for wire processing. We are here to help in making the right decision. Connect Your Way to start the dialog.

Let’s Raise the Standard Together. Are You with Me?

As a new year comes into being, thoughts of what’s next come to mind. What does the new year hold, will it be better (or worse) than last year? How will we deal with the inevitable disappointments and challenges that come our way throughout the year. How will we celebrate the victories?

Personally I am not into New Years Resolutions, many are not fulfilled as the year comes to a close 365 days later. Much less surviving the first month of the year. I am into goal setting with a defined program which takes the goals from a spark in the mind into reality. Regardless of that, any plan is a plan to improve. And improvement creates opportunities to Raise the Standard.

So how are we as a company going to raise the standard? Very simple. By helping you raise your standard. Throughout the year, we are developing our company’s culture on the basis of one word: Help. We are interested in growing our company and it is through helping you with your company that we will grow our’s. It is not in gimmicks or self absorbed trickery to make you buy something from us. There are a lot of companies that will sink to that level. Not us, we are working to Raise the Standard.

I have seen a number of areas which improvement is needed both from ourselves and our customers. We are working on ourselves, but we can help you. Let’s Raise the Standard Together. Are You with Me?

Very shortly, we will be rolling out a new program which will be designed to help our customers. Stay tuned.

Our Global Technology Partners have been working on new innovations, processing solutions that will help your company. Some are tightly under wraps. In some cases, I have had a sneak peek. It is exciting what is coming and I am looking forward to showing these to you throughout the year.

WireProcess has over three decades of experience to offer our customers. Companies who understand the Benefits to the Cost of Quality and The Cost of Action. Come leverage our expertise as we Raise the Standard Together.

Terry Curtis

WireProcess Specialties.

Global Technology Partners in Focus: Carpenter Mfg.

Carpenter Manufacturing has been part of out Global Technology to group for over 15 years. We are proud to be associated with Carpenter and our combined efforts have provided a great number and companies with cost effective processing solutions that have reduced their costs and improved their productivity.

I am pleased to introduce Justin Strong. Justin is the Director of Sales for Carpenter. Justin is a recent member of the Carpenter team, but has made his presence felt with our customers. They appreciate his hard work and value his support. Part of the reason we have produced this Focus series is to get to know the people who customers speak to and interact with. Thank you for spending some time with us today Justin.

WPS: Like WPS, Carpenter is a multi-generation business. Can you provide a brief history of Carpenter Mfg.

JS: Carpenter is a third generation family owned and operated company. It started out of a garage and in the 1960’s moved in to our current factory in Manlius NY. Carpenter has been a leader in the wire processing industry for over 60 years!

WPS: Carpenter is in the Syracuse NY area. Can you describe where the equipment is produced and some of the in-house capabilities of Carpenter.

JS: We manufacture all units in house. Everything from the castings, machining, and assembly of all units. We engineer and do all research and development in the facility. We also make our TwinCone fiberglass wheels here which are a stable of Carpenter

WPS: Describe the range of processing solutions available from Carpenter.

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JS: Our products include measure, cut, and strip machines, automatic processors, prefeeders, dereelers, coiling machines, tubing cutters, flat cable, coaxial cable, and mutli-conductor processing machinery

WPS: Carpenter works with a team of local representatives and distributors like WPS. Can you describe how the local support this team provides can help our customers.

JS: We have a great team of knowledgeable and dependable representatives. If they are unavailable you are also able to talk to the team we have here at the factory.  We are able to troubleshoot many applications over the phone but also have staff to make appointments and come in when needed

WPS: Can you describe factory support services to our customers.

JS: We can speak on the phone or through email to help with any sort of trouble shooting. We also have information we can send out as well as replacement parts. Our team has many years of experience in this industry and try to help assist in any way possible

WPS: Any new developments you can share with us today?

JS: Carpenter is always looking for new ways to improve our process and find more solutions to our customers. We have many projects going on. The closest one we have to debuting is our new Coiling Units. In the next month or so Carpenter will be unveiling a single bowl coiling unit capable of coiling long wires. This will be a great feature for companies that are hand coiling wire after it is measured and cut. This will save much labor and help to fully automate our systems.

Thank you again for your time today Justin. WPS appreciates the value that Carpenter brings to our Global Technology Partners group. We look forward to many years of providing efficiency saving and cost reducing solutions to our customers.

For more information on Carpenter processing solutions, Connect Your Way to WPS.

Counting the Cost of Quality: The Cost of Inaction 

Every Decision has a cost.

Continuing the series Counting the Cost of Quality,  we turn from the Cost of Action in Part One to the Cost of Inaction.

So what happens when you do not act? Maintain the status quo.  I acknowledge that there are some times in a company’s history when a short term “pause” is needed. Due to uncertain economics or other external conditions. This is different from big picture inaction. In the case of quality, there is no time that a company should pause from improving quality, quality systems or understanding the changing dynamics of quality processes.

… there is no time that a company should pause from improving quality, quality systems or understanding the changing dynamics of quality processes.

In the end all decisions to act or not rest with management. And the implications of the decision (or non decision). Here are a few possible considerations and implications of not acting.

First, not taking the step of understanding the changes in quality processes and the standards that industries are using to validate and monitor quality. This can be as damaging as knowing and not acting.

Some industries are leaders in quality. And what they adopt often become best practices which other industries adopt in whole or in part. They were created for a reason. Not investigating new practices and reviewing the potential use in your organization can be a lost opportunity to become a leader in your industry. For example the Automobile Industry are widely using cross section analysis to validate, monitor and improve quality of connector crimping. With the cost of these systems coming down, it makes sense for non-automotive companies to start adopting cross section analysis.

Not investigating new practices and reviewing the potential use in your organization can be a lost opportunity to become a leader in your industry.

What if your competitor seized the opportunity to implement new quality processes? And their quality improved when they used these new tools. And they broadly publish their new capability to the world. Prompting companies (including your customers) to take notice. You are at a strategic disadvantage when your competitor gets a jump on your company.

You are at a strategic disadvantage when your competitor gets a jump on your company.

Inaction due to the cost of processing tools, systems and training ignores the long term benefit from reduced cost of processing. Scrap and rework costs can eat into profitability. A focus on quality improvement can also help to improve production efficiency.

Employees are watching. Engaging personnel in the process of quality improvement can be positive and beneficial. But when personnel see management not acting, they soon follow and productivity declines. Personnel on the factory floor are looking for individual benefit in the case of working conditions and some level of assurance the company is going all out in their efforts to maintain and grow the business.

Customers are also watching. With domestic and international competitors on your customer’s doorstep, can you afford to not consider new quality systems? And implement them into the company’s culture.

With domestic and international competitors on your customer’s doorstep, can you afford not to consider new quality systems?

Looking at the negative side of this topic is something companies do not enjoy doing. Simply put, ignoring the world changing around you or knowing and not acting is not a good business strategy. And can be damaging or fatal to a company in the long term.

The good news there is always an opportunity to turn the ship around, no matter how big the ship. Today would be a good day to seize the opportunity and start acting!

 

Global Technology Partners in Focus: Crimping and Stamping Technologies

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There are watershed moments in a company’s history, times when a single decision can change the course of a business. Such is the case with WPS in the early 90’s. When we were looking to enhance our product offering with new product lines and technology, a brochure about crimp monitors arrived in the mail. The decision to inquire about this technology led to the start of a business relationship that exists to today. And which also led to two other significant connections in Schaefer Megomat and Stapla Ultrasonics.

I am pleased to introduce Chris LaRue. Chris is the President of Crimping and Stamping Technologies and one of the hardest working people in the wire processing industry.

WPS: Thank you for taking a few moments to speak to us today Chris. You have spent your career in crimp technology. Tell us a little about your background.

CL: I am a mechanical engineer by degree and started my career at Amp Connectors (Harrisburg PA) in 1984. I was a die engineer in Amp’s high speed stamping facility. I was the first engineer to be hired in the die engineering rotational program. This was a two-year training program with assignments in stamping, injection molding, plating and assembly.

After seven years at Amp, I had an opportunity to join a small start up company supplying stamping monitoring systems.

After a few years, I made the move to form C&S Technologies. 

WPS: Can you provide a rundown of the product offering through C&S.

CL: C&S supplies solutions for validating and process monitoring for wire harness manufacturing.

WPS: Where are your facilities located.

CL: Our facilities are in Pittsburgh PA, Chihuahua Mexico, Juarez Mexico and Queretaro Mexico. Internationally we partner with True Soltec in Tokyo Japan. Also CTEC in Munich Germany. 

WPS: Automotive assembly has driven advances in crimp quality technology. Although there are several advances in monitoring and validating the crimping process, can you highlight a few significant technology advances

CL: Crimp Cross Sectioning has been a crimp development tool for several years. But it has been limited to a lab environment. Now because of cost reduction, simplicity and speed these systems have found their way to the production floor as an additional set up validation and process monitoring tool.

cross-section-273

With our pioneering efforts in the early 90’s, Crimp Force Monitors have become a core technology which is now widely used in wire processing. Required by Automotive and White Goods manufacturers.

Advances in electronics, software and wireless technology have made networking of production equipment in-expensive. And very powerful. Now you can retrieve real time data from any process, including crimping machines, ultrasonic welders, rotary assembly boards. To monitor and report machine up and down time, defects, production quantity to name few.

WPS: Do you see other industries following the Automotive lead and adopting new crimp quality technology

CL: White Goods is one industry that has seen significant improvement in the quality of their wiring systems due to them embracing new processing, harness designs and monitoring systems.

WPS: What do you see as an emerging technology in crimp technology.

CL: Crimp Cameras are now being mounted on automatic processing machines. What was not feasible ten years ago is now possible with the advanced electronics, software and camera technology. In the case of wire processing, high speed machines require ultra fast feedback to address defects such as high insulation, brush errors and deformed insulation crimp wings. We are on the cutting edge of this camera technology.

crimp-camera-1

Thank you for your time today Chris. WPS values the association we have built up over the past two decades and anticipate helping our customers adopt new and emerging technology in wire. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Global Technology Partners in Focus: Schaefer Megomat

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Schaefer Megomat has been part of the WireProcess Global Technology Partners Group for over 20 years. We have had a long and successful partnership in supplying wire processing solutions to our valued customers. And our customers have benefited by reducing their processing costs and improving their production efficiency in wire processing assembly.

We have seen a revolution in wire processing over the past 20 years or so.  From pneumatic processing machines requiring time consuming set up to servo based systems incorporating advanced micro-processors and motion control. Set up time has been drastically reduced with the introduction of these advanced system technologies.

I am pleased to introduce Todd Miller of Schaefer Megomat. Todd is the Assistant General Manager of Schaefer Megomat and oversees the automation assembly operations out of Pewaukee Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee.

WPS: Todd, thank you for speaking to us and to our WireProcess Global Community. How long have you served at Schaefer Megomat.

TM:  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk with you today.  I started my career here with Schaefer Megomat (or just Megomat at that time) back in 1997.  I have been lucky enough to hold many different titles and positions through the course of my employment, with the most recent being the AGM since 2014.  Growing up in this company has given me a unique perspective of what it takes to bring our customers a quality product from all sides of the business.   

WPS: Schaefer Megomat is part of the Schaefer Group. Can you expand on the company’s operations and global product offering.

TM:  The Schaefer Group purchased Megomat USA back in 2005.  We feel this partnership gave us an instant global presence and added to the stability and variety of products and services that we are able to offer to our customers.  With the acquisition, the Schaefer group can offer our customers everything from small hand held wire stripping devices, all the way up to multi-function, autonomous special machines designed specifically for a customer’s applications and needs.  Some of the other products that Schaefer now offers include applicators, stripping and crimping modules, hot stamp marking, tinning, crimp quality monitoring systems, twisting, seal application units, injection molding, and even testing and laboratory equipment.  Chances are if you are in the wire industry and have a need, we can help you!  

WPS: As mentioned in the introduction, Schaefer Megomat is based in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Can you describe the operation and activities at this location?

TM:  Schaefer Megomat was started in 1990 to be a direct sales and service company for all the Megomat products.  Over the years, as we gained market share, we faced the need to expand our operations and facilities.  In 1995 we built a 30,000 square foot facility on 4 acres of land in Pewaukee, WI which has served as our North American base of operations ever since.  We have added mechanical and electrical engineering ability over the years, so we are able to design, build, service and support all of our equipment from this location.  We currently have 26 active assembly bays in-house, with the ability to add more as demand would dictate.  Our facility also offers the space to hold thousands of parts, in stock, to assure our customers’ needs are always met.  In addition, we have a sales and service location in El Paso, Texas as well to serve our customers in the south and Mexico.

WPS: How does Schaefer Megomat service their customer base domestically (in the United States) as well as Internationally (North America and beyond).

TM:  Schaefer Megomat prides itself on our ability to service our customers and we rely on the small business customer service mantra that our customers have come to expect over the years.  Even though we have grown with the Schaefer acquisition, we have never gotten too big to provide our customers with the personal level of service that they require and expect.   We have many well trained service technicians based out of Wisconsin, El Paso, and around the world that insure the equipment we sell stays on-line and in production.  Locations in Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Romania and Asia, to name a few, help to assure we can service what we sell, no matter where it is located.

WPS: What machine platforms are assembled at the Pewaukee facility?

TM:  Our Pewaukee facility is currently home to the assembly of our fully automatic wire processing equipment line.  We are now building the next generation of fully automatics using our recently updated WireStar20 software and electronics package.  Our base model M500, newly updated 4-station M600, and flexible, 6-station capable M800 machine are all currently built in this facility.  We have also recently started the production of select applicators in our Pewaukee facility as well to insure our customers can have a one-stop shop type experience for all of their wire applications. 

Megomat 2000

WPS: How does the corporate Schaefer organization support the Schaefer Megomat operations?

TM:  The Schaefer Group provides us with a global presence, technical and engineering resources, as well as adding additional expertise and real-world experience in many different areas of the industry.  Thank you for talking with me Terry.  Schaefer Megomat values the relationship we have built over the years with Wire Process Specialties.

Thank you Todd for your time today. For more information on Schaefer Megomat, please visit the Global Technology Page of www.WireProcess.com or www.Schaefer.biz.

 

Counting The Cost of Quality: The Cost of Action 

Every decision has a cost.

Large or small there is a cost to every decision. Of course there is a sliding scale of the size of a decision and it’s relationship to the overall implications to the organization. Some costs are economic and some are not.  Deciding on a bathroom cleaner or brand of pencil to stock have fewer implications than a capital purchase or facility relocation.

This the first of three articles focused focused on quality and considerations when making improvements to an existing system or completely starting from scratch. Also the costs associated with these actions that have far reaching implications to product quality within a manufacturing environment. In this post we are focusing on the cost of action.

Here are a few point for consideration.

Management acts on quality improvement but there is usually a trigger. Triggers that cause management to act are either external or strategic. External triggers often come from customers who require improvement in quality either due to a complaint or issue. They are also driven by the customer’s desire to focus on a specific industry sector that demands higher quality standards. Strategic triggers are based on the company moving into a new industry sector which (like the customer) demands an enhanced quality or documentation of quality. Regardless of the trigger it all boils down to one thing: economics. Losing a key account or losing out on a new opportunity to grow the business in a new direction can greatly affect revenue which can affect the business partly in the short term but mainly in the long term.

Management not only needs to be fully committed to a new quality system, they need to be the champions of it. Often it is management that has a neutral or “wait and see” attitude. This can be damaging to the success of implementing a new quality system. Or the efforts to make permanent the change in culture. Employees are watching. When management waivers, employees often follow.

We will expand on the potential negative affects in part two: The Cost of Inaction.

Commitment includes attention to the following areas:

Employees need to be fully supported. In the form of solid two communication between management and employees. They need to understand the reasons behind the change or initiative. When communication breaks down so does the trust.

Employees also need appropriate training. The company needs to provide the funding for training (and re-training) for all workers directly (and indirectly) involved in quality.

Resources are critical to the success. These include measurement and in process monitoring tools for validating and monitoring production. Also access to applicable quality standards for your industry. These tools provide data necessary to feed back to management on the current state of the quality system.  And levels of improvement over time. One important point. Providing new measurement tools is an important first step but often they uncover the current state of the quality system. They do not improve it. Training in conjunction with the above tools can provide the information needed to make the changes needed to drive quality improvements. But looping back to management’s commitment, they need to drive the changes needed (and the speed of change) and support the organization as a whole.

Capital Costs are important over the life of a quality improvement initiative.  As information starts flowing on the current capability of the production system, it may become evident that production equipment over the long term is not capable of repeatable results of a higher quality level. Replacement production equipment or major upgrades to existing equipment will be necessary.

In summary, making a decision to improve quality comes at a cost. In the attitude of management and employees, a commitment to invest in the resources and the capital needed to make an improvement in product quality. There is also a cost of inaction which we will cover in part two. And the benefits? Part three will uncover the reasons why sticking it out to the end will be critical to the company’s survival in rapidly changing business conditions.