Archive for General-Business-Commentary

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!

Make or Buy: It’s your choice

To produce your sub-assemblies in house or purchase them from an outside vendor. That is a question that OEM Manufacfturers ask themselves constantly. Is there a clear answer? Not really, read on..

The topic of this post states “It’s your choice. As part of the decision making process have you considered all of the factors in your decision?  Each company and situation is different but the factors used to make a decision are fairly common.  So let’s uncover them.

Buying Sub-Assemblies: The Advantages

Buying from an outside vendor does have it’s advantages.

  • No Capital investment.
  • Application specific expertise from Vendor
  • No raw material inventory to maintain.
  • No direct labor required.

Making Sub-Assemblies: The Advantages

Making your own sub-assemblies also has clear advantages

  • Production Flexibility
  • Not waiting for Vendor lead time.
  • Preserve raw material in a non-processed state and producing lower quantities as needed.
  • Not paying overhead cost and profit margins as part of the Vendor price.

Simplicity vs Complexity, a sliding scale.

Most decisions are made based on a number of factors. In general our observation is there is a sliding scale of complexity which when all factors are combined, provides a clearer decision making process.

Processing steps: Simple one or two step assembly to complex multi step assembly. For example, measure, cut and strip being one or two steps and terminal crimping being another to form a single wire lead. More complex assemblies include terminal block loading, heat shrink or convoluted tube covering over multiple wires. Producing a complete wire harness.

Capital Investment: Single (cut, strip or crimp) or two stage (cut and strip) processing tools are fairly low cost. Adding additional processing steps like the above mentioned block load, heat shrinking adds additional capital cost. Leasing processing tools through lease to purchasing programs can spread the cost of the capital investment over time.

Volume: Low volume assemblies are easier to make in house as they do not take up a lot of resources, high volume is easier to move to an outside vendor to preserve resources.

Floor space: A few small bench top machines do not take up a lot of space. But consider space for raw materials (wire, terminals, tubing etc..). As the processing steps and volumes increase, additional space may be required.

Labour: Do you have sufficient labour resources to set up, operate and maintain equipment required? Also do you have or can you acquire the assembly knowledge to produce quality assemblies. Are your labour costs higher (or lower) than an outside vendor?

Longevity: What is the life span of the product? Is it sustained long enough to recover the capital equipment costs? Can the equipment be used in a next generation project?

All of these factors can be placed on a sliding scale. For example Capital Investment on assembly processing equipment may be low in relationship to the volume. Floor space may be at a premium as well as labour shortage or required processing knowledge may not be available. If the longevity of the product is high then it may make sense to bring the assembly in house. Conversely if the Capital cost is high in relation to the product life span, it would be better to utilize the existing Capital of an outside supplier.

As said in the beginning, there is no easy answer to this question. But if you consider all of the above factors and place them on a scale from simple to complex, then an objective decision can be made.


Methods of Processing Wire Assemblies.

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

Megomat 2000

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.

Our Vision Explained – Part Two

In part one,  I outlined some of the basic factors required to achieve the vision “To earn the privilege to be our Customer’s Natural Choice of a supplier of Assembly Solutions.  In part two, I am covering innovation.

Webster’s dictionary defines Innovation as: 1 : the introduction of something new 2 : a new idea, method, or device.

Constant Innovation is one of the core values of Wire Process Specialties.  Innovation at WPS covers our internal processes and product offering. Internally, we are focused on ways we can be more efficient in communicating to our customers, making information easy to access

At WPS we are not standing still, we believe there is always a better way to work, finding new ways to add value to the relationships we build with our customers.

Is this vision a guarantee of suceess in every case? No it does not guarantee success. Not every company values this focus. It is our objective to make each customer exchange mutually beneficial. Demonstrating the value of high trust relationships is very important. When trust is earned, our value as a partner with our customers is enhanced.

Our vision is part of our vision, value and mission statements our commitement to our customers which can be found on the  company profile page of

Our Vision Explained – Part One.

“To earn the privilege to be our Customer’s Natural Choice of a supplier of Assembly Solutions.”

The words in this vision statement have framed our way of doing business for almost three decades.

To be your customer’s natural choice?  A little lofty given the competitive nature of our business today right?  Not really. Our vision keeps us focused on the job ahead of us.  The real action is in the first phrase “To earn the privilege”.  Far too many companies large and small take their customers for granted, feeling a sense of entitlement in some respects.  When this happens, the original customer/supplier partnership is affected and opens up the opportunity for new competitors to enter and replace your company as a primary supplier – and trusted partner. As the incumbent supplier this erodes market share.

So how do we start to “earn the privilege”?  First remembering that this is an ongoing process with no end date.  In the pursuit to earn the privilege, there are several factors we consider:

  • Trust is the first step.  This is not something you immediately achieve, it takes time.  When starting with a new customer, small steps to gain trust are critical.  Often it is being relegated to a secondary supplier role. Stating our values, mission and code of ethics in writing provides some accountability to our actions.
  • Adding value to the relationship.  We are constantly looking for ways to reduce cost, improve efficiency. Anything that directly or indirectly improves the customer’s bottom line.
  • Be available.  Nothing hurts a business relationship more than taking too long to respond to an inquiry.  Someone else will be ready and able to respond quicker if they are given the opportunity.
  • Understand our customer’s concerns.  Helping to solve even a simple problem with a cost effective solution goes a long way to solidifying a customer relationship.

In part two, I will cover innovation as a key factor in making good business relationships even better.  And taking us one more step towards our vision of being your Natural Choice of a supplier of Assembly Solutions.

Our vision is part of our vision, value and mission statements our commitement to our customers which can be found on the  company profile page of

Introduction to Wire Process Specialties

Wire Process Specialties is pleased to offer on the launch of the new website.  In addition we are expanding our connection methods to our customers with the introduction of our Facebook page which can be found at  This is in addition to our Twitter link (,our Linkedin page and YouTube channel (  These “WireProcess” social properties will compliment our newsletter “The Wire Process Connection”, and this news channel.

A recent survey from Semplice Research showed 72% of manufacturers and suppliers in the industrial sector plan to use Social Media to promote their presence at trade shows, up from 57% in 2011.  This trend will continue as companies adopt Social Media as methods of communication between customers and suppliers.

We will be showcasing real life case studies from our customers, new product introductions and profiles from our Global Technology Partners and general commentary on economic conditions and our company.  Our news feed from will also be linked to Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.  Connect your way to Wire Process Specialties to get the latest information on the World of Wire Processing.

Please contact me personally at 905-642-6186 to hear more about Wire Process Specialties and how we can serve you.

Terry Curtis