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The Essential Guide to Wire Processing Automation, Second Edition is now available

The Essential Guide to Wire Processing Automation provides a breakdown of the basic components of an automated wire processing machine for cut, strip and wire end process single conductor stranded wire. In edition this paper provides some of the typical options for pre and post processing as well as multi-tasking processes for the ends of the wire.

The 2017 edition includes a number of revisions to the First Edition from 2015. In addition, the resources section has new supporting articles on wire processing and crimping technology.

Subscribers of the WireProcess Connection, the newsletter of the WireProcess Global Community have access to this white paper which we deliver free of charge.

Click here to subscribe now.

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.

Static vs Dynamic Measurement of Crimp Elements

Quality measurement has been an essential part of process validation and control for manufacturing for centuries. Engineering a product design with critical dimensions needs to be validated by quality measurements during the production cycle.

In the early 20th century, statistical analysis of quality was introduced into the quality process of validating manufactured goods and adopted in a number of industries. Automobile production embraced statistical analysis as a result of W Edwards Deming’s influence as the founding president of the American Society for Quality Control.

Today in many industries, a mix of static (one time) and dynamic measurements are used to validate process measurement. In the Wire Process Industry there are a number of measurement tools used which include pull testers, crimp height micrometers and dynamic validation tools such as crimp force monitors. In Wire Processing, dynamic measurement tools are being adopted, aided by the inclusion of them in new processing equipment. But in some respects, a general awareness of the critical nature of dynamic always on quality measurement tools is lacking.

For example, crimp height measurement. Some companies still use the crimp height as a static first off quality measurement and then not measure another part through the balance of the production run.

Or Press Calibration. Calibrating a crimp press with a shut height gauge to the proper shut height without measuring shut height or press force repeat-ability.

These are mistakes. A single part only assures you that that part (or process) is within production tolerances. And does not take into account variation from all input elements in a crimp process.

Dynamic measurement tools provide a piece by piece indication of process capability and detection of crimp errors. Dynamic capability studies of press shut height and crimp force provide valuable information on a press’ ability to supply repeatable crimp force.

PAL_600 rev

Press Analyzer

Here is a clip from our seminar at the 2016 Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo. This clip illustrates the value of dynamic press analysis.

Static measurements such as crimp height and pull test are not obsolete in today’s production environment. In fact they are valuable first off process validation tools but need to be supported by dynamic measurement from crimp force monitors and crimp camera systems.


MX Series Crimp Force Monitor

So what are the implications of not dynamically measuring crimp elements in real time?

  • Rework cost from defective product
  • Related costs and penalties from customers
  • Lower customer confidence
  • Maintenance and Quality resources not deployed on priority issues because objective information is not available.

Flip these around and you can see the benefit to your organization. So you say these problems have not occurred to our company? Perhaps not in the past but there is always a real risk of these problems coming up in the future.  And without objective analysis, you just don’t know.

Act now. Let us provide you with the tools and services you need to get a start on measuring and improving your crimp quality. Connect Your Way to WireProcess.

Global Technology Partners in Focus: Control Laser Corp.

CLC_logo2This month we feature our newest Global Technology Partner: Control Laser Corp. (CLC).  Control Laser has a long history of supplying laser processing systems for a large range of industries. Our initial partnership with CLC focused on stripping of wire but has expanded to include a wider range of processing solutions. The majority of these solutions are outside of our traditional wire processing market. This does provide an opportunity to impact an expanded customer base with processing solutions that meet the two criteria we look for to assist our customers: efficiency improving and cost saving systems.

WireProcess is pleased to introduce Warren (Pat) Ryan, corporate sales manager for CLC.

WPS: CLC has recently celebrated a milestone in it’s history which (not coincidentally) coincides with another milestone. Can you describe this milestone.

PR: Sure- The Laser Industry is celebrating 50 years in lasers and so are we.  Control Laser was formed and incorporated in 1965. In every department of Control Laser, we have someone that has been with us for 25 or 30 years. Our applications manager has been our applications manager for 39 years now.  To our customers this is a huge benefit. No matter which department they need from us, field service, software, applications or sales we have the experience and know how to provide the solution they are looking for. As an added benefit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of CLC we have dropped our pricing to celebrate with our customers and prospects.

CLC Anodized-Aluminum-Laser-Ablation

WPS: How are these two events related?

PR:  Although there is some controversy, Dr. Theodore Maiman is credited with creating the first working laser in 1960. That first laser evolved and in 1965 the laser industry began. Control Laser was the first company to use the laser to mark a product. Dr. Maiman sat on the board of CLC for a number of years. During this time CLC was the first company to use a computer to control the laser. Since that time period CLC has continued to be an innovator in the industry. Today we are one of the leaders in automation and standard products. 2015 saw the introduction of the new 24 to 48-hour warranty program as well as the introduction of the new “Tactical Arms mark” series. We continue to make improvements in our FA semiconductor line and wire stripping as well.

WPS: Where is CLC based.

PR:  CLC based in Orlando Florida, as the laser first laser originated here. Control Laser has all of its departments in house.  From field service, mechanical engineering, software and electrical engineering we are able to provide solutions to meet our customer’s needs in house. In each department we have someone that has been with CLC for 20 and 30 years.

WPS: Can you describe the type of solutions CLC provides to it’s global customer base.

PR: Wow, this one is a little tough as there are many varied types of customers that we serve. Our FA systems offer solutions to those in the semiconductor industry. We provide failure analysis, and counterfeit protection. In the aeronautical and space industries we provide solutions for wire stripping since this industry can have no nicks in their wires. We service heavy industrial companies that need their logo or part numbers for tracking and marketing. We have created special machines for the firearms industry. Due to new rules and regulations in the medical industry we will be introducing a new line of systems that is geared specifically for the medical industry to meet the new requirements. Control Laser is one of the few companies that can provide custom and automation solutions for our customers.

WPS: CLC introduced a new feature in all machine models, an industry first. This new feature is called the Production First Warranty. Can you describe it.

PR:  Well what we identified and heard from our customers was that even if we did everything correctly the customer could still be down for an extended time period. Sometimes they were down for 2 or 3 weeks. After taking a close look at this we needed to come up with something better for our customers. We looked at the industry and it was the same for our competitors as well.  We considered what if we could ship whole assemblies instead of trying to find the one part that was bad. So that’s what we do now. When you first call CLC and talk with field service and we indentify where the bad part is located we will ship the entire assembly within 24 to 48 hours to get production up and running. Then we can fix the problem without the delays associated with traditional warranty work. This allows us to be much more responsive. The response to this new warranty has been tremendous and is just one more way in which CLC continues to innovate.

WPS: CLC has been forefront in laser technology which has been widely adopted and in use today. Can you describe the one feature that is used in the automotive industry pioneered by CLC.

PR: Years ago, one of the big three automakers came to us looking for a solution to make the radios and air control features easier to see and use. Our present applications manager Jack Williams (we feel one of the premier application experts in the world) developed a process where paint would be added to the panels and then removed to show color when the lights are turned on. This was the first of the back lit buttons that you now find in every car. Jack has been responsible for many innovations that are now common place. From the face in a crystal you see in the mall to proprietary processes used for annealing of medical parts to protect the part from post processing required in the medical industry.


WPS: CLC has an experienced team of sales representatives (including WPS) to serve customers at the local level.  Can you describe how local sales representation fits into the company’s strategy of providing optimum customer service.

PR:  This is a result of listening to our customers. Over 50 years we have tried several methods from only in-house sales to a mixture of sales representatives and in-house. This caused confusion for our customers and at Control Laser we want the best representation of our products that we can get. We made the determination 2 years ago that we would only use outside representative who are closer to our customers and better suited to building the relationships that are so important.  So many of our competitors only offer standard products. At Control Laser we are a solution driven company and this strategy is working very well for us and most importantly our customers.

Pat, thank you for your time today. For more information on how WPS and CLC can supply your laser processing requirements, please contact us.