Electronics Protection - January/February 2012 - (Page 12)
Tools for Custom Connector and Cable Solutions
Mark Baptista, Internal Application Engineer Manager PEI-Genesis Taken as a whole, the Cookbook clearly explains how to use the eight different platforms to build assemblies using connectors, and it allows the customer to choose whether they would like to build the assembly by following the instructions, or would prefer to let PEI-Genesis design and build the solution for them.
Some of the most common questions from engineers working with connectors and cable assemblies are how to specify connectors properly, how to design a cable assembly and how to manage component inventory effectively. After decades of hearing these concerns over and over, PEI-Genesis developed a set of tools that would help engineers configure the solutions they need and a business model that solves supply chain and inventory problems by going beyond bonded stock solutions.
Connector Solutions Guides – A Part Specification Tool
Specifying a connector and creating a part number can be a challenging process. Often, manufacturers’ catalogs can be bulky and hard to navigate, and they may or may not cover the additional accessories that go with a part. PEI-Genesis wanted to simplify multiple versions of component catalogs into a simple format listing the most common parts along with their associated accessories in a layout that is clear and easy to understand. PEI designed the Connector Solutions guides with the goal of easily pointing customers towards a connector solution based on their requirements. The guides are a pictorially-based solution designed to help engineers or buyers create a part number, get dimensions, or see how a part is assembled. The guides cover technical specifications, dimensions and related accessories, and also include an illustrated ordering guide and list the necessary assembly tools and assembly instructions. The guides can be used in conjunction with engineering services for additional support, or they can be used on their own, as the step-by-step instructions walk the user through the entire specification process. The steps are as simple as selecting the shell style (plug or receptacle), choosing the layout, choosing the contact, selecting the rotation, and selecting the plating. The solutions guides are building blocks for another solution, the Cable Assembly Cookbook, which helps users to build custom cable assemblies on their own or with engineering support.
The Cookbook Solution – A Cable Assembly Customization Tool
After years of watching customers investigate parts, get samples, build prototypes, test designs, calculate costs, create drawings and transfer the process to production, PEI-Genesis decided to create a mass-customized approach to building cable assemblies. The result was a tool called the Cable Assembly Cookbook that introduced eight basic design platforms or approaches that would address the majority of design challenges. These eight platforms are: unshielded with heat shrink boot or tubing, EMI/RFI shielded with heat shrink boot or tubing, grounded with heat shrink boot or tubing, conduit with heat shrink boot or tubing, expand braided sleeve protections, unshielded cord grip, EMI/RFI shielded with cord grip and sealed flexible conduit. PEI-Genesis also worked to simplify the materials sourcing process by evaluating traditional materials, searching for new products and engineering some proprietary components. They tested these components in various combinations to ensure reliability and then packaged them as a component kit. Finally, the company created detailed assembly instructions that allow users to quickly create cable assemblies.
Once an engineering design is fixed, the focus shifts from design to supply chain management. Since total cost of ownership is difficult to measure, engineers tend to focus on purchase price. But the first time an Engineering Change Notice (ECN) obsoletes a significant amount of inventory or creates a line-down situation in the factory, the reality of total cost of ownership becomes apparent. A good distributor can minimize risk and maximize supply chain solutions. Two common methods are creating in-plant stores of goods or to bond finished goods. An alternate method is to bond just the components required to build the finished goods. This is an attractive option because as designs evolve, the required parts change. Every finished good sitting in the supply chain can be made instantly obsolete due to a design change. Long lead-time items for connectors require long inventory pipelines and large buffers built into the supply chain. An ECN can instantly turn an in-plant store or supply chain solution into a major liability. Distributors have different levels of tolerance for holding inventory. Holding large inventories of finished goods to buffer lead time can be risky. Some distributors approach this problem by reserving shared pools of inventory for customers using the same parts. This means that not all customers will have their needs covered. Most inventory solutions will not buffer total lead time or the total quantity necessary to protect supply chains from inventory risk. A different approach is a build-to-order model. Then, couple it with a production process that can build finished connectors in 48 hours or less, and you get the flexibility of choice with a low risk of incurring obsolete parts. With a build-to-order model, it is logical to make large inventory investments that protect the supply chain. ECN’s are not the only supply chain headache. Just about every electronic component manufacturer is moving production into lowcost regions. This is good news for piece part prices and makes it easier to ignore total cost, but these moves routinely create delivery black-outs, delays, subtle part differences and quality challenges. With lead times of eight to 20 weeks for connectors, the last thing anyone can afford is to find bad parts on the factory floor. Expensive software development has failed to solve market cycles, quality issues, shortages, delays, ECN’s and natural disasters as related to supply chain. Manufacturers and distributors have resorted to reducing inventories and raising minimum order quantities. They have fewer customer-facing employees, less engineering support and a longer and complex supply chains. A skillful distributor can bridge this gap by providing design methodologies, engineering support and practical, useful tools and a nimble response to changes. Make sure you calculate your true cost and pick your partner accordingly. For more information please visit www.peigenesis.com.
January/February 2012 www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronics Protection - January/February 2012
Pentair Technical Products Expands Hoffman Line of Floor-Mount Type 4 Enclosures
A Look Ahead to 2012: The New UL 50 12th Edition Standard for Electrical Enclosures
Extending the Life of Electronics
Energy Management Using Molded Polyurethane Foam Inserts
Tools for Custom Connector and Cable Solutions
PowerSkin Unveils Battery-Boosting Skin for HTC Amaze 4G
Emerson Network Power Introduces the DCF Optimized Rack System
Littelfuse Introduces the SP3012 Series TVS Diode Arrays for Protection of USB 3.0 Ports
Schneider Electric’s Cooling Solution Portfolio Brings Efficiency, Flexibility and Reliability to Data Center Cooling
Eaton’s 9E UPS Delivers Simple Power Management for Complex IT Environments
PEM C.A.P.S. Captive Panel Screws Offered in Three Mounting Styles26
Calendar of Events
Electronics Protection - January/February 2012