How to integrate several production processes to speed the production of complex precision components - more economically and of higher quality
An interview with Mick McAlindon, supply chain manager, Siemens Protection Devices Ltd.
What was your issue?
“An outer terminal block is part of an electronic protection relay used widely in the utilities and in electricity supply systems. In the past, parts were injection-moulded and completed with cold insertion of brass, nickel-plated parts – up to 28 metal inserts – and hot foil block-printed.””
“If parts failed, it was due to the metal inserts twisting in the block or pulling out. But failures were expensive as they were critical elements and used all over the world. You’ll find these parts in Australia, Africa and the Middle East.”
“We first came to S&S for plastic injection moulding and they identified how to remove the risk of parts failing by significantly changing our manufacturing methods. It involved integrating a full spectrum of production services into one supplier, one building. That brought cost-savings and increased the competitiveness of our systems.””
- Tooling design – both prototype and production tooling.
- Mould flow analysis – to identify potential threats caused by the differences in the cooling rates of metal
and plastic. Mould flow analysis also identifies ideal feed points to optimise production and consistency of shape.
- Inserting – 28 pieces of metal into the plastic injection-moulded product.
- Hot foil block printing– to print the numerical identification and earth symbols on finished blocks.
“S&S used the tool prototype to produce 1,000 parts before we needed to commit to investing in production tooling.
They gave us an integrated moulding, insertion and printing solution – all with one supplier, one point of contact, one entity taking complete responsibility.”
The technical specification
- Clear numerical identification of populated connectors.
- Solidly-retained brass, nickel-plated inserts.
- Clearly defined ports where the brass, nickel-plated inserts are housed.
- Accurate and consistently dimensioned blocks to fit into metal housings.
Working in partnership, S&S minimised Siemens’ logistics footprint. This lowered costs, speeded performance, mitigated several process risks as well as made other gains:
- Consolidated production in one, precision, plastic injection-moulding manufacturer which tookresponsibility for complete quality control and brought about:
- Greater supply chain continuity – internationally.
- Lower risk due to fewer parties being involved in production.
- Higher product performance, fewer faults.
- Improved price performance due to fewer shipments.