Your Forecast Is More Than Hot Air!

Many of Checon’s major customers provide us with forecasts of one sort or another. Most are loosely based on their customers’ expected orders as well as on any additional estimates their customers may provide to them. As you can imagine, this continues on to our customers’ customer, that customer’s customer, and so on. So it comes as no surprise that any changes in demand from the end user of our products will often result in significant fluctuations in the forecasts throughout the supply chain.

For many suppliers this can lead to frustration. If you schedule production based on a forecast and the forecast then changes you may end up with excess inventory of one product and shortages of another. I’ve heard other manufactures express this frustration with statements like “their forecast is worthless”, or “full of hot air”, or “I don’t even bother to look at it”. That’s because they are using it for the wrong purpose. Don’t build based on forecast, plan with it!

Checon understands that we need a flexible manufacturing system that can respond to changes in demand both small and large. How large? Well that depends on our customer’s ability to ramp up its production. For those that can react, we have tailored our system to respond to large fluctuations. Working closely with our suppliers, we have integrated their response capabilities into a manufacturing system built on a foundation of short setup times, small production runs, strategic inventory points, and a fully automated Kanban pull system. How we load that system is based on our customer’s demand profile. The result is fast and flexible delivery that has been over 96% on-time for more than five years!

So what does this have to do with forecasts? Absolutely nothing! Checon’s agility allows us to manufacture based on our customer’s demand, not on their forecast. But their forecast can provide information about their current outlook. Will they take what they forecast? Probably not, but we can still glean valuable information from what they think they will take, and plan accordingly. So please, keep giving us your best guess at what you will need, and we’ll take it from there.

Electrical Contact Manufacturing- A Checon Success Story In the Midst of the Technology Revolution

Have you ever met someone with a newfangled digital camera who thinks his photos are on par with a professional photographer’s? Or what about the guy who is suddenly an architect now that he can create a layout of his house using the free software program he picked up at the big orange home center?

Technology is transforming our everyday life faster than many of us can absorb and adapt. And while it is true that such gains often allow us to perform tasks and activities previously unattainable with outcomes that make us feel like “experts”, it is also often the case that there is no equivalent for the added value that only years of experience can bring to quality and performance.

Having been in the electrical contact manufacturing business for over 55 years, Checon has seen numerous technological and market changes. We have seen both domestic and international competition come and sometimes go. We have seen sourcing trends to low labor markets with the vision of quickly and easily transferring electrical contact manufacturing to fully automated approaches actualize with very limited success. We have seen competition exit either in part or whole from the marketplace because of an unwillingness to invest in the infrastructure required to maintain OSHA compliance and protect their employees when dealing with certain electrical contact materials.

Through it all, Checon has withstood and endured the test of time by consistently growing and adding to our core technologies. Yes, embracing new technologies has positioned us at the forefront of our field. But it is our foundation- drawing on years of producing proven performance, high quality, and price competitive product offerings to the electrical device industry- that distinguishes us from our fledgling competitors.

Checon’s development of several robust and tested electrical contact materials and contact assembly processes is what defines us as a company and has set the standard for decades in electrical contact manufacturing. We could not have done it without technological advances in manufacturing, quality and electrical testing, logistics, material sourcing and communications. What sets us apart from offshoring interests is our proven experience, which when combined with the right technology, builds the best possible electrical contact for our customers’ devices.

Have you ever met a company that is an expert in what they do?

I invite you to call Checon today to learn more!

Wire Welded Electrical Contacts vs Rivets

Checon has recently seen an uptick in interest from some of our biggest customers to change their electrical contact specification on select devices from rivets to a wire welded contact design.  Their reasons range from functionality, repeatability, quality and economics.  This last factor is the chief motivator with purchasing and engineering teams increasingly tasked to drive further cost reductions. Many are finding that wire welded electrical contacts vs rivets can deliver a viable ROI over in-house riveting operations and, in some cases, over purchased rivets where the need for improved quality is at play.

Wire welded electrical contacts vs rivets – why are so many of our customers thinking about switching?

Engineering

There has always been a strong argument to switch from the engineering side. After all, the attachment is a direct weld versus a mechanical press fit, allowing for better conductivity of both electrical energy and heat. By shear testing 100% of parts produced, the integrity of the weld is assured.

Supply Chain Management

When a high-speed wire weld process is used, buyers reduce three SKU’s to one. This cuts the number of purchased components in half and eliminates the assembly altogether. As companies experience change and turnover in their purchasing groups, they seek to streamline the purchase process and reduce the total number of suppliers they must manage.  The decision to purchase wire welded electrical contacts vs rivets produced in house, eliminates the downtime waiting for components to arrive as well as the cost of shipping, securing and inventorying raw materials including costly precious metals.

Process and Material Cost Reductions

Wire welding uses the same wire as a rivet heading machine, but integrates the attachment and coining of the contact tip right into the stamping of the brass or copper part. This eliminates both the cost of making a rivet and staking it to the part. In many cases, two parts can be made with every stroke of the press to produce more than 600 assemblies per minute!

With the cost of labor, personnel turnover, and employee training to assemble two units together significantly reduced with a wire welded design, the challenges of machine downtime as a result of misfeeds and repair are also eliminated.    The one step process of wire welding eliminates these issues and produces 100% usable parts.

RoHS

To meet RoHS compliance, many of our customers are working to replace the cadmium specified in a AgCdO rivet with an AgNi wire welded contact.

Checon’s Answer

With 100% usable parts, fewer suppliers, lower shipping costs, less machinery to maintain, lower labor costs, and overall savings due to fewer process steps, no wonder so many of our customers are considering switching from rivets to wire welded electrical contacts.

To find out more about our wire welded solution, call Steve Carter at 508-809-5112, or email him at carter@checon.com.

Customer Success With Silver Tin Oxide

Years ago, in response to growing environmental concerns from Europe over the handling, use, and disposal of Cadmium (Cd) in a wide variety of electrical and industrial applications,  Checon began developing its plan to create a silver cadmium-oxide free contact material that would meet the needs of our rapidly expanding international interests as well as satisfy those of our evolving North American customers.  The initiative was no small undertaking as we knew we would be challenged by multiple cost and performance issues, compounded by the slow to market process of electrical testing and customer adoption programs. While the switching industry had already developed silver tin-oxide solutions, for several low power DC applications, the same opportunity seemed less achievable with mid to high power AC devices that depended so heavily on cadmium’s unique electrical capabilities.

Recognizing the inevitability of ROHS sanctions against continued use of cadmium in electrical contacts, Checon moved its development efforts beyond its own lab to a customer collaborative program focused on tightly monitored material testing in device application environments.  Our revised plan was to develop a new silver tin-oxide material system that performed in specific customer applications while carefully maintaining investment in existing product designs. In order to control costs and maintain the highest reliability and quality characteristics, we drilled down to identifying mechanical ductility as an essential ingredient in preserving the processing efficiencies of toplay construction, while meeting the demanding mechanical and electrical properties across many applications including AC contactor, motor protection, and telecommunications.

And so the process began to unfold with appreciative milestones in silver tin-oxide product development and testing. Backed by customer investment in the expansion of a rigorous electrical and mechanical testing program, our proprietary silver tin-oxide products offered under the Checon GTi Series are now fully approved across multiple customer product lines, actively on par with the performance of previously specified silver cadmium-oxide materials as well as outperforming our cadmium-free competition.

Given the varied interpretation and uncertainty regarding the status of cadmium exemptions both present & future, we welcome the opportunity to work directly with customers just beginning or revisiting a material change to match our tested solutions with your specific application requirements.

Please contact me directly at: thomsen@checon.com.

The New ISO 9001:2015 Standard

A Bigger Box to Fill
We have all heard of thinking outside the box. But just how big is that box?
As it turns out, it’s really big.

 

The latest iteration of the ISO9001 standard presents some interesting points and unique challenges to compliance. I say unique from the point of view that every organization will have its own opportunities to make the standard work for them. The standard tends to force a very introspective view of the organization. Asking the company to understand its context and to recognize its “interested parties”, both in and outside of the organization, forms a much larger and more global picture of the organization and where it fits in.

The introduction of the requirement of risk acknowledgement and analysis is also in keeping with the bigger global picture that companies find themselves taking part in these days. Gone are the days of strictly local or domestic issues. Today’s businesses must keep an eye on the horizon and stay keen to where changes are happening globally. And it’s not enough to know, your organization needs to be able to react to those changes and ISO 9001:2015 helps to create and enhance the organizations ability to make key business decisions.

By meeting the requirements of the standard the company will find itself in open discussion about risk, change, and planning in a way it may not have tried before. The standard has also dropped many of its previous documentation requirements. This gives the company far more freedom to choose how to get there. When you read between the lines of requirements, it’s about less rigidity and more creativity. ISO 9001:2015 is a tool to help navigate today’s business world and gives your company choices in compliance, while remaining true to its intent.

So, the box is enormous and it doesn’t necessarily have four corners, or any corners for that matter. It’s a frame work that is there, but is malleable. The new standard still provides the tools and guidance to help shape that framework, but also allows organizations to innovate their way around that framework to make it work for them.