Hermetic Sealing Technology


Read about news, technical breakthroughs and design best practices related to hermetically sealed wire feedthroughs and hermetic connectors.

Lean Update: Miniaturizing Our Work Cells

Since implementing lean manufacturing principles, a topic we explore in our latest white paper, we’ve been able to improve the efficiency of our factory—making gains in safety, quality and productivity. Building on what we learned, we continue to look for new ways to eliminate non-value added tasks, which eat up unnecessary time, materials, labor and floor space.

This summer, we tackled floor space issues, increasing efficiency by making our manufacturing cells even smaller. Here’s how we did it.

The Kaizen-Based Process

Our company has been growing, which means we need more space for new products and equipment. Having smaller manufacturing cells has enabled us to add more cells to our factory floor. And by leaning out existing cells, we’ve been able to streamline the movement of people and equipment during the manufacturing process, leading to productivity gains.

Over the summer, we held kaizen events to help us brainstorm, design and implement these new cells. (You can read more about kaizen, a lean organizational philosophy, in our white paper here.) During these events, we tasked teams of people from across the organization with making existing cells smaller, as well as designing new ones entirely. These teams were made up of the people who performed the physical work within the cell, as well as supervisors, engineers and salespeople.

From Spaghetti Map To Completed Cell

We started by drawing “spaghetti maps,” which capture the current flow of the product from start to finish, including the motion of all people and equipment involved in that process. We looked at factors like length of travel, as well as the number of times the product crossed over its original path. Having too much crossover means the product can potentially confuse a worker or obstruct another part of the process, increasing the risk of quality errors.



Next, after mapping out the product in its current state, we drew a revised spaghetti map, making changes to the product’s flow as needed. As much as possible, we sought to keep the product moving forward while minimizing crossover and travel distance. We built and modified manufacturing cells based on these revised maps—a process that takes about two days per cell.

Re-evaluate legacy equipment

Another key aspect of reducing the size of our cells involved a re-evaluation of our equipment to see which pieces really fit our lean approach to manufacturing. Consider, for example, the ovens we use to cure epoxy.

Decades ago, we standardized on large industrial ovens for all of our work cells.  Readily available and able to operate for extended periods with little maintanence, these ovens were a good choice at the time. But with their 36-inch-wide racks, they were optimized for large batch processing.  When we moved to one-piece-flow manufacuting, we found we were only using 25-50% of the rack space.

So we switched to smaller ovens with 16-inch racks. The new ovens not only contributed to the reduced footprint of our work centers, they were also far better utilized and more efficient in our lean manufacturing system.

There was certainly some short-term pain from scrapping our legacy ovens, but the long-term efficiency gains made the switch more than worthwhile.

Results

Since the summer, we’ve been able to reduce the square footage of many of our manufacturing cells from 275 to 140-180 square feet. We’ve already seen many benefits from the reduction, including:

  • Savings in power consumption
  • 30% increase in productivity
  • Ergonomic improvements
  • Opportunities to use smaller, less expensive equipment

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To learn more about lean in our job shop, download our latest white paper.

Download The White Paper

New White Paper Explores Applying Lean To The Job Shop

Lean production is one of the most important manufacturing strategies to emerge in the last century. By minimizing waste, which is considered anything that doesn’t provide value in the manufacturing process, lean improves efficiency without sacrificing productivity, enabling you to deliver higher quality products to your customers at lower costs.

 

 

A perceived issue with lean is that it’s typically thought to work best in high-volume, low-mix settings. And while it’s true that lean does have its roots in these kinds of operations, the idea that it can’t be applied to other types of processes is a misconception. With the right strategy and planning, lean can be used in other manufacturing environments, including job shops that have a high-mix of products at relatively lower volumes.

Since 2008, we’ve applied lean to our manufacturing operation. It’s now a pervasive force in improving the efficiency of our factory and provides our customers with several benefits, including:

Speed to market. Using Standardized WOrk Instructions (SWI), we can design and deploy manufacturing cells for individual products within a few days of receiving a customer order. As a result of our faster manufacturing process, our customers get to market more quickly.

Manufacturing at scale. Lean makes it cost-efficient to produce goods at relatively low volumes. As products scale to higher volumes, we can seamlessly scale the size of our manufacturing lines. Moving from product prototype to low-volume production to high-volume production becomes a cost-efficient and friction-free process.

Higher product quality and yields. Thanks to single-piece flow, quality issues that arise on the production line are no longer hidden: once a problem is identified, steps are taken to strengthen the process and prevent the mishap from occurring again. As a result, higher quality products can be manufactured in higher quantities and at faster speeds—while at the same time, reducing rework costs.

To learn more about how we implemented lean in our job shop, download our latest white paper.

 

Download The White Paper

Wire Bushings For Hazardous Locations

To design safe electrical systems for hazardous locations, you’ll have to pay close attention to each and every electrical component that you use—including any wire bushings.

It may be easy to overlook these bushings or conduit sealing hubs since they’re typically just one, seemingly minor part of a more complex electrical system. But these components actually play an outsized safety role in hazardous areas. Applications ranging from liquid natural gas (LNG) handling to factories with combustible dust all have a need to prevent leaks around wires that pass through pressure walls, ensuring safety and compliance with agency requirements.

In the past, it was difficult to find feedthroughs and wire or line bushings that you could customize to your needs while meeting UL and other compliance standards for hazardous locations. Now, however, there’s an approach to feedthrough and wire bushing design that makes it far easier to meet all the relevant regulations without sacrificing design freedom. The key to this approach involves the use of epoxies to create hermetic seals around the wires.

Learn more in our latest technical update.

Wire Bushings for Hazardous Locations White Paper

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