Assembly in Action: Supplier Eases Production Bottlenecks
January 1, 2007
Hi-Heat Industries Inc. (Lewistown, MT) manufactures flexible heating elements that are used in a wide variety of applications, including everything from the restaurant industry to composites manufacture and the military sector. Frequently Hi-Heat Industries is asked to manufacture entire subassemblies with sensors, thermostats, fuses, cords or plugs.
Recently, the company found it was having trouble keeping up with demand for a heater that was being used by a major telecommunications company to prevent freezing in its telecom cabinets. As part of the production process, Hi-Heat Industries was installing a thermostat from electronic controls company Selco Products (Anaheim, CA). First, an operator would install the thermostat in one of Hi-Heat Industries’ silicone rubber heaters. That same operator would then solder on a couple of power leads.
“We basically had someone cutting the leads, then soldering them to the thermostat, then going back and soldering them to the heater,” says Hi-Heat Industries applications specialist David Maier. According to Maier, this proved to be time-consuming enough that it began snarling the company’s overall production schedule. It didn’t take long for engineers at Hi-Heat Industries to realize they needed to do something to speed things up again.
To accomplish this, the company outsourced the lead-attachment work to Selco’s value-added services department, thereby removing those labor-intensive steps from Hi-Heat Industries’ own production line.
“Selco did the prep work,” Maier says. “When we got the product from Selco, all we had to do was put the thermostat in place and solder it to the heater. Because of the thousands of heaters we were manufacturing, we saved production hours and were able to overcome a bottleneck. We had to pay a little more for the outside assembly work, but overall, it was worth the increased throughput we gained.”
Ultimately, by off-loading the lead-attachment work, Hi-Heat Industries increased plant capacity to where it was able to meet its telecom customer’s demands and free up enough production time to accommodate orders from other customers as well.
Hi-Heat Industries also makes a polyester telecom heater that requires a 0.5-inch disc thermostat mounted via a customized bracket. To speed final assembly of this product, Hi-Heat Industries orders the thermostats from Selco with the standard brackets already removed.
“If we were to remove the bracket here, it would slow our production down, so it really benefits us,” says Maier. “When we get it from Selco’s assembly department, all we have to do is install it on the polyester heater.”
For more on preassembled thermal components, call 800-257-3526 or visit www.selcoproducts.com.