When designers at appliance manufacturer Tacony Corp. (Fenton, MO) created a new low-profile, upright vacuum cleaner, it was up to Tacony’s manufacturing division, based in St. James, MO, to find a thermostat that would not only meet the temperature requirements for the product, but also fit into the small area provided for the new product’s electronics.

According to Tacony plant manager, Jim Fleming, the tight space requirements quickly became an issue. Product specifications called for a manual, resettable half-inch disc thermostat. But, all the existing thermostats on the market came with terminals that would have to be modified if they were ever going to fit. According to Fleming, “With standard products, we couldn’t get at the electrical connections, and we didn’t have room for the normal off-the-shelf 1/4- or 3/16-inch spade terminals.”

To fix the problem, engineers at the electrical and electronic components supply company Selco Products Co. (Anaheim, CA) recommended using customized, soldered wire leads instead of the thermostats’ existing tab terminals. However, the question then became whether Tacony should do this work in-house or job it out, taking into consideration initial startup costs, handling costs for the pieces and parts required for the assembly, and the labor costs for assembly, inspection and administration.

“When we looked at the extra…costs required, it became very complicated,” Fleming says. “We’d have to schedule it and keep track of it, both in the raw state and in the subassembly state. We’d have to order the wire leads or cut and strip the wires, and then terminate them. We’d also be handling several more pieces-the cut wire, the raw wire on the spool, the terminals and, finally, the finished wire that has to go to the soldering assembly area. There were also the QA costs to consider. Somebody has to inspect the terminals and make sure the machine crimp heights are set correctly, and verify and inspect the solder joint.”

Ultimately, Tacony engineers realized that performing the recommended modifications would require that they not only purchase new wire cutting and stripping equipment, but set up a separate soldering area away from the production line. With this in mind, Tacony’s engineering department decided to have Selco’s value-added services department perform the modifications, so that they would simply receive each thermostat ready to install into the vacuum cleaners.

“Selco took care of the headache [so] we didn’t have to worry about it,” explains Fleming. “By getting the assembly ready to drop into the vacuum cleaner, it really reduces the complexity of our build. If we did the assembly here, we’d be handling the component twice-bringing it in as a standard thermostat, running it through assembly, and then stocking it. This way, we receive it, take it to the line, and stuff it right in the vacuum cleaners. It’s a lot simpler.”

For more on preassembled thermal components, call 714-917-1333 or visitwww.selcoproducts.com.