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Profitably Ramping Up New Part Production
Fourslide process helps company save from start-up to ramp-up
BRISTOL, Conn.--When a manufacturer launches a new product or enters a new market, it often finds itself between a rock and a hard place, production-wise. On one hand, it must keep manufacturing costs as low as possible upfront, since market demand can be uncertain and volatile, and overspending on weak demand is a sure way to run a new product into the ground. On the other hand, it must be fully capable of profitably ramping up production as demand increases. Into this delicate balance, manufacturers must also allow for the possibility of necessary design or process changes, while never skimping on quality.
Traditionally, many manufacturers in this situation have found themselves choosing between labor-intensive manual manufacturing methods for low-volume parts production or costly progressive die stamping for high-volume parts production. In many cases, neither of these choices is truly a good fit for new products.
To cost effectively launch a new product, Eagle Comtronics, a Liverpool, N.Y.-based manufacturer of specialty radio frequency (RF) applications, found itself considering how to best manufacture a 4-sided, 4-pin electrical ground/RF shield. When the company considered both progressive die and fourslide manufacturing processes, they went with fourslide to good effect.
"When you launch a product or enter a new market, you don't necessarily know what the demand will be," says Eagle Comtronics Materials Manager, Ted Jewett. "You need to keep product costs low until you figure out demand. For us, that meant minimizing tooling and revision costs until we figured out the market and matched our product to it."
"We looked at a progressive die, but the tooling costs were about five times that of fourslide's, and the cost of revision was a consideration," says Jewett. The company chose the fourslide process for their electrical ground/RF shield and has been happy with the result for years.
On another project, Eagle Comtronics developed a new electrical ground clip. Since the earlier fourslide project was a success, they chose it and their vendor, Fourslide Spring and Stamping, once again over progressive die stamping. "We saved about $20,000 in tooling alone, in choosing fourslide over a progressive die," says Jewett. The part has been consistently to spec, and has done well in the market.
Even after Eagle Comtronics has sold almost 5 million of its electrical ground clips in products over eight years, the company remains committed to the fourslide process over high-speed progressive die stamping.
"Why stay with fourslide after we've gone into full production?" asks Jewett. "For lower start-up and revision cost; low cost per piece, roughly equivalent to a progressive die; and more flexibility in process to handle market changes and volatility. We figured these would be long-term projects, and they turned out that way, but there are no guarantees in the market. For anyone launching a new product, ramping it up, or adjusting to market changes, the fourslide process can give you a better chance of ROI when you're not sure how the market will react."
Fourslide Spring and Stamping, Inc. (www.fourslide.com) is an ISO 9001:2000 certified manufacturer of spring and wire products, including precision flat springs, metal stampings, contacts, and wire forms, for a wide range of medical, electrical, automotive, aerospace, military, consumer, and industrial applications.
To view an animated demonstration of the fourslide manufacturing process visit www.fourslide.com/fourslide-reference.htm.
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