Cringe-Free Engineering Change Orders

Talk to engineers or search the Web about Engineering Change Orders (ECO) and you will quickly realize you have stumbled into dreaded territory. People who engineer either the design or the manufacturing processes generally love their jobs, but universally cringe at the thought of having to request, document, and implement changes to their work after the fact.

One reason engineering team members cringe in reaction to ECOs is because they instinctively recognize inefficiency when they see it. In this era of computer-based automation and efficiency, ECOs seem to have been left behind. They are usually created on spreadsheets then processed manually and informally using nothing more sophisticated than Windows Explorer and email. It is a process offering no chance for department-wide visibility, no way to automate the surrounding information flow of alerts, status, and approvals, and no way to create a useful audit trail for future reference. Read More

Moving Beyond the Mess: Five Ways Sussex Wire Rolls Past Competitors with Adept

When Sussex Wire, a company that designs and manufactures custom, cold-formed parts, deployed Adept software last year, the engineering team got more than a secure, centralized vault for product drawings. It got a significant edge on the competition. To understand how, it’s helpful to understand a little bit about Sussex and its business:

From Sole Proprietor to Private Equity Backed

Cold-forming is a manufacturing method in which fine gauges of metal and alloy wire are forged, upset, or rolled into complex, tight tolerance geometric parts at ambient temperature. You’ve probably seen cold-formed structural pieces in planes, automobiles and building technology (e.g., rivets, bolts, nuts).  But you’ll also find them making up the smallest manufactured products, like semiconductor leads, medical devices, relays, sensors and fasteners, and that’s where Sussex comes in.  The Easton, PA-based company specializes in designing and manufacturing micro-miniature metal components, producing parts with diameters as tiny as 0.0035 inches at rates of up to 300 parts per minute.  In a typical year Sussex Wire ships well in excess of one billion parts to dozens of Fortune 500 customers spanning four continents. Read More

Sussex Wire: “We Had a Mess on Our Hands”

Sussex Wire is a small, thriving company with a rich 40-year history of designing and manufacturing complex products to precise tolerances. A world leader in delivering custom, cold-headed parts in mini- and micro-geometries, the company looked forward to a bright future as new equity poured in and new acquisitions seemed inevitable.

Then a key employee left, and management faced a startling truth: In places, the company still operated very much like a Mom and Pop shop.

“We had a mess on our hands. It was crazy,” says Tim Kardish, President. “He (the departed employee) had been responsible for design, engineering, and tooling. When he left, we struggled to find what tool dye print went with what part for a customer. Engineering would spend up to a half hour trying to figure it out.” Read More