Cost Reduction in Manufacturing Packaging for High Tech Equipment and Mechanical Assembly

This article is ought to present the newest technologies in the market of manufacturing the packaging of high tech equipment and on the level of mechanical assembly we are focusing today.

 

Today’s contract manufacturers, adopted a concept of working very closely with their customers to maximize mutual benefits. In order to utilize the possibilities for mutual profits the cooperation between the contract manufacturer and the customer must be “Strategic, full and positive”. The better the cooperation, the more competitive is the customer in his market and, needless to say, more benefits for the contract manufacturer.

 

The price of a product is discussed at some point in the life cycle of the product. Some times even on to “BE or NOT to BE” level in the competitive market. We strongly recommend to think about it in the earliest stages possible of the development and engineering of the product.

 

How can we tell if there is room for cost reduction? Following are a few main eye catchers that we should be aware of:

1. Rack cabinets, chassis and electronic board holders made of metal tubing.

When an engineer begins to design a chassis for a machine, he faces a dilemma. Use a bent sheet metal technology, which is more time consuming to engineer and therefore more expensive in the developing stage or use metal tubing for a less expensive and quicker design but with higher manufacturing cost of the final product. Unfortunately at times an engineer is tempted to use the tubing technology trying to adhere to strict budgets of product design.

 

What are the benefits of the sheet metal design?

First, bent sheet metal can achieve the same of strength and functionality values as the metal profile. Furthermore, because the sheet metal is cut and perforated using laser and punching precision technology, the tolerances of 0.1 mm can be easily achieved on one work piece before bending. This allows for the same precision and consistency between parts. There is no way this can be achieved using welded metal tubes, even if the holes are drilled after welding.

 

Wile using sheet metal technology the engineer is led to join between various elements of the construction using riveting technology, various formings and screws. These joining technologies come to replace welding. Doing a precise design allows for perfect fit between parts. Avoiding welding can significantly reduce the cost of the product.

 

2. Welding extensive designs

We ought to distinguish between two types of welding, welding for strength and welding for visual purposes. If the welding is needed for strength, all effort should be made to place it in an inner corners avoiding the need for hand grinding, which is an expensive and timely hand operation.

 

Avoiding welding – cost benefits

Welding process is a manual operation done by a skillful professional with relatively higher wages. This contributes to higher cost of production. Welding is a relatively slow process that, at times, causes bottle necks and lengthens the production cycle

Technologically, welding causes the loss of some initial properties of the material, such as strength. When main parts of a sizable machine are welded, it becomes more voluminous and therefore more expensive to transport and store. Big, welded items require larger painting chambers which is another factor that increases the production cost. This in contrast with parts that are not welded and assembled at the final stages, after being painted and shipped.

The obvious suggestion is to allow a higher budget for proper design, using sheet metal technology and avoiding welding. It will produce a product that is less expensive and of higher quality.

 

3. Products that are assembled using many small parts

Equipment that is built by joining many simple parts better to redesign to utilize fewer parts that are more elaborate with more complicated bends.

Advantages:- Less parts to manage- Savings in assembly work- Less paint or coating- Less screws and fasteners- Better precision in one part against many joint parts – no tolerance accumulation- These advantages translate to significant cost savings of final product manufacturing.

 

4. The use of thick and expensive materials

Many designers and engineers tend to use heavier construction and more expensive materials “just in case”. This practice is, at times, very wasteful and can bring the item to a “Brake or Make” point. This is more relevant in low cost high volume items such as shelving and light frames.

One of our customers at Nepcon, used a 5 millimeter thick steel base board for his machine. By adding two bends we were able to reduce the thickness to 4 millimeters and save a significant amount of money, without compromising the strength of the design. Furthermore, we are positive that we could reduce further the thickness of the material but at times the designers are reluctant to accept major changes to their initial design. We tend to reach the middle ground with the engineers on this issue.

The reduction in thickness has a direct affect on the cost of laser cutting, bending and overall cost savings due to lower weight of the product. Needless to say, wile the cost of raw materials rise significantly, it is the Order of the Day to use raw materials wisely and utilize smarter bends to achieve the required strength.

 

5. Expensive finishing processes, such as wet painting.

Lately we are witnessing a significant increase in openness of the designers and engineers to use electrostatic dry painting process. Using powdered paint has many advantages over wet paint. For example, better scratch resistance, no need for intensive surface preparation, simpler surface preparation and shorter drying time. Despite that, there are a few draw backs that should be addressed. For example, if a Stud is inserted at the front of the part, there is no speckling option available and the insertion location is visible. To alleviate this problem a WELD STUD could be used or a spot welded bracket could be added to hold the Stud.

The main advantages of dry powder electrostatic painting process over wet painting:- Mechanical strength and scratch resistance.- Shorter process time – about 4 hours for the complete cycle. Reduces the response time.- Better adherence to environmental protection standards, since less solvents are used in the    process. In the US and Europe the legislation gains speed and it will be harder to wet paint    in the future.- An option exist to coat the surface with thicker layer, thus improving the rust resistance.- Dry paining is more automatic providing a consistent quality level that is less dependant on    the skill of the worker.

 

6. Shortening the assembly time

Advanced designs tend to utilize the advantages of sheet metal formings (achieved by punching machines) in joining parts, versus bending, welding and inserting screws, which are relatively lengthy hand operations. Punching machines are automatic and require very little man power. At times a punching machine can be left to work without any supervision at all.

Following are several uses where formings and very cost effective:- Using protrusions and holes to assist assembly or wiring (T RAP)- Punching hinges on the doors and side panels reduces assembly time and eliminates the    need to align the doors.- The utilization of special formings for joining parts, or even to help resist the pull forces in a   part.- Punching of electronic board holders and guides

 

Conclusion

The conditions and the requirements to achieve cost reduction process:

1. The willingness of the customer for engineering cooperation early in the stages of product      development and requirements definitions. 2. Customer’s
willingness to innovate without compromising the three F’s: FIT, FORM,       FUNCTION of the product. 3. The institution of the cost reduction process as early as possible. 4. It is recommended that the contract manufacturing company possesses high proven      engineering, execution and planning skills and abilities. 5. The initiator of the cost reduction process ought to consider the investment needed to     achieve these savings, such as designing costs, tooling and the time frame of the project,     against the savings that will be gained and the new product price that will be established. 6. Motivating the initiator of the cost reduction process can be done in two ways:    a. Guarantying the work for the future to the initiator, if he is not already the manufacturer           of the product.     b. In the case that the cost reduction initiator is already the contract manufacturer, the           benefits of the cost reduction can be shared between the manufacturer and the         customer.

If the conditions mentioned above are fulfilled, the cost reduction process will be successful. In today’s highly competitive, global market, no one suffers from over profit. Sensitivity, awareness and cooperation can bring mutual benefits to the contract manufacturer and its customer. 

This article was written by Yehuda Sameach, Division Manager at www.nepcon.co.il , Manufacturing Thechnologies

 

Division Manager,Nepcon Ltd

Featured Ads

 

No Comments

Leave A Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.