Day in the life of a connector

Franchised assembling distributor PEI-Genesis is renowned for its rapid connector assembly service. Operations manager at the companys Southampton-based European assembly facility, Tony Houghton, traces a typical day in connectors life Assembling distributors do not stock finished products. Instead, they stock components and assemble to order. Multi-pin connectors suit this approach. While some assembling distributors quote 7 to 10-days, only PEI-Genesis has managed to reduce the cycle time (from order to dispatch) to under 48-hours, usually considerably less. It all starts customers contact PEI-Genesis sales team

Tuesday, 4pm
A customer calls their designated PEI-Genesis internal sales contact, detailing their requirement. The sales person checks availability, delivery and price. For customers lacking an exact part number, PEI-Genesis specialist engineering team offers application advice. The order is loaded into the system and confirmed via e-mail. PEI-Genesis works with leading connector manufacturers including Amphenol, ITT Interconnect Solutions (Cannon and VEAM), Polamco, Cinch and Glenair, allowing it to offer a comprehensive range.

Wednesday, 6am
The system generates the first batch of works orders, each a single sheet of paper containing all the relevant information: customers details, order numbers, product quantity, stock picking list, manufacturing route plan and bar code. On an average day the European assembly facility sees around 120 works orders and build some 2,500 connectors. This number varies considerably, with the 65,000ft2 Southampton facility capable of assembling up to 10,000 connectors a day. The 83,000 stock locations at Southampton hold over 3million worth of components. This high inventory level is complemented by the companys South Bend, USA assembly facility which carries $42million worth of stock.

Wednesday, 7am
About 80 per cent of the components needed for the days work are stored in kanban locations on the shop floor. These runners of standard Pareto theory are used every day and therefore need to be located at the point of use to maximise process efficiency. Once all the parts have been picked, any necessary component preparation is carried out prior to commencing assembly.

Wednesday, 9am
The first assembly step involves bonding the rubber inserts into the connector shells. When complete, the contacts can be inserted. One reason why PEI-Genesis can offer a 48-hour connector assembly service is its in-house capability for developing custom automated assembly machines. An example is PEI-Genesis automatic contact loader, which significantly reduces the overall assembly time by carrying out the contact insertion process much quicker compared with manual methods.

Wednesday, 10am
The next process step is printing part numbers and additional identification codes on the connector shells. This is just one of 28 different skills during the production process, with all
PEI-Genesis production staff required to become proficient in as many skills as possible.

Wednesday, 11am
The heat-curing phase comprises an hour-long pass through a conveyor oven at 163oC. This cures the adhesive that bonds the contacts into the insert, plus the insert itself into the connector shell. It also cures the ink-jet printing. Conveyor ovens, rather than static ovens, prevent bottlenecks occurring, thus increasing efficiency. The connectors pass through the oven in a fibreglass tote box and are never separated from their associated works order. Once the curing process is complete, any necessary final assembly work is carried out.

Wednesday, 1pm
Final inspection and test. Quality assurance is a vital consideration at PEI-Genesis and, rather than simply building a product and testing it at the end, the company has introduced QA procedures into each stage of the assembly process. As well as reducing waste, this empowers production staff and makes them responsible for the quality of the work they produce. The result is fewer rejections when the connector arrives at final inspection and test. At this stage, each product is subjected to a visual inspection of workmanship and, depending on product type, various additional testing procedures including leak testing or MIL-STD Group A testing.

Wednesday, 3pm
Finished and tested connectors are packed. When the works order barcode is scanned it tells the shipping system (UPS World Ship) the order has been completed. The system then automatically generates an e-mail to the customer, informing them the goods have been despatched.

Wednesday, 4pm
Another customer calls