Electronics Sourcing explores customised connectors with ODU application manager, Thomas Neuburger and design engineer, Stefan Seibuchner.
For many customers, standard connector solutions are not an option. Likewise, not all products are included in the standard range or listed in catalogues. Specific project requirements demand custom solutions. Often, at the start of a project the parameters are not fully defined. Thus, cooperation between customer and supplier is necessary. ODU makes this possible through custom solutions and an open exchange of ideas.
Q: What happens at the first customer meeting?
Thomas Neuburger: Ideally, before the first customer consultation we will have already received their basic connector requirements. This allows us to create a rough concept for the initial meeting. It can help to discuss possible solutions based on an existing connector. Ideas are generated and concepts developed via interdisciplinary collaboration, involving the Product Design and Application Centres.
Q: Can all customers benefit from tailor-made solutions?
Stefan Seibuchner: Customer requirements must be reconciled with technical feasibility. This often presents challenges. Therefore, we try to work directly with customers’ project stakeholders and technicians. We discuss specific options and wishes and create implementation options for both parties.
Q: What are the prerequisites for this process?
Thomas Neuburger: Technical feasibility aside, the project must be appealing for both sides. We won’t satisfy our customers by putting a lot of work into a heavily customized solution—the cost-benefit ratio must be maintained. Producing a small quantity at a very high price is not expedient.
Q: What are the biggest challenges with custom solutions?
Stefan Seibuchner: ODU and its customers operate in a dynamic market. Technical changes, new requirements, shorter product life cycles and increased competition are some key attributes. Thus, it is necessary to quickly develop suitable and technically feasible solutions. Furthermore, the solution must also be economically attractive. The task is to reconcile the different goals.
Q: What needs to be considered regarding technical feasibility?
Stefan Seibuchner: Technical feasibility can’t always be confirmed from the outset. In addition to the theoretical considerations, we try to quickly validate critical sub-functions using functional samples via prototyping and 3D printing. This lets us identify complications and react accordingly.
Q: What is the role of the Application Center?
Thomas Neuburger: The Application Center is the contact point for technical customer support. Firstly, we check whether our special connector portfolio already includes an existing solution or whether there is a business case for a custom solution. For a custom solution, we define a project which our Application Manager then oversees.
Q: To what extent are customer partnerships important?
Thomas Neuburger: They are indispensable: projects only ever succeed or fail jointly. Every single person involved is crucial to its joint success. We all share a common goal to work towards. If changes or problems arise the better the cooperation, the easier it is to find solutions.
Q: What makes ODU stand out here?
Stefan Seibuchner: Our high vertical range of manufacture is what sets us apart. This reduces the number of subcontractors and consequently lead times. Direct customer contact lets us better understand and consolidate requirements. A broad connector portfolio, associated experience and options to choose between different solutions: this is what ODU stands for.