Everyone is trying to stretch their dollar a little more these days, especially businesses. So its not surprising that supply chain personnel are looking to save a little here and there and hopefully get the same product they would if the spent a few more dollars. Well, the old saying you get what you pay for, could not be more right in the world of high voltage connectors, cable assemblies, and wire & cable.
There are hundreds of interconnect manufacturers in the United States, not all of them are equal, some have high prices with low quality, some have low prices and low quality. This is not a guide to help you find a interconnect manufacturer, just some tips on what causes a poorly made connector, and what the hidden costs are. Because, at the end of the day using a cheap connector is going to give you issues and will be the weakest link in your equipment.
What causes a poorly made connector?
Bad design Engineers are not experienced in designing high voltage connectors and assemblies. Designing a high voltage connector is very complicated, having a working knowledge of how high voltage connectors work is important when designing them.
Poor workmanship Unqualified, untrained, and careless assemblers make poor quality cable assemblies. Organizations should have trained, qualified, and careful assemblers to ensure that product being built are high quality. Cables can fail in the field if they make it that far, or get sent back from quality control leading to lost time, lost money, and missed shipping dates.
Low Quality raw materials Supply Chain may be trying to save money but in fact they are buying poorly made and poor quality raw materials. Even if you have the best assemblers, bad material going into the assembly will always make it fail. Counterfeit MIL-SPEC products is a large issue today, purchasers may purchase counterfeit product unknowingly or knowingly. Performing vendor audits or quality checks can help avoid these problems
Bad Management Pressure from the top to save money focus on the bottom line can shift workers mindset from quality products to getting products out the door. While everyone is in business to make money, focusing too much on the bottom line and not enough on quality can cause serious issues.
Now lets take a look at the hidden costs…
Bodily harm High voltage is extremely dangerous, when there is 50kV going through a cable assembly that is poorly made there is a high risk for electrocution. The last thing any business needs is OSHA knocking on their front door, or a manufacturer getting a lawsuit for faulty products leading to bodily harm.
Equipment downtime The amount of revenue lost from down equipment can vary from company to company and industry to industry, but the common denominator is money is being lost. Besides loss of revenue down equipment can cause a lot more problems, for example, if a cable assembly in the field for a military radar fails and the military cannot operate its radar then security and soldiers lives can be in danger.
Cost of getting the right product After all the costs of down equipment the added cost of finding a new supplier or getting the right product from your existing supplier adds up. If you choose to ditch your current supplier and go to someone new the time and effort from supply chain to find the new supplier can be very large.
Reputation Your Companys reputation may get tarnished if you are supplying your customer with equipment that has faulty connectors in it. We can all think of a company that has failed or spent millions to get their reputation back for delivering bad products, Ford/Firestone in early 2000, Toyota in the late 2000s, etc. The PR campaigns to re-instill product quality in the end users eyes cost millions and millions of dollars, for a small company this can put them out of business.
Loss of business Many large corporations have preferred suppliers and if you have a bad mark against your company name than you may be skipped over for new projects.