As predicted, the end of 2010 has proved to be a very busy time for the Engineering and Product Management teams.  In addition, our Production group has been extremely busy as well, which was somewhat unexpected.  Looking at our order log for the next couple months, it looks like none of these teams will get a break as we move into 2011, which is great news for us as a company.

You would think that with all this activity, there would be a flurry of blog posts.  Unfortunately, I am fast becoming aware that it is difficult to blog about custom product as it is often confidential in nature.  Our customers’ confidentiality is very important to us, so it limits what I can share with the world.  That being said, here are some things we have been working on:

1) New Products: We are seeing many new Heavy Equipment harness designs being proposed and also being converted into quick orders.  In addition to the normal work instructions and paperwork, every harness order requires at least one layout board and mating test harness to be built.  This has kept our Quality and Engineering teams busy.  I expected by this time I would see a larger number of harnesses eliminating Deutsch components and using the Amphenol AT series as replacements due to Deutsch delivery problems in early 2010, but that has not been the case.  You should be aware that we are happy to use either of these manufacturers on our harnesses.

2) Research and Development: We have begun to dedicate a significant amount of time to generating a lead free alternative for soldering electrical connectors to automotive window glass.  This has traditionally been a RoHS exempted solder joint due to poor performance of the traditional SAC (Tin/Silver/Copper) solder alloys in this application, but that exemption is due to expire soon.  We at PCS are focusing on identifying a much more cost competitive solution when compared to the current alternatives available commercially (for example, alloys containing high content of Indium and/or Bismuth).  We are hoping to get through some very important testing in early 2011.

3) Innovation: We are working on an alternative design using flat flexible conductors for an automotive customer that is stretching the boundaries for how we have used this product in the past.  Although this doesn’t look to be an extremely profitable project, we hope it will open doors for us.  In addition to that, who doesn’t like to read about their products on automotive news blogs?

4) Continuous Improvement: We are writing CNC code for our machine shop so that we can replace some of the existing tooling in our equipment.  In the past, we have used mostly manual equipment for maintaining our tooling and building new test fixtures.  With the completion of  recent training, we have successfully started writing our own CNC code to replace some of this tooling, which should provide better costs for our customers and a more standardized product.

5) We are implementing a new ERP system, Epicor 9, which has been an exciting adventure.  Anyone who has upgraded such a major database such as an ERP knows how overwhelming it can be.  The amount of data that needs to be transferred is absolutely mind-boggling.  We intended on doing the implementation in Q4 as it typically is our slowest time of the year.  It has been difficult, but we are finding time to fit this into our daily schedules.  There is high hope that this system will provide better cost models (thus better pricing for the customers), better real-time production data (more accurate lead-times) and a more user friendly quote module (faster turnarounds on RFQs).

That is a pretty good cross-section of what has been going on here at PCS.  As always, if there is something in this post that catches your attention and want to talk more about it, contact us for further discussion.