Mueller Electric Blog

Tim Ulshafer

Director of Sales; Mueller Electric Company
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Selecting a Supplier to Build your Custom Cable Assembly

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Jun 19, 2018 10:35:30 AM

Many believe that taking a “least cost” approach is best in sourcing a supplier for the building of their custom cable assembly. What does that approach guarantee? Well, it guarantees a low price but does it guarantee on time delivery of a high quality product? Unfortunately, when accepting a low price as the main driver for supplier selection you usually get what you pay for, a great price, but, also long lead times and a product of marginal quality. Custom assemblies are usually unique in their design and are quite involved when it comes to design and assembly. To effectively source a supplier to build your unique custom cable assembly you should consider many factors on the way to your final decision. These factors are:

  • Reputation
  • Experience
  • Ability to provide prototypes
  • Willingness to provide samples for test
  • Ability to adjust to design changes quickly
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Ownership and financial stability

When you start your search make sure you look for companies who have a reputation of supplying quality products. You will avoid unnecessary risks by limiting your search to those who know how to deliver quality products. Make sure your selection originates from only those with a great reputation for quality. This will provide a great foundation for making the proper supplier selection. Within this group of potential suppliers find out which have experience in building and supplying cable assemblies. If you are looking for complex harnesses make sure you look for those with harness expertise. If you are looking for more simplistic assemblies such as grounding assemblies, for example, go with a supplier who has expertise in supplying quality grounding assemblies.

brainstorming 1When it comes to having a uniquely designed custom cable assembly it is always best practice to have a prototype made from the original specification for your consideration. This will allow your engineer(s) and possibly your customer a chance to review the original assembly build to insure it meets everyone’s expectations. Product modifications can usually be spotted at this time. Very few first articles are perfect right from spec. If a potential supplier will not agree to provide a prototype, move on and find a supplier who will.

Once a final version of the prototype is established it may be necessary for a number of samples to be built for testing purposes. If this is the case for your assembly make sure you find a supplier who is willing to provide test samples of the assemblies you need. Testing is usually necessary to insure the assembly can perform as expected from the prototyping phase. Like prototyping this too can lead to additional design changes. This is a critical step in the process of cable assembly development. Like prototyping, if your prospective supplier is not willing to provide samples, consider moving on with your selection.

Another important consideration is your prospective supplier’s ability to ship on time and meet deadlines. We’ve all been involved with projects that are held up due to longer than expected lead times. Yes, sometimes things happen that are beyond your control, but, many suppliers eager to get the business often quote shorter lead times simply to win business. When this occurs, nobody wins as lead times often stretch well beyond project deadlines bringing the project to a halt. During your selection process ask your prospective supplier how they quote lead times. Additionally, always ask what their on-time delivery performance is for the type of assembly you are sourcing.

Finally, supplier ownership and financial stability is key for a prospective supplier producing a critical piece of your project. Why take the risk of having your supplier potentially struggle to buy parts and raw materials for your assembly; or even worse, suspend operations altogether leaving you at square one. Nobody wants to be in this position so make sure you check out your prospective supplier’s financial credentials before entering into a contract.

It’s not as easy as you might think to choose a supplier to manufacture your customer cable assembly. Make certain you do your due diligence. This will allow you to make the appropriate selection for a supplier perfect for your project. Although this may take some time up front, it is far better to take the time to learn rather than suffer the consequences of poor judgement after it’s too late.

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Topics: custom cables

Your Paint Line is Unique, Ground It Accordingly!

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Aug 24, 2017 11:58:22 AM

Paint lines come in many shapes and sizes incorporating a wide range of paintable substrates. Some paint lines require large grounding assemblies to carry current while others are short light weight items used to provide a simple ground. Grounding metal is different than grounding fiberglass or plastics. The one thing in common is, everybody wants their paint line to produce high quality output with high percentages of transfer efficiency with low defects. In short, everyone wants their paint job to look great!

We all know that paint lines need too be grounded but since no line is the same where do you go to get the solid ground connection you need in the configuration your paint line will accommodate? GOOD NEWS, options exist for all grounding applications! When speaking to a supplier of grounding solutions you will need to be ready to provide the following:

  •  Your paint application, what and how are you painting?
  • What component of the process are you trying to improve?
    • Transfer Efficiency?
    • Output aesthetics?
    • Safety?
    • Costs?
  • What grounding practices have you been using?
  • What do your carriers look like?
    • Provide photos of you carriers and paint line
  • What does your cleaning process entail?
  • Are you looking for permanent or once and done solutions?
  • Do you have a budget for the upgrade that needs to be adhered to?

With this information a potential solution can be formulated.Once an initial solution is ready a sample package is created and forwarded for testing. After enough data is collected, feedback is provided to the supplier for approval or design modifications. If modifications are required, a new sample package will be created and forwarded again for testing. This process continues until a solid grounding solution is identified and agreed upon. Once the design is approved by the paint line manager a quote will be provided based upon expected usage. A blanket order is usually the best way to keep the new grounding assemblies flowing when needed and your paint line well grounded.

Mueller Electric has been providing customer paint line grounding assemblies to paint line managers for years. Below are some of the examples of the unique custom designs that shave been created to deliver pinpoint grounding solutions for a multitude of paint environments.    
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For more information on grounding, read our whitepaper on Static Electricity and Grounding in Industry.

Topics: Paint Line Grounding

Is Your Metal Paint Line Built from the "Ground" Up?

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Apr 14, 2017 1:31:52 PM

If you are a paint line manager or engineer you already know that building and maintaining a paint line is no small task. It is also a very costly initiative and the more money spent the higher the expectations for quality production. A major portion of the ongoing cost of a paint line is the paint itself and many paint engineers spend countless hours on improving transfer efficiency. Let's face it, any paint that doesn't land on its target is wasteful and costly.

Whether you are painting large chassis, frames, vehicle bodies, doors or any other type of metal objects the need for a consistently high quality paint output has become the expectation and of course a great challenge. Manufacturers of automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles and off-road vehicles have their paint managers busy in improving paint quality around the clock. We can all agree, in today's competitive environment, consumers buy what catches their eye and a great paint job is where it all starts. To maximize paint quality many paint managers and engineers focus on the type of paint application being used, others focus on the paint itself, while others may focus on the paint room environment. Few, however, tend to consider proper grounding to be part of their equation.

Grounding, although not a glamorous subject, may be one of the main reasons why your paint transfer efficiency is not as high as you would like not to mention your output not achieving your expectations of high quality. This may be especially true when painting objects previously coated with a strong undercoat or primer designed to prevent against road wear and the elements. The questions that beg to be asked is, is there an appropriate ground with the object to be painted? Is there a grounding system in place? If so, is it working? That carrier your paint target is sitting on may not be providing the strong ground you think it is!

The good news is, there are solutions to these issues. Mueller Electric provides custom high quality cost effective grounding assemblies for every type of paint line application. These custom assemblies can range from a simple stainless steel wire rope with clips on each end to more sophisticated solutions with quick disconnect capabilities in addition to more permanent solutions with lugs to insure a hard fastened connection to ground. Every application is unique and Mueller can, and does, provide the required solutions. Mueller also makes a ground strength detection meter to insure you have a solid ground before the paint is applied. To read more about Mueller's solutions please download out free guide on Grounding Metals for Painting below.

                                                       Free Guide Grounding Metals  for Painting


For more information on grounding, read our whitepaper Static Electricity and Grounding in Industry

Removing Static from the Paint Line, Don't Overthink It!

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Apr 4, 2017 8:25:16 AM

For most painters, removing static from the paint process is critical to improving transfer efficiency. This is true for the painting of plastics, fiberglass and metal components. Does your paint line use robots or painters? Are you continually trying to reduce static with solutions that work, don't work or just are not reliable? The universal painting issue appears to be the cost of repainting and scrap versus the solution you are using. You may be building an electrostatic grounding solution yourself or buying something at a higher cost than you would like.

As a paint engineer or tech, you spend countless hours looking for the perfect solution. Many of these solutions result in new paint line processes where static is removed by a special pin system or items are sprayed with various chemical formulas. True, there are some very tech - high end paint line processes that are working well in reducing static and improving transfer efficiency. Unfortunately, not everyone has a budget to upgrade the paint line which is going to cost several million dollars.

So, what can be done about reducing static and improving your transfer efficiency without breaking the bank and be immediately available? A simple grounding solution is your best bet. It may not be glamorous but it is a solid and immediate solution. Grounding assemblies and clips come in all shapes and sizes which will meet most needs on the market. These clips are usually so inexpensive that they are most often discarded for new even after just a few paint runs. Still, they are rugged enough for most chemical cleaning processes along with a few heat cleaning processes if cleaning is desired.

Mueller Electric provides this solution and they are already in place at several major auto makers both in the U.S. and overseas. Mueller can design unique solutions to your painting process which tremendously reduces rework and scrap costs. Plus, these are so cost effective, there is no reason to build these in house. These solutions can include flat nosed clips for a wide surface connection, clips with teeth to bite through the layers of paint and a bolted down solution as well. These are customized to any length needed. Mueller will work with you until you are certain that your solution is right for you. Free samples are readily available as well as engineering expertise. To learn more click below for your free guide on improving transfer efficiency.

For more information on grounding, read our whitepaper Static Electricity and Grounding in Industry

                                                       Free Guide Grounding Plastics  for Painting

To request your grounding solution free samples or to request additional support please contact us below.     

                                                           Contact Us

Topics: Painting Plastics

Painting Plastics: How to Produce High-Quality Output in a Low Cost Environment

Posted by Tim Ulshafer on Jan 25, 2017 1:03:11 PM

With the vast varieties of paint, materials and application processes, the achievement of an efficient, high-quality and consistent automated painting process can often seem elusive. How can the director of the painting operation optimize output and quality while controlling costs?  Output is useless without quality.  The cost of scrap and rework adds up quickly, and can delay the overall project. For example, if a painted plastic bumper cover has flaws and needs to be reworked or scrapped, then that component will not be available for assembly to the designated automobile, potentially impacting the production line or the customer (and who wants rework stacking up?). This is a disruptive and costly nuisance.

A clean painting environment promoting "high transfer efficiency" is always a good place to start. But that alone does not guarantee a flawless paint finish. A major contributor to poor paint finish quality in plastics is ineffective electrostatic grounding resulting from poorly grounded components.  Yes, something a simple as grounding!  Paint departments use a variety of grounding methods including conductive tape, foil, clip assemblies, and grounding fixtures (of which some are internally integrated).   Each of these grounding methods have varying degrees of effectiveness and cost.  Here are some of the cost factors to consider:

  • Inventory: What are the associated costs to purchase individual grounding components and to monitor / maintain inventory levels?
  • Labor: What are the associated costs to build assemblies in-house, using your own staff, as opposed to buying a complete assembly?
  • Set-up/Clean-up: What are the costs of set-up and clean-up?
  • Effectiveness & Ease of Use: Is the grounding method reliable, repeatable, reusable & cleanable?

Many paint shop process foreman are inclined to think that a "do-it-yourself" grounding solution is the best, cost-effective option.  In reality, a solution engineered to your specific set-up will provide a superior, LOWER-cost result.  Don’t do it yourself!  

  • Customized to the exact requirements of your process. Each is precisely made and consistent.
  • Finished assembly cost is less than the cost to purchase individual components and build them yourself with in-house labor.
  • No scrap, broken or missing parts. Fully built assemblies arrive ready to use.
  • Less administration cost to order, stock, receive and count not to mention – fewer SKUs.

There are many outlets offering standard grounding assemblies and individual components, but it's the application knowledge and expertise that make it work.  Mueller Electric Company has that proven electrostatic grounding solution expertise and field experience.  Mueller offers applications engineering, a wide range of grounding solutions for any plastics painting production line, and samples for testing.  The right solution is a phone call or email away.   

For more information on grounding, read our whitepaper Static Electricity and Grounding in Industry


Free Guide Grounding Plastics  for Painting

Topics: Plastic Painting, Painting Plastics, Test & Measurement