How Sussex Wire Created a Competitive Advantage

Headquartered in Easton, Pennsylvania, Sussex Wire is one of a few companies in the world that can produce miniature, precision, cold-headed parts ranging from 10 million to well over 1 billion pieces per year. Sussex cold forges and heads & roll forms symmetrical and asymmetrical components from microscopic wire diameters of 0.0035’’ to 0.250’’. And when you’re working with such miniature and microscopic parts…and for such demanding customers as…

  • The medical device marketplace
  • The automotive, sensors and MEMS marketplace
  • The hermetic package market: Manufacturing mission critical component parts with an environmental barrier between the control electronics and the wire leads
  • The satellite and telecom industry: Fashioning pins that go into devices that cannot be exposed to the atmosphere
  • The semiconductor marketplace
  • The relays marketplace

…it’s no surprise that Sussex is held to the most stringent, world-class requirements.

“Many of our primary customers are in the medical, aerospace and automotive industries, so they require extensive documentation. We need very tight control of what we submit to them during the initial new product development phase and keep an eye on all the quality control documents as it happens over the period of the life of the product,” stated Madan Mathevan, Sussex Wire’s Director of Engineering.

And there’s no shortage of documents.

Because Sussex provides 100% customized parts, the documentation process starts before the customer even knows exactly what they need. Customers come to Sussex in the early NPD stages and strategizes about design for reliability, manufacturability, assembly and cost for the mechanical and electronic components they’ll need. They first send a print of a proposed method for designing and manufacturing the part.

Then, Sussex’s engineers analyze it and determine its adaptability to their manufacturing technology. They look for opportunities to enhance the design and send suggestions (through another print) back to the customer.

The two companies go back and forth, negotiating geometries, dimensions, and tolerances, until it is finally approved. This typically leads to a first article production or prototype order. And that leads to commercial component production, and ultimately delivery to the customer.

Every step requires documentation of prints and other forms of communication.

“There is a whole series of prints from our customers and prints from us, back and forth,” explains Mathevan. “Those are developed, designed, housed in Synergis ADEPT and associated with each customer. Including the modeling that coincides with that -- whether it’s CAD modeling or a DEFORM finite element analysis modeling -- there is quite a bit of back and forth with the customer on those things.”

No lack of documents to manage

“Some of our parts can include as many as 52 different tools or dies,” remarked Mathevan. And each one of those has a print. If they are not both revision controlled, and if they are not linked in some type of metatag capability, finding them is like a needle in a haystack.”

And then there are the physical drawings.

And PDFs from customers.

And files on hard drives.

“You can’t waste money making the wrong versions in the tool room because somebody was only able to find an older version,” said Mathevan. “With so many drawing types in so many forms, including emails, we need a sane way to manage it all.”

Straightening it all out with ADEPT

Total Control over Every Step of the Process
So everything that happens inside Sussex’s engineering department is controlled through ADEPT.

Starting with the customer drawing, Sussex links all of their quality documents, all of their engineering drawing documents, all their manufacturing documents and all the FDA documents and files, and all the CNC programs.

Every file and document is linked to the part number. So when they look at the part number, they can see a complete history. They can see all communication between Sussex Wire and the customer. Everything is linked to that particular drawing.

“If the customer comes back and asks us, ‘can you give us the history behind everything that happened on this particular product?’ it makes it a lot easier for us to show it to them,” explained Mathevan. “We can show them all of the audit trails that happened on that particular product. It gives them all of the related documents for engineering, manufacturing, quality, and tooling.”

Faster time to market
This ability to quickly record what they did, when they did it and who they did it for streamlines Sussex Wire’s time to market.

Sussex Wire’s director of engineering and three design teams can communicate with each other and with the customer very quickly, and their ability to move from a “suggested specification” to delivery is also very fast.

Compared to the old method of managing documents, Adept has streamlined the whole processes. Says Madevan, “Now it takes about 30 seconds compared to 15 minutes to find a print.”

Improved transparency enhances relationships with customers
With such demanding customers and stringent quality standards, the ability to provide fast, accurate information is crucial for Sussex.

“The real benefit of ADEPT is the traceability for our customers,” says Sussex President, Tim Kardish. “Because of Adept, we are able to show our customers traceability for design, documentation control, and quality records -- with complete confidence.”

Accelerating Market Leadership
Sussex has come so far with their document management process that they’ve leapfrogged the competition. Their document control systems are now a unique competitive advantage they are beginning to exploit to win new business.

Says Kardish, “In response to customer need, I believe Sussex Wire has taken a leadership position in the market through the implementation of ADEPT. We are now able to receive, annotate, record, document, communicate, track, control, and search all NPD and value engineering component part and tooling engineering modifications with seamless transparency.”

ADEPT is helping Sussex improve time to market, retain more satisfied customers, and make wiser strategic business decisions. As the company grows and acquires new companies, the system will adapt right along with it.


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