Custom Cable Wire Manufacturing Quality Management
How Does Quality Impact My Cable Design Project?
How does a wire and cable manufacturer ensure robust quality and dependable function for such mission-critical needs? It involves having a plan, protocols, and processes in place that garner:
We set these benchmarks in our production standards so you can rely on these same safeguards in your real-world performance metrics. Achieving this requires that our quality management system (QMS) spans the breadth of our operations, monitoring and documenting everything from quality, communication, customer service, design and engineering support, material selection, regulatory requirements, and production and delivery time. Having such finite control over our products provide the quality assurance our customers need. Because no one wants a failed cable wire—especially when in the middle of an analysis of sewer lines using a submersible robotic device or during a procedure with a client in your exam room. And compromise on quality and function is categorically unacceptable for technology relied upon for military or aerospace operations.
Righting the Recipes
In practice, that means that we have process controls in place in the form of “recipes.” Before a recipe begins its production journey, it undergoes an approval process, which involves three tiers of testing for each recipe. This has proven to be an indispensable protocol to follow with each custom cable and wire project we partner on with customers. These require consistent and repeatable intel regarding product and process specification. Among the critical to quality (CTQ) characteristics we document are:
- Dimensional measurements/diameters
- Physical testing
- Electrical testing
- Heat parameters for extrusion
- Tensile strength
- Pressure parameters
Each standard is met at the different production phases, and sign-offs are required prior to the hand-off to the next operation. Establishing validated processes by way of recipes assures customers that we’ll get it right in production—and so will they with delivery.
This routing is the blueprint of our quality process. As each operation progresses through manufacturing, it has its own set-up (via the recipe). Once completed at each point in production, a hand-off is triggered, and the following operation is activated, and so on. The very end generally involves a test at the lab that gets signed off, which triggers the authorization to ship. This final inspection assesses the entire routing; and everything—records, data, sign-offs—are compiled together to validate that the recipe/process has been satisfied.
Custom orders being just that, we sit down with each customer and ask them what their needs are, which shapes the requirements of the project. Those questions include (and are not limited to):
- What does your cable do?
- How does it hook up?
- What are the specific needs: tensile strength, elongation, water resistance, etc.?
These requirements transfer to the manufacturing process and inform the CTQ moving forward. This converts the design inputs into something measurable, which populates the recipe. It ensures that we have the right color, insulation, conductor, and material specifications. We then address the cabling needs—issues such as the type of tape to use, and other conditions that must be met, such as water block for aqueous environments.
Satisfying Stringent Quality Standards
We are building an ISO-compliant system that is based on the 9001 model. Our QMS satisfies the very stringent requirement of the military, so we have proven success with it. Our QMS is not siloed in one department—it is part of our company culture. We have made it operationally accessible and usable by imparting a set of principles that our colleagues easily incorporate into their everyday systems and strategies. The overarching scope of principles are:
- Continually Improved
Every principle has three key aspirations that guide us through each project. As one example (we will talk more about these principles in an upcoming blog), the three considerations of the “Useful” principle are as follows:
- For promoting True North values & fundamentals
- For fulfilling our goals & key strategies
- For the needs of the stakeholders
It is important to Mercury Wire to fully integrate our company culture—which is one that promotes teamwork internally and with customers—in all aspects of our business. As such, we have built the QMS into our content management system, so it has integrally become the intermediary between the standards and the way we get things done.
What to Ask Your Wire and Cable Supplier?
How do you know you are engaging with a wire and cable manufacturing partner that has a robust QMS in place? You want to ensure they will it be a reliable supplier for quality and dependable products. There are a number of questions you can ask to ascertain the level of their quality standards so you can evaluate their ability to meet your needs.
We want to share with you some of the very same questions we get asked by customers engaging in a partnership with us. These are some of the higher-level questions you can ask a potential a wire and cable supplier to assess their level of quality assurance and verifiable processes.
- Do you have a Quality Policy?
- Does the Quality Policy include objectives that are quantifiable and measurable?
- Does the Quality Policy include a commitment to continual improvement?
- Do you have a Quality Manual?
- Are documents required by the QMS controlled?
- Are records required by the QMS controlled?
- Is there a documented program for the calibration, maintenance, and control of all instruments used in the inspection and acceptance of products?
- Are calibration methods traceable to NIST or other national standards?
- Is there a documented training and education program?
- Is there a formal documented procurement system?
- Are procedures available to all employees who require access?
- Are internal audits conducted to assess the effectiveness of the QMS and identify opportunities for improvement?
Robust QMS programs are repeatable because solid processes are in place—and adhered to. Here are a few of the questions you will want answered by a potential wire and cable supplier:
- Are processes controlled throughout manufacturing?
- Are customer drawings and specifications maintained on file and controlled to assure only the latest revisions are used?
- Are there procedures in place for the verification, storage, and maintenance of customer-supplied material?
- Are all processes for production and service provision where the resulting output cannot be verified by subsequent monitoring or measurement validated?
Vetting Supply Chain Partnerships
Supply chain partnerships should be vetted thoroughly. After all, you have a responsibility to your entire supply chain to ensure it remains as consistent and dependable as possible in quality, product, and delivery. We’re happy to answer any and all of your questions—because, as you can see from above, we do already!
Whatever your custom cable and wire needs are, we partner with you to create durable and dependable products for all your unique requirements. We have a proven track record, and when organizations such as the military depend on us—and have for 50 years—you know you can count on our quality management system to deliver the highest quality products.
If you want to see a more comprehensive list of questions you can use to screen potential supply chain partners, download this QMS checklist now!