How an OEM slashed rework by ending hose installation errors
Operators working on a confusing system were installing hoses backward; Swagelok redesigned the system to be error-proof
Technicians at a leading semiconductor manufacturing facility were installing an alarming number of components backwards. The errors were stemming from confusion about which parts went where in an unusually complex system. Rework was costly and impacting uptime.
The OEM contacted Swagelok Northern California. They needed to know:
- Could they get components from us that were better differentiated?
- How soon could we focus on their problem with them?
- Would it be expensive to get our help and make needed changes?
Simplifying a complex installation process
The in-house engineering team at Swagelok Northern California went to look at the OEM's systems, including one that handled both supply and return in a cooling media assembly. The supply and return hoses looked almost identical, they observed.
The engineers thought the hoses themselves could be redesigned to head off improper installation. The team selected different end connections for the hoses in question. By giving each hose a unique type of connection, it was physically impossible for technicians to reverse the supply and return components.
The solution was low-cost, the parts were readily available, and the client no longer needed to worry about inadvertent errors with their hose installations.
Mistake-proofing the assembly... fast
To quickly zero in on the best solution, Swagelok Northern California's engineers applied a concept called "Poka-yoke". It comes from Shigeo Shingo, a Japanese engineer who worked at Toyota, and translates roughly as “mistake-proofing” or “inadvertent error prevention”.
Applied to manufacturing, a poka-yoke model helps prevent common mistakes: incorrect part production, improper system assembly, or erroneous tool use. It’s the first step in eliminating errors from a process.
Applying a poka-yoke philosophy helps ensure that the process, equipment, or tools in question are as successful as possible. The actual components of such an assembly make it impossible for a user to make a mistake, thus saving time, equipment, money, and frustration.
Dedicated hose assembly team goes to work
Here at our Fremont, CA facility, a hose assembly team of 12 full-time certified hose technicians build thousands of Swagelok hoses per year. And at our Sunnyvale warehouse we keep in stock about $12M worth of Swagelok hose and flexible tubing, fittings, valves, regulators, tubing, welding systems, and much more. (In all, Swagelok offers 10,500+ standard parts.)
Our certified hose technicians use specialized tools to cut hose and flexible tubing to precise lengths then attach chosen end connections, pressure-test and document the results, and deliver. All in a 6,600 square foot section of our Fremont, California facility.
Each assembler is certified by Swagelok manufacturing engineers. To pass their training class, they have to produce three samples of every kind of hose we build (about 40 different hoses in all). Whether it's a hand tool or complex automated equipment, our hose assemblers have to know what they are doing to get good results. That includes being able to read drawings and make accurate calculations to account for crimp collar shrinkage and other tolerances.
Delivering return on investment
By choosing our assembly services, this customer lowered their risk in several areas, minimized up-front costs, and lowered cost of ownership.
They eliminated rework related to hose installation errors and also reduced hose maintenance requirements by installing the highest quality components on the market.
The new design used the fewest possible parts, helping to minimize up-front costs. And they avoided costs related to procuring products through middle-man suppliers, inaccurate budgeting, scrap, and incompatible components.
Every hose assembly that customers get from us has been tested (we can do hydrostatic, immersion, and pressure decay tests). Documentation links each hose with its local assembler. And every assembly is backed with the industry-leading Swagelok Limited Lifetime Warranty.
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