Custom Fittings, Assemblies, Kitting and Your Bottom Line
Last updated on November 18, 2019
Value-added services improve quality while adding efficiency and reducing costs
Custom fittings, small production run tubing assemblies, medical sub-assemblies, bagging and clean room repackaging all have important roles in process budgeting, planning and design. Many manufacturers, distributors and value-added contract manufacturers offer these services.
In this post, I will outline the importance of services like customized fittings, tubing assemblies and sub-assemblies, medical sub-assemblies, and clean room and industrial repackaging with an emphasis on small production runs.
Some of the reasons to consider outsourcing of custom services
- Avoid production bottlenecks
- Maintain focus on core business
- Respond more quickly and nimbly to market changes
- An economic option when volume is too low for automation
- Reduce inventory costs with just-in-time supply of parts or sub-assemblies
We are looking for a flow restrictor with an elbow hose barb connection. We also need it to adapt to a tapered pipe thread port.
Hose barb elbow with threaded adapter and a precision orifice all in one part.
Threaded elbow hose barb adapters are an off-the-shelf component as are brass orifice restrictors.
A finished part incorporated each component into one precisely engineered part.
What happens when there is an important flow project, but no one seems to be making the one part necessary to make it work? Combining features such as integrated check valves or orifices with the appropriate fittings can be easy to describe but hard to come by. It takes specialized experience, flexibility and an emphasis on quality to offer fitting customization as a reliable service. This is even more challenging when the requirement is for a small production run. There are distinct advantages of finding a quality based small run supplier:
- Quality outcomes are predictable
- Prevent resources from being tied up in small projects
- Short-term commitments are inherently practical and flexible
- Solve immediate, urgent problems without process re-design
- Leverage the expertise of suppliers to prevent waste and develop design solutions
Custom cut-to-length plastic tubing
The ISM production department has a high-speed automated tubing cutter. This countertop cutter is able to cut up to 100 feet of tubing per minute. Even with very short lengths of tubing that require more frequent cuts, the machine still cuts an average of 65 feet per minute. This is really useful for us because ISM makes thousands of tubing assemblies for our customers every month.
This tubing cutter is precise and makes perfect square cuts with no pinching. It can cut tubing ranging from 0.08” OD (outer diameter) to 1” OD. Custom tubing lengths can be as short as about 1/4" (7.32mm) or as long as about 80 feet (25m). All within a +/-0.055 inch (1.4mm) tolerance or 0.5% for longer lengths.
Our tubing cutter can handle a wide variety of plastic and elastomer tubing:
- Vinyl Tubing
- Flexible PVC
- Nylon Tubing
- Rubber Hose
- Medical Tubing
- Flexible Polyurethane
Clean room repackaging
Medical device manufacturers combine consumable medical devices such as check valves and syringe filters with medical grade tubing to make tubing sub-assemblies or kits for tubing sets.
Medical part manufacturers produce and ship small parts in quantities much too large for easy handling for production purposes. This makes repackaging parts into more practical quantities a highly useful service. Because these are medical parts, repackaging should take place in a certified clean room environment to minimize particle contamination. The benefits are substantial:
- Predictable quality
- Improvement in production cycle times
- Simpler and cheaper part inventory management
- Availability of the correct ratio of parts for production processes
- Timely provision of part quantities for flexible production planning
For production runs of medical sub-assemblies, the emphasis has to be on overall quality. A complete medical assembly or tubing set requires highly specialized packaging and sterilization. Much of this expertise applies to the final stages of production.
There are considerable costs and complexity savings, especially for small production runs, by having a contract service put together medical sub-assemblies to speed up and simplify production. These require clean room assembly but, because final packaging and sterilization come later, it significantly reduces the overhead of keeping everything in house.
There are other benefits too:
- Flexibility to provide variations as needed
- Devote valuable resources to more critical assemblies
- Save money by not adding infrastructure for small production runs
- Manage part delivery to fit market demands and production scheduling
Because sterilization is not an issue for industrial applications, custom assemblies outside of a clean room are widely offered as a service to industrial and OEM manufacturers. Many of the quality issues still apply though, so having an experienced and reliable partner that emphasizes efficiency and quality makes all the difference.
Bagging and kitting
“Kitting” can describe everything from medical sub-assemblies to repackaging of both medical and industrial parts. Generally, though, kitting implies the creation of a mix of parts either loosely bagged or as a sub-assembly.
Custom bagging is an associated service because of its flexibility and benefits.
- Simplified quality control
- Easily adaptable to market changes
- Full customization is possible including custom labeling
- No infrastructure, training and space commitments for specialized machinery
- Small production runs prevent large runs of incorrectly chosen quantities and combinations
Semi- to fully-automated bagging and sealing machines complement small and short production runs and build-on-demand services. They also add support for medium to large volume production runs.
Modular Check Valves
We've taken spring-loaded check valves to a whole new level. Mix and match imperial and metric connections. Watch the video.
Value-added service providers
What to look for in a value-added service provider generally revolves around quality, reliability and efficiency. A service with these additional characteristics should ensure a win-win business partner relationship:
- Inherently flexible processes
- Custom component part modification services
- Comfortable handling a wide range of variations
- An emphasis on processes that drive high accuracy rates
ISM custom solutions
At ISM our focus is on both quality and value. We provide custom solutions that maintain high-quality standards at volume levels that other companies choose not to manage. Whether it is customized fittings, custom bagging, custom labeling, medical repackaging, medical sub-assemblies or industrial assemblies, excellence is our goal and we strive to exceed your expectations.
Some useful FAQs
What is a bagging machine?
Semi- and fully automatic bagging machines or bagging systems mechanically insert and seal small parts and products inside plastic bags or pouches. These packaging machines are used to increase productivity and consistency, reduce labor costs, improve accuracy and increase safety. This sort of automation also provides the option of adding custom packaging designs and labeling.
How does a bagging machine work?
A roll of plastic bags is fed into the bagging machine. Its built-in printer adds text, graphics and barcodes to each bag before it is filled. A mechanism (infeed) supplies parts to the bagging area. In the bagging area, each bag is opened by a pulse of compressed air. It is then filled, sealed and separated from the roll.
Look for our upcoming blog article where we introduce and discuss some of the basics of miniature check valve design and functionality:
Have you had trouble finding a partner when developing one of your projects? Was quality a problem? How about small volume production runs and flexibility? Help us by telling others about what you learned.
Still have questions about custom manufacturing services? If so, send me an email – email@example.com. You can also ask questions using the comments section below.
About the author
Steven C. Williams, BS, is the technical writer and an inbound marketing specialist at Industrial Specialties Manufacturing (ISM), an ISO 9001-2015 supplier of miniature pneumatic, vacuum and fluid circuitry components to OEM's and distributors all over the world. He writes on technical topics related to miniature pneumatic and fluidic components as well as topics of general interest at ISM.