Monday, December 8, 2014

Custom Engineered Flexible Couplings

Custom Engineered Flexible Disc Coupling

While many coupling manufacturers have impressive standard product catalogs, as Murphy would have it, your application requires something special, a bit different, or a retrofit to a legacy design. For such custom coupling situations, leading coupling manufacturers have engineering teams on standby. 

Speaking specifically to Lovejoy, following principles of Quick Response Manufacturing (which focuses on optimizing high mix low volume manufacturers for speed), our coupling engineering team is actually comprised of two separate teams: the "Modified Catalog Team" and the "Engineered to Order Team"  (or "ETO"). 

Both are cross functional in nature. The "Modified Catalog Team" focuses on orders that are relatively simple variations or tweaks to existing product design. This team is comprised of application engineers, drafts persons, and technical customer service personnel. Their goal is speed. 

The "Engineered to Order Team" is comprised of Lovejoy's former Quality Manager, several design engineers, a manufacturing engineer, and a quoting engineer/technical customer service representative. This team is charged with tackling the hairy, messy, and complex requests.

When orders come into Lovejoy's customer service department, if a new design is required, it is funneled to one of these two teams based on a series of seven questions. If the answer is "no" to all seven, the order goes to the "Modified Catalog Team". If the answer is "yes" to any, the order goes to the "Engineered to Order Team". 

While "Modified" orders are expected to be turned around quickly, "ETO" couplings can take some time to design. By dividing work out in this way, quicker "Modified" orders are prevented from getting stuck behind nasty "ETO" ones. 

Once orders get to the "ETO" team, much like a hospital emergency room, orders get triage. Our former Quality Manager, who has limited purchasing authority, goes through the order to understand and ensure every requirement that must be met. If inspection gauging is needed that is not available, he can preemptively place it on order even before the design is complete. Similarly, he can get forging and other long lead items on order before designs have been finalized. (Dual path sourcing and design finalization allows precious time to be saved for our clients.) Once triage is complete, orders are assigned to design engineers who often then directly engage customers to work through any concerns and to receive print approvals, and everyone within this team is co-located within a few feet of each other to ensure quick coordination and communication. 

If you have a challenging or unique coupling opportunity, be it elastomeric (jaw, curved jaw, S-Flex, torsional) or metallic (gear, grid, disc), we would welcome an opportunity to serve you and show you our "ETO" Quick Response Work Cell in action. 

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