Only Connect: On better manufacturing co-operation

(Before we start this blog, thank you to all those who contacted my directly answering the quiz I set last week. Well the good news is that many of you did indeed do your homework and got all the answers right. It would be unfair to everyone if I were to pick one winner suffice to say you know who you are and well done you!)
A recent experience has led me to question the policy of some major connector manufacturers in the way they make their tooling and products available.

Here is the thing; we come across this problem repeatedly where an engineer flicks through the latest product catalogue or website and finds a shiny new connector and thinks "yes that's the one for me", designs it into the system, then it's passed on to the cable assembly house to manufacture prototypes, through to full production. Great, you're thinking, so what is the problem?

The issue is that on many occasions, the manufactures have not received the product range in the UK or more commonly they have the product in the UK but no tooling or the tooling is so expensive it is not cost effective to invest just to produce prototypes.

This just annoys everyone and ultimately the cable assembly house offers the connectors they have tooling for, the design is changed, and the original connector manufacturer ends up loosing out.

Seriously, recently I was talking to a major connector manufacturer who said to me, "you can buy the contacts but we are not producing the tooling for it that is available in the UK." Where is the logic in that?

This happens so much it constantly amazes me that big companies just seem to loose sight of the fact that many mass produced items start life being designed and prototyped in the UK.

We need more joined up thinking from the major players. Neglect the UK market at the risk of your new connectors being obsolete before they even have the chance to be fully appreciated.

I apologise if this sounds like a rant and I guess it is but I love new technology and new connectors. We get to see some great innovation, but we come up against a brick wall such as tooling costs and it just makes me very sad for the industry. I know that we can do better than this.

Previous Only Connect entries:

* Only Connect - A small quiz on fiber optics

* Only Connect: A guide to fiber optics

* Only Connect: Product Technology - Cat 7 network cabling

* Only Connect: Carbon nanotubes - a new interconnection technology

* Only Connect: Ten things to consider when choosing a coax connector

* Only Connect: How to promote UK Manufacturing #4

* Only Connect: Renewable energy made in the UK (Going Green #5)

* Only Connect: Electronics and natural disasters

* Only Connect: A simple guide to DVI Connectors

* Only Connect: A Thunderbolt of innovation

* Only Connect: The golden principle of good design

* Only Connect: Common fiber connectors - a guide

* Only Connect: Product innovation - mixing signal

* Only Connect: IPC versus Greenpeace electronics scorecard

* Only Connect: Product innovation from Space

* Only Connect: Apple's MagSafe connector makes sense

* Only Connect: Coaxial connections guide

* Only Connect: Eco-gift for Christmas (Going Green #4)

* Only Connect: How to promote UK Manufacturing #3

* Only Connect: On using Ethernet connectors

* Only Connect: High-temp superconductors good news for renewable energy

* Only Connect: A positive mindset for winning government contracts

* Only Connect: A Top Ten of connector manufacturers

* Only Connect: Red toxic sludge points the way (Going Green #3)

* Only Connect: Handy Design Tips #4 - Explosion proof Ethernet

* Only Connect: We're changing the world into a better place, baby!

* Only Connect: Handy Design Tips #3 - The right wrong connector

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