The Price and Prevention of Counterfeit Parts in Manufacturing

by Liberty Electronics

Although the aerospace industry is leading the effort to combat counterfeiting through methods like serialization tracing and supply chain control, the use and sale of counterfeit parts is still an issue in manufacturing. Counterfeiters are changing with the times too, applying more sophisticated approaches and techniques to skirt testing, laws, and standards. Blanks, clones, and undisclosed remanufacturing are just some of the growing trends infiltrating the world of counterfeit.

Investing in the right prevention procedures, purchasing processes, and product quality controls might seem daunting, but the value of the price of protection far outweighs the cost you might pay for buying, selling, or using counterfeit parts. Here are some steps you can take to mitigate the risk of falling victim to counterfeit.

Know who you’re buying from

In July of this year, a major US connector manufacturer agreed to pay the United States $11 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit that accused the manufacturer of supplying the military with electrical connectors without the proper testing. The allegations spanned nine years of work performed for six models of electrical connectors that were not routinely tested per government requirements. Proper testing and quality control performed on parts such as electrical connectors is imperative to protect and prevent the dangerous purchase and use of counterfeit parts.

Procurement professionals can be enticed by lower costs and lead times for expensive and elusive parts needed for a project, but don’t let that small sticker price seduce you. More often than not, deep discounts and quick turnarounds are too good to be true. Doing the research and meeting all of the requirements for authenticating partners can be daunting, but a reliable contract manufacturer (CM) can alleviate most of this process for OEMs.

Leave the legwork to partners and suppliers

Vetting suppliers can be challenging, and when you purchase parts from multiple different sources, you have to repeat the process all over again. Establishing standards and selecting qualified suppliers during the initial bidding and quoting phase can cement a trustworthy partnership with a supplier from the beginning. When possible, using a single-source supplier can prevent having to hit that reset button continuously.

A trusted CM has purchase quality requirements (PQRs) already in place and has a process for providing documentation for proving parts are not counterfeit. Contract manufacturers can also do the legwork of researching and verifying all of the parts needed when they are provided a Bill of Material or are involved in the early stages of design and can collaborate on the creation of the list of parts needed.

Use reliable resources

Counterfeiting might be a war that’s constantly waged, but the industry is also always working to sharpen the weapons it can wield in the fight against counterfeit parts. Associations and resources such as the Counterfeit Avoidance Accreditation Program (CAAP), Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA), and Oxebridge Quality Resources offer trainings, certifications, and strategies for ensuring you only work with authentic parts.

Trustworthy CMs like Liberty Electronics cement themselves as quality partners in manufacturing by becoming certified to ISO 9001 or the aerospace-specific AS9100 standard. Counterfeiters are motivated, but we are more determined than ever to protect the integrity and safety of the industry from the cost and dangers of unauthorized sellers and counterfeit products.

For more information on combating counterfeit materials or to speak with an expert, contact Liberty Electronics today. 

Configuration Management – A Cornerstone of Liberty Electronics

by Liberty Electronics

At the heart of every aspect of our business, configuration management is extremely vital to Liberty Electronics. In fact, we built our entire Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System around it. Expanding our Oracle Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) software to include multiple ERP functions—estimating, planning, inventory and production control, quality assurance, etc.—enabled us to embed revision management into every step of the process.

Our configuration management process consists of statuses and workflows. Statuses of sales orders, part numbers, documents, etc. can go from “In work” to “Released” to “In Change.” These mandatory shifts allow the system to prevent certain transactions until the new change has been implemented and a new “Released” version is issued. To specify effectivity, Liberty’s system utilizes “Valid From” and “Valid Until” dates. In addition, “Stop Work” is the terminology we use to prevent production while we sort out the various issues that can arise. Status histories are not only made in real time, but notifications are made automatically when statuses change. Reviews and approvals can then be conducted at appropriate times because of these notifications, which enables team members to take action based on the workflow notifications that show up in their mailboxes.

Another crucial configuration management process at Liberty is the Engineering Change Order (ECO) process. It again is Liberty-designed and is quite robust and efficient, allowing us to process a high volume of changes very quickly. All Bill of Material (BOM) changes, for example, can only be made after first changing the status and creating a new internal or external revision. In addition, engineers no longer have to manually document BOM changes; instead, the system automatically creates an “ECO BOM Comparison Report.” This report looks at the old and new revisions and lists the quantity changes, components added, and components deleted, which removes the potential for error and communicates correct details directly to our team members.

Liberty’s specific use of technology also helps the configuration management process. We exclusively utilize computer monitors and tablet devices during our production process in order to access documents. Only the approved “Released” version of the items, BOMs, routers, work instructions, etc. are available on these devices so there is no possibility for an operator to use an old revision to manufacture products, which would result in scrap, rework, and added costs. This establishes consistency within our production process and catalyzes our production process by promoting efficiency from the start of our builds.

We also keep complete histories on record of the entire life cycle of various aspects of our work processes—quotes, purchase orders, sales orders, items, BOMs, drawings, programs, routers, work instructions, etc. Transaction logs capture configuration states of assemblies during their assembly processes for posterity and communication purposes.

Configuration management at Liberty Electronic is not an additional requirement that Liberty strives to do. Instead, it is woven within our DNA; in other words, it is how we do business. Our configuration management processes allow us to guarantee that we will deliver the correct products to our customers every time.

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Keep it Running: Tools and Company Culture

by Liberty Electronics

One way that a company like Liberty ensures an efficient and well-equipped workforce is by making sure the tools that employees use on a daily basis are current, calibrated, and functioning. The proper maintenance and organization of all tooling is a key element in a workforce that is confident, safe, and well-equipped.

Each tool on the production floor is catalogued and under the care of a tool crib attendant. This attendant keeps track of who uses each tool, issues tools to employees who need them for a specific job, and ensures that tools are properly maintained and calibrated.

Each tool or machine is marked with a serial number, and is issued to certain employees for specific jobs before being returned to the tool crib attendant once the job is completed. This minimizes confusion on the production floor (personnel only have the resources they need, nothing missing or superfluous), while also minimizing the risk of injury or damage due to the use of the wrong tool. For example, if the building instructions for an assembly calls for the use of a certain size of screwdriver, and an employee were to use the wrong size or type of screwdriver; the screw could be stripped, or the assembly damaged, or the employee injured in some way because they did not use the adequate tool. By closely regulating and cataloguing each tool, these opportunities for error are greatly reduced.

All tools also have an “expiration date:” a specified time when they are to be re-inspected and calibrated. Having each item numbered aids in this process as well: the attendant can keep track of every item and know what needs to be serviced when. Because each tool has been issued to specific employees for specific jobs, the attendant has a record for exactly how and when the tool has been used, which creates a pedigree of tooling: a work history of each item.

Without properly organizing and maintaining the company’s roster of tools, there would be the potential for an employee to use an improper tool, either damaging materials or injuring themself. By contrast, a very specialized system of organizing tools allows employees to not only be current with their specialized training, but for the tools they use to be serviced and calibrated as well.

Properly cataloging and maintaining tools reduces confusion, ensures that all items are up to code, and confirms that the intended tools for the job are being used by the qualified people for the job. This contributes to a company culture in which employees feel equipped, confident, taken care of, and ready for any challenge.

Click here to contact us to learn more.


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Molding and Insulation for Performance

by Liberty Electronics

Molding and insulation are both vital steps in protecting wire assemblies from wear and tear, allowing for a longer lasting and higher quality product. Cast molding, overmolding, and press molding are all techniques to protect the connections of a cable assembly, ensuring quality and extended use. These techniques all achieve slightly different results, while still meeting the ultimate objective: protection of components, creating dimensional parameters, and giving longevity to the product. A variety of materials are used in the insulation and molding process depending on the intended final use of the wiring product.

Cast molding uses a custom-designed mold to provide the wiring harness with specific dimensions. This allows the product to fit within the space and shape the customer requires. Similarly, press molding provides a specific, physical barrier, but can also be used to give substance to smaller wiring assemblies. When used in this way, the assembly is more robust and conducive to handling. It provides some strain relief between the electrical connector and cable bundle. Overmolding offers high levels of electrical protection for the cable assembly by providing a layer of insulation. This molding often covers slide or machine braiding as the final step of protection for the wiring. It provides an electrical barrier to the wire harness, while still orienting the connector and providing dimensional parameters.

Various types of molding will utilize different materials based on the needs of the specific assembly, depending on the design of the product as well as other factors, for example the environment in which a product will be required to perform. Viton, for example, is robust and chemical-resistant yet flexible, making it excellent for military applications such as rocket motors. Polyurethane is biologically resistant to environmental agents such as water and microorganisms, often used for molding in military, transit, and commercial applications. Epoxies are often utilized in cast molding due to their rigidity and durability, making an effective material for connectors and adding substance to an assembly.

Molding and insulation work together for the best possible protection and performance in a wiring harness. Liberty Electronics utilizes a variety of materials to ensure wire harnesses are produced to exact specifications and quality, meeting the needs of their clients.

 What molding techniques do you find most useful? Leave a comment below or contact Liberty to talk more about molding.


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Working on Your Next Light Rail Project? Here’s What OEMs Need to Know

by Liberty Electronics

The global light rail industry is forecasted to reach $4.97 billion by 2026, growing at an annual rate of 9.8%. While Europe continues to maintain the highest market growth, the recent rise in light rail passengers across major U.S. cities has led to approvals for light rail extension projects throughout the country — expecting to drive market growth even further. Light rail vehicles produced by companies like Bombardier, Siemens, Kawasaki, Hitachi, Alstom, Ansaldo, and others are expanding across the nation due to advancements in areas like noise reduction, comfort and safety.

With this in mind, OEMs serving the light rail industry have a unique opportunity to penetrate the light rail market. Purchasing managers within the light rail industry select projects based on 3 key factors — all of which OEMs should deliver on in order to effectively win the project during the bidding process:

  • Value-based pricing (evaluations based on overall benefits perceived by customers, rather than simply according to competitors or historical prices)
  • Superior customer service
  • Investments in quality control and technology

By employing strategic sourcing and strategic purchasing practices, OEMs can effectively design, produce, and deliver safe and efficient systems to light rail transportation customers.

Value-Based Pricing: The Case for a Strategic Approach

OEMs should plan to implement strategic sourcing techniques to appeal to light rail suppliers. Strategic sourcing plans can facilitate transportation suppliers forming multi-year contracts with third-party vendors, which allows the OEMs to dedicate more resources to marketing, product design, and integration while specialists assemble the nuts and bolts of their products.

Bringing in strategic suppliers to handle sub-assembly production also allows OEMs to focus on the best new practices and customer-specific goals. Strategic procurement strategies benefit the bottom line. Because third-party manufacturers have lower cost structures, cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, commodity-specific expertise, and also serve multiple clients, each individual assembly they make typically costs far less compared to parts assembled in-house. When factoring in life-cycle costs such as overhead support and warranty returns, the savings are even greater.

Meeting Demands for Superior Customer Service

Light rail OEMs depend on suppliers not just for reliable manufacturing services, but also to effectively manage their supply chain. This is where superior customer service and technology service start to blend: many OEMs are looking for suppliers whose processes and IT systems can create a seamless, end-to-end supply chain management system.

In addition to this technology, the following customer service factors are critical:

  • Timely status reports
  • Fast, accurate solutions to inquiries
  • Creative and collaborative problem solving
  • Nimble and rigorous configuration management, including audit and compliance support

Supporting Complex Systems with Quality Control & New Technology

An influx of funding in public transit has spurred innovation in the light rail industry and the technologies it uses. Cloud-based systems such as the Internet of Things (IoT) allow rail companies to gather data from smart sensors, and machine-to-machine (M2M) learning provides more efficient response times. With more timely information, intelligent apps increase customer satisfaction by providing real-time and accurate views of delays or changes to scheduling, making rail transit a more viable option for urban commuters. Suppliers that successfully compete in the rail industry implement the following while demonstrating a command over the complex systems described above:

  • Integrate with the latest advances in production, including automation, Six Sigma methodology and lean manufacturing processes
  • Comply with the most stringent standards and requirements (ISO 9001, AS9100 and NADCAP AC)
  • IT systems that are easily customizable to accommodate evolving requirements

Improve Your Supply Chain Network with Liberty Electronics

Liberty Electronics has developed cutting-edge electronic solutions for OEMs working with the transit industry for decades. Our high-quality electrical cable assemblies, wire harnesses, and box builds have appeared in cities across the country and around the world, and our dedicated team of technicians and professionals will work with you to help design and build the assemblies that you need.

At Liberty Electronics, we’re wired for your success. If you would like to know more about what Liberty Electronics has to offer for the light-rail industry, contact us today and sign up for our informative newsletter.

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How OEMs Can Tap Suppliers To Scale Up Production

by Liberty Electronics

Industry predictions indicate that manufacturing will grow faster than the general economy*. Growth in areas such as global aircraft manufacturing is projected to spike from the less than 4% rise seen from 2013-2017 to nearly 9.5% from 2017 until 2021. These high manufacturing expectations are bound to cause an increase in production needs for OEMs. But how do you best scale up production without falling victim to overspending on inventory or finding yourself unable to fill orders due to long lead-times and or lack of capacity?

Share forecast data with suppliers

Although upcoming demand is never entirely predictable, ordering and building to a forecast rather than an immediate need can prepare OEMs for scaling up production while avoiding fulfillment pitfalls. Use of estimated annual usages (EAU’s) based on forecasts can also lower costs by allowing suppliers to achieve volume driven cost reductions.

Use of a Pull System or a VMI (vendor-managed inventory) approach can be a cost-effective, scalable way to manage demand variations. OEMs can avoid the bullwhip effect by placing buffer inventory at the outsourcing level. With VMI, inventory can be ordered and shipped to a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider. They then maintain the inventory in either an on-site or neighboring warehouse, and the ownership of these parts falls to the outsourcer until the inventory is consumed.

When OEMs pair with vendors who already practice an effective long-term inventory strategy using buffer stock, production can be scaled up smoothly and successfully. These partnerships can have a positive impact as long as vendors are aligned with expectations and resources OEMs need.

Have the Supplier “Move Up the Bill of Material”

One of the fastest ways to increase both production and procurement capacity is to outsource more value-added work to suppliers.  Instead of buying several cable assemblies for example, consider buying the entire assembly that the cables go into. This can mean buying and managing one part number instead of potentially dozens or more.  Not only are production and overhead hours freed up to provide additional capacity for the OEM, an immediate cost reduction is often realized as a result of the supplier’s lower cost structure.

Find the right supplier partner 

The key to a successful partnership is finding the right supplier that can help set you up for scaling success.

Scaling up production means you need a supplier who practices zero defect lean manufacturing and has both the equipment and expertise to maximize the potential of automation. OEMs should look for a supplier who can automate processes such as cutting, stripping, and crimping, as assembly aids and 3D fixtures that perform these tasks reduce build times and ensure consistent quality. Cross-sectioning equipment and software such as Crimp Micrograph Systems enable manufacturers to guarantee accuracy and speed.

Another quality an ideal outsourcing partner should have is the capability to produce work through multiple shifts. Suppliers that offer a variety of shift work for their employees allows for increased production levels to support demand and shifting deadlines.

This flexibility, along with robust quality processes and the redundancy of key equipment and facilities, allow suppliers to scale production to assist OEMs while saving them both time and money. The right outsourcing partner will be willing to stock inventory so that OEMs can build to a forecast and can automate the manufacturing process to support fluctuations without missing deadlines.

For more information on how you can scale up production while avoiding the pitfalls, contact Liberty Electronics today.



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Why Are Leading OEMs Choosing Turnkey Manufacturing?

by Liberty Electronics

Understanding Turnkey Manufacturing

Turnkey manufacturing solutions are a common outsourcing practice. The term refers to outsourcing production to a single manufacturing partner who controls the process from beginning to end. Companies choose this model because it eliminates the hassle of managing relationships with multiple vendors, making it is as simple as “turning a key” to complete a project.

As businesses strive to remain competitive, there is a need to focus on their core competencies. Fully outsourced contract manufacturing lets them concentrate on other areas of their business with less risk and overhead expense. ThomasNet data shows that as of September 2018, sourcing activity was up 33% month-over-month for aerospace contract manufacturing.

Shortcomings of Staying In-House

There are many benefits of turnkey manufacturing for OEMs as opposed to keeping the manufacturing process in-house. The outsourced manufacturer takes over the responsibility of much of the life cycle of the product, including everything from design input and acquiring materials to product testing and warranties. Managing production in-house would require a facility, equipment, and labor, which all add overhead and liability.

You can implement turnkey manufacturing services quickly and efficiently, saving the OEM time, money, and resources. While it may seem like you have to give up a certain amount of control to use a turnkey model, the right partner will become an extension of your team. This allows the company to access a partner’s state-of-the-art technologies, processes, and expertise, and to focus on its core competencies, giving you a significant competitive edge.

Why Turnkey Is Working

Today’s turnkey manufacturing models are thriving because of improved communication. Turnkey manufacturers can offer advice related to part design, financial savings, and material options for the project. Communication is a key factor as you work to make sure a part meets the necessary specifications.

A breakdown in communications can hinder the design flexibility and production and significantly increase lead times. A competent turnkey manufacturing partner ensures open communication and eliminates the need to coordinate components between multiple suppliers. This means a smooth transition from prototype to production and fewer invoices. In the end, the improved communication leads to increased efficiency, saving you both time and money.

Checklist to Find a Successful Turnkey Manufacturer

Do your research before selecting a manufacturer. A poorly chosen partner can derail the entire project, increasing costs and reducing your efficiency. Avoid selecting someone simply because they offer the lowest price or the fastest turnaround.

Here is a checklist of factors to consider when choosing a turnkey manufacturer:

  • Vet their experience and technical capabilities—this is especially helpful in the design stage when you need a strong project management team.
  • Make sure their commitment to quality matches your expectations. Liberty Electronics has a reputation for efficiency without sacrificing quality.
  • Going offshore may secure a lower purchase price, but it comes with quality, delivery and communication risks that can result in a higher total cost than a domestic turnkey partner.
  • Ensure they have environmental compliance practices in place.
  • Look for a company that is agile with sufficient change management processes and infrastructure.

A Strategic Supply Partner

Liberty Electronics works with OEMs across a variety of industries to provide turnkey manufacturing solutions for electrical cable assemblies, wiring harnesses, and other products. We have extensive experience in the commercial, defense and aerospace industries and understand the strict requirements for robotics, missiles, weapons systems, aircraft electronics, and other military products.

Contact us for more details about working with our team for your next project.


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The Benefits of a Custom IT Strategy [VIDEO]

by Liberty Electronics

In today’s manufacturing environment, IT is an increasingly powerful tool for addressing a range of issues from cybersecurity to production and operation efficiencies.

In this episode of Wired Success, Mark Cessar and Troy Funte discuss the value and benefits of remaining nimble in a constantly evolving tech landscape and utilizing catered solutions to quickly resolve issues.


Welcome back for another episode of “Wired for Success” presented by Liberty Electronics. My name is Mark Cessar and I’m here with Troy Fonte, he is an IT manager and has been with the company for 20 years. I’m just going to open it up and let you talk a little bit about the benefits of a custom IT strategy. Talk about maybe the history here at Liberty Electronics and in the industry?


All right. Thanks, Mark it’s good to be here and I’ve been the IT manager here for a number of years and been employed here for 20 years. And in that time I was hired to help us adapt to a system that was actually not compliant with Y2K. It was a mainframe system back in the 80s and unfortunately that caused our system to basically blow up and reset our orders to 1970 starting on January 1st. Not a good thing. So what we did was we went and searched for a can solution that would cover our needs for ERP, materials, planning, and things like that. So we went out and shopped, and we came up with a very expensive system that was supposed to do everything we wanted. Unfortunately, it was not flexible and when it came to things we really had to have and we paid extra for those, now when a new upgrade came suddenly those customizations didn’t work and we had to repay for those to be upgraded. So a couple years later, we totally changed course and we came up with a product that allowed us to be very flexible and customized kind of a sweet spot


Can you talk a little bit about this sweet spot and where you replace the current system?


Sure the product we obtained allowed us to make customizations within the product ourselves and so instead of paying somebody to do it, we were able to have the tools to make adjustments. That way as we did upgrades, as windows upgraded their operating system, we could make our changes and they would keep working through the upgrades.


Can you give an example of a system that you’ve replaced here at Liberty?


Sure. there are several out-of-the-box products that we were using, but they didn’t really integrate into– they cost a lot of extra work for our users– because they would take the one system and then they would have to then put the information into our system. So one good example of this is our time-and-attendance system. So we had a product that we bought and we’re paying $30,000a year maintenance. Plus, if we ever needed to upgrade it, it would cost us another $150,000 and then there would be new features and everything that we had done had to be relearned basically. So one of our on-staff programmers was able to in a matter of eight months, I believe– which was well below just the annual cost of the previous product– was able to not only rewrite our time-and-attendance system, but to do it in a way that integrated with the system that we currently have. So for instance, if a person was working on a specific job for a certain amount of time, we could match that with the time that they were here in attendance and could actually produce efficiency numbers and allow us to see how effective that person was being with their time. We also added biometric readers to our time-and-attendance so that it was more secure and we were able to allow HR to have their own rules for rounding time, and keeping in attendance and things like that. So not only did it save us those upgrade costs every year, but it did more for us, and saved people time. In fact it eliminated a whole full-time person’s job of having to manually enter a lot of data every day. So it was really helpful in so many ways and now we don’t have to pay that annual maintenance fee.


Do you have maybe another example of how you’ve responded to a government regulation?


Well yes. A huge new regulation that came just about two years ago was called NIST 800-171 and because we work for the Department of Defense, the government is requiring us to handle that classified data. They don’t want it to get into the hands of our enemies. and rightly so. And so they’re implementing security requirements, but these requirements are 125 pages with 110 different specific rules and in our system for instance, dual-factor authentication, encryption, making sure only the people that handle those files have access to it, privileges, logins, things like that. And we interviewed a few companies asking them about this and one company spent 250,000 to implement these rules in their company and fortunately we were able to do that for under $100, not counting our time, in actual costs and the maintenance for that is again under $100 a year. So these customizations will having a dedicated IT staff with programmers and expertise has allowed us to quickly shift and comply with this in a way that allows Liberty to succeed without really having causing us to raise our prices to our customers


And finally, do you have an example, maybe of a new capability or an improvement that you’ve made to the system here at Liberty?


Yes. We get requests as you might expect from our users every day wanting, “hey can you do this?” Now that they know that we can make changes to fields and even how things look, but our management was really wanting to have a better visibility in our job system. Our job system is the the data that a user working on a product needs to see the work instructions, and then they need to follow the steps to make our product, and management wants to see how long did each step take? And in the past, that was done on a piece of paper, and they would sign the paper, saying that they’d done things and then they would look at a piece of paper to see what to do next. And we developed an electronic router system that allows every user in our company– we’ve Implemented it company-wide– that now, they can click on the screen when they start a step, it tells them what to do right there on their screen when they’re finished, they hit stop, go to the next step. And not only does that save them time from having to find their papers, and make sure they don’t use the wrong piece of paper, it also gives our management real-time labor-tracking data with an understanding of work in process, where the assembly is in the process. So we have all this now live in our system. Every manufacturing user has a computer in front of them with this information at their fingertips. And just last week we were asked by an engineer, “can we include video instructions to the user,” and we said “yes” and in the next week or two, we should be able to not only have written instructions, but a video showing them more complicated steps in the manufacturing process.


Wow it’s impressive.


It’s been fun and It’s rewarding to see the users be able to get what they need and be able to do their jobs better.


Thank you Troy, and thank you for joining us for another episode of “Wired for Success” presented by Liberty Electronics. My name is Mark Cessar and this is Troy Fonte. Thanks again.


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How the Right Contract Manufacturer Benefits OEMs [Video]

by Liberty Electronics

Choosing the right Contract Manufacturer is integral to business success, whether taking a strategic outsourcing approach, or a tactical one.  In this episode of Wired SuccessMark Cessar talks with Liberty’s Director of Business Development, Scott Anderson about how the right Contract Manufacturer can benefit your business, and how that can depend on whether the business takes a strategic approach or a tactical approach to outsourcing the work.

Hi my name is Mark Cessar and I’m joined today with Scott Anderson. He is the Director of Business Development at Liberty Electronics. He has worked here for 20 years and has almost 40 years in the industry. Our topic for today is “how the right contract manufacturer can benefit your business.” So Scott, will just start right in so how can the right contract manufacturer help an OEM improve their bottom line?

Well thanks Mark, it’s good to be here with you today. What we find it really depends on the approach that the customer takes. If they’re taking a strategic approach, it’s one answer. If they’re taking a tactical approach, it’s another but either way, they can expect to achieve some cost reductions, lead time reductions, capacity increases, and quality and reliability improvements

Can you elaborate or provide any examples of tactical versus strategic outsourcing?

Sure. On the strategic side, it’s more involved but there is a greater up-side. And so we find that customers are looking at focusing on their core competencies. And so they’re looking at final integration and test and looking really for Liberty to become an extension of their factory to manage this commodity for them. And so this allows them to reassign personnel to more value-added work, reallocate facilities to more value-added work, and at the same time taking advantage of Liberty’s lower rate structure and specialized technology that they might not possess.

Well, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Well, there are some additional benefits on the strategic side that are worth mentioning particularly on the design side. When companies can integrate more tightly, share information, it results in some significant improvements at the front end. And in addition, strategic agreements are another piece of this that we find helpful. It allows Liberty to build to a forecast and then we can stock raw material, we can stock finished goods, and it takes an assembly that might otherwise be a twenty-six week lead time and convert it to about two days, allowing us to support pull systems and VMI 3PO fulfillment Systems.

Well thank you Scott that’s all I have today and thank you for tuning in to another discussion on Wired Success presented by Liberty Electronics.


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Quality Assurance In Low-Volume High-Mix Manufacturing

by Liberty Electronics

Read about the tools and strategies manufacturers can use to meet high quality standards in constantly changing assembly environments. 

Assuring quality in a low volume, high mix manufacturing environment presents some unique challenges. Often, the manufacturing process is no sooner set up then it must be disassembled to begin building an entirely different assembly; assemblers just reach a comfort level with the flow of an assembly when they must switch to manufacturing the next one. Likewise, tools and fixtures that are set up for an assembly frequently need to be changed out or re-set up for a new assembly after building a very limited quantity.

Surprisingly, Six Sigma, a methodology that measures defects against millions of opportunities, provides a framework for addressing these low volume, high mix challenges. The DMAIC, or Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control elements of Six Sigma are a good place to start when discussing quality assurance at an Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) company like Liberty Electronics:

Define – It’s vital to have a defined plan for each assembly. Liberty, for example, has a plan template that is modified as necessary for each assembly. The plan typically addresses things like the right technology to deploy, validation steps and resources, training, controls and measurements.

Measure – The old adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure applies here. At Liberty Electronics for example, crimping is a key process that is measured. Tracking process capability is a powerful tool. At Liberty, we track defects per million opportunities (DPMO).

Analyze – Useful data is a gold mine of information for correcting and preventing defects. In God we trust; all others bring data. Gage R&R is an example of an effective analysis tool at Liberty Electronics.

Improve – At Liberty, we believe that if we are not improving, we are going backwards. We deploy powerful tools like Pareto analysis, fishbone diagrams, flow charts, scatter plots, FMEA, etc. to facilitate improvement throughout the value stream.

Control – Poka Yoke or mistake proofing is at the heart of what we do at Liberty to produce defect-free assemblies in a low volume, high mix environment. 3D printing has revolutionized our ability to quickly and inexpensively create assembly and test jigs, fixtures, go/no-go gauges, etc. Training and cross training of employees also must be a top priority. None of this matters, however, if the configuration isn’t correct. Configuration control in terms of document management, items, bills of material, software, etc. is a must. And in low volume, high mix production it must be a lean and nimble system that can get the job done in a timely and efficient way.

Sample 2 with 3D Printed Inspection Fixture 300x169 | Quality Assurance In Low-Volume High-Mix Manufacturing, Liberty Electronics®Achieving world class quality in a low volume, high mix EMS company presents daunting challenges. For an EMS provider like Liberty Electronics, with customers that produce products where people’s lives depend on quality and reliability, necessity is the mother of invention.

If you would like to learn more about Six Sigma quality assurance at Liberty Electronics, contact George Allman at



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Can the U.S. Become its Own Manufacturing Island? [Video]

by Liberty Electronics

Liberty has worked with customers previously that were not realizing the expected benefits of using an offshore supplier, but recent events have a lot more OEM’s looking to move some or all of their supply chains to the United States. The Institute for Supply Management reported last month that nearly 75% of companies are reporting supply chain disruptions. A recent Thomas Industrial survey reported that 64% of manufacturers are likely to bring production and sourcing to North America, and this number has been growing.

In this episode of Wired Success, Mark Cessar ask Liberty Electronics’ Director of Business Development, Scott Anderson, about the rising opportunities for reshoring the supply chain from oversees suppliers.

Welcome to another episode of “Wired for Success” by Liberty Electronics. My name is Mark Cessar and I’m here today with Scott Anderson, the Director of Business Development here at Liberty Electronics and has been for the last 21 years. Today we are here to talk about reshoring. So Scott, I’ll just start it. Why are we making a video about reshoring?

Well hey, thanks Mark. It’s good to be with you again. Well, reshoring, as you can imagine, is a hot topic recently. Liberty has worked with customers over the years that have not realized benefits from offshore suppliers, but recently a lot more OEMs are looking to move from offshore suppliers to domestic suppliers. The Institute for Supply Management recently reported that 74% of companies have experienced supply chain interruptions and Thomas Industrial Survey reported that 64% of companies are actively looking to move their some or all of their supply chains to the United States.

This may seem like an obvious question, but why is there an increased interest in reshoring, Scott?

Well, it’s no surprise but the COVID-19 pandemic is driving a lot of this. Companies have not been able to get their parts shipped, factories have been closed, and they’ve suffered as a result. And a second factor is tariffs. Since the Trump administration has imposed stiffer tariffs on some countries, the OEMs have experienced some cost increases that they’ve had to deal with. A third is the USMCA that was just enacted here on July 1st. It replaces the NAFTA Agreement, but it is expected to have upward pressure on Mexico’s labor rates.

Do you expect any other factors to drive this movement?

Well US energy costs have been coming down. We’ve increased production, lowered cost, and have become a net exporter of energy. So that helps US manufacturers both with product cost and with transportation costs, and I’d add to that, there seems to be an increased awareness of natural disasters. You may recall the earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan and resulted in the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident. That it was a huge disruption to supply chains. And more recently closer to home, in 2017 hurricane Maria, when it hit the Caribbean, caused damage to supply chains. Liberty in fact, was able to pick up some business when one of our competitor’s factories closed there. Another issue is that we might have reached a tipping point with the theft of intellectual property. There seems to be much more awareness of that. There’s some threats of regional conflict, the South China Sea for example, that have made people nervous. And then crime is also an issue. We’ve had customers say that they’re actually afraid to travel to certain parts of the world because of crime.

When reshoring, why should an OEM consider Liberty Electronics?

Well the first thing that comes to mind is location, location, location. Liberty is blessed to be located in a part of the country that both geographically and culturally is a low-risk area. And then second, I would say, our experience in helping OEMs transition from one supplier to another. We have some robust processes in place and technology in place that really helps smooth the transitions, and one of the things that we’ve learned from our customers is that when considering the cost of poor quality, cost of mis-deliveries, Liberty can actually lower their overall total cost of ownership.

Well thank you, Scott. My name is Mark Cessar and this is Scott Anderson thank you for tuning in to this episode of “Wired for Success” by Liberty Electronics.

*  *  *

Liberty Electronics helped a number of customers transition from both foreign and domestic suppliers. We have some robust processes and technology in place that are critical to successfully switching suppliers. One of the things we’ve learned from our customers is that Liberty can provide the lowest total cost of ownership for them. They’ve pointed to savings in the cost of poor quality and delivery as making the difference between Liberty and offshore suppliers.

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EMS Outsourcing Infographic

by Liberty Electronics

In developing standardized procurement processes, operations and purchasing decision-makers should consider strategic sourcing as a part of their procurement best practices. However, they should keep in mind that strategic sourcing is not a single project but rather a key continuous process.

For those companies sincere about establishing control over their supply chains, incorporating strategic sourcing principles should be evaluated. Decision makers must ask: Do we control our supply chain, or does our supply chain control us?

Implementing strategic sourcing as a best practice can certainly increase the company’s profit margins if approached correctly. Even if your company has only recently added a procurement or supply chain manager, then the company is ready to begin exploring strategic sourcing.

It is important to remember that the goal is not to fixate on daily price and delivery time challenges. Instead, approach strategic sourcing as implementing processes and effective relationships, and the overall advantages realized through an effective relationship to achieve quality, price and delivery goals.

 See if outsourcing makes sense for your company here:

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Leadership in Technology: Using 3D Printing in Aerospace Part Production

by Liberty Electronics

Read about how Liberty Electronics has applied its expertise in 3D printing to new services for their customers. 

Liberty Electronics has been at the forefront of 3D printing since the technology became commercially available, and has been recognized for driving innovation in a number of areas.  From developing novel applications to partnering with Stratasys in BETA testing, Liberty has been a leader in the use of this emerging technology.

As a contract manufacturer in the EMS industry, most of the work that Liberty does is build-to-print. For Liberty, this means assemblies – cable assemblies, wire harnesses, and electrical box builds.  But thanks to hard-earned 3D printing expertise, Liberty is now able to serve customers in a new way.

A customer had a requirement for a 3D-printed part for a missile application.  The schedule was tight.  The part had to be manufactured using a specific 3D-printed material at a specified density.  The manufacturer of course had to be approved and qualified, and ITAR-registered and compliant.  Liberty Electronics was a natural fit for this new requirement.

First, Liberty was able to seamlessly process the customer’s CAD model in SolidWorks.  The model was then processed by Liberty using Stratasys Insight software.  First articles were produced and then accepted and approved by the customer.  Liberty was authorized to immediately begin production using the Stratasys 450ms system.

The results have been impressive.  In terms of cost, the 3D-printed parts came in at 25% of the cost of alternate manufacturing methods.  Lead-times also decreased significantly.

As a result of this successful program, Liberty can now offer to build-to-print 3D-printed production parts to other customers, allowing them to reap the same benefits.


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The Benefits of Collaborative Design [Video]

by Liberty Electronics

In this episode of Wired Success, Sales Engineer, Mark Cessar, talks with George Allman, Liberty Electronics’ Manufacturing Engineering Supervisor to ask some questions about how OEMs can benefit from collaborating with suppliers during the design phase of a project. During their discussion, George shares what suppliers can bring to the table and the overall value this offers OEMs.

Mark Cessar: Hi. My name is Mark Cessar and I’m here with George Allman for another discussion on Wired for Success presented by Liberty Electronics. We are here to talk today about the benefits of collaborative design. George has been working here at Liberty Electronics for twenty-three years as a manufacturing engineer. So we’ll just get started. My first question is “why should an OEM collaborate with a contract manufacturer like Liberty electronics? Are you saying that they don’t know what they’re doing? Are you saying that they don’t know their own design?”

George Allman: Not at all Mark. Our customers, OMS, that we work with are very well-versed in the product design that they’re trying to achieve. However, with Liberty Electronics and our 35 years of experience in manufacturing, we can sometimes bring more to the table that they may not be aware of. Sometimes that’s component selection, sometimes it’s methodologies, sometimes it’s the way that the product will fit together with something else.

MC: You mentioned your unique focus and following expertise. Can you provide some examples of how this could benefit any OEM?

GA: Sure Mark. Again, with their 35 years of experience in this industry, there’s oftentimes when an OEM or customer may suggest a component. However, again with our experience and working in military aerospace at commercial energy sectors, we can oftentimes recommend an alternate, something maybe that’s a little bit more suitable for the intended purpose that the customer may not be aware of.

MC: But won’t this take too much time in an already aggressive product schedule?

GA: Well Mark, it’s been our experience that usually solving issues and situations the earlier in the program that you can, it equates to saving time and money downstream throughout the entire project. And so what we see is the earlier that we can get involved with a project, the earlier that engineering here at Liberty Electronics can get involved in a project, we can oftentimes find solutions quicker, easier, and in a more timely manner and that’s to help the customer.

MC: Well, thank you, George. I appreciate your time. And thank you for tuning into this discussion on Wired Success presented by Liberty Electronics.

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How Procurement Professionals Can Prevent Fulfillment Pitfalls

by Liberty Electronics

With the news of backlogs at record highs this year, industry OEMs and suppliers are looking for ways to ramp up production to meet demand. Meeting these needs can become challenging when fulfillment issues arise. According to forecast experts like Deloitte, manufacturers in 2019 should be focused on strengthening their supply chains, more effectively managing projects, and leveraging advanced technology to increase efficiency. As OEMs and suppliers both contemplate ways to meet demand, here are a few things all procurement professionals should look for in suppliers to prevent fulfillment pitfalls.

Agile and lean manufacturing

Agile manufacturing is all about setting yourself up for speed, efficiency, and convenience. Customer demands can fluctuate, and when manufacturers are agile they can quickly and nimbly pivot with these adjustments. Lean manufacturing is the sturdy and strong foundation required in order for agility to be possible. Small batches, continuous flow production, and quick changeovers are all key components of lean manufacturing. Agile manufacturing builds on top of lean processes and implements four key elements: modular product design, information technology, corporate partners, and knowledge culture.

Safety Stock

When demand rises but the supply isn’t available to fulfill that demand, the entire manufacturing process comes to a halt. Inventory management is one of the key components of fulfillment success, and one of the ways to stay at the top of your inventory game is to maintain safety (or buffer) stock. Maintaining safety stock of key items can reduce the likelihood of out of stock supplies, but space and budget can both be an issue. The good news is, many reliable suppliers will keep safety stock. Whether they decide to order larger amounts for an OEM in case the order increases or the cost is less to order in bulk, suppliers often strategically maintain safety stock to be prepared for these pitfalls and have the controlled areas to store it.

The right ERP

Reliability, customization, and accuracy are nonnegotiables for OEMs and suppliers when it comes to streamlining fulfillment. Comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning software can foster clear, concise information across a business as well as manage expectations for a variety of departments. The right ERP can integrate every facet of a project; from product planning and design to manufacturing and marketing. Designated individuals have access to relevant information through each phase of the lifecycle. The ability to cost-effectively customize the software is critical to the support of customer-specific requirements as well as evolving standards and regulations.

Reexamined BOM’s

Demand-driven material requirements planning (DDMRP) is causing many OEMs and suppliers to take another look at the way they approach and use their Bills of Material (BOM’s). DDMRP relies on examining inventory levels through the lens of existing supply and pending orders, adds buffer stock strategically into the equation, and determines the level of demand and appropriate response. Strategic buffer stock is considered within the BOM based on the frequency with which a particular part is usually used, ever-changing lead times, and the phase at which certain supply could potentially run out of stock. When supplier procurement professionals examine their needed and existing materials through this more expansive lens based on demand, they’re less likely to face unexpected depletion.

Fewer sourcing partners

This might sound counterintuitive, but OEMs wanting to lower the risk of fulfillment pitfalls might want to consider the benefits of partnering with a few key partners or even a single source supplier for manufacturing needs. When you select a long-term partner, a relationship can be built and strengthened from an earned trust. You can also take the time to create the rapport that allows more integrated systems and streamlined communication. Not to mention, trends and habits learned over time spent together can become the foundation for intuitively predicting and anticipating inventory needs.

To learn more about avoiding fulfillment pitfalls, or to speak with an expert about partnering with a trusted supplier, contact Liberty Electronics today.

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Overcoming Tribal Knowledge in Outsourcing

by Liberty Electronics

Imagine notifying your two largest customers that their lines will be down because you won’t be able to deliver their products for 16 weeks.  Imagine the daily conference calls, site visits, audits, and over-time costs while your organization is turned upside down trying to deliver product, all for one simple reason: a key part of the process was never formally documented on an assembly that is newly outsourced, or outsourced from a new supplier.

No matter how well-equipped a manufacturer is, it is often cost-effective and convenient to outsource certain parts to another supplier. Reliability, quality, capacity, and cost are some of the reasons why a manufacturer might choose to outsource an assembly. Outsourcing can be a great strategy, but it can also reveal problems associated with tribal knowledge: key process elements that somehow escaped official documentation.

Usually, a problem with tribal knowledge arises when the previous manufacturer makes a change to a part during manufacturing without proper documentation. These changes include: a difference of settings on tools utilized, alteration of techniques, or the change, addition, or omission of parts. These seemingly small modifications remain hidden throughout the manufacturing process until the assembly is outsourced to another supplier. The assembly is ordered and received, only to find that, while it meets the print, it does not fit into the upper level assembly, or even worse, it fails in service. Now your customer is unhappy because it has taken months to diagnose the problem, get the documentation changed, and have the new, usable assemblies delivered.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to avoid problems that tribal knowledge can cause. Early collaboration between manufacturer and supplier is paramount so that both parties can discuss, witness, and document the manufacturing process. Product and process photography should be employed to ensure that the entire process is captured. Physical “gold standard” assemblies that have been built previously and that are known to be correct are also useful for the new supplier.

It is crucial that manufacturers recognize and avoid unethical suppliers, who often purposely keep information from their customers in order to inhibit them from switching suppliers. And be wary if the supplier also manufactures components for the assemblies–this often provides more opportunities to leverage these practices. Instead, a company should seek suppliers who operate with transparency and integrity. A supplier with such qualities will demonstrate rigorous configuration management and process controls, thereby developing better documentation and products. And if you’re already being held hostage by a supplier, it may become necessary to find a supplier who will re-engineer the designs to lower cost, shorten lead-times, and give the you the option to have another company manufacture the assembly if desired.

Problems associated with tribal knowledge are a common issue in outsourcing, but they are also preventable. By working with ethical suppliers who communicate well and document their processes and products, a manufacturer can avoid the pitfalls of tribal knowledge that lead to products that, while built to the documented specifications, do not meet your form, fit, or function requirements.

Want to learn more? Contact Liberty today!

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Reduce Supply Chain Issues With a Relationship-Focused Supplier

by Liberty Electronics

Reduce Supply Chain Issues With a Relationship-Focused Supplier

OEMs rely on successful partnerships to improve performance, especially when supply chain issues are top of mind for many businesses. It’s crucial to consider how successful long-term relationships can ease supply chain delays through reduced lead times and expedited problem solving.

Building individualized relationships creates better access to products and helps meet specific needs. Manufacturers can reap the rewards in a complex, constantly evolving environment by working with suppliers who personally know their purchasing, engineering and quality departments.

What Sets a Relationship-Focused Business Apart

Relationship-based businesses focus on engaging customers through information and resources that connect directly to their audience and provide value. Once you’ve established familiarity, open communication channels lead to a beneficial relationship with tone and language that both parties easily understand.
Knowing the ins and outs of OEMs can lead to quick resolutions and proactive awareness of potential order issues, faster turnaround times and a deeper familiarity with product lines. Liberty’s team caters to your needs to help you and your project succeed, especially when the supply chain is experiencing shortages or long lead times. Here’s a deeper look at those benefits:

  • More familiarity with product lines: By knowing customer requirements, suppliers don’t have to start from scratch and can plan on meeting certain specifications ahead of time, potentially shortening the turnaround time for initial units.
  • Reduced lead time: Suppliers could choose to stock components that may have a long lead time, even if there is no current demand. With knowledge of the customer’s product and specifications, suppliers can also plan builds around those requirements to react more quickly.
  • Quicker resolutions: Suppliers would know exactly who to contact about specific issues or concerns. For example, an order could be flagged if the customer typically orders items as sets, but they only order part of the set. Suppose there are engineering questions or quality concerns. In that case, they could go directly to that person to manage the issue more quickly rather than contacting a buyer and waiting for contact information.

While transactional business models succeed in driving sales, this is also true with relationship-focused business models. However, the benefits from the relationship model are longer term vs. short-term financial gains. Ultimately, a strong relationship with suppliers allows OEMs to create systems to stabilize demand for parts and reduce shortage risks.

A Partner, Not Just a Supplier

From your first interaction with a relationship-based business like Liberty Electronics®, you can tell we operate differently. Our team prioritizes building relationships with customers by learning your specific needs and delivering customizable solutions. By immersing ourselves in our customers’ business, we develop a 360-degree understanding of what success looks like. Ultimately, you’ll feel heard and understand we aren’t just a supplier — we’re your partner.

This type of partnership results in more success, better performance and a higher quality standard for both the customer and supplier. With few signs of improvement in the disrupted supply chain, finding a supplier who focuses on building relationships can strengthen your operations.

With over 35 years of leadership in our field, we specialize in supporting aerospace, defense, rail, transportation and nuclear energy industries by providing products including:

  • Electronic wiring harnesses
  • Box builds
  • Electrical cable assemblies
  • Electrical cabinet assemblies
  • Electrical panel assemblies
  • Electromechanical assemblies

In addition to our dedication to quality, service and on-time delivery, we’re a relationship-based supplier that values cooperation over competition and are based in Franklin, PA. To build a long-lasting relationship, contact us on our website or via email about working together.

Why OEMs Should Consider Outsourcing A Level Up the Bill of Material

by Liberty Electronics

The Bill of Material is a critical component of the planning process in manufacturing for any industry. This comprehensive list of components and equipment required to manufacture a product can fluctuate depending on cost, availability, and capacity. For original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), outsourcing a level up the Bill of Materials might prove to be beneficial.

For example, by partnering up with the right contract manufacturer (CM), you might be able to outsource both the cable and harness assemblies and the assemblies themselves. There are a number of advantages for outsourcing at the next level up in assembly.

Increase Capacity

If you need to increase your final assembly, integration, or test capacity, you can immediately increase your capacity by moving the subassembly work to a qualified CM and free up internal personnel to take on this extra workload. Departments such as Planning, Procurement, and Quality can also free up capacity when they only have to manage a few upper-level assemblies rather than a high volume of lower-level assemblies.

Achieve Cost Reductions

Lean CMs often have a lower labor sell rate than the fully burdened hourly labor rate of an OEM. Additionally, a CM can optimize the value stream and sometimes reduce the total required manufacturing hours. By switching upper-level assembly work to a trusted CM, you can take advantage of a reduction in hours plus the lower rate structure, particularly for that overhead personnel needed for production support.

Realize Lead Time and Inventory Reductions

By building to your forecast, CMs can anticipate your needs and stock long lead time components and assemblies. By working with CMs that support Pull Systems and Vendor Managed Inventory Systems (VMI) both with or without third-party logistics providers (3PLs), you can experience further improvements in material availability while reducing lead times and inventory dramatically.

Exploit Improved Designs

When you collaborate with the right CM early enough in the life cycle of a project, they can provide their specialized input on component selections in order to not only reduce cost and lead times but also improve reliability. This level of optimization can continue to drive overall product and process improvement. For example, CMs that have the capability to produce CAD solid models and 3D-printed models can provide faster, less expensive mock-ups that allow for the opportunity to evaluate multiple different design concepts.

It’s important to remember that none of these benefits are possible unless the CM you partner with has a robust and efficient configuration management system in place. Knowing the impact of proposed changes to cost, schedule, stock, work-in-progress and finished goods is critical for effective implementation.

To speak with a contract manufacturing expert on how to efficiently and effectively outsource a level up the Bill of Material, contact Liberty Electronics today.


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Lean Manufacturing In a Low-Volume High-Mix Environment

by Liberty Electronics

Read about how Liberty Electronics has implemented lean manufacturing process to save its customers lead time and cost while delivering high-quality product.

Implementing Lean Manufacturing in a low-volume, high-mix electronic manufacturing services (EMS) company is not a textbook exercise.  Frequent customer-driven schedule changes, limited production quantities and frequent setups require some creativity in implementing lean manufacturing. In Liberty Electronics’ experience, there is still waste that can be eliminated throughout the value stream.

In the macro view, organizing into cells and customer satisfaction teams, combined with a profit-sharing incentive plan based on objective performance data, provide a greater sense of ownership and accountability.  Implementing a rigorous 5-S program to keep things clean, neat and orderly, and moving to a more visual workplace with clear signage and metrics provide improvement in quality, delivery and labor productivity.

In some cases, one-piece flow is possible along with point-of-use material and tool storage, and a two-bin system, with all of the attendant productivity and quality benefits.  In other cases, smaller batch sizes are the answer.  The ability to pull material kits and tooling, along with on-demand routers, take both cycle time and cost out of the process.  Real-time labor data tracking provides useful labor data to evaluate performance against bids, and helps drive labor efficiency improvement.  It also provides instant status visibility for use both internally and in providing timely status reports to customers.  This is a good example of the benefit of an in-house IT group that can make custom applications to support lean initiatives.

In a low volume, high mix environment, 3D printing has been invaluable in support of lean processes.  Creating custom tool holders that are easy to find, transport, and that are safe and easily accessible have helped considerably.  Well thought out and easy to use 3D printed fixturing eliminates waste, driving both productivity and quality improvements.

Training and cross-training of employees have proven key, along with moving to daily, weekly and in some cases hourly takt times to help improve on-time deliveries and labor efficiencies.

In-process validation of both products and tools is a key part of lean manufacturing at Liberty Electronics.  Having empowered employees that can stop the flow of product when the customer acceptance criteria is not met is critical.  And speaking of employees, having engaged and committed people has been, in our experience, indispensable in generating improvement ideas to eliminate waste.

Lean manufacturing in an EMS provider like Liberty Electronics takes on a unique shape, but it is no less effective in supporting world class manufacturing than in a high volume, low mix environment.


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Thoughts on Liberty: Part 4: Cost

by Liberty Electronics

Liberty is a subject near and dear to our hearts here at Liberty Electronics.  Last time, we talked a little about the start of American liberty, but what exactly is liberty? Perhaps equally important – what is it not?  Join us again today as we continue to explore our “great experiment for promoting human happiness.”

Last time we talked about American liberty, we heard from courageous people who spoke out against twisted liberty that was harming others.  In this installment, we will hear from first-hand sources how difficult it was to obtain and keep the genuine liberty that has had such a profound impact on human happiness.  In this installment, we’ll go back to America’s earliest days and briefly touch on the cost that has been paid for this “great experiment” of ours.

William Bradford, one of the first pilgrims to the New World and the governor of the Plymouth Colony, wrote that “All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.”  William Bradford should know.  In his quest for liberty, he and his fellow pilgrims suffered from hunger, disease, and exposure.  Sadly, by the end of the first winter in the harsh wilderness of the New World, half the colony, including his wife, had perished.

John Adams, one of our founding fathers and the second president of the United States, understood the high price that early Americans paid.  He reminds us,  “Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”  Another founding father and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, warned, “We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a featherbed.”

The founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for the cause of liberty. As the old adage reads, “all gave some, and some gave all.”  Their lives were certainly on the line.  Benjamin Franklin warned the other signers of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately.” Thomas Paine, an American patriot and author, summed it up when he wrote, “THESE are the times that try men’s souls.”  The trials and suffering at places like Trenton, Valley Forge, and Camden vividly illustrate his point.

A particularly poignant comment from the Revolutionary Era speaks to the debt owed by posterity to those who came before them. A printer, ironically named William Bradford, left his business, fought, and was wounded in the War for Independence.  His dying words to his children: “Though I bequeath you no estate, I leave you in the enjoyment of liberty.”

And speaking of poignant, it is hard to think of an example more moving than that of Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife before the First Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War. From his letter:

“My very dear Sarah: The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days — perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more….  I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing — perfectly willing — to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.”

Sullivan Ballou was killed in action for the cause of liberty one week later.

At Liberty Electronics, we’re mindful of the high price that has been paid and continues to be paid for freedom, and the debt that is owed to these brave men and women.  We’re grateful to be able to serve a broad range of markets, but it is a special honor to be able to serve our customers in the defense industry in the cause of liberty.  If you are looking for a world-class, US-based electronic manufacturing services (EMS) contract manufacturer and would like to learn more about Liberty Electronics, we invite you to check us out.

Let freedom ring!

Thoughts on Liberty: Part 3: Guard Rails

by Liberty Electronics

Liberty is a subject near and dear to our hearts here at Liberty Electronics.  Last time, we talked a little about the start of American liberty, but what exactly is liberty? Perhaps equally important – what is it not?  Join us again today as we continue to explore our “great experiment for promoting human happiness.”

In this installment of our “Thoughts on Liberty” series we’re continuing to look at some of the required constraints that have allowed what President George Washington called our “great experiment for promoting human happiness” to work so well for so long.  Join us as we continue to explore this vital and timely topic.

In the movie Dick Tracy, the mobster Big Boy Caprice proclaims, “Law without order is as great a danger to the people as order without law.”  He comically and incorrectly attributed his made-up quote to Thomas Jefferson.  However, Big Boy was on to something and he would’ve been closer to the mark had he cited Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, our 26thth president, similarly said,  “Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive.”

A couple of hundred years earlier, Edmund Burke, the famed 18th-century Irish statesman, wrote, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites… It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

It’s sad to say, but we’ve had and continue to have more than a few examples in our history when Americans and American institutions have failed miserably to chain intemperate appetites.  Thankfully, brave people of conscience have risen up at crucial times to drive home the necessity of doing, in the words of John Winthrop, “that which is good, just, and honest.”

One such person was an escaped slave named Frederick Douglass. He argued, “No man can be truly free whose liberty is dependent upon the thought, feeling and action of others, and who has himself no means in his own hands for guarding, protecting, defending and maintaining that liberty.” He declared, “I have shown that slavery is wicked—wicked, in that it violates the great law of liberty, written on every human heart—wicked, in that it violates the first command of the decalogue—wicked, in that it fosters the most disgusting licentiousness—wicked, in that it mars and defaces the image of God by cruel and barbarous inflictions—wicked, in that it contravenes the laws of eternal justice, and tramples in the dust all the humane and heavenly precepts of the New Testament.”

President Abraham Lincoln warned, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.”

History shows that securing and keeping liberty is not easy, and that disciplined, selfless behavior is indispensable.

At Liberty Electronics, we emphasize hard work and discipline in our day-to-day operations. We view it as a key ingredient in our ability to consistently control processes to help our customers achieve success.  If you are looking for a world-class, US-based electronic manufacturing services (EMS) contract manufacturer and would like to learn more about Liberty Electronics, we invite you to check us out.

Let freedom ring!

Thoughts on Liberty: Part 2: Responsibility

by Liberty Electronics

Liberty is a subject near and dear to our hearts here at Liberty Electronics.  Last time, we talked a little about the start of American liberty, but what exactly is liberty? Perhaps equally important – what is it not?  Join us again today as we continue to explore our “great experiment for promoting human happiness.”

Noah Webster, the prodigious 19th-century American scholar, wrote that liberty “consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature.” In the early 1600s, John Winthrop, one of America’s earliest leaders, held this same concept of liberty. He said, “Liberty is the proper end and object of authority and cannot subsist without it; and it is liberty to that which is good, just, and honest.”

The Frenchman Marquis De Lafayette put it maybe more eloquently. He said, “Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights.”

Lafayette’s boss, General George Washington, warned, “Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.” Noah Webster explained licentiousness as an “excess of liberty; exorbitant freedom; freedom-abused or used in contempt of law or decorum.” George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, summed up this idea of liberty when he declared, “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

In her autobiography The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder provides a great illustration of liberty as personal freedom bounded by responsibility. Stranded during a brutal winter on the late 19th-century American frontier, Laura’s family and the people of her settlement were starving. Her future husband, Almanzo Wilder, and a friend risked their lives to search the prairie for a stash of wheat. They barely made it back to town with the life-saving provisions before another monster blizzard engulfed the landscape. When asked why he would volunteer for such a perilous undertaking his response was simple. He said, “the people of this community were in dire need. He continued, “this is a free country and I am free and independent.”

At Liberty Electronics, we get the idea of responsibility.  We take our responsibility to meet and exceed our customers’ requirements very seriously.  The central concept that informs our day-to-day operations is that people’s lives depend on the quality of our work.  This brings a high degree of focus and responsibility throughout our company to our workmanship.  If you are looking for a world-class, US-based supplier with a culture that emphasizes responsibility, we invite you to check us out.

Let freedom ring!

Thoughts on Liberty – Part 1: Foundation

by Liberty Electronics

Given our name, it’s probably no surprise that we are big fans of American liberty here at Liberty Electronics.  In the coming weeks and months, we will look at this interesting and relevant topic, what some notable people have had to say about it, and how those ideas guide our work ethos at Liberty Electronics.  Pull up a chair and join us as we explore our heritage of unique American liberty and what President George Washington called our “great experiment for promoting human happiness.”

From the very beginning, liberty, imperfect and evolving, has been a defining theme of America. 400 years ago this year, the Pilgrims made the perilous trek across the Atlantic Ocean fleeing tyranny in England.  A few years later, John Winthrop also arrived here with the goal of living more freely.  Winthrop had a vision of America as a special place.  He wrote, “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.”  In 1629, Winthrop was elected governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and played an integral part in advancing the concept of liberty in America.  “Liberty,” Winthrop wrote, “is the proper end and object of authority.” 

One hundred and fifty years later, Thomas Jefferson expressed this idea in the Declaration of Independence. He wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  After the resulting successful American War for Independence, General George Washington’s aide, the Frenchman Marquis De Lafayette, summed it up when he mused, “Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.”

Unfortunately, there were, and still are more battles to be won, but the foundation had been laid and America was on her way to becoming the “city on a hill” and a refuge for oppressed, “tired, poor and  huddled masses” of people from around the globe.

We at Liberty Electronics appreciate the manifold blessings of living and working here.  As an electronic manufacturing services (EMS) contract manufacturer, we’re privileged to serve a variety of markets with demanding quality, delivery, and cost requirements.  If you are looking for a hard-working, dependable, and knowledgeable, world-class, US-based supplier, we invite you to check us out.

Let freedom ring!

3D Printing Innovation During the COVID-19 Crisis

by Liberty Electronics

During this historical period of time where the world is experiencing the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses everywhere are responding with necessary measures and precautions. Stopping the spread cannot be done through maintaining the normal day-to-day functions.

As social gathering has been put to an end for the time being, and humans find solace and protection in home isolation and washing hands, many essential businesses must remain open and are looking for the best possible ways to protect their employees and maintain good health while getting the job done.

As an essential business, throughout the past several weeks, Liberty Electronics has taken numerous measures to ensure its employees are safe and healthy during this time. In accordance with the orders from the Pennsylvania Governor and United States President, Liberty sent as many associates as possible home to Telework per the company business continuity plan.

Liberty monitors the facilities and production floors to ensure there is proper social distancing, partitions are set up, and sanitization is in constant practice. In addition, offices have been split in order to allow social distancing and quarantine.

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COVID-19 is a moment in history that no human being has experienced before. It is a constantly evolving global situation that requires monitoring and individual business adjustments. It also presents an opportunity for manufacturing companies in particular to use their engineering abilities to design products in support of these isolation and sanitization efforts. Many companies that had to postpone their current practices have even flipped their businesses to create products that can aid hospitals and citizens during this health crisis.

As Liberty has offered its abilities to contribute to the prevention efforts of this crisis, Liberty has also looked for ways that 3D printing can prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of infection in-house.

sneeze guard liberty electronics | 3D Printing Innovation During the COVID-19 Crisis, Liberty Electronics®One of the priorities was to protect the receptionist, as she is the first person to interact with any person that comes in and out of the building. To create a barrier between these human interactions, the manufacturing engineers built what they’ve coined a “Sneeze Guard!” This consists of two long sheets of 1/8-inch thick polycarbonate glass.

They then designed 3D brackets and clips, which they placed in a 3D printer—the Stratasys Fortus 450mc in Dark Gray ASA with heat-imbedded threaded inserts for support. The brackets and clips ran for 30 hours, with an additional hour for post-processing and assembly.

The clips tightly secure to the front desk in the Liberty main lobby, providing enough stability and support to hold the polycarbonate sheets upright. In addition, the glass is tall enough and wraps around both sides in order to provide a secure barrier behind the desk.

In addition to this custom Sneeze Barrier, Liberty has also 3D-printed face shields for the employees who are still working in-office. They even printed clips to be attached to ball caps so those wearing hats can still wear the face shields.

It truly is amazing to see what solutions 3D printing can provide towards the efforts to maintain safety and good health during this unique COVID-19 health crisis. Even more astounding is the ability to have these parts created and finished by the next business day. As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. A crisis like COVID-19 demands creative and innovative solutions like never before.


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How Overmolding Can Help Wires Last Longer and Perform Better

by Liberty Electronics

How Overmolding Can Help Wires Last Longer and Perform Better

Wires frequently become strained especially when used in different temperatures and conditions. But there is a solution that can help prevent wear and lengthen the life of your wires and cables – overmolding. Molding and insulation are necessary to protect wires from wear and tear, creating a longer-lasting product that performs better. Overmolding is one way to fix wiring wear-outs, and the result is known for its strength and resiliency.

Liberty Electronics® offers three types of molding, each with a different level of protection: cast molding, press molding and overmolding. Overmolding is the final step in molding and insulation for wiring and can be used in nearly every industry and application to withstand the rigors of the most demanding environments.

Cast Molding and Press Molding

Cast molding uses a custom-designed mold to provide the wiring harness with specific dimensions. It also allows the product to fit within the space and shape you require.
Press molding provides a specific physical barrier but can also be used to give substance to smaller wiring assemblies. This assembly is more robust and conducive to handling and gains some strain relief between the electrical connector and cable bundle.

Benefits of Overmolding

Overmolding offers high levels of electrical protection for the cable assemblies and wiring harnesses by providing an additional layer of insulation. This type of molding combines wires and connectors into one piece, often covering slide or machine braiding as the final step of protection for the wiring. The design process places the components within a mold and covers them with a hot liquid plastic material via injection. Once cool, the final product protects the connection of the underlying wires and connectors.

The benefits of an overmolded cable assembly include:

  • Increasing the flex strength, especially where the cable exits.
  • Improving the level of protection against outside forces like temperature swings and rubbing.
  • Creating a water-tight seal for the cable assembly connection that resists oil and moisture.

Overmolding provides an electrical barrier while orienting the connector and providing dimensional parameters. Ultimately, this makes wiring last longer and perform better than without additional protection.

Materials Used in Moldings

Different types of molding utilize various materials based on the needs of the specific assembly, depending on the product’s design and factors such as the environment where the product will be used. Three types of materials often used include:

    • Viton, a robust and chemical-resistant yet flexible material, making it excellent for military applications such as rocket motors.
    • Epoxies, which are utilized in cast molding due to their rigidity and durability and are ideal for connectors and adding substance to cable assemblies.
    • Polyurethane, a biologically resistant material to environmental agents such as water or microorganisms. This material is used for molding in transit, military and commercial applications.

Molding and insulation offer optimal protection and performance for wiring harnesses and cable assemblies. By shielding internal components and enhancing protective qualities, overmolding is ideal for equipment requiring frequent flexing and that must perform in harsh conditions and extreme weather.

Partnering for Successful Overmolding Solutions

We can partner with you on overmolded assemblies and harnesses to help find the right solutions for your upcoming products or programs. As a relationship-based business, partnerships with us result in more success, better performance and a higher quality standard.

With over 35 years of leadership in our field, we specialize in supporting aerospace, defense, rail, transportation and nuclear energy industries by providing products including:

      • Electronic wiring harnesses
      • Box builds
      • Electrical cable assemblies
      • Electrical cabinet assemblies
      • Electrical panel assemblies
      • Electromechanical assemblies

In addition to our dedication to success, quality service and on-time delivery, we’re a relationship-first business that values cooperation over competition. To partner with a supplier who works with you, contact us on our website or via email about working together.

Effective Configuration Management in an Industry of Adaptability

by Liberty Electronics

In today’s manufacturing world, “good” is not good enough when it comes to configuration management. In our increasingly competitive, fast-paced market, change processes are vital to ensuring that you get the right components, adhere to modified critical dimensions, and have the correct code in software programs and revised tool settings; these are only a few of the numerous reasons as to why configuration management is so important. There is no question regarding the rising necessity of exceptional configuration management in the manufacturing world.

Picture this: you have a product that one of your contract manufacturers is to assemble. You determine that your assembly should contain a different component that is not specified currently, so you must make a critical change to your bill of material (BOM) so you can incorporate this vital component. Unfortunately, this component has a 16-week lead time. You discover upon receiving the final assembly from the contract manufacturer that it was mistakenly built to the old BOM revision and does not include your new component. You must wait 18 weeks to receive the correct assembly.

At this point, in this scenario, the lack of effective configuration has cost your company time and money. Often times, these changes also flow down from customer to contract manufacturer while the product is being made. Without effective and efficient configuration management, a contract manufacturer will have difficulty meeting deadlines while implementing the configuration changes, or they cannot reliably apply the changes to the correct serial numbers.

Evidently, a robust configuration management system is essential to getting the product you want, when you want it. The question remains: What does an efficient and robust configuration management system look like? The answer to that question has multiple parts.

First, automation is key in the configuration management process. This minimizes human error and minimizes the overhead costs of managing numerous revisions. In addition, efficient configuration management needs to be a rigid process to ensure compliance and prevent shortcuts. It is also a highly comprehensive process; configuration management must cover all relevant documentation, including quotes, purchase and sales orders, items, BOMs, drawings, programs, routers, work instructions, etc.  It should cover both customer and internal revisions in order to control all changes.

When all of the foundation work is established, implementing the changes is a comprehensive decision-making process that requires intentional communication. Several key questions must be asked: What is the impact of the change on work in progress (WIP), finished goods, and even shipped products?  Should they be used, reworked, or scrapped? How do you know if this has been done? 

As these questions are asked, cost effectiveness is a key consideration to ensure these decisions are made wisely from a financial perspective. A robust configuration management system must provide for the necessary notifications, reviews, and approvals to ensure that the execution is as intended. And finally, it must provide auditable records that document all of the relative information.

Efficiently implementing robust configuration management practices is essential to maintaining cost efficiency, high quality, and overall design reliability in manufacturing. In this evolving manufacturing industry, complex and numerous changes are a fact of life. It is not only important to partner with a contract manufacturer that utilizes exceptional configuration management for the sake of reputability and reliability, but it is also important for profitability and revenue. Even more so, quality and safety go hand-in-hand with mistake-free configuration management. Do not allow second-rate supplier configuration management to negatively affect your efforts in providing your customers with world-class products on time and at competitive prices.


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Custom IT Applications in the Manufacturing World

by Liberty Electronics

Information technology can promote the development and productivity of a business. That is why IT is a core competency at Liberty Electronics and plays a key role in satisfying our customers.  Rather than using off-the-shelf software, which is often a “jack of all trades and master of none,” Liberty employs a different approach.

In the past, using commercial software applications has forced Liberty to make sacrifices and compromises due to the different limitations of these products, which ultimately was inefficient to the company. Instead, Liberty strategically customizes robust applications in order to achieve our customer-driven requirements as an electronic manufacturing services contract manufacturer. As customer and industry requirements evolve, our software also evolves through updates by our IT department. Our self-sufficient approach to IT ultimately reduces cost and lead-times, speeds up simple actions through automation, and improves customer service. Here are a couple of examples:

Time Reporting

Liberty previously spent tens of thousands of dollars in annual license and support costs for off-the-shelf software that met just a portion of the company’s needs. On top of the annual outlays, periodic six-figure bills for mandatory software updates also came out of Liberty’s pocket—all for software that was not able to perform in some important ways. The workarounds themselves were both time-consuming and expensive. Rather than putting out more money for a time reporting program that always fell short, Liberty decided to create its own.

Our IT department developed an in-house system with customized time clock rounding rules that better suited our needs. The new-and-improved time-reporting software has the ability to schedule cell-to-cell personnel changes and vacation time, providing a faster and easier communication system. Seamlessly integrated with payroll, the system eliminates redundant data entry, which reduces the risk of errors. The system also deploys biometric readers for improved ease of use and security.  Most impressively, the new system freed up the equivalent of over one full-time overhead person, allowing them to do actual value-added work.


In the estimating department, we previously created quotes to our customers using off-the-shelf software. While the old system did provide us with the ability to quote items, the process of getting there was laborious and time-intensive. The old software was a stand-alone package that required manual data input and intervention in order to identify the best prices and lead-times. When an award was made, the items and bills of material had to then be entered into the ERP system, adding another time-consuming and costly step. Because the estimating and production systems operated on separate databases, evaluating performance proved to be a complicated task.

One option was for Liberty to purchase a new estimating system. We found these systems to be expensive and not a good fit for our requirements in our commodity and markets.  So, we ultimately decided to write our own estimating module application that is now a part of our ERP system. This yielded a number of benefits over the old system.

First, we eliminated manual component pricing entry via automation. Next, we addressed minimum-buy and multiple-buy quantities, which are an all-too-common fact of life in our industry.  Our custom system will break these costs out where they can be noted but ignored if there is ongoing business, highlighted for a non-recurring charge, or amortized into the unit prices if required.  Similarly, non-recurring charges for things like tooling and mating test connectors are also captured.

The system now automatically selects the best component pricing for various price breaks that are either independent of or at a specified maximum lead-time.  It will even check to see if it costs less overall to buy more material than needed at a higher quantity at a higher price break, or if it is more cost-effective to buy only what is currently needed at the lower price break.  Making decisions like these is what ultimately can make or break a company’s material portion of a bid, and material can typically make up more than half of the total bid price. In addition, the redundant data entry required to transition from Estimating to Production was eliminated.

Proprietary checks have been implemented to identify erroneous pricing.  A significant benefit of creating our own estimating system is that it enabled the switch from a standard cost system to an actual cost system.  As a result, component purchase price variance is now a comparison of the actual price paid to the quoted price used in the bid, rather than to some potentially meaningless standard cost.

Simply possessing the ability, resources, and intelligence in our IT department to write our own software systems allows us to create systems that correlate directly with the company’s needs and better suit our customers’ requirements. Not only can our money be directed towards more worthwhile resources that will actually improve our daily processes, but each system function is intentionally designed to our specialized requirements. Customers can better depend on a company that has control of its own software.

If you are interested in learning more about how information technology can help Liberty Electronics meet your requirements click here to contact us.

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Strategic Sourcing Basics for Aerospace Manufacturers

by Liberty Electronics

Strategic sourcing processes allow manufacturers to choose the best vendors based on more factors than cost alone. By evaluating other characteristics such as quality management practices, efficient operations, design capabilities, and sustainability, purchasing managers are using strategic sourcing techniques to look at the “bigger picture” for long-term growth.

Strategic Sourcing vs. Traditional Purchasing

During the traditional purchasing process, purchasing managers often make supplier decisions based on the lowest cost per unit and discounts provided for high-volume orders. However, this often results in selecting multiple vendors to work on the similar projects — meaning more complex procedures for your internal team.

Conversely, strategic sourcing:

  • Evaluates the best possible value through the total cost of business
  • Agrees on quality standards for fewer inspections and waste reduction
  • Invests in select suppliers for simplified ordering and invoicing arrangements

Why Does Strategic Sourcing Matter?

Statistics show most businesses spend over 60% of their revenue on purchasing goods and services, while implementing strategic sourcing practices can result in as much as 70% of potential procurement savings. In fact, strategic sourcing often comes with immediate returns for procurement managers by freeing up resources to expand the core business and allowing staff to spend more time doing what they were hired to do.

For example, as manufacturing technology continues to become more automated, engineers have more time to dedicate to creative thinking and design. The same goes for purchasing managers and strategic sourcing.

Strategic sourcing procedures offer three significant and immediate benefits:

  • Financial Incentive – Streamlining procurement operations frees up resources, reduces costs, and increases the overall value of purchases.
  • Decreased Risk – By evaluating more than cost, purchasing managers reduce operational risk by taking factors such as financial stability, sustainability, and innovative momentum into consideration.
  • Goal Alignment – Gaining a partner in business operations helps to ensure that a company’s business goals align with those of their vendors. A robust, trustworthy relationship is paramount for success.

Strategic Sourcing Applications within Aerospace

Growth in the aerospace and defense market has increased the need for electronic manufacturing services and suppliers. Although military specifications were once regarded as the most rigorous compliance standard, these regulations have recently been upstaged by modern commercial quality standards. Since the acceptance of IPC6 Class III standards, most electronic manufacturing services (EMS) companies now maintain the required quality standards necessary for military-spec manufacturing.

As such, there is a growing acceptance of EMS outsourcing, and nearly all U.S.-based aerospace and defense contractors outsource at some level. Some aerospace and defense leaders who are currently outsourcing include:

  • Lockheed Martin
  • Boeing
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Raytheon
  • General Electric
  • Harris
  • Motorola
  • EADS
  • Rockwell Collins
  • United Technologies
  • Honeywell

Sourcing & Consulting Services with Liberty Electronics

As your strategic business partner, Liberty Electronics takes pride in our commitment to quality with vendors that choose us for strategic sourcing. We are ISO 9001-certified and AS9100-certified, and our inspection process is rigorous. Our staff is dedicated to providing a competitively priced, world-class product that will exceed your expectations and your standards.

Maintaining the highest quality means ensuring our manufacturing personnel receive continuing education for on the job requirements and achieves the following certifications:

  • IPC/WHMA-A-620 + Space Addendum
  • IPC J-STD-001 + Space Addendum
  • IPC-A-610
  • NADCAP AC7121

Liberty Electronics’ team works with top defense and commercial OEMs who want to expand their capabilities through teaming with an outsourcing partner — including Bombardier, General Electric, Northrop Grunman and Raytheon. Subscribe to our newsletter today to learn more about how Liberty Electronics can help drive efficiency in your aerospace supply chain with enhanced strategic sourcing processes.

Contact Liberty today with any questions that you may have.


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Employee Culture: Staying Sharp with Continuous Training

by Liberty Electronics

No matter how precise a tool may be, it still needs to be honed, recalibrated, and reevaluated in order to stay in prime condition and do its job correctly. This is no different for a workforce. No matter how knowledgeable or skilled an employee may be, there are always ways for the employee to refresh their knowledge. Continuous training to keep the workforce up to date on all its processes produces a workplace culture which is centered on preparedness and reliability.

Employees in each department are continuously trained in the best practices and standards for their jobs. This includes ongoing coursework, yearly training and recertification courses, and special classes. The goal is to produce a workforce that is abreast of industry standards and trends,and equipped for the next project.

Liberty’s engineers, for example, regularly undergo training on the newest versions of their computer software. Because the software changes (sometimes year to year), regular training allows everyone in the department to be equipped with the same information, to know what the expectations are, and to be knowledgeable about how the software works. This helps the department as a whole be on the same page.

Another example of Liberty staying current comes from the production floor, where personnel must be recertified annually for the individual specializations for which they carry credentials. Employees performing soldering operations, for example, must renew their certifications, and therefore must stay up to date on the workmanship standards for their discipline.

It is important to train a workforce that is prepared for all the standards and expectations they will experience, not only in daily work but in the unique projects that may come their way. Continuous training helps employees stay versatile and prepared. It also contributes to a company culture in which personnel are not simply current, but ready to meet each challenge. Honing employees’ skills equips everyone in the company to expertly and safely work together to get the job done.

Click here to contact us to learn more. 


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Safety First: How Liberty Prioritizes Safety in the Workplace

by Liberty Electronics

Most companies work to ensure a maximum standard of safety in a workplace environment. There are several unique ways that Liberty makes employee safety and security a priority, by getting not only employees involved, but their families as well.

Workplace safety starts with aptly training the workforce, not only in day to day safety practices, but also in proper emergency response. In addition to each employee learning safety policies and procedures, Liberty conducts annual mandated safety training along with providing certification for a group of associates trained as workplace first responders for onsite safety. This demonstrates a collaborative effort that ensures the company is not only operating in a safe and healthy manner but is also providing for a rapid response to individual concerns and conditions.

To highlight the importance of continuing workplace safety, Liberty staffs a dedicated safety committee. This committee is composed of individuals from each department or business unit within the company. The committee meets at least monthly, and discusses safety concerns. Members of the committee also typically engage other workplace associates by reinforcing and affirming company directives, safety protocols, and best practices.

During the month of June, the company also celebrates Safety Month, providing incentives to promote safety awareness. This includes games, fun contests, and questionnaires and puzzles that award prizes. These all intend to further educate employees on safety issues and to create camaraderie as everyone works together to prioritize safety. Even the families of employees can get involved, with family picnics, silent auctions, and children’s coloring contests.

Liberty ensures a commitment to safety by not only following the letter of the law (OSHA, city ordinances, and state workplace laws), but also by engaging with each employee on a personal level. The goal is to value the company’s employees and associates by being intentional about safety protocols, so that when employees come to work each day, the precautions are in place to ensure the smooth and safe operation of everything Liberty does.

Click here to learn more.


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Solving Problems With Root Cause Corrective Action

by Liberty Electronics

Solving Problems With Root Cause Corrective Action

When a project goes astray, one of the most important ways to get it back on track is to find out exactly what went wrong. Using supporting data and facts, root cause corrective action (RCCA) is one way to resolve the issue. The RCCA method finds and eliminates the cause of a detected nonconformity, permanently resolving it.

RCCA isn’t about fixing an individual mistake – it’s a series of actions that positively change or modify the system’s performance for the long term. It looks at the big picture and targets the weakest parts of a system that are more likely to cause failure.

Because RCCA aims to make a systemic change, it’s critical to address contributing causes since they could become a future root cause. Ultimately, RCCA can help create better products, gain a competitive advantage and improve customer satisfaction.

Implementing Root Cause Corrective Action

When implementing RCCA and determining potential solutions, there are five factors to consider:

  • Viability: The solution must be compatible with the company’s schedule and resources.
  • Effectiveness: Before choosing a solution, determine whether it will be effective in solving the problem.
  • Team Involvement: Those affected by the problem should be included in the process of formulating the solution.
  • Big Picture: Focus on systemic issues and address problems that affect the entire organization.
  • Contingency Plan: Come up with a plan based on anticipated success and have a backup strategy in mind.

You should also ask questions like:

  • Will the corrective action lower the risk of event recurrence to an acceptable level?
  • Does everyone involved accept the solution?
  • Are there any opposing effects that might make the action unacceptable?
  • Does the corrective action fit within organizational constraints?

Once the action has been implemented, it’s time to evaluate whether it was as effective as expected. Using predefined criteria to measure results will help assess the effectiveness of the RCCA, helping your team solve similar issues in the future.

Ensuring Team Buy-in

One of the most significant considerations when determining the effectiveness of RCCA is how successfully the team worked together toward implementing the solution. The most critical areas of team collaboration are knowledge facilitation and the team’s willingness to challenge assumptions and critically evaluate the direction of the analysis.
Another important factor is the inclusion of leadership and team members from outside the area of focus. Doing so brings a fresh perspective to the root cause analysis, which helps teams think outside of typical patterns to determine the most suitable RCCA.

No matter the complexity of the issues you’re facing, Liberty Electronics®, a relationship-based business, can partner with you to help find solutions for your upcoming programs. With over 35 years of leadership in our field, we specialize in supporting aerospace, defense, rail, transportation and nuclear energy industries by providing products including:

  • Electronic wiring harnesses
  • Box builds
  • Electrical cable assemblies
  • Electrical cabinet assemblies
  • Electrical panel assemblies
  • Electromechanical assemblies

In addition to our dedication to success, quality service and on-time delivery, we’re a relationship-based supplier that values cooperation over competition and are based in Franklin, PA. To build a long-lasting relationship, contact us on our website or via email about working together.

Liberty, Independence, and Reshoring

by Liberty Electronics

In an interesting convergence, the new United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal has taken effect within days of celebrating Independence Day here in the United States of America.  The new deal replaces the old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was implemented on January 1, 1994.  While the net effect of NAFTA has been the subject of spirited debate, there are two unfortunate realities. First, the US trade deficit with these countries increased from $17 billion to over $177 billion per year, and over 800,000 US jobs were displaced during NAFTA’s 26-year existence.  Likewise, and worse for Americans, since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, 3.4 million US jobs have been displaced, and the annual US trade deficit with them peaked in 2018 at over $400 billion.  To add insult to injury, trade with China has strengthened a totalitarian regime that oppresses the Chinese people and views the United States as an obstacle to their global ambitions.

In achieving the goal of helping to level the playing field, the new USMCA deal and others that could follow will likely increase the costs of goods produced in what were previously identified as “low cost regions.” In addition to trade deal changes, the costs of “low cost region” supply chains have been severely impacted by things like increased tariffs, the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, wage growth, energy costs, and destabilizing factors, which include crime and the threat of armed conflict.

So as Americans celebrate Independence Day this year, many US companies are declaring independence from offshore supply chains.  The Thomas Industrial Survey, for example, recently reported that 64% of manufacturers are likely to bring production and sourcing to North America, and this number has been growing.  The Institute for Supply Management reports that nearly 75% of companies are reporting supply chain disruptions due to the coronavirus.  It’s no wonder more and more firms are reshoring.

Numerous case studies reveal that manufacturers that reshore can expect to reap improvements in a number of areas, including product quality, lead times and delivery, inventory costs, innovation and faster product development, and reduced threat of theft of intellectual property and supply interruptions, among other benefits.  As a result, manufacturers are looking to achieve a reduction in the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the products that they begin to source domestically.

In our experience with our customers, reshoring, and even changing suppliers within the same country for that matter, can be a daunting task.  There are tools and methodologies, however, that we find make the process much less susceptible to potential pitfalls, and minimize both the cycle time and cost of the project.  

Robust configuration management and ERP systems, for example, are essential to get the right products at the right time.  Hundreds, thousands, and even more parts need to be ordered and delivered at the correct revisions and at the right times in order to ensure supply continuity.  Early collaboration, gold standard assemblies, both physical and digital, and even reverse or re-engineering can be key, especially to uncover and address “tribal knowledge” that is not captured in the technical documentation.  Both the ability to quickly scale capacity, and rapid tooling development, including using 3-D printing, can also help ensure a smooth process.

Ultimately, we’ve found that our commitment to your success is the key factor in getting your products moved from an incumbent supplier in a timely and cost-effective manner.  If you are looking to reshore your products to a US EMS contract manufacturer, we invite you to consider Liberty Electronics.  Let freedom ring!



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How the Right Contract Manufacturer Can Benefit Your Bottom Line

by Liberty Electronics

Lack of capacity, along with rising operating costs and increased competitive pressures, have caused companies to explore the option of contract manufacturing for their products. Contract manufacturing outsources certain manufacturing operations to a third-party, passing on the responsibility for materials, capital, equipment, staff, and software.

Contract manufacturing allows businesses to shift their focus away from fabrication and assembly and place more emphasis on core business-related tasks such as design, development, integration, and testing. Contract manufacturing is especially ideal for companies that do not possess:

  • In-house capability and/or expertise to reliably produce a certain element or multiple elements of existing or planned products
  • Sufficient capacity to keep up with demand
  • Contingency in the budget to accommodate unforeseen circumstances during production
  • The ability to coordinate the different variables required for product creation, including raw material procurement, design, fulfillment, and delivery

Although contract manufacturing is a beneficial and valuable tool for businesses, specific steps still need to be taken to ensure the outsourcing process is as cost-effective as possible.

Is Outsourcing Tactical or Strategic?

Tactical outsourcing and strategic outsourcing are driven by different factors.

Tactical outsourcing is an approach usually employed by organizations that are seeking a short-term fix and or limited cost reductions. Companies that use tactical outsourcing tend to do so based on criteria such as cost and available delivery dates. This type of outsourcing also allows businesses to hand off limited scopes of work to gain expertise and or capacity.

Tactical outsourcing is viewed as relatively straightforward, as it is based more on immediate need. For example, an OEM may outsource overflow manufacturing to keep up with demand. A company may also outsource to free up capital funds being spent on non-core functions.  Such a move can prevent the need for expending capital on additional floor space and equipment.

Strategic outsourcing, on the other hand, is much more involved, and much more impactful. In contrast to tactical outsourcing, which can be reactive and often short-term in nature, strategic outsourcing involves a more long-term focus. This type of outsourcing allows businesses to hand off functions that either cannot be performed by their organization or are difficult to control and manage.

During this type of outsourcing, decisions are made based on myriad factors and can be considerably more complex than tactical outsourcing. For instance, it often involves the restructuring of an organization based on core competencies and external relationships. Strategic outsourcing might also entail retraining certain employees to do more value-added work.

A strategically outsourced contractor is not just a vendor, but is also a partner in many ways. In a strategic outsourcing partnership, both parties have a significant stake in the relationship. The client frees up money and resources to focus on core business concerns, while the contract manufacturer offers their own core expertise that can improve the production process and maybe even the product itself. In such a relationship, the partners share risks and share investments, ultimately reducing the negative, and amplifying the positive effects on both parties.

Other benefits companies gain from a strategic outsourcing partnership include:

  • Lower internal department handling costs
  • Reduced inventory
  • Increased capacity
  • Access to state-of-the-art processes/technology
  • Increased market competitiveness
  • Reduced training/workforce costs and responsibilities
  • Access to a lower cost structure

One of the primary goals that strategic outsourcing seeks to achieve is a reduction in the total cost of ownership (TCO).

What Should You Measure?

Knowing what metrics to use also plays a substantial role in contract manufacturer selection. Financial and operational (or non-financial) metrics represent two particular parameters that need to be considered.

  • Financial metrics

Outsourcing essentially boosts economic value added (EVA) by significantly reducing operating and capital costs, while inventory reduction, increased turns, and reduced equipment, facility, and personnel costs affect the return on assets (ROA). Financial metrics are used to predict, capture and assess the economic impacts of the outsourcing initiative. They should also be used to evaluate and select the right contract manufacturer. Examining the strength of their bottom line and balance sheet, for example, is a crucial element of selecting the right outsourcing partner.

  • Operational metrics

Money isn’t everything when it comes to metrics. Manufacturing success may be further evaluated by measurements such as on-time delivery, cycle times, quality, and reliability. These parameters can ultimately affect time-to-market (TTM), and overall customer satisfaction with the final product.

A Trusted Contract Manufacturing Partner

Selecting the right contract manufacturer can free up precious resources for more challenging or pressing tasks, which can ultimately improve a company’s productivity and ability to innovate. Liberty Electronics draws on decades of experience to solve complex challenges related to manufacturing, engineering, and quality. We work closely with our clients to offer superior contract manufacturing services, making us a true consultative partner.


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How to Successfully Switch Suppliers [Video]

by Liberty Electronics

supply chain | How to Successfully Switch Suppliers [Video], Liberty Electronics®

Scott Anderson of Liberty Electronics shares best practices and the importance of a multidisciplinary team in the process of switching suppliers. This includes ensuring adequate production capacity, consistent OTD, and dual-sourcing supply to avoid supply chain disruption. To learn more about how Liberty works with customers on supply chain management and switching suppliers, check out our blog and video below.

Mark: Welcome to another episode of Wired Success presented by Liberty Electronics. Today I’m here with Scott Anderson. My name is Mark Cessar.

Scott is the Director of New Business Development here at Liberty and we are here to talk about switching suppliers. So, Scott, why are we talking about switching suppliers today?

Scott: Well, thank you, Mark. It’s good to be with you again.

There have been a number of studies recently that show that actually a majority of O.E.Ms are considering switching to new suppliers. In some cases they’re looking to avoid tariffs or supply disruptions, and in other cases they’re looking to increase capacity or improve quality. Unfortunately, switching suppliers, though, is a risky business.

Liberty has worked with a number of customers over the years who’ve transitioned business to Liberty from an old supplier, and we’ve learned some lessons and developed some best practices that we’d like to share today.

Mark: Is there any one thing that stands out above others in terms of best practices in switching suppliers?

Scott: Well, I’d say, like much of manufacturing, it is really important to focus on the process and also in having a multidisciplinary team that’s responsible for and accountable for the process.

Mark: So, let’s talk about the process. What are some key elements?

Scott: Well, first, one thing that’s critical in contract manufacturing is getting the configuration right. Does the finished physical product match the technical documentation? Unfortunately, some suppliers make changes to the product without updating the documentation. So, for example, they might substitute a component without updating the bill of material, or they might switch out a tool or change a tool setting without updating the documentation. So, we found it’s critical to have a gold standard of the finished product. So whether it’s a physical gold standard or whether it’s a digital gold standard, something to validate the configuration against and also having a multidisciplinary review of the technical documentation and the process.

Second, sharing forecast information with the supplier and having a supplier that has a robust ERP system is important to making sure that the components are arriving when they need to be there to support the transition and also to ensure that there is adequate production capacity to meet the demand. Then, third, it’s also important to have some type of supply redundancy so whether that’s some safety stock to cover a few months of the transition or possibly some parallel production with the old supplier to cover that period it’s kind of a belt and suspenders approach that might not be necessary, but there’s really little downside.

Mark: Is there anything else that Liberty has picked up over the years that could help an O.E.M. in this process of switching suppliers?

Scott: Well, Mark, there are a couple things that we’ve picked up on that are key, and one is the ability to be nimble. Invariably in these transitions something unforeseen pops up and it’s important to have lean processes to be able to respond quickly and also to minimize the cost impact. Second, and probably most important, is commitment on the part of the supplier to the success of the transition. In other words, having a supplier that’s willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen for the customer.

Mark: Well, thank you for your time today, Scott and thank you for tuning in to another episode of Wired Success presented by Liberty Electronics.

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Advantages of Moving Up the Bill of Materials [Video]

by Liberty Electronics

Moving up The Bill of Sale Thumbnail Liberty | Advantages of Moving Up the Bill of Materials [Video], Liberty Electronics®

The Bill of Material is a critical component of the planning process in manufacturing for any industry. In this episode of Wired SuccessMark Cessar talks with Liberty’s Programs Director, Troy West about what moving up the Bill of Materials is and how this approach to procurement can benefit OEMs in terms of ease of installation, capacity, costs, and inventory reduction.

Hi, my name is Mark Cessar and I am here today with Troy West for another discussion on Wired Success presented by Liberty Electronics. Troy has worked for the company for 19 years as our Programs Director. He is from Butler County, Pennsylvania. So, today’s topic for discussion is “advantages of moving up the bill of materials.” So to start, why would a system supplier want to outsource a higher level assembly as a strategy, versus cable and harness assemblies?

Well, the main reason a supplier would want to source a chassis or box build as opposed to a harness would be the ease of installation. So, when they get a harness or cable assembly, they have to take that assembly and install it in whatever their unit is: the chassis, the box… and that can be a fairly labor-intensive process. So by having it come to them as a completed unit, then they may simply have to bolt that chassis into their assembly that they will sell to an OEM and it’s already tested; it’s already inspected, and therefore it helps save on their labor costs.

So let’s talk about capacity. How can this approach help this area?

Well for a system supplier, you know, if they’re able to outsource the chassis for example– if I can give an example– there is a customer I know of that had a large harness they were procuring from us that had about 90 wires going to a single terminal block. And the original intent was that they would terminate to that terminal block at their facility. However they did not have the labor available for that. So after a couple months of receiving assemblies that way, they decided to have the terminal block included in our bill and have us do the termination. And it saved them– according to them– about six hours per unit for the installation.

All right, what about cost? What are the implications there?

There are several factors that can be impacted by this for cost. One of which would be a reduction in inventory for the system supplier to carry, as well as the number of PO’s that would be issued by the supplier, as well as the receiving and warehouse activities to manage all of those components.

You mentioned inventory reduction. Can you explain that a little bit more?

Yeah we can work with the system supplier to potentially have a pull or vendor-managed inventory system set up so that they would only need to pull those items as required. As well as it would reduce the number of part numbers that they would need to carry in their inventory and the cost associated with having them in their inventory and purchasing them.

So last but not least, what effect can this strategy have on the design process?

Well, if the system supplier is able to modify their design to make it easier for installation, that can impact quite a bit. Their remaining labor, for example, they might have the harness at present exit the chassis and go to switches or terminal blocks or whatever that would need to be hooked up afterward, and they might be able to modify the design so it’s connected and to make that chassis a plug-and-play type assembly. So,drop it in, hook up a few connectors, and you’re done with it as opposed to installing it and then running a bunch of wires wherever they need to go.

Well thank you try thank you for tuning in to another episode on wired for success presented by Liberty Electronics. Thanks again, Troy

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Wire Braiding: Machine Versus Premade Options

by Liberty Electronics

Braided coverings and shieldings are an excellent way to make wiring configurations neat and uniform. Braiding gives wires more flexibility and a longer lifespan and can also offer a layer of electric protection or abrasion resistance. Although there are two different types of wire braiding widely used in the industry,  machine braiding and premade (or slide-on) braiding, machine braiding offers more versatility, cost savings, and consistency, and should be something a contract manufacturing partner should be able to do in-house.

Braided covers, made from materials like kevlar, polyamide, and nomex, provide abrasion resistance and protect the wiring configurations inside from damage. Braided shielding, made from nickel or copper plated with tin or silver, offers electrical protection by providing electromagnetic or radio frequency shielding. Braided covers and shields can be obtained either commercially, in pre-cut and pre-sized sleeves, or in-house, using braiding machines that weave over the product to fit its exact specifications.

Each type of braiding carries its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, slide-on braiding can be convenient and cheap, as it comes prepared and already sized. Slide-ons can be applied to an assembly quickly and easily. Some complicated or unusually-shaped assemblies, however, may not fit into a standardized size or they may not have a free end to slide the premade braiding onto. These premade braids limit the manufacturer to only being able to cover or shield certain assemblies.

In these situations, machine braiding is a better option, offering the ability to custom size the braiding around a wiring assembly. This creates a perfect fit every time, not limiting the manufacturer to standardized sizes and is often ultimately more cost effective, providing exactly what is needed and producing a more secure and durable product.

Sometimes, the manufacturer can even utilize a slide-on braid and finish the needed modifications with machine braid, should the fit of the slide-on not be adequate. This can secure premade braiding into something more neat and customizable, and offer extra protection for the assembly.

Custom, in-house machine braiding is a process an experienced supplier will be familiar with. With eight braiding machines currently in use, Liberty, for example, works to ensure the best protection for its products. These machines allow the company to produce either coverings or shieldings with all standard materials, including nylon, ceramic, and metal.

The versatility and cost-effectiveness of custom machine braiding creates flexible, long-lasting cable assemblies that might otherwise be difficult to shield, generating products that are uniform, protected, and secure. Liberty’s ability to provide these assemblies to clients shows the company’s own commitment to excellence, and its desire to fit the customer’s exact needs from the initial design to the finished, braided details.

What braiding issues have you seen with either machine or premade wire braiding? Let us know in the comments below. For questions about out braiding process or our quality standards, please reach out for further details.

Understanding Insulation Materials

by Liberty Electronics

Insulation materials provide wiring harnesses with a layer of necessary protection in a variety of ways, depending on the specific requirements the product must meet. Insulation helps protect the product mechanically, electrically, or environmentally, meeting particular needs according to the product’s application. Additionally, a variety of materials used in wiring harness insulation ensure the various functions of cable harnesses are carried out in the best way possible using the best materials for the job.

Insulation designed for mechanical protection ensures wiring harnesses will hold up well against wear and tear. This type of insulation will either be very flexible or very rigid depending on the needs of the assembly, and will often be resistant to extreme temperatures. Teflon is commonly used for these applications due to its durability and resistance to extreme temperature.

Electrical protection assists wire bundles in being more effective in their purpose. This includes equipping the product to carry the necessary voltage, or insulating specific wires from the electrical current of surrounding wires. The thicker the insulation material, the higher the voltage rating the assembly will have and more capable the wires will be to carry high currents of electricity.

Insulation from the environment will protect the product from outside damage, reducing the possibility of water, microorganisms, or heavy chemicals compromising the effectiveness of a wiring assembly. Neoprene is often used in these cases where damage from biological factors is possible.

Depending on the function of the wiring harnesses and the needs of the client, a variety of materials can be used for insulation purposes. Coverings made from high end polymers, silicone, FEP, XLPE, and PTFE materials are often used in aircraft and spacecraft applications because of their durability and lighter weight. These more rare and expensive materials are crucial in assemblies that must decrease as much weight as possible in the finished product.

By contrast, some more common materials like PVC, neoprene, and nylon are useful coverings for harnesses in which excess weight is not of huge importance. This includes end products such as automobiles, trains, and appliances. These materials are more cost-effective to process, while still providing resilience to the cable assembly.

Both higher and lower end insulation materials offer companies like Liberty a variety of ways to tailor wiring harnesses to their client’s needs. This combination of mechanical, electrical, and biological protection goes a long way in protecting an assembly. Insulation equips wiring assemblies with the durability needed for the increasingly high performance needs of our customers.

Want to learn more about the possibilities for wiring insulation? Leave a comment below, or contact Liberty today!

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COVID-19 Update

by Liberty Electronics

As noted previously, Liberty Electronics has remained open as an essential business. We are under Federal mandate to work on all Department of Defense related contracts according to the rating systems priorities.

Average labor availability for the current week has been slightly below normal expectations. The coming weeks and months may see increased variation in the availability of labor and materials as the pandemic infection rates change and the overlap with cold and flu season.

Where possible we are planning for lower availabilities in our capacity planning in an effort to make commitments to you that are dependable. As we do this our lead times may be extended by a few weeks on new commitments more than usual during this unprecedented event.

We continue all possible mitigation efforts from multiple temperature screens to enhanced cleaning protocols, to 100% mask requirements and barriers/social distancing. All quarantine issues to date have been outside of Liberty exposures.

Most overhead positions are still either working from home or on a rotation.

We will continue to provide information as it becomes available.

Liberty Electronics Announces Purchase of State-Of-The-Art Production Facility in Pennsylvania

by Liberty Electronics

FRANKLIN, PA, OCT 28, 2020 – Liberty Electronics is pleased to announce the purchase of an additional state-of-the-art production facility in Franklin, PA.  This facility had been leased by Liberty previously, but the purchase includes 56 acres to support future expansion plans.  The purchase has also enabled Liberty to invest in a significant upgrade to the facility’s insulation and heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.

The purchase of this new production facility and the additional property positions Liberty to better serve our customers and to support their growth.  The purchase is also part of a strategy to support US customers that are transitioning from offshore to domestic suppliers.

Benefits of a Relationship-Minded Supplier [Video]

by Liberty Electronics

Driving performance through successful partnerships is a critical component of the OEM supply chain. Liberty prides itself on being a relationship-minded supplier, knowing the ins and outs of our OEM partners. Quick resolutions and proactive awareness of potential order issues, faster turnaround times for new orders, as well as a deep familiarity with product lines are all benefits of these relationships. This investment in our partnerships results in better performance and a higher standard of quality for both customer and supplier.

In this episode of Wired Success, Mark Cessar asks Liberty Electronics’ Program Director, Troy West, about the benefits of partnering with a relationship-minded supplier.


Thank you for tuning in to another episode of “Wired for Success.” I’m here with Troy West, my name is Mark Cessar and we are here to talk about the benefits of a relationship-minded supplier. Liberty Electronics was established in 1985. In these years, we have developed numerous relationships with companies and Troy, can you talk about the benefits that these years of familiarity can have for these companies?


Sure, Mark. Some of the benefits would be knowing who to contact about certain issues or concerns that you might have regarding what’s going on with your customer. For example, you may see that a customer that typically orders items as sets, they’re only ordering part of the set instead of the entire set, you can bring that to their attention almost right away and say “Hey, you know, we think you’re missing a part. You may need to go back to your planning, or your engineering to make sure that the parts list is correct or the planning is correct on that item so that all three items get ordered together as they should.” Also, if there’s an engineering question or a quality concern, you might be able to go directly to that engineer, or to that quality person, and have them brought into the loop essentially right away as to what the issue or concern is and have it dealt with much more quickly than having it go to the buyer, and then having the buyer have to figure out who to talk to next, and how to resolve it next.


You talked about increased speed. Can you elaborate a little bit on this topic?


Sure. There’s several components that we can use to increase speed, or turn around time, for something. One of them would be as you’re more familiar with a customer you can know what their requirements are. You don’t have to start from scratch on those. So if you know for example, they have to have certain specifications that they’re going to have to meet then you can plan on meeting those in advance. And then you don’t have to go back and ask those questions; “Hey you know do we need to have three reterminations for every terminal that’s on your wires?” You just know in advance that you have to have that and you don’t have to go back to the customer for it that can aid in the development of the first units planning on these requirements to be met so that it shortens your turnaround time for the initial units which usually are the longest ones. And as you become more familiar with the customer– and we may have you know long-term contracts or some sort of agreement with them– we may come into a stocking position on commonly used components that may have a long lead time. And you can then use that stocking situation to shorten turnaround time for new orders.


Related to increasing speed, can you talk about how a relationship-minded approach can decrease lead times for our customers?


Several items that could be impacted by being relationship-minded. One of which is on a long-term customer, we may elect to stock certain components that may have a long lead time even if there is no current demand for them. That will help us to shorten our lead time to them for orders consuming those components going forward. Another potential area that we could reduce the lead time would be when we have a good knowledge of the customer’s product, and the customer’s specifications, we can plan our builds around those requirements, and that will help us to be able to react more quickly, and more completely to their requirements.


Can you talk about the commitment that we show to our customers?


We want to be a relationship-minded vendor to our customers. We want to have a personal relationship with their purchasing, their engineering, and their quality. We want to be able to help our customers succeed, which in turn, will help Liberty to succeed. In turn that gives us more access to our customer, to their products, to their needs, so that we can hopefully expand and develop that relationship further.


Finally, can you talk about the commitment that we have to our customers?


Liberty Electronics endeavors to build relationships with our customers, purchasing, engineering, quality. What we find, Mark, is that these relationships help us to be able to resolve/issues concerns more quickly which is a benefit both to our customer and to Liberty itself. The knowledge that you gain by dealing with the people over the years, knowing who to talk to at a customer’s location for whatever the issue or concern is, basically speeds everything along, makes it all go more quickly and is mutually beneficial to the customer and Liberty. The years that we invest in our customers results in, I believe, better performance for them and for Liberty.


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COVID-19 Update

by Liberty Electronics

As noted previously, Liberty Electronics has remained open as an essential business.

We are under Federal mandate to work on all Department of Defense related contracts according to the rating systems priorities.

While stay at home orders are in effect in places around the globe, we continue to engage with the supply chain to maximize material availability of parts & services. Component suppliers in India, for example, are still subject to closures while some operations based in Mexico are now resuming activities at a reduced level. Per our previous update Liberty has already invested significantly in material inventory to help offset any delays that might be caused by these manufacturing disruptions.  Of course this is still a developing situation which could change rapidly without notice.

Read more

Please, Put Your Mask On Before Helping Others

by Liberty Electronics

As our world continues to navigate the COVID-19 health crisis, countries’ efforts to quarantine and isolate are taking effect to protect their citizens. We are seeing the curve begin to flatten in countries, with some reopening with no signs of the virus altogether. Mask Distribution 300x300 | Please, Put Your Mask On Before Helping Others, Liberty Electronics®

The United States continues to make health decisions state by state, with many working from home and only certain businesses reopening. Essential workers remain working in their workspaces. Just as every citizen is advised by the CDC to wear proper face covering in public, essential workers in Pennsylvania are mandated to wear proper face masks to help provide another germ barrier on top of social distancing. As this mandate came rather quickly, many companies are still working to obtain proper masks, with many employees having to make-do with fabric such as scarves or other fabric material. On the other hand, some companies with proper equipment were able to take advantage of their industrial machinery to fabricate face coverings for their employees.

A phrase that has become familiar to those that are accustomed to air travel, “Please, put your own mask on before helping others,” has become deeply personal and significantly more meaningful to our society today. It represents the idea that in order for us to be the best and most effective that we can be in helping others, we must not lose sight of the importance of caring for ourselves and those that are in our most direct lines of responsibility. By endeavoring to provide PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to our employees, where none is readily available for purchase during this critical time, the engineering team at Liberty has endeavored to ‘re-tool’ and ‘re-purpose’ resources and materials to help meet the need.

Just like our engineers utilized 3D printers to create the “Sneeze Guard” to wrap around our receptionist’s desk in the main lobby, our engineers also utilized their design skills to manufacture individual face guards for employees. These face guards and hat clips mitigate the risk of germs spreading between employees as they work on assemblies.Mask Application 300x300 | Please, Put Your Mask On Before Helping Others, Liberty Electronics®

The company arranged engineer Sheila Nettles’ schedule so she could sew handmade face masks for employees from home. While the company waited for masks to be ready, our engineers used the Stratasys Fortus 380MC and 450MC to create 80 face shields and hat clips, which were originally distributed to one specific company location and have expanded as required from there.

The two-step process was performed in just one weekend to produce the majority of the face shields components required. With both industrial machines running almost non-stop for nearly 48 hours, it was nearly continual production process.

The process consists of placing a clear material in the machine to use as a foundation for the masks. The material would be printed on until all surface area was used up. Engineers then take .020 polycarbonate sheets and repurpose them for the shields rather than relying on the availability of stock material. At the time of production, that specific material was not available for distribution anywhere from Pennsylvania to Michigan.

The actual shields themselves look like a curved piece of polycarbonate glass that covers the whole face—adding an extra barrier to the face and face mask. The top of the shield has an elastic band to wrap around the head. Engineers even made a version with clips to clip to a baseball cap for those who work with hats on their heads.

In the meantime, Liberty has also offered these services to other companies in the Pittsburgh region to aid in the safety and health efforts during this time.

With diligence and effort, we can sometimes find the materials are often right under our noses to create something unique and innovative. During this time where citizens everywhere are taking this health crisis day by day, it is gratifying to use our passions and talents to help better the situation.

Keeping Employees Safe with 3D Printing

by Liberty Electronics

During this historical period of time where the world is experiencing the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses everywhere are responding with necessary measures and precautions. Stopping the spread cannot be done through maintaining the normal day-to-day functions.

As social gathering has been put to an end for the time being, and humans find solace and protection in home isolation and washing hands, many essential businesses must remain open and are looking for the best possible ways to protect their employees and maintain good health while getting the job done.

As an essential business, throughout the past several weeks, Liberty Electronics has taken numerous measures to ensure its employees are safe and healthy during this time. In accordance with the orders from the Pennsylvania Governor and United States President, Liberty sent as many associates as possible home to Telework per the company business continuity plan.

Liberty monitors the facilities and production floors to ensure there is proper social distancing, partitions are set up, and sanitization is in constant practice. In addition, offices have been split in order to allow social distancing and quarantine.

6d33a8ce dd50 4701 90b8 758629ce6c63 | Keeping Employees Safe with 3D Printing, Liberty Electronics®

COVID-19 is a moment in history that no human being has experienced before. It is a constantly evolving global situation that requires monitoring and individual business adjustments. It also presents an opportunity for manufacturing companies in particular to use their engineering abilities to design products in support of these isolation and sanitization efforts. Many companies that had to postpone their current practices have even flipped their businesses to create products that can aid hospitals and citizens during this health crisis.

As Liberty has offered its abilities to contribute to the prevention efforts of this crisis, Liberty has also looked for ways that 3D printing can prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of infection in-house.

sneeze guard liberty electronics | Keeping Employees Safe with 3D Printing, Liberty Electronics®One of the priorities was to protect the receptionist, as she is the first person to interact with any person that comes in and out of the building. To create a barrier between these human interactions, the manufacturing engineers built what they’ve coined a “Sneeze Guard!” This consists of two long sheets of 1/8-inch thick polycarbonate glass.

They then designed 3D brackets and clips, which they placed in a 3D printer—the Stratasys Fortus 450mc in Dark Gray ASA with heat-imbedded threaded inserts for support. The brackets and clips ran for 30 hours, with an additional hour for post-processing and assembly.

The clips tightly secure to the front desk in the Liberty main lobby, providing enough stability and support to hold the polycarbonate sheets upright. In addition, the glass is tall enough and wraps around both sides in order to provide a secure barrier behind the desk.

In addition to this custom Sneeze Barrier, Liberty has also 3D-printed face shields for the employees who are still working in-office. They even printed clips to be attached to ball caps so those wearing hats can still wear the face shields.

It truly is amazing to see what solutions 3D printing can provide towards the efforts to maintain safety and good health during this unique COVID-19 health crisis. Even more astounding is the ability to have these parts created and finished by the next business day. As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. A crisis like COVID-19 demands creative and innovative solutions like never before.


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2021 Industry Outlook – Aerospace & Defense

by Liberty Electronics

Liberty Electronic’s Industry Outlook series analyzes the market for trends suppliers at all levels of the supply chain should watch. In this installment, we break down Aerospace and Defense trends. 

With a difficult 2020 behind us, this year’s relaxed COVID-19 restrictions herald the airline industry’s long road to recovery with returning travel. Though the commercial sector faces some challenges, there is hope for aerospace manufacturers and suppliers with solid industry projections in the defense sector due to defense spending remaining largely unaffected in countries across the world. The global political climate and recovering pandemic economies will mean there is much to be seen in 2021, but aerospace and defense (A&D) companies and suppliers can be on the lookout for three major trends this coming year.

Space exploration and military activity is projected to remain stable.

The pandemic did not shake any eyes from space with lots of activity planned for 2021. After a tough year for space exploration with many launches postponed, this year will be busy as space programs across the globe adapt to delayed launch dates and declining launch costs. Space investments remained steady at 25.6 billion in 2020, meaning more contracts can be expected in 2021 after some large deals in 2020. June saw a 187 million dollar deal between NASA and Northrop Grumman to begin design and execution of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost projected to launch in 2023 and a 160 million dollar deal between the Pentagon and SpaceX to launch two Falcon 9 rockets by the end of 2023. Multiple contracts have been awarded to A&D companies for defense projects in spite of a decrease in deal activity due to the pandemic, though that is expected to increase as 2020’s uncertainty abates. Already the industry has seen some major contracts such as the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin for F-16 Fighting Falcon, the U.S Army and Honeywell for CH-47 Chinook helicopters, Flight Control Systems and Aerovironment for Raven unmanned aircraft and more. From these contracts suppliers can expect a steady revenue stream from continued military and space exploration efforts.

Commercial air travel anticipates a slow and steady recovery.

Though it may be several years until air traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels, there has been an increase since the beginning of the pandemic and as an effective vaccine becomes available. This adjustment in the market means 2021 will be an adjustment year for this side of the industry. Now, leisure travel appears to be leading demand as the business sector continues to refrain from any kind of travel, though overall travel is still 50 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels as of April 9. This cut in passenger traffic has caused airlines to cancel or postpone investment projects, narrowing their focus on near-term cash flow in order to pay off debts and create a security fund for the future. Fewer deals will be made with aerospace and defense manufacturers in 2021, though this number may continue to grow as airlines transition into this new type of market left in the wake of COVID-19.

Aerospace supply chains can expect accentuated focus on resilience.

With only 60-70 percent of aircraft utilized around the globe since the pandemic began, manufacturers will be hard pressed to win contracts for new projects. This means companies will need to try new methods of ensuring the supply chain’s efficiency. An outlook report from Deloitte suggests that companies can use strategies like reshoring, vertical integration and an increase in cyber defenses as methods of transforming the supply chain into a more resilient network. The continued restrictions on international traffic could see reshoring as a preventative measure in the instance of another pandemic wave shutting down borders, while increased cost competition for commercial contracts could see a push for offshoring. A push towards the digital appears to be inevitable if A&D companies expect to succeed in future sustainability. This means the industry will be more data-driven, have a focus on implementing and creating new technologies and develop a more collaborative atmosphere to achieve these goals.

Moving Forward in a Post-Pandemic World

With a continued transition in the commercial sector, aerospace and defense manufacturers and companies will increase their focus on space exploration and government contracts. Increased military and technological investments from government entities will mean a consistent market from government spending while the commercial sector gets back on its feet. Because of this market shift, companies will need to ensure the supply chain’s resilience and dynamism in order to stay relevant. Implementing different and creative strategies will be the industry’s way to identify top players and solidify their leadership in the future. In the meantime, there remains much to be seen in 2021 as the effects of the pandemic continue to surface.

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Open Lobby Night for Manufacturing

by Liberty Electronics


Liberty Electronics to Host Open Lobby Night for Manufacturing Day on October 4th, 2019 for the local community

Franklin, PA — Liberty Electronics, a manufacturer of electronic wiring harnesses, cable, cabinet, panel and electromechanical assemblies, will be celebrating Manufacturing Day 2019 by hosting an event at their facility. The open lobby night will be held on October 4th, 2010 from 2:00 to 6:00pm at 190 Howard Street in Franklin. Liberty welcomes the community to stop in and see what they do as well as talk about career opportunities. “Sometimes people express surprise at the capabilities they find when they first visit Liberty”, explains Scott J. Anderson, Director of Business Development. “Some comment on the level of technology used and some about our products supporting such critical systems in the aerospace, transportation, nuclear and defense markets. Some are also pleasantly surprised to learn about the flexible work schedules, profit sharing and employee stock ownership plans, and the excellent healthcare coverage that the company offers. We’re happy to be able to invite people in for Manufacturing Day and hope to see you there”.

Visitors will get to see a 3D printer in action as well as learn more about the company and what they offer. Employment applications will be available for interested candidates. Snacks will be provided.

Manufacturing Day is an annual national event executed at the local level supported by thousands of manufacturers as they host students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members at open houses, plant tours and presentations designed to showcase modern manufacturing technology and careers.

Liberty Electronics provides electrical cable assemblies, wire harnesses, and box builds for demanding defense and commercial OEM’s looking to grow their business by teaming with a competent outsourcing partner committed to success. For more information visit

Community and Beyond: The Global Impact of Liberty Electronics

by Liberty Electronics

Every community is impacted by the companies that operate within. Companies of all sizes create a ripple effect, creating a variety of touchpoints and connections within their communities and beyond. This is especially true of a company like Liberty Electronics. Although a small business by definition, Liberty is actually one of the largest companies in the small town of Franklin, Pennsylvania. Franklin is a picturesque, Victorian era community of hard-working families that work together, play together, learn together, worship together, and succeed together.

Liberty’s Ripple Effect

Liberty’s ripple effect starts in the center with the employees who are invested in their corporate mission through Profit-Sharing and Employee Stock Ownership (ESOP) plans. Their care and skill reflected in their workmanship sparks a sense of pride within each individual. Liberty’s flexible work schedule options allow employees to work and still be with their families when it suits their lifestyle and obligations best. This flexibility helps to provide a more balanced lifestyle for the employees, their families, the company, and for the community at large. Liberty Electronics contributes to its community and takes care of its employees, in turn inspiring them to positively impact the local economy and well-being of the city of Franklin and the surrounding communities.

Supporting the larger community on an individual and personal level, a large percentage of Liberty’s products ensure that light rail transit and commercial aircraft systems around the world operate without issue. Liberty’s employees do their part to see to it that these systems will safely carry a multitude of people throughout their busy week of work, school, and recreation with the confidence of reaching and returning from their intended destinations.

Let’s expand this community impact out another layer. In support of our national defense, a large number of Liberty’s products leave our facility and move on to become components of defense weapons, and support systems that are required to meet the needs of the warfighters protecting our nation and so many others around the free world. Some of these warfighters are from our local communities, and a number of those are from families within our own company. In addition, many of Liberty’s employees have made the admirable decision to support their country by serving in various capacities within the military.

On perhaps an even greater scale, Liberty Electronics contributes to a variety of energy generating systems that literally touch and affect the lives of millions of people each day.

From mining operations and renewable energy applications such as solar and wind power generation, to the assembly of electronic safety systems that ensure fuel rods move in and out of nuclear reactors without fail. All of these systems work seamlessly together to produce the energy necessary to satisfy the demand of electrical distribution grids throughout the world.

The Reach of Our Products and Our People

Liberty Electronics is made up of so much more than just products and processes. We’re made up of people who have a passion for making a difference within the company, the community, and the world. Our values and visions create touch-points within our local region, and our skills create products that expand our reach beyond our small town to make a global impact. For Liberty Electronics, culture is more than just the dynamic within our walls, it’s the difference we make in the world.

Every day, every hour, every minute, the products produced by Liberty Electronics touch and impact the lives of people around the world, and beyond. And it all starts here, in a small community of dedicated and caring people living and working together for a common purpose in northwest Pennsylvania.

Want to partner with a company that creates products to improve and save lives? Contact us for more information.

Liberty Electronics, provides electrical cable assemblies, wire harnesses, and box builds for demanding defense and commercial OEMs looking to grow their business by teaming with a competent and caring outsourcing partner committed to success.

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Special Delivery: Boxing and Shipping

by Liberty Electronics

Creating a quality product doesn’t just end with the manufacturing phase. Choosing the best packaging and shipping options to meet a client’s needs is also an important step in ensuring a product reaches the client in the same state it left the facility. Components are packaged according to specific standards and or client guidelines, and these may include special instructions or specifications, as well as quality assurance measures taken during the manufacturing and packaging process. A variety of packaging options can be used to achieve this goal, including ESD packaging and 3D-printed covers, as well as other more traditional packing products.

Before the final product is even prepared for shipment, various measures are taken during manufacturing to ensure that the components meet or exceed the client’s specifications. These product validation efforts can be used in support of the packaging process. Articles can be photographed or videotaped in an undamaged state before transit to facilitate root cause corrective action necessitated by shipping damage. It is after these measures are taken that the various packaging options come into play.

ESD protective packaging shields components from external static charge. This is different from standard anti-static foam, which protects the product from static within the package itself. ESD packaging is available in foam sheets or shipping boxes, as well as bubble wrap and metallic film bags. ESD packaging is typical in the industry, meeting the requirements of MIL-STD-3010 4046, EIA 541, EIA 625 and ANSI/ESD S20.20 certifications.

3D-printed covers are a unique way to protect components during shipping. Covers, caps, clips, and other items can be custom-fitted to fragile parts of the assembly, printed in house, and applied to the product during the manufacturing process. This not only ensures the components are protected during shipping, but also during the manufacturing process itself.

Of course, more traditional packing materials–bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and shipping foam–are also used, depending on the requirements of the product and client. As for the shipping process, standard commercial services such as UPS or FedEx are usually adequate to satisfy the contract with a client. Occasionally, common carrier freight lines or special delivery options may be explored, and at times, products may be transferred via a dedicated company vehicle directly to the client to ensure simplicity in the shipping process.

The use of various packing materials, inspections and additive manufacturing all come together to ensure one objective: that customers receive products in the same condition as they left the manufacturing facility. The variety of measures taken toward this end ensures not only the best manufactured product, but the best received product.

Contact Liberty today with any questions that you may have.


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Our Start Part 5: Full Circle

by Liberty Electronics

The autumn of 2001 found Liberty Electronics’ employees full of confidence in the future. Years of developing strong customer relationships and providing high quality products had solidified Liberty’s reputation within the manufacturing community. The company had built on this foundation by attaining the International Standard Certification ISO9001 three years previously, shifting from a narrow focus on military quality assurance to an international quality system that allowed its work to branch out into the global market. And employees looked forward to moving into their new facility in just a few months’ time, a space that would allow them to fulfill contracts for General Electric, Siemens, and their first international order for an Israeli tactical air-launched decoy designed to fool enemy radar systems.

When 19 al-Qaeda terrorists flew four commercial airliners into U.S. civilian and government targets on September 11, “It was like watching a movie, completely surreal,” recalls Liberty President John Dumot.[i] Employees gathered around computer screens in shock, trying to understand the events unfolding in front of them. The full horror of thousands of lives lost and injured quickly became apparent; the economic toll soon followed. With over $10 billion of damage inflicted and an enemy to pursue, the federal government shifted its focus to Homeland Security and Liberty’s government contracts dried up. The nation’s airline and rail markets contracted severely as well. With “more pilots than planes,” no one was buying aircraft repair parts.[ii] Across the U.S. and at home in Franklin, things looked bleak.

Liberty, however, had never flinched in the face of a crisis, and it had no intention of doing so in the difficult days of the early 2000s. Employees gritted their teeth and hung on, remaining true to their company’s ethos of hard work, innovation, and integrity. When Liberty secured a contract with Westinghouse in 2004 for its nuclear power generation segment, the impact was enormous. With the new facility’s focus on cellular manufacturing and six sigma quality, an initiative driven by Liberty’s vision for lean and efficient production, the company was perfectly poised to meet the needs of its customers in the new millennium. Its state-of-the-art wire processing facility mirrored the 1986 clean-room production floor, a tradition of investment in high quality technology that best served Liberty’s customer base.

Liberty’s work came full circle as it re-entered the aerospace sector during the Iraq War. Starting with a Honeywell Urbana contract, then Honeywell Albuquerque, “it was like dominoes” moving into the field.[iii] Tactical ground equipment also came into play. In 2007, BAE Systems came to Liberty under pressure and behind schedule to get its Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to troops overseas. Officials told Liberty in no uncertain terms, “Delivery is king, quality is queen.” [iv] With the military estimating that MRAP usage would reduce IED attack casualties by up to 80 percent, and with the knowledge that Liberty employees, their families, and friends were deployed in the Middle East, the burden was intense.[v] Liberty quickly got the program back on schedule, shipping 26,000 assemblies in nine months, peaking at 5,300 in one month alone. The subsequent years saw the company attain certification to the AS9100 standard (an aerospace quality management system more rigorous than ISO), and NADCAP (National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program). In 2012, Liberty was named the Raytheon TOW Missile Supplier of the Year, a “very significant” honor.[vi] It was, perhaps, fitting that Director of Business Development Scott Anderson’s son Ben, a Marine Corps lieutenant, was training with the TOW missiles that very year at The Basic School.

Liberty TOW 300x212 | Our Start Part 5: Full Circle, Liberty Electronics®In its 22 years of operations, some things have changed at Liberty: the company has over 300 employees working in four local facilities, which boast a combined manufacturing space of 150,000 square feet. However, its core values of innovation, integrity, and service have not altered. They remain as a constant guiding light, providing Liberty the will and the means to produce the highest quality wiring harnesses, cable assemblies, and electrical cabinet assemblies in the industry.



Read Part 1: Innovation  –  Read Part 2: Investment  Read Part 3: Integrity – Read Part 4: Moving Forward

Liberty Electronics Inc Modern Building scaled | Our Start Part 5: Full Circle, Liberty Electronics®Notes:

[i] John Dumot (President, Liberty Electronics), interview with author, 2 October 2018.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Senator Joe Biden, speaking on MRAP amendment to the U.S. Senate, on 28 March 2007, 110th  Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 153, no. 54.
[vi] Dumot, interview with author.

Our Start Part 4: Moving Forward

by Liberty Electronics

Great accomplishments often have small beginnings, an idea with which Liberty Electronics is more than familiar. Once a business concept found only on paper for a university research project, by the early 1990s Liberty was a fully formed corporation coming into its own. The company had deliberately focused on defense programs since its 1986 founding, meeting a specific need during the late Cold War and the Gulf War to provide high quality wiring harnesses and cable assemblies to the defense industry. That, however, was all about to change.

In 1994, Liberty President John Dumot visited General Electric’s rail plant in the nearby town of Grove City, observing as Liberty wires were put into GE locomotive engines. “It really started with just a few wires, a pretty small job,” he recalls.[i] Liberty’s management saw the need to diversify the company with projects like the GE assemblies and, working with Franklin businessman John Reib as CEO, they sought to stabilize business after the whirlwind start-up period. But they didn’t have a specific plan, until Dumot pointed out a potential issue with GE’s assembly design during his visit to the production floor. GE turned the issue right back to Liberty and challenged the company: “Can you do something better?”[ii] Liberty could indeed. Initial work brought the cost of the assembly down from $1,900 to $1,100. Unfortunately, there were 4,200 engines already in the field with the defective design, and it was only months before all of them had failed or were failing. With a disaster on its hands, GE tracked down Liberty’s Vice President of Sales Robert Hoffman while he worked out at the local YMCA to request 4,200 replacement harnesses.[iii] Liberty’s production team swung into action, putting the GE engines back into working order.

unnamed 191x300 | Our Start Part 4: Moving Forward, Liberty Electronics®The project was Liberty’s first non-military contract, and its quality provided the foundation for the next decade of business. The early 1990s concentrated primarily on GE and rail, but as the decade wore on Liberty expanded into the larger transportation field. From its founding, Liberty focused on being “the finest, most technically competent wire manufacturing organization ever assembled.”[iv] The ambition was proved out on multiple occasions, such as in 1997, when a Bombardier division shut down its own internal wiring capabilities and handed over all its wire assembly needs to Liberty. The work was incredibly important for Liberty’s 1998—2001 period, along with other major projects like assemblies for Siemens’ light rail vehicle program for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, and Atlanta’s MARTA trains.[v]

Transportation took Liberty across the United States and even into international ventures, from close at home in Pittsburgh, to Taipei, Puerto Rico, and Toronto. The company’s future looked bright as the new millennium began. Liberty prepared to move into its new Franklin plant, doubling its manufacturing space to 30,000 square feet and increasing its production capacity.[vi] The decision to stay in Franklin was a deliberate one. Despite many attractive offers to move out of state, as well as the challenge of cleaning up environmental waste from an old foundry in order to build its new facility, Liberty was committed to Northwestern Pennsylvania. Local companies and individuals were still stockholders, invested in Liberty’s success just as they had in the early days. And 256 employees started 2001 ready to continue Liberty’s 15-year tradition of quality.[vii] No one could envision the radical changes coming to the company and the entire country in the months to come.


  Read Part 1: Innovation  –  Read Part 2: Investment  Read Part 3: Integrity – Read Part 5: Full Circle



Liberty Electronics Inc Modern Building scaled | Our Start Part 4: Moving Forward, Liberty Electronics®Notes:

[i] John Dumot (President, Liberty Electronics), interview with author, 2 October 2018.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Larry Snow, “Letter from the President,” Liberty Electronics prospectus, c. 1986, Liberty Electronics archives.
[v] Mark Jacoby (Marketing Manager, Liberty Electronics), interview with author, 2 October 2018.
[vi] John J. Dumot (Vice President of Operations, Liberty Electronics), interview with author, 2 October 2018.
[vii] “Employment Levels,” Liberty Electronics archives.

3D Printing: Ergonomic Benefits in Productivity

by Liberty Electronics

In the nearly five years since Liberty Electronics has utilized 3D printing in its manufacturing processes, the company has not only increased offerings to its clients, but also improved the lives and careers of its own employees. Through the use of additive manufacturing to provide worker accommodations, Liberty has solved several common problems relating to accommodations and disabilities in the workplace. The results have been exceptional and the company sets itself apart from its competitors with its innovative approach.

On any manufacturing floor, no two workers are going to do a job exactly the same way. Each person is a unique individual who holds tools differently and has different needs. Unfortunately, this creates variability in the parts a given team of workers produces. Even the difference between a left- or right-handed worker can impact how the job is done.

This variability is especially marked in workers needing accommodations due to disabilities. With an awareness of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and a desire to adapt the job to fit workers’ needs, Liberty has made accommodations for workers in the past by ordering custom tooling, jigs, and fixtures to assist individual employee success at work.

Often times, however, these custom orders would take multiple weeks and a large expense, still not fit exactly to the individual’s specifications. Even with all the possible accommodations being made, workers with handicaps or disabilities still suffered the undue burden of lessened productivity or even physical pain.

3D printing has proven perfect for this application. Now, custom tooling can be designed and manufactured in-house in a matter of hours and can fit a worker’s needs exactly.

Modeling tooling to fit the individual creates consistency and doesn’t force the employee into a shape or movement that doesn’t fit their disability

With additive manufacturing, Liberty creates worker accommodations that do not currently exist in the marketplace, printing anything an employee needs to do their job more easily. This is like having an entire storeroom of custom tools at the company’s immediate disposal.

The results so far have been extraordinary. According to an article which originally appeared in Additive Manufacturing magazine, the use of 3D printing for worker accommodations has reduced process times by 50-65 percent and increased productivity in workers by 300 percent. Additionally, the cost to 3D print a custom part is 80-85 percent cheaper than outsourcing, and results in higher employee retention and increased precision and accuracy in the products made.(I)

Such a groundbreaking use of additive manufacturing seems like it would be commonplace in the industry, but Liberty is unique in this application. While most engineers use 3D printing strictly for design, Liberty utilizes the process throughout the production and manufacturing process. While some manufacturers have used 3D printing this way on occasion, it hasn’t happened nearly to the degree that Liberty has taken this approach.

As a result, Liberty has seen growth in its own company culture, one of care and support for its employees, demonstrating that the company does not merely value its employees for what they produce, but that it values the people themselves to a very high degree.

By utilizing additive manufacturing for ergonomic applications, Liberty has solved some common problems in the industry regarding the needs of workers who require accommodation. As a result, the company continues to see tremendous productivity, cost savings, and efficiency, all the while setting itself apart as an innovative manufacturer with a company culture built on appreciation and support for its employees.

* * *

What aspects of additive manufacturing do you see the biggest possibilities coming from? Let us know in the comments below. Are there questions we can answer concerning our 3D printing capabilities? Let us know by contacting us.

1. Donaldson, Brent. “Empathy in Engineering: 3D-Printed Accommodations for the Workforce.” Additive Manufacturing. 23 February 2018.

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