When leading wire component supplier Custom Wire Technologies (CWT) launched its QwikCoil initiative in June 2021, US President Joe Biden had just begun his first foreign trip, China had announced its one billionth dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and the Coronavirus “Delta” variant had become dominant in the US, beginning a third wave of infections that summer.

Thankfully, that all seems a long time ago now, but during those difficult days of supply disruptions and labour shortages, CWT launched a unique program to provide a new way to help their customers, many of whom were struggling to find a fast turnaround for their medical devices and R&D prototypes. Lead times on a range of components and materials had been badly impacted, but CWT was dedicated to keeping its customers’ projects on track.

At the time, John Corsten, sales manager at Custom Wire Technologies, explained the original challenge CWT needed to solve: “When R&D departments want to do prototyping, they need the components fast. For a wide array of components, you can find them in stock, however, that typically is not the case with coils. Designers, more times than not, prefer custom coils.”

During the R&D process, even if the engineers have all the components they need, a small design change to a coil or braid can bring delays. Avoiding such delays and ensuring smooth running of their projects is paramount, and this is where the customisable solution of the QwikCoil program comes in. CWT requests details for the coil outside diameter (OD), inside diameter, wire OD, coil length, coil gap/spacing, and coil pitch.

CWT will then supply a fully customised coil, with a guaranteed one-week lead time if the material is in stock. Stock can change but includes stainless steel (spring temper) and nitinol. The company also holds additional material availability and sizes.

Two years on and still going strong

Looking back at the launch of the innovative QwikCoil program, Corsten explains that it was a collaborative idea between both the sales and engineering teams, after a brainstorming session on how CWT could better serve its customers and the medical device industry. The biggest challenge in getting QwikCoil up and running was getting raw material in house, says Cortsen: “Once it was in stock, we were in a position to move forward.”

Carl Wegner heads up the QwikCoil program and has been with CWT since the beginning. “I believe the QwikCoil program is going well,” says Wegner. “It provides a service to both engineers and project managers who need a fast turnaround to get their product to the next stage in the development process.”

“Carl understands how important QwikCoil is to new innovation and has embraced the challenge to turn around custom coils in one week,” notes Corsten.

QwikCoil has been very well received by the industry. “R&D teams and engineers appreciate the ability to customise a coil to the exact parameters they need,” points out Corsten. “To get custom coils in just one week is unheard of in the industry.” While customers are seeing the benefits of the service, it has also been good for business, with QwikCoil allowing CWT access to new production opportunities once a product gets validated.

Experts at navigating the supply chain crisis

Lead times may have changed a lot since 2021, but some legacy problems resulting from the pandemic and resultant supply chain issues still linger. “Raw materials are the foundation for the coiling department,” says Corsten. “Lead times for wire are still extended with no end in sight. But CWT is focused on keeping a pulse on raw material lead times and being proactive in ordering material.”

Corsten says that the success of the QwikCoil program has given CWT a lasting legacy, and future ideas for the business include looking at a ‘QwikGrind’ program, although plans are very much still in the initial stages. “There is currently an unprecedented demand in that sector,” he notes.

One unexpected claim to fame comes from students in Malaysia, who are now studying CWT’s QwikCoil program as an example of best practice in Supply chain logistic management. “That is rewarding to see,” says Corsten.

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