When you've been doing business for more than 50 years, you learn a thing or two about what it takes to compete in certain markets – and how to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Branford, Conn.-based Madison Co. Inc., which began manufacturing liquid-level sensors in 1959, is applying those lessons with the introduction of its H-Series pressure switches.
With the new product line, the company is targeting the HVAC and medical-equipment markets, explains Ken Ordway, Madison Co.'s manager of business development.
"Both of these
market groups require a high level of attention during the development
process and the ability to quickly produce small quantities for
extensive test and development of their end products," Ordway tells New Equipment Digest.
able to provide the service and technical expertise for these small
quantities, and, once the development stage has been completed, we can
turn to providing the larger quantities for production."
NED: What led Madison to develop these pressure switches?
: Madison has been in the level switch and sensor business for over 50 years and recognized that the pressure-switch technology had become another significant technology in the level-sensing market.
It was felt that by adding the pressure-switch product line to Madison's excellent portfolio of existing products, we could now offer the customer another technology option to solve their level and switch applications.
NED: How is this product different from similar switches currently being offered?
: The Madison pressure-switch products offer the customer a lower-cost and reliable alternative to the more expensive offerings on the market today.
Madison also has a product that can handle the lowest pressure range of any other pressure-switch product. In addition, Madison will provide samples and/or accept small-quantity orders that are not typically available from the larger manufacturers.
NED: Any key problems that came up during the development process?
: The most significant problem was how to address the extremely large number of possible configurations for each basic model. With as many as eight different options on some models, there were over 1,000 possible combinations.
It was decided to configure the basic model and then use a series of drop-down option tables to create a unique part number that described the various configurations. This allowed manufacturing to produce the specific part to meet all of the customer's requirements.
NED: What was the length of time from conception to final production?
: It took about 12 months from the decision to enter this market until we were ready. The majority of the earlier time was spent on the logistics and manufacturing controls that would be necessary to produce these products in a cost-effective manner.
NED: Did cost factors affect the final design of this product?
: The cost of the product was extremely important. The decision to enter this market was predicated on the product line being a profitable addition to Madison's existing offerings.
Based on this premise, Madison opted to focus on the low-cost products that would be marketed to the OEM market that is familiar with Madison's other product lines.
NED: Who do you view as the primary users of these switches and how will they benefit?
: Two target audiences: HVAC and medical-equipment markets. Both of these market groups require a high level of attention during the development process and the ability to quickly produce small quantities for extensive test and development of their end products.
Madison is able to provide the service and technical expertise for these small quantities, and, once the development stage has been completed, we can turn to providing the larger quantities for production.
NED: Care to add any other interesting sidelights?
: Because of the tremendous variety and number of options that Madison offers, we found it difficult for the customer to identify the final configuration that met their requirements. To overcome this, Madison created a pressure-switch specification worksheet similar to the ones that we use for our other level product lines. This is a simple tool that allows the customer to quickly select each of the available options and create the final configuration.