“Peters’ always goes that extra mile. You’re going to get everything you ever wanted and more, you’re going to get a partner in business.”
–Ann Brown, Production Manager at CONNEX Incorporated
- Overcame challenges that 6150 spring steel presents in processing
- Manage countless size combinations, material thicknesses, and complex features
- Experiment with different techniques to meet specifications
- Set up testing at the client’s lab and provide training and education
- Using humor to keep their team engaged and accountable
CONNEX Incorporated manufactures spring bushings and pins for heavy vehicles in vital industries including construction, mining, forestry, and agriculture. The high quality material and unique design of CONNEX’s spring bushings and pins is what sets their products apart from competing solutions.
Heat Treating Difficult 6150 Spring Steel
Connex Incorporated manufactures split seam bushings out of 6150 spring steel, which is “notoriously difficult to heat treat,” according to Ann Brown, Production Manager at CONNEX Incorporated. 6150 is made to spring, so even when it’s hardened, it still needs to maintain its tensile strength, which can make it subject to distortion.
When Connex came to Peters, they were having issues where the springs were becoming too hard during processing, taking the “spring” out of them. And since the material is so pliable, it’s easy for them to get deformed during processing, especially since the spring has a split seam, similar to a cuff bracelet. So Peters developed a spheroidization annealing technique where the metal is slow cooled. “It’s a really difficult process,” says Brown.
Managing Multiple Complex Orders Like a Boss
Some of the services Peters provides are for the tooling department at Connex. There are about five different Tool Steels that all require unique heat-treating processes. Some of them are case-hardened, some are nitrided, and others use additional processes. Connex also has 4160 steel parts that go through two different annealing processes.
Peters processes more than 850 different size combinations for Connex. To add to the complexity, the parts have special features like holes, grooves, and grooves on both sides along with three different material thicknesses–anywhere from a half inch to five and a half inches. Being open ended, or split seam, also adds to the complexity of the heat treating process.
“From the smallest item to the biggest item, it’s always going on every moment, and you can see it in your discussions. Every employee I come in contact with, we’re they’re always going forward. And that really aligns with Connex. Also, Peters is our vendor, but I don’t really think of them as working for us, I honestly think of it as as working together. Because that’s really what it has to be when a vendor is so integral to what you’re making. I look at it as a collaboration, I have been taught a tremendous amount about metal, its behavior, all of the processes.” –Ann Brown, Production Manager at CONNEX Incorporated.
Experimenting with Different Techniques to Meet Specifications
Peters can help clients experiment with different processes to achieve the necessary specifications that a client’s part requires, especially when it comes to tooling applications. It’s fun and exciting for the Peters team to collaborate with clients to come up with new processes. They’ll even step outside of the box and try new things to see what the result is.
“From the beginning, when I didn’t have a lot of knowledge of heat treating. I thought of it as a very black and white thing, when it’s a complete living organism, really… In working with Peters, mainly with Andy, but also through some of the other employees, I have been taught a tremendous amount about metal, its behavior, all of the processes–there’s so many.” –Ann Brown, Production Manager at CONNEX Incorporated.
Educating Clients and Evaluating and Upgrading their Testing Setups
Peters helps clients experiment with different processes to achieve their unique material property requirements and part specifications.
“Andy came to my shop once and I have an ancient hardness tester there. He checked it over and made sure it was okay and taught me how to calibrate it and use it. He showed me where I can buy what I need, and I can do the testing myself now. So that extra mile is everything. Because the more I know about what should happen and the complexities of it, and how many factors go into heat treating–it’s insane–the more I can understand. And the more we can really have a conversation, that’s going to make things better for both of us.” –Ann Brown, Production Manager at CONNEX Incorporated.
Keeping it Human and Using Humor to Drive Home a Point
“There was a time where baskets were a little bit swayed, and my parts were squished–a basket on top was actually coming down on the basket below. So I called Andy, and I understand these things happen. He’s like, Well, I’ll take care of it, you won’t see it again. But what he told me that he did really made me happy. He put up a poster of an elephant sitting on this tiny little dog squished flat and he called everybody in and he said, ‘Look, this is what you did to Anne’s parts.” And that is probably the best management style I can think of. There’s no shaming, it’s, “Here, we’re here to learn something, and no, I’m not happy, and no, you better not do it again, but I’m going to bring a little bit of humor into it.’ So it really means something that they’re doing. And it works! People change when you approach them as human beings, and it isn’t going to happen again. I know that and everyone here works hard to make it right.” –Ann Brown, Production Manager at CONNEX Incorporated.
Peters always goes that extra mile. You’re going to get everything you ever wanted and more, you’re going to get a partner in business. Peters’ management is completely committed to continual improvement.
“If I was referring Peters to a friend, I would say you’re going to make your company that much richer, that much more knowledgeable. You’re going to have a collaboration. You’re going to get help when you’re having problems with your parts. You’re going to get everything you ever wanted and more, you’re going to get the partner in business.” –Ann Brown, Production Manager at CONNEX Incorporated.