Sun Transformer New Items (Cont.)
The Secret Life of a Sun Transformer Intern
January 5, 2010 - Nick Freed wrapped up his spring semester at St. Louis University last May. At that point, he had to decide how to spend his summer before returning to school in the Fall.
The options for a young college student are many. Two months backpacking through Europe? Studying abroad at the University of Pimpleton? Sitting at home in pajamas eating pizza and playing video games?
Nick knew a summer internship would be the most beneficial option in the long run. As an aerospace engineering student, he also knew applying one of the many associated engineering fields would help as well. So when he saw the ad for an engineering position at Sun Transformer, Nick felt his stomach tighten and his spirits swell. After throwing away the pizza boxes and taking some antacid, Nick contacted Sun Transformer.
To Nick, aerospace engineering is the perfect combination of all the engineering fields that pique his interest. It encompasses everything from fluid dynamics (an aircraft's movement through air) to chemical engineering (materials used to fuel a rocket). But would an internship at Sun Transformer provide experience in any of the associated engineering fields?
In short, yes it would.
Take, for example, the simple task of getting a cup of coffee for a senior staff member (me). This task incorporates Fluid Dynamics ("Nick, get me some coffee!"), Thermodynamics ("Make sure it's hot, but not too hot."), Materials Engineering, ("Oh, and put it in my favorite mug."), Chemical Engineering ("Remember to use the pink sweetener."), and even Physics ("Whoops, I spilled it in your lap, boss."). I can't be sure, but that last remark seemed just a bit sarcastic.
In truth, Nick (a.k.a. "Nick the Intern") hasn't retrieved so much as one cup of coffee for anyone at the plant. However, he has been very helpful with some important projects. He was our turn-to guy when we purchased a new Watlow F4D Controller, which is used to run test profiles for our environmental chamber. He performed numerous quality assurance tests and helped write procedures for these tests.
As crazy as it sounds, Nick says those QA tests may have been the most enjoyable part of his time at Sun Transformer.
"The QA testing was beneficial because I was sort of the company's promise to the customer that our products would work as advertised."
Nick recently returned to work at Sun Transformer during his Christmas break, and will be leaving us again soon. The Watlow controller is still running environmental tests and the QA tests are still being conducted as designed. Thanks Nick, and best of luck!
Sun Transformer Re-Certified to ISO 9001:2008
December 3, 2009 - During November of every year, we here at Sun Transformer start feeling a little festive. An excitement fills the air, and workers throughout the plant await the arrival of a special visitor.
Yes, that's right. It's time for a visit from our independent auditor to verify that our quality processes continue to meet ISO standards.
Since 1999, Sun Transformer has been certified every three years to ISO standards. Each May and November we welcome our auditor back for a surveillance visit to ensure that the various aspects of our manufacturing process are being performed properly. This year marks the second straight year that we've met the updated ISO 9001:2008 standard.
I recently visited with Angie Calkin, who serves as Vice President of Operations, to ask her about the importance of meeting ISO standards.
Q: Sun Transformer has met ISO 9001 standards since 1999 and has been re-certified every three years since then. Why is this done?
A: We have some customers who either require it or would want to do their own process audits at the plant if we weren't certified. But it's more than that. We have other customers who don't require that we meet ISO standards but still benefit because we do.
Q: How so?
A: When we implemented our quality system, we saw a steady decrease in both customer concerns and customer returns, and that applied to all of our customers because the same process is followed for every product and in every phase of manufacturing.
Q: Have the quality processes helped make Sun Transformer more efficient?
A: The ISO standards are intended to improve overall quality rather than reducing manufacturing time, but we do spend less time correcting production errors so we can factor in that aspect of it.
Q: Are there other benefits?
A: In cases where we submit our products for consideration on large projects, the customer will have a list of standards we must meet before we can be considered. For the most part, we can show the customer that we already meet their requirements—and have for many years—because their requirements are already part of our ISO quality processes.
Next, I spoke with Brad Cross, president of Sun Transformer, to get his thoughts on the whole quality process.
Q: Having recently completed another ISO re-certification, what are your thoughts about the importance of this event?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is that it's a real tribute to the diligent work of our Quality Manager Angie Calkin and the rest of the staff who have taken our quality processes very seriously. They've recognized the importance of our quality procedures and the resulting benefits to our customers.
Q: What types of customer benefits have you noticed?
A: One big improvement that we made while implementing this process was pre-testing. Before we start full production on an order, we test two or three units to make sure they meet exact customer specifications. After a unit passes pre-testing, we can produce the full order. That way, we don't complete production on an order then find out we missed a slight detail.
Q: Is this testing done for both electrical and mechanical specs?
A: Yes. Of course, we also perform 100 percent testing on all of our parts after production is complete—and pre-testing really helps decrease the number of errors we find at that point. A huge part of our quality improvement is the longevity and experience of our staff. If you've got people like Randy Kaufman [Senior Test Technician at Sun Transformer], who knows exactly what to expect with each part, they're going to recognize when something isn't quite right, and they make sure the issue is corrected before we ship them out.
The Wide World of Testing
October 28, 2009 - On the 27th of October, Sun Transformer shipped out 200 units of the model ST-1224 transformer. It's a fairly simple design that the company has built for about 18 years. The transformers are used in flight control systems in light jet aircraft. As familiar as company employees are in building these parts, they must still take measures to ensure each part is built according to the buying customer's precise specifications.
But what is the best way to know the shipped units meet these specs?
"100 percent testing," says Test Technician Toni Bowman. "We perform electrical testing on every single transformer before it leaves our plant, regardless of how it will be used in the field.
Senior Test Technician Randy Kaufman adds, "We might have customers who would be okay with having only a sample group tested, like maybe 10 or 20 percent of their order, but our own company standards call for 100 percent testing and that's what we do."
Kaufman has been with Sun Transformer for nearly 15 years, the last ten of which have been spent in testing. In his view, there are multiple benefits to be gained from a thorough testing process.
"It's of the utmost importance to test all units because, by doing that, we know we're delivering functional, reliable products, and we can drastically reduce the number of returns from our customers."
According to Bowman, "The customer is also more satisfied because they know the level of quality that we deliver, and they can be confident that their own products will perform as expected."
Bowman has been involved with testing for seven of her nine years at Sun Transformer, and she conducts electrical testing on a Voltech AT3600 automated tester.
One of the primary tests Bowman performs with the Voltech fixture is a Dielectric Withstand Test, which is designed to stress the transformer far beyond what it will encounter under normal operating conditions. If the transformer can withstand a much higher voltage for a given time, it will be able to function effectively at a normal level.
"The testing process doesn't stop there," says Angie Calkin, Vice President of Operations at Sun Transformer. "We also have to be sure that our products meet the mechanical specifications for each customer. This includes everything from lead placement, colors, and exit locations to dimensional specs."
According to Calkin, it's more likely that a returned part will have mechanical issue rather than electrical, so great care is taken to inspect the transformers down to the smallest detail.
"We have one customer that requires blue tape to be wrapped in a specific way around the transformer coil. I can't tell you the significance of this color to our customer, but I can tell you it's important to them, so we make sure the tape is applied correctly."
Ozone Environmental Technologies
August 17, 2009 - Our first feature customer is Ozone Environmental Technologies, makers of Uvonair high-concentration ozone generators. To the uninitiated, ozone is most frequently thought of in relation to the ozone layer of the Earth's atmosphere. However, it is also becoming more widely used in air treatment, due to it's remarkable ability to eliminate odors at their source. This all happens on the molecular level, and due to the complex—and potentially boring—details of the scientific explanation, we'll skip ahead.
One of the target industries for Ozone Environmental Technologies' products is hydroponics, which is a method of growing plants in a soil-free environment. Hydroponics takes advantage of water or minerals to provide the necessary nutrients to the plants. However, hydroponic greenhouses can also be a breeding ground for moulds, mildew, and odor, so ozone generators are often installed in greenhouse ductwork to effectively ensure a clean, fresh growing environment.
To create high concentrations of ozone, you need high voltage. Long-life construction practices, such as vacuum impregnation, are critical to these continuous duty high-voltage applications. And since 2001, Ozone Environmental Technologies has relied on Sun Transformer to manufacture the transformers to fill that role. Jeannette Boesemueller, Operations Manager at Ozone Environmental Technologies, credits Sun Transformer's willingness to fine-tune products that meet their exact specifications.
"It's very difficult to find a supplier that can deliver high voltage transformers that meet our requirements, and the people at Sun Transformer have been good about spending the time to do that," Boesemueller says.
Needless to say, in over eight years of working together, there are bound to be some minor glitches. However, Boesemueller says the spirit of cooperation has helped overcome those types of obstacles. "Many times, we have international orders that come in out of the blue, and we can't give any advance notice about what we need for those orders. We need the orders filled as quickly as possible and Sun Transformer goes out of their way to do that."
Sun Transformer offers best wishes for another year of successful business to Ozone Environmental Technologies.
New Web Site Unveiled
July 9, 2009 - The new Sun Transformer web site is officially up and running! The new site a contains answers to frequently-asked questions, a glossary of electronic transformer terms, as well as a list of worldwide voltage and frequency standards. In the future, we expect to add additional content that will help our customers better plan for their power supply needs.
Our goal is to become your primary source for power-supply information and to fulfill your electronic transformer requirements. Feel free to send us your specs—and let us know how we can help!
New Web Design Planned for Sun Transformer
March 19, 2009 - In a continuing effort to provide information to our customers, we will be unveiling a new design for the Sun Transformer web site in the coming weeks.
The new site, which will be available at the same address, will feature a new section containing answers to frequently-asked questions, a glossary of electronic transformer terms, a list of worldwide voltage and frequency standards. Additional content will be added as it is created.
One goal that has been set for the site is the ability to add content (including helpful articles, video, and other information) without sacrificing accessibility.
While the site is nearly ready, we must first complete testing to ensure proper functionality and accessibility before it can go live, which we expect to happen some time in May of 2009.
Les Vaughn Celebrates 20 Years with Sun
November 5, 2008 - Design Engineer Les Vaughn recently celebrated his 20th anniversary with Sun Transformer. In 1988, Les joined Sun Transformer and worked primarily in designing and building the test fixtures that were used to verify proper performance before units were sent to customers.
Prior to joining the company, Les had completed a degree in electronics and had worked as a radio broadcast engineer, as well an on-air personality. This experience and training proved beneficial as he took on a greater and greater role in the design of transformers for customers.
Les' current job responsibilities include working with customers to define requirements—as well as building and testing prototypes to meet these requirements. He also designs circuit board layouts and even avails himself when needed for difficult production equipment repairs.
When asked where he gains the most satisfaction from his job, Les doesn't hesitate.
"When I talk to a customer and they have just a basic idea of a transformer requirement, and I can build a part that they need and can use. That's when I get the most satisfaction."
Linda Shaw Celebrates 20 Years with Sun
July 14, 2008 - Linda Shaw recently reached the 20-year milestone with Sun Transformer. In 1988, Linda began working at Sun Transformer as part of the Production Team. After five years in this position, she was promoted to Production Team Leader, where she currently serves.
Linda’s responsibilities include assigning job tasks, supervising production procedures and quality, measuring build times, and training production personnel. Linda also assembles transformers and offers a wealth of knowledge about proper production methods for all types of transformers, including laminated-core, ferrite-core, and toroidal transformers.
Linda has received extensive ISO 9001:2000 training, and she works closely with the Design Engineers in creating and testing prototypes. She has also worked with UL inspectors during the approval process for Sun Transformer products.
Lescalleet Joins Sun as Electronics Technician
May 22, 2008 - Steve Lescalleet has joined Sun Transformer as an Electronic Technician. In this role, Steve is responsible for the proper assembly and testing of several Sun Transformer product lines.
Steve holds a degree in Aviation Electronics from Southern Illinois University as well as FCC and FAA certifications. Steve has over 20 years of experience in electronics, including work in avionics for American Airlines (TWA). His interests include general aviation (private pilot license), electric cars, and solar power.
Steve is a welcome addition to the Sun Transformer team.
Kolts Joins Sun as Communication Manager
March 12, 2008 - Scott Kolts has joined Sun Transformer as Communication Manager. In this role, Scott is primarily responsible for developing product manuals and company marketing material. Scott has over ten years experience in technical writing and marketing, and he is a welcome addition to the Sun Transformer team.
Calkin Promoted to Vice President of Operations
October 2, 2006 - Angie Calkin, an 18 year veteran of Sun Transformer, was promoted to the newly created post of Vice President of Operations. Angie will be responsible for manufacturing operations at Sun Transformer's facility in McLeansboro, IL.
Sun celebrates 20 years of excellence
October 5, 2006 - Sun Transformer has been supplying customers with the best quality in custom transformers since 1986. We appreciate both the customers who have been with us since the beginning and those who may have just discovered Sun Transformer.
Sun named "Small Business of the Year"
June 8, 2004 - Sun Transformer was among several businesses and individuals receiving recognition at the annual Legislative Recognition Breakfast held June 7, 2004 at Southeastern Illinois College. The event was held in conjunction with National Small Business Week. Tammy Weston, director of Southeastern Illinois Regional Planning and Development Commission presented the award. Brad Cross accepted the award on the behalf of Sun Transformer.