The electronic controls division of Parker Hannifin provides its customers with a full spectrum of system solutions including control modules, displays, sensors, harnesses and electromechanical products. Parker Hannifin offers a full line of custom-designed products as well as standard components to fulfill clients’ needs. “We build central systems and components,” Business Development Manager Michael Kern says. “A lot of our products, systems and software go in refuse trucks, buses and any heavy equipment.”
Kern adds that the company is several things to several different companies. “Thanks to our custom design capability, larger companies come to us for some components and smaller companies come to us for systems solutions. We’re happy to do both,” he says. “We have the flexibility to design and manufacture a wide array of products in small volumes efficiently.”
It’s that flexibility that separates Parker Hannifin from its competitors. “We have the ability to supply our customers with all the components they need or we can build a complete system for them,” Kern explains. “Most of our competitors only make a few components.” While Kern sees the company as a solid number two in the market, he says it is aggressively pursuing new customers and developing new products.
Down the Line
There are three stages in the manufacture of the company’s electronic controls. The first consists of SMT-installed electronic boards built in an automated process. Then, the components are assembled, and finally they are tested and programmed.
“We’re a low-volume manufacturer,” Kern explains. “We have runs in the hundreds and thousands.” This is by design. When Parker Hannifin purchased Vansco Electronics in 2008, it was looking to expand its electronic controls systems customers. Since Vansco and Parker Hannifin had the same customer base, the acquisition allowed the company to offer more services to even more clients, large and small.
“We’re trying to grow our business by integrating Vansco in the Parker Hannifin world,” Kern says. “We’re merging the company cultures and will be operating more efficiently.”
He adds the company was efficient before the acquisition, due to its practice of lean philosophies for 10 years. “By practicing lean, we’ve been able to remove a lot of costs from our systems,” Kern recalls. “Our efficiency rates have been higher and we’ve been able to meet our customer’s demands at competitive prices.”
Parker Hannifin has six electronic controls divisions – three in the United States as well as plants in Canada, Finland and Sweden. Kern says the company has a development plan for each of its 900 employees. “Our plan lays out the training and opportunities for every employee,” he explains. “The plan prepares them for growth in the company and it gets updated on an annual basis.”
More than just a plan, Parker Hannifin is trying to foster a culture. Not only does the company have a safety program, but Kern says it also focuses on ethics. “Being ethical in our business is very important to us,” he continues. “We focus on it in the management level all year long.”
Parker Hannifin’s SafetyWorks program is part of a commitment to helping employees learn, understand and follow safe practices. Safety Works training promotes awareness of proper practices and maintaining safe conditions with regard to fluid systems. It helps prevent injuries and damage to property from escaping fluids and component failures.
The program is a series of three modules, each about 30 minutes long. It can be delivered within an existing training schedule or used as a supplementary program. Individual modules are designed to help employees follow proper hose assembly and routing guidelines to help prevent premature failures; implement a product-selection process for safe and efficient fluid-systems design and use; avoid injection injuries; and understand timely treatments, should an injection injury occur.