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Crazy Requests

When every project is a "first"

In this article, I will share an episode that attests to the on-site problem solving abilities of Kikusui’s bespoke solutions team, of which I am a member. It all started with a phone call we received just before delivering a sophisticated and high-value system to one of our clients.

A last-minute change

On the phone was the sales rep in charge of the client’s account.

While the client’s system was originally intended to operate on a single-phase, 100V supply and a three-phase, 200V supply, the sales rep said the client now wanted their system to be powered by alone, single-phase, 100V power supply. The client also did not want the delivery of the system to be delayed. The rep said that he knew this was a tall order and said that he would do everything he could assist.

We had a situation on our hands. My first action was to talk to my team leader, who told me to put together a list of the requirements for such a system, to determine whether it was in fact possible to build it. I dropped everything I was doing to work on the problem. Currently, the system’s three-phase 200V supply was powering two power supply units, both of which were controlled by external signal inputs. Replacing these with units that operated on a single-phase, 100V input meant lowering the input voltage, resulting in a smaller output current. I decided to increase the output power by connecting several lower-power units together in series. The replacement units also needed to be able to be operated by an external signal input. Because they would be mounted in a rack, the units’ external dimensions were an important factor for consideration too.

Down to the wire

After some considerations, I had decided on the new configuration. We would replace the two PAT-series units used in the original configuration with four PWX1500 units connected in series and two PWX1500L units, also connected in series (see photograph).

Power supplies from the PAT series (top) and PWX series (bottom)

Next was the question of whether we would be able to source enough power supplies in time. With my team leader’s permission, I decided to reach out to the client. First, I gave the sales rep the details of the necessary replacement power supplies. After making enquiries about available inventory and shipping dates, and discussing the matter with the relevant divisions, the rep came back to me and said that while he would be able to source the replacement power supplies, they would not arrive until the day before we were due to deliver the system. Our sales rep consulted with the client, and it was agreed that the work to replace the power supply units should be performed on site. I prepared the wires, signal cables, connectors and other components that would be required for the modification. All of this happened in the space of just three days!

Straight to work

On the delivery date, once the client had taken delivery of the unmodified system, I set about replacing the power supplies. I first removed the two high power, three-phase, 200V units from the rack and replaced them with the six, single-phase 100V PWX units, which we connected in series. I then made the necessary modifications to the control cables and associated connectors. After a few tweaks, I confirmed that the system operated correctly. My job was done.

This feat was only possible with the help of many others and would not have happened at all without the sales team’s flexibility on schedule and much advice and assistance from my more senior colleagues. The experience made me appreciate the impressive capability of the Kikusui bespoke solutions team to meet our clients’ requirements. We were indeed "Team Kikusui" and I was proud of our work. However, while the client thanked us for our speedy response to their request, my team leader was not so charitable, and told me to take steps to ensure we did not have any more last-minute surprises in future. He was right, of course: the need to make modifications at the last minute could have been avoided if I had reviewed the client’s usage requirements more carefully. I had learned a valuable lesson.

When you build to order, every project is a "first"

With most bespoke orders being one-off projects, while you sometimes encounter projects that are similar to those you worked on in the past, basically, every project is a "first effort". This means that there is little opportunity to reuse tested configurations. Rather, the members of the bespoke solutions team are destined to come up with a new strategy for each new order. I therefore believe that being in this team makes you better equipped at responding to "crazy" requests. (Within reason, of course. We’re only human!) We will, of course, respond to all requests received from our clients with integrity and in good faith.

TEXT BY
Tsutomu Dohata
Solutions Development Division, Solutions Development Department

[Major achievements in product development]
Surge testing equipment for automotive applications
Customized EMC testing systems

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