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Case study: Smart cable design helps scale IoT industrial pumps

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It takes time for manufacturers to build trust with their best customers. And even then, it doesn’t take much to damage a relationship, or a reputation. For a pump manufacturer serving industrial clients, products absolutely must deliver every time.

An industrial pump manufacturer had spent 75 years building a loyal base for their high-quality pumps, intentionally designed to meet their customers’ needs. But they knew that reputation was at stake when launching an IoT pump line in 2020. Their IoT technology tracks pump performance in real-time — something well beyond the traditional industrial pumps that had been their bread and butter for decades.

The manufacturer has a small, dedicated team. Its employees, including Ben, a sales manager, leverage a broad skillset across a range of projects. But they didn’t have enough cable assembly expertise to make sure the harnesses their pumps relied on were both durable and cost-effective. As Ben puts it:

“We build pumps, so electrical harnesses are not our specialty. Finding vendors that are able to fill those gaps for us and bring their expertise to the table is one of the reasons why we work a lot with Multi-Tek.”

Read on to find out how this industrial pump manufacturer scaled from 100 to over 4000 pumps in the field — and took advantage of Multi-Tek’s cable manufacturing expertise to do so.

Two employees at Multi-Tek smile as they hold material

Improving the end-user experience with custom cables

Talking to customers in the field, Ben noticed something early into the launch of their new product line — high-quality pumps weren’t enough.

Customers wanted a plug-and-play, user-friendly pump solution that had all the necessary components out of the box. While the IoT pumps Ben was shipping out were high-quality, they didn’t come with the harnesses needed for immediate functionality. And customers didn’t want to have to make a trip to Home Depot to pick up additional wiring.

So Ben’s company started manufacturing harnesses in-house. But they quickly realized they were in over their heads:

“It wasn’t sustainable for us to do it internally. It’s not what we do, and we don’t have the tools or the personnel.”

That’s when they reached out to us. For Ben, what stood out about Multi-Tek is the reliability of our cable assemblies: While Ben’s team has to inspect and test shipments from other vendors to make sure they work appropriately, the only time they test Multi-Tek harnesses is when they receive a prototype.

Ben says: “We’ve never had any point in time, really, with Multi-Tek where what was on the paper isn’t what we got. And so that builds on that confidence that we’ve had in Multi-Tek.”

That means Ben can ship out pumps together with the harnesses customers want, all while saving labor and improving the reliability of the final product.

Designing the right solution without overengineering

Early into their relationship, Ben was impressed by Multi-Tek’s responsiveness and clear communication — a sign they’d make for a good partner. So Ben started turning to Multi-Tek for product revisions earlier in the design process. As a result, the harnesses became more manufacturable, using materials with consistent supply that can scale.

The IoT pumps use M12 connector systems as the central receiving station for all the other devices connected to the harness. They’re great for achieving the simplified, plug-and-play device that Ben knew his customers were looking for.

But working with M12s can be tricky. Custom injection molded M12 cables, ordered to the specific lengths and breakouts needed to reach the devices being monitored and controlled, come with high costs and long lead times.

We worked together with Ben on a hybrid cable solution that combined the convenience offered by high density pin count M12 connectors with Deutsch DT series connectors. Cost-effective and water-resistant, Deutsch connectors are already widely used in the transportation industry. But they work just as well for outdoor pumps. The combination of the two connector types lowered costs, lead times and allowed for quick customization when needed for special applications.

Other similar material substitution cut raw cable costs in half. Ben’s team originally leaned on brand recognition in specifying components because they needed a product that wouldn’t fail and they didn’t have experience in the field. We were able to suggest an equally reliable alternative.

Multi-Tek kept Ben’s team from overengineering solutions and steadied focus around an effective, manufacturable design. As Ben explains: “We want a quality product for the best price that we can get.”

Reputation matters in the pump industry. But it also matters to us.

With Multi-Tek’s consistent, affordable cable assemblies, fast lead times and clear communication, Ben found a partner he could rely on. “Peace of mind,” Ben says, “is probably one of the biggest reasons we don’t really look elsewhere.”

Relying on a partner who supports your growth

Three years into their partnership with Multi-Tek, Ben took a tour of our facility in Portland.

While the trip was originally meant to build on the business relationship, we were able to work out additional improvements to his harness design that would reduce overall cost — including the cost of the M12 integration.

Ben’s partnership with Multi-Tek has grown alongside the success of their IoT lines. His company’s orders have increased by 350% since we started our partnership, and they’re already planning for further growth down the line:

“One of the things that we’re looking at doing with Multi-Tek next year is potentially doing larger stocking orders, now that we’ve got some history of the product and we’ve got some kind of consistency to the sales.”

Two employees work on a cable assembly together

Looking to grow your business with custom cable?

Manufacturers turn to Multi-Tek for their wire harness needs because they know expertise matters when it comes to producing consistently reliable, affordable equipment. We don’t discriminate based on order size: no matter your needs, you can trust that you’ll have a partner who treats you with respect and looks for ways to help you grow.

We’ve been that partner since the 1990s. To talk to an expert about your application requirements, just reach out. We’ll be in touch within a business day, if not sooner, and will help you figure out next steps.