Real World Engineering

At Southwire's state-of-the-art production facility in Carrollton, Ga., junior SWEA engineers develop and sharpen valuable hands-on experience, while working with one of the largest wire and cable manufacturers in the world. In addition to learning about a variety of engineering disciplines – including industrial, mechanical and electrical engineering – the teams experience how these disciplines are applied every day to meet modern manufacturing and product development objectives.

How Can I Solve That?

SWEA teams learn to look at challenges differently. Working alongside the industry's brightest engineering minds, they are given either manufacturing or product development tasks to complete using traditional engineering principles.

From using root-cause analysis to detect production line inefficiencies to identifying the right mathematical formulas to calculate the footage of wire on a partial reel to reduce waste, SWEA students are solving real-world challenges. Along the way, they gain critical workplace skills, such as project management, decision-making and teamwork.

A Sustainable Solution

Today's demand for engineering, science, technology and mathematics — plus a constant supply of real-world business challenges — make SWEA a uniquely effective and sustainable model for both businesses and schools.

Engineering Challenge

The Goal: Develop a smartphone app to help utilities or utility contractors calculate the footage of wire on partial reels, and help companies better manage inventory.

The Challenge: A utility or utility contractor needs to install wire or cable, but is presented with a partial reel of wire. Because he has no way to calculate whether there is enough wire left to do his job, he often must use a brand-new reel, and the wire on the partial reel is wasted.

The Method:

  • Gather information through employee and customer interviews.
  • Determine formula for reel footage based on known factors.
  • Test formula and incorporate multipliers to improve accuracy based on construction type, conductor type and cable assembly. Also, explore level wind/layer wind and the effect on footage estimation.
  • Adjust formulas for optimal estimation.
  • Develop a basic interface for the app. Requirements:
    • User must be able to enter required variables based on measurements taken.
    • App must include visual/multimedia instructions on how to take measurements to ensure user friendliness.
  • Test the app internally and in the field.
  • Analyze feedback and revise as necessary.
  • Deploy beta version on limited scale.
  • The Result: Working with Southwire's engineering team on the product development side, junior SWEA engineers successfully conceptualized, planned, developed and deployed the app on the Apple iPhone/iPad/iPod platform.

    The Real-World Impact: The problem was partial reels costing utilities tens of millions of dollars in waste annually. By learning to apply mathematics, engineering principles and modern technology, SWEA students delivered an effective solution to a real-world problem, positively impacting Southwire's business and customer relations.

    @ 2012 Southwire Company | www.southwire.com
    One Southwire Drive | Carrollton, Georgia 30119