Semi OT SUN Hydraulics Anyone Know What is Going on Down There?
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    Default Semi OT SUN Hydraulics Anyone Know What is Going on Down There?

    I was wondering if anyone here had an inside scoop or knowledge of what is going on down at SUN Hydraulics?

    2-3 years ago they were one of my favorite companies maybe just shy of McMaster Carr. They have one of the most innovative comprehensive state of the art product lines full of options to choose from that can provide solutions unlike anything else. Back in the good old days you could go to their website select a part that you needed and have it configured built to order and shipped to your plant in 2 weeks. If it was an emergency you would pay double the price and they would get it to you in one day.

    We make custom machinery, multi-million dollar machines that our customers count on to work and cost thousands of dollars a day when they break down. For the longest time we were substituting valves that cost $8-9K and required substantial plumbing for a SUN cartidge valve that provided the same performance in 1/10th the space, and could be manifolded in and cost $5-600!

    Our customers loved them and the best part about a cartidge valve is they could keep a spare on a shelf (hell even in a desk draw) and if one ever failed or was suspected to fail a 5 min phone call to me, I would suggest they swap out the questionable valve with a spare, and if it worked they were back up and running in 15mins try doing that with any other type of industrial control valve.

    For years we swore by them almost religiously. Fast forward to two years later. Almost seemingly overnight they went from their 2 week standard delivery up to 5months on anything custom! Unless you stumble on a valve that a distributor has in stock and most of our valves which require the Viton seals aren't you get the 5month standard lead-time! Anyone know how this has happened or what the heck is going on with them?

    Even my distributor can't get a straight story out of them. We are getting screwed with million dollar machines that we can't ship for months waiting on a single $300 valve and SUN couldn't give a damn about our predicament and expedite at any cost!

    Only thing I can think of is I hear they have gotten in some new bean counter maybe they are embracing lean or JIT mfg to the worst extreme of idiotic.

    If that isn't bad enough it gets worse, we used to have an awesome rep, in our area. The guy was an encyclopedic knowledge bank of how to use SUN's product, it happened to me several times that I was in the field at a customer's facility and had an issue with a valve that wasn't working (or in worse cases was spec'ed out wrong by an engineer who quit and not fully tested. Unfortunately this does sometimes happen in the world of custom machinery. A quick call to this guy at odd times of day and he had a solution ready to go over nighted to me on a verbal promise to get him a PO when I got back to the office. Back in the day we couldn't have ever asked for a better vendor and product line.

    2 weeks ago the poor guy suddenly died of what I can only speculate likely was a massive heart attack from having to listen to all of us stranded and furious customers cussing out the once great product line he dedicated so much of his life and passion to selling. (Disclaimer here I don't know for sure if it was a heart attack but at the very least in my last interactions with this guy a week before he died it seemed like SUN's lousy service was taking a heavy toll on him too)

    So if anyone from SUN is reading this please get your act together and do it fast! Not only are your once loyal devout customers frantically trying to figure out ways to divest themselves of your terrible service but your terrible deliveries may even be costing good lives!

    Anyone out there in the world of cartridge valves care to recommend a better product line?

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    A time of transformation at Sun Hydraulics - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL

    Perhaps aome of the key changes listed in the article explain. 12-16 week lead times for a Southeast Asia market are much more desireable and profitable than a 1 off rush job overnight. Sorry to say, but your million dollar machines have been dwarfed by a newly publicly traded company.

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    I've had very good luck with a vendor out of Tulsa, OK. They do some very neat things for the oil industry (like develop and destructively test a planetary gearbox capable of 5mil lbs tq) and build their own manifolds. I don't know what cartridge valves they use but if you're interested I can find out.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

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    Nothing to worry about. They have everything under control.

    We continue to execute on Vision 2025 and focus on continued stakeholder value creation so that employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders will benefit,” Dangel said in an email. “We are focused on creating superior profitability and maintaining our financial strength.
    Sent from my XT1710-02 using Tapatalk

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    Yeo they started publicly trading. May as well dig their grave now, they no longer have any interest in helping their long term customers. I give it two years and it will all be done offshore anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigjon61 View Post
    A time of transformation at Sun Hydraulics - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL

    Perhaps aome of the key changes listed in the article explain. 12-16 week lead times for a Southeast Asia market are much more desireable and profitable than a 1 off rush job overnight. Sorry to say, but your million dollar machines have been dwarfed by a newly publicly traded company.
    12-16 weeks would be fine for 90% of our needs, but the 2 weeks we used to see placed them in that special class of beloved vendors who could make stuff happen fast.

    On the other hand 1 overnight rush job really shouldn't be about making money so much as it should be about providing workers class service to support your customer.

    Our machines make airplane parts. When a key piece machinery goes down it won't take long till it delays the shipment of $120million airplanes. Being able to support a customer in an emergency like that is a part of building long term value not trying to extract every last penny from them in their moment of desperation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adammil1 View Post
    Being able to support a customer in an emergency like that is a part of building long term value not trying to extract every last penny from them in their moment of desperation.
    You make it pretty obvious your degree is in engineering rather than an MBA.

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    Well...it sounds like your company was getting a lot more out of the relationship than they were. Never a good position to be in.

    It also sounds like your company failed to have a backup plan - you didn't develop, in advance, a second source for that product in case the first source dries up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregSY View Post
    It also sounds like your company failed to have a backup plan - you didn't develop, in advance, a second source for that product in case the first source dries up.
    Not so easy to have a bulltetproof backup plan when using proprietary systems like SUN. There are not always going to be alternatives that will work, and there are no others sources for the originals.

    One of our customers uses SUN valves heavily, and we invested in a full set of SUN cavity tools so we could make their parts. I suspect they have preempted this as I've noticed more open systems (eg. CAV-xx) becoming more common on their newer parts.

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    Well, in any case, it turns out you are wrong. Wolfgang Dangel (who prefer to be called WTF) clearly says “It is important to understand that the strong Sun Hydraulics brand will remain as is.”

    So there you have it. There is no problem with Sun - there is simply a problem with your understanding.

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    I'm sure you've tried HydraForce already? Not saying they can make the impossible happen overnight, but they are another hydraulics player.

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    Notice that the very dominant theme of the article linked in post #2 is increasing profit. Not to say they weren't quite profitable before. As a public company, their focus will be entirely on increase. It won't be enough for the 'investors' to share in a company that produces a superior product, turns a comfortable profit and has hard-working, content employees. They will demand double-digit increases in profit, probably quarterly instead of annually, and they will thin every aspect of the business to get it. The employees will be forced to do much more for much less while the execs who mandate these changes will get huge bonuses for doing such a fine job of making a few people very rich.

    They'll spout words like 'competitive' and 'challenge' and a dozen others so popular at the typical shareholders' meeting and you'll have to find out on your own that 'competitive' has nothing to do with pricing of comparable products and services from other manufacturers so as to maintain market share, but everything to do with the executive and shareholders' fortunes increasing at the same rate as the other moguls.

    Bottom line: greed.

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    We have also been heavily impacted with wild delivery times from SUN and our parts are pretty much off the shelf for them. The story we had been fed was they took on huge amounts of new business they were never going to be able to fulfill on time with the hope they would catch up eventually and still hold onto the lions share of it. If it wasn't for our customer(who in turn is a much bigger SUN consumer) going to SUN on our behalf things would have been much worse for us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    Not so easy to have a bulltetproof backup plan when using proprietary systems like SUN. There are not always going to be alternatives that will work, and there are no others sources for the originals.

    One of our customers uses SUN valves heavily, and we invested in a full set of SUN cavity tools so we could make their parts. I suspect they have preempted this as I've noticed more open systems (eg. CAV-xx) becoming more common on their newer parts.
    Yea, he has it right, SUN was a company developed by some really smart engineers. They came up with a product line that was so easy to use, and design around that so many people flocked to them. However rather than choosing an industry standard manifold cavity they decided to create their own standards that only they themselves use.

    This never was an issue as their cost/service was so damn good but now fast forward to today and your old designs kind of have you somewhat addicted. Plus customers like to keep spares common between machines so even when we have workarounds we don’t always want to use them.

    On the other hand I can’t wait to see it hit the fan when one of my production machines goes down (due to a failed valve) and the customer finds it will take 5months to get a replacement and they need to tell Airbus to reduce monthly shipments 30-40%. I am sure we will figure something out for them but still. In the mean time we are telling everyone to order spares now. The one problem cartridge valves do have is they are often throwaways compared to the old school valves they replaced which usually can be repaired when they fail.

    I too have read about all of SUN’s great expansion plans but think until these guys get their crap together and fix the once great business that they are destroying they really out to put all their expansion plans on hold. No point in buying up new companies if you can’t run the one you do well without pissing all your customers off.

    In the mean time all I can do is tell my sales reps to tell SUN we are doing our best to design them out of our product until they get their act together.

    Catman haven't tried hydraforce yet, but probably will start looking into them too. On my most recent jobs we have been experimenting more and more with Parker. I hate their website and corporate support but at least I have a good local rep for them.

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    I bet that the relevant patents have long since run out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adammil1 View Post

    I too have read about all of SUN’s great expansion plans but think until these guys get their crap together and fix the once great business that they are destroying they really out to put all their expansion plans on hold. No point in buying up new companies if you can’t run the one you do well without pissing all your customers off.
    That just shows you are thinking like an engineer rather than a MBA. The point of buying more companies is growth. The stock market rewards steady growth, and executive bonus plans are based on stock price. Kinda like GE selling maintenance plans for power plants to prop up current quarter financials, and let the unprofitable work happen 5 years down the road. As an executive, the trick is to cash out before the cluster pluck is reflected in the stock price.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    I bet that the relevant patents have long since run out.
    There you go Adam. There is your million dollar idea. How long would it take you to reverse engineer a half dozen of their most popular valve cartridge lines and get them in production?

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    I find this news distressing. I retired 4 1/2 years ago, but in my 21 year engineering career I used and relied on Sun extensively. They just make damn good stuff and designing using their cartridge cavities is a breeze. I had various contacts in their engineering department too and could count on their help when I needed it. I even had a steel cutaway T-11A cavity made in our lab that I could explain to newbs and other people how their proprietary plumbing works. Our tool and die guy made a setup for cross drilling pilots on twin cavities side x side. I am pretty sure I still have the drawings here somewhere that I gave to the T&D guy to make his fixtures. Their cartridges are simple and bullet proof.

    The thing that bothers me the most is the hundreds if not thousands of different cylinders we designed using Sun products. I don't have any clue what is happening in the industry but if Sun is throttling things in this manner it will have a huge effect on their customers down range like the company I worked for. You can't just unscrew a Sun cartridge and replace it with a HydraForce or Sterling or Parker cartridge. The plumbing routes are completely different. If a cylinder I designed for Sun valve cartridges needs new cartridges it is easier said than done to replace a valve and port block welded to the barrel of the cylinder. Might have to throw it away and replace it with something else if it takes that long to get Sun parts. Bad deal all around.

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    Sounds rather simple.....force the user to carry stock with all the associated costs and problems..hardly a new idea,Henry Ford used it in 1922.

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    Default Time for a Common Standard for Cartridge Valves?

    Quote Originally Posted by R. Dan View Post
    The thing that bothers me the most is the hundreds if not thousands of different cylinders we designed using Sun products. I don't have any clue what is happening in the industry but if Sun is throttling things in this manner it will have a huge effect on their customers down range like the company I worked for. You can't just unscrew a Sun cartridge and replace it with a HydraForce or Sterling or Parker cartridge. The plumbing routes are completely different. If a cylinder I designed for Sun valve cartridges needs new cartridges it is easier said than done to replace a valve and port block welded to the barrel of the cylinder. Might have to throw it away and replace it with something else if it takes that long to get Sun parts. Bad deal all around.
    Is there any widely used standard for such things? If not, and if the main makers are backing away from the business, it may be time to develop a common standard. In a fragmented market (multiple vendors, products not interchangeable), no one vendor can make enough to survive, so they all re-deploy their investment away from that market. If a single product style wins in the market, all others will copy it. If not, development of a common standard is required to coalesce the market into something worthwhile for all. While this kind of thing cannot be done quickly, it is immensely powerful over time.

    I don't know the mechanical standards world al that well, but this sounds like something SAE would be interested in. Googles... There is a Hydraulic Institute that develops ANSI standards. This sounds plausible.

    ISO also does these kinds of things, but I'd avoid ISO because their standards are very expensive, fragmented, and rapidly mutating, so nobody has a copy.

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    Joe, I think the Parker cavities are about as close to a standard as anything: https://www.parker.com/literature/Hy...20Cavities.pdf If I recall, the HydraForce cavities are the same thing. I never spec'ed a Parker cartridge but I did plenty of Hydraforce: Technical Reference HydraForce Hydraulic Valves and Electronic Controls


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