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Coachcomm: Smash-Mouth Manufacturing

Small Electronics Become a Huge Part in Endeavors.

In college football, every loss matters. It's no wonder that when you see a botched snap on fourth and goal or a fumble on the punt return, you may also see the head coach's headset hit the turf with bone-jarring force.

Football It's funny how small electronics have become such a huge part of even the most brutal of endeavors. From their eyes in the press box to their assistants on the field, nothing keeps coaches in on the action more than their headsets. They look no more complex or rugged than your typical everyday communication device. According to Bruce Boyers' article in Product Design and Development, there is a lot that goes into what goes on the coach's head that helps keep them in the game.

How important is that headset to a college coach? According to Boyers, "This line of communication between the coach and assistants is so important that if for some reason one team's communications line fails, the opposing team must shut theirs down just to keep the game fair. It's the equivalent of having aircraft able to scout a battlefield and track movements within and from the enemy camp, and not having such vision is being totally blind to the enemy's movements. Keeping the communications equipment operational is obviously a high priority, both the coaching staffs and companies that provide accompanying gear to them."

That's where guys like Alan Cummings, a mechanical engineer for CoachComm, come in to the picture. CoachComm is the main provider of wireless communications gear for nearly every college-level football team. "Teams come to us because we make reliable equipment," Cummings says. "They have to be able to count on it no matter the weather, no matter the circumstances. That game is going to go on no matter what."

One of CoachComm's biggest challenges was finding vendors who were able to supply the specialized parts they needed at a reasonable price point. One example of such a vendor is Fourslide Spring and Stamp. Fourslide supplies CoachComm with high-quality, low-cost belt clips and battery contacts. Their process eliminates much of the tooling costs by taking raw materials from a coil and stamping out the final shape through progressive dies. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages to using the Fourslide process is that it eliminates the need for a power press, thus short run costs are significantly lowered.

Companies like Fourslide excel in providing electronic parts in small quantity. Not only can they make adjustments between runs but their penchant for providing top-flight service to their customers is something that is tough to come by in this day and age.