Magnet-Schultz of America (MSA) Gives Clarity to Frozen Process Terms and Conditions

Lately, there has been a great deal of discussion concerning Frozen Design and Frozen Process requirements. Terms and conditions on customer purchase orders are beginning to state that one, or both Frozen scenarios must be part of the purchase agreement. The trouble is, these two terms can mean different things to different people, which can create a gap in understanding and may set the stage for disagreement.

There is a cost-to-benefit ratio related to defining and achieving the degree of “frozen” that is desired. The following Frozen Process discussion, coupled with our companion article covering Frozen Design, are intended to help you understand the extremes of the “frozen” spectrum, thereby empowering you to define the degree of Frozen that best suits your application and your budget. Defining Frozen Process for electromagnetic design and manufacturing, the following provides clarification


The term Frozen Process presents a spectrum of possibilities—from totally strict (absolutely no change is allowed to any process), to a more cost-effective, real-world guiding rule (where process changes are allowed, provided they do not alter the form, fit or function of the end product).


The most extreme definition of Frozen Process demands that nothing can change relative to the sourcing, materials, or processes used to manufacture the components that go into the end product, and, nothing can be changed involving the assembly and test processes of the end product. Examples include:

1. Components—Sourcing, Manufacturing and Processing
Sourcing—If a particular external supplier (i.e. plating, heat treating) is used to add value to a component, and if a specific supplier is used for purchased components/commodities ( i.e. O-rings, steel), then the strict interpretation of FP would demand that the same suppliers be used for subsequent customer purchase orders for the same end product.

Internal Manufacturing—If a manufacturer employs a specific CNC machining center to make turned components, and if these components become part of the customer qualified final assembly, then the strict interpretation of FP demands that the same CNC equipment be used to make said components for subsequent customer purchase orders.

2. Final Assembly Cell
In a lean, one-piece flow manufacturing environment, if a particular machine is used to produce a sub-assembly in a lean assembly cell, and, if additional equipment within the cell is used for final assembly, testing and inspection of the customer qualified end product, then the strict interpretation of FP demands that this same lean cell (comprised of the aforementioned equipment and test procedures) be used to produce subsequent orders.

Strict FP Advantages:

Serialization—If desired by the customer, a strict FP can enable serialization of the final assembly.

Traceability—When deemed desirable for future reference and verification of the manufacturing process, which is the case involving Aerospace products, the strict FP provides documented history of all parameters, including sources of raw materials, records of component dimensions and tolerances, and the quality data for final assemblies.

Strict FP Primary Disadvantage:
Increased Cost—Achieving everything required within strict FP guidelines comes at great cost, which increases the selling price.


The majority of customers neither need, nor want to pay for the additional benefits that are provided by a strict FP. For this largest customer group, two key economic realities exist that can ensure compliance with all specifications, without significant additional cost.

Internal Manufacturing Reality

1. Components
A manufacturer can employ multiple pieces of precision CNC controlled turning equipment, and multiple variants of fixtures and processes to produce equivalent, individual components for a final assembly.

2. Final Assemblies
Multiple, equally capable and configurable lean manufacturing cells, including relevant processes for measurement and testing to confirm function and performance, can provide end product with 100% consistency and quality.

3. Continuous Improvement
Great companies are focused on continuous improvement. Done properly, this approach assures that each component’s character and precision is maintained, and a consistent, reliable end product is achieved.

External Sourcing Reality
A company may employ multiple, certified and equally capable outside suppliers for services (i.e. plating, heat treating, etc.), and for raw materials (i.e. steel, plastics, etc.)

Resulting Definition
Within these manufacturing and sourcing realities lies the genesis of an economic-effective FP—manufacturers who utilize certified outside service/material suppliers, coupled with select internal manufacturing equipment, processes and lean assembly cells, can ensure the precision and the integrity of every component, as well as the form, fit and function of the final assembly.

This economic, effective FP approach creates the ultimate reality for the customer—high-quality, cost-effective, consistent performance that enables a manufacturer’s products to exceed customer expectations.

The Path to Frozen Process Realization
Very early in the design phase of every project, defining the appropriate level of Frozen Process must be a collaborative effort between the customer and the manufacturer. Only when design guidelines and goals are clearly established can the correct manufacturing processes be selected, thereby achieving the desired technical and commercial results. Visit our website to learn more about MSA’s Frozen policies.

As a leading manufacturer of standard and specialty Solenoids for Electromagnetic devices—Electrohydraulic and Electromechanical—MSA provides advanced engineering, innovative design and lean manufacturing capabilities to our customers that simply outperforms the competition. If you’d like to discuss the various degrees and limits of the “Frozen” concept that will bring the value you seek to your project, Contact MSA Today