Quality Opens Doors
AHB Tooling & Machinery, Inc. (AHB), formerly known as American Hack & Band, Inc. is an industrial supply company specializing in the distribution of abrasives, band saw blades, coolants, carbide inserts, saw machines, mills, lathes, drill presses and sanders. In 1995, Clay Lafave founded AHB in the city of Saginaw, Michigan, primarily to supply the wood and metal cutting industry. In January 1999, Kevin Hess, a salesman with over 20 years of experience, purchased the company.
Under new management, AHB has added many new product lines. They now employ approximately 20 people and have established an aggressive growth plan for the next five years. Combining quality products with competitive pricing due to efficiency of operations, AHB is working hard to stay one step ahead of customer demands and expectations. As a midsize company, they are proactive in operating efficiently and effectively, meeting their customer’s growing needs by seeking out new product lines and being in a position to supply current product lines to customers in a timely fashion.
“Working with MMTC and GLTAAC, we’ve been able to cut our monthly overhead costs by more than 30 percent with minimal layoffs.” --Bill Henderson, President
Federal funds for training help APPI beat global competition
Lean manufacturing training and counsel provided through two Federal Government programs helped a mid-Michigan company recently secure a five-year, $20 million contract with General Electric Aircraft Engines (GEAE).
(APPI) have begun work on the concurrent engineering and detailed machining of seven complex components for GEAE’s new GEnx engine program. This engine empowers the new Boeing 787 “Dreamliner.” APPI won the job against stiff global competition.
Just two years ago, APPI rapidly lost a significant amount of business to foreign competition. As a result, its leadership contacted the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) in Plymouth, Michigan and the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (GLTAAC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. MMTC is part of a network of state manufacturing assistance centers funded in part through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in the U.S. Commerce Department. GLTAAC is funded through the trade adjustment assistance program, also in the U.S. Commerce Department. It assists small to mid-sized manufacturers that have been adversely impacted by import competition.
“Having the understanding that we have now, we are confident they will help us keep going in the new extremely tough economy. We would not be so optimistic if we hadn’t gone through all the improvements that we have learned through the services that MMTC, CMI and SVSU have provided.” -- Dave Nugent, General Manager, Huron Tool and Engineering Company
Lean Manufacturing, Activity-Based Costing and Market Diversification
Huron Tool, located in Bad Axe, Michigan, has been in business for 37 years. Acquired by the current management in 2001, Huron Tool had a focus on providing parts and services for the machine tool industry and automotive tooling. Huron has since grown into a full-service precision machine shop, making custom-per-print parts in a low-to medium-volume production format. Huron has grown from 30 to over 50 employees doing business for aerospace, nuclear, machine tool, oil field, and the automotive and off road aftermarket.
About four years ago, it was time to move forward as a company. There hadn’t been any significant growth and the company was struggling to meet due dates and to maintain the volumes necessary to support the operation. Harry Leaver and Bob Schooks from the Center for Manufacturing Improvement (CMI), a regional office of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) located at Saginaw Valley State University contacted then company president Neil Rogers to discuss some of the training CMI could offer to help promote increased efficiencies, delivery time improvements, and improved bottom line results. Prior to those presentations, Huron Tool had never sought any outside training. The situation at that time led Huron Tool to bring in needed expertise and assistance from outside the organization. That was the beginning of an ongoing quest to make Huron Tool and Engineering a twenty-first century advanced manufacturing company.
“...we are proving to our cus-tomers that we are committed to providing quality products every time with every delivery.”
- Don Bettrager, President
A Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Manufacturer, the Jetool division of Chesaning Manufacturing Company, Inc. specializes in aircraft turbine engine tool-ing, providing quality mainte-nance tooling for the repair and overhaul of aircraft tur-bine engines. Serving aircraft service center customers worldwide since 1963, the machine and fabrication shops can manufacture all types of engine stands, transporters, balancing kits, gage sets, bearing pullers, installation and removal fixtures and stretch shaft fixtures, as well as inspection and test equipment. Jetool manufactures everything from small hand tools to large overseas containers, complete with all the tools for an engine overhaul.
“The Standish facility has approxi-mately 109,000 square feet of manu-facturing space, and we found our-selves at full capacity with no room for growth. After our first kaizen event and various 5S activities within individual cells, we were able to generate an-other 4,300 square feet of capacity that now houses the assembly of a new product we launched in 2010.”
- Mike Mosher, Plant Manager
Competing in a global market can be daunting. Add to that the risk posed by producing a mature product and the challenge is significant. Magline Inc., located in Standish, MI, was founded as a producer of industrial dol-lies in 1945. While these dollies remain a core element of its product line, Magline has reinvented itself and now sells a wider variety of solutions for the handling of stock and inventory.
Though Magline is successful, Brian Law, Principal of Magline, was interested in looking deeper grow the bot-tom line. He extended an invitation to Harry Leaver of the MMTC Northeast Regional Office to tour the op-eration and look for opportunities to improve performance. Leaver’s initial observations and suggestions re-sulted in the completion of MMTC’s Performance Benchmark survey and then a comprehensive proposal to implement LEAN methodologies. Upon reviewing the proposal, Magline recognized the potential impact that such an initiative could have on the business and immediately made the decision to embrace it. Today, they regard that decision as a great one.
Participants in the Lean and Clean Workshop
Renosol Corporation is a member of the Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP). EPA, a partner of SP, sponsors a portion of the Lean and Clean Workshops facilitated by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC), a National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)/Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Renosol Corporation, with approximately 260 employees custom engineers and manufactures polyurethane systems, molded polyurethane seating and interior trim products for the automotive industry, material handling systems and rotationally molded polyethylene products. With experience dating back to the 1950s, Renosol continues expanding its technological base to provide customers with innovative solutions and is very committed to high quality products and continuous improvement. Renosol was excited at the opportunity to have employees participate in the Lean and Clean workshop.
Renosol’s quality policy is to continuously improve products and services to achieve total customer satisfaction and be the preferred supplier in each industry we serve. Renosol created a cross-functional team to participate in the workshop and, to ensure all departments were represented. All team members committed a full week to the workshop.
“We see a potential growth of over 25% in the coming future and the biggest portion of that is because of our Web enhancements and marketing and sales developments provided by the expert MMTC guidance. Unlike your typical consultants, the MMTC group gives TPI the tools to make the positive changes ourselves. They can depart and we will still carry on with their business improvements.” -- Steve Yntema, Marketing Manager, TPI
TPI Powered Metallurgy (TPI), located in St. Charles, MI, has manufactured powder metal components since 1967. Sintered metal specialists in custom designed parts, TPI serves the automotive, hydraulic, appliance, hardware and lawn/garden industries.
TPI designs tooling, fixtures and gauges used to manufacture custom designed parts to customer specifications, supplying products ranging from simple bushings and bearings to cams, gears (including helical gears) and complicated structural parts. Prototyping service is available through a precision machining division. A wide range of secondary services such as heat treating, plating and in-house production machining of parts is also available.
TPI’s goal was to expand and diversify its customer base so as not to be heavily reliant on any single industry. To that end, they participated in the January, 2007 MMTC Customer Diversification training program. MMTC provides 2 days of classroom training and 5 days of on-site consulting. The on-site consulting occurred from March 2007 to June 2007. Program content is designed to teach and demonstrate to small manufacturers, like TPI, how to find and retain new customers. Assistance is given to help the company identify who new customers might be, the content of the message to communicate to new customers and identification of channels to communicate to new customers.
Tubular Metal Systems
Tubular Metal Systems, (TMS) a wholly owned company of Global Automotive Systems, LLC ("GAS") is a growing Tier 1 and 2 supplier of components and assemblies to the automotive, aerospace, energy, appliance, furniture and agricultural equipment industries. GAS has a broad range of metal forming, welding and assembly capabilities, with material expertise ranging from aluminum and low carbon steel to ultra high strength steel.
GAS is privately owned by Patriarch Partners, a vertically-integrated global investment firm that concentrates on direct investments in distressed businesses, managing more than $6B of equity and secured loan assets in 65 companies GAS maintains corporate offices in Royal Oak Michigan. Patriarch owns Tubular Metal Systems and operates six additional facilities in the US and Mexico. Presently TMS employs 80 full time employees at their Pinconning Michigan location that is headed by their General Manager, Terry Bouvee.
The MEDC representative for the Pinconning area contacted the MMTC Regional office at Saginaw Valley State University and asked if the Director of the Center for Manufacturing Improvement and also the Regional Director for MMTC would accompany her on a retention call to TMS. MMTC met with Bouvee in the early days of 2009 and discovered that TMS was experiencing what many of Michigan’s manufacturers were experiencing, the severe decline of automotive business. With employee cutbacks and layoffs looming, Terry asked what direction the company could take to stem the decline and prevent the doors being shut.