Making a Name in Sport Fishing
By using shrink fit technology from Haimer, one of the few remaining U.S.-based manufacturers of sport fishing reels not only competes, but excels in the competitive global marketplace. Here's how they do it.
David and Douglas Nilsen are identical twins and the third generation to run Accurate Grinding & Manufacturing Corporation (Corona, CA), which was originally dedicated to making aerospace components. In 1990, the company entered the sportfishing tackle market. Their new venture was called Accurate Fishing Products, and the introduction of their patented TwinDrag™ system in 1997 really put them on the sportfishing map. Traditional fishing reels apply drag to only one side of the spool, which is like trying to stop your car with brakes only on one side. TwinDrag allows for equal pressure on both sides of the reel, thus permitting more stable loads for smoother drags. Accurate has since expanded their high-tech reel series to include seven blue-water models and over 60 light-tackle models.
All of the company’s products are 100 percent American-made. With runs of 300 parts per night, any runout errors would be disastrous. In addition to runout, the soft nature of the material placed a premium on surface finish quality. To move forward, the company needed toolholders that offered extreme repeatability and the collet holders that they were using were not up to the task. Achieving perfect alignment with the center of their spindles was near impossible. Constant refinement was always needed to maintain adequate accuracy and machining lights out was a risky proposition. To further help maintain accuracy, time-consuming secondary processes of disassembling, soaking and cleaning the collets and nuts were also utilized. Despite all the time invested, scrap and part finishes were still an issue with their mechanical collet chucks.
About five years ago, David and Douglas spoke with Jordan Tetzlaff, a sales representative for Haimer USA, LLC (Villa Park, IL). “He was very patient,” recalled David. “He would drop by and help us with one thing and then another. About two years ago, he recommended the shrink fit system as a solution to achieve the kind of output we were looking for.” The switch made all the difference in the world. The shrink fit system brought the company the speed, tool life, finish and most notably, repeatability that allowed them run lights-out manufacturing with total confidence. No moving or wearable components in the holders meant their high degree of runout accuracy, balance accuracy and rigidity never deviated.
“Jordan coached us through the system and helped us along,” added Douglas. “At first the operators were a little put off by the new technology. But once they realized they were done with cleaning collets and nuts – and scrapping parts – they quickly jumped on board.” With the shrink fit, production quickly increased ten-fold. “All of our problems just went away,” noted David. “With the Haimer toolholders, we shrink the tools, place them in the spindle and walk away with no worries.”
Like their grandfather and father before them, David and Douglas are machinists at heart. Their experience, combined with innovative designs and a switch to these new shrink fit systems, helped their company experience a 70 percent growth rate for FY 2016. And they are still growing at 35 percent year to date – without any increase in overhead. Their achievement as one of the few remaining U.S.-based manufacturers of sport fishing reels proves that with the proper focus on technology and productivity, American companies can not only compete, but excel, in the competitive global marketplace.
Haimer USA, LLC, 134 Hill Street, Villa Park, IL 60181, 630-833-1500, www.haimer-usa.com.