By converting to metal-cored wire as part of its continuous improvement process, this full-service job shop has improved its productivity by 30 percent to 40 percent as a result of having faster, cleaner welds.
Growing from a one room machining shop to an 180,000 sq ft facility that provides full-service fabrication, machining and welding capabilities doesn’t happen overnight. But in the case of Square Deal Machining (Marathon, NY), it happened faster than one would expect. According to general manager Carl Baatz, the company was poised for growth at the time of being purchased by the current owner, Joe Morgan, in 1998.
Since then, it has expanded year over year, primarily in response to the company’s keen ability to anticipate the needs of the marketplace and its responsiveness to the demands of its heavy equipment customers. And it’s grown its customer base strictly by word of mouth. Located in upstate New York, the company is committed to sustaining its growth and better serving its customers by regularly investing in both its employees and its equipment.
From training welding operators in-house and seeking out grants for education courses, to researching and purchasing the latest technologies, the shop continually finds ways to make its operations run more efficiently. The company focuses on carbon steel work, citing it as the best niche for its capabilities, and engages its employees in initiatives designed to make its operations more flexible and more capable of producing quality products. “We’ve gotten to the point of such versatility here that there really isn’t anything we can’t do with a piece of metal,” smiles Baatz. “Apart from the finishing, we do it all.”
In order to support the company’s continuous improvement goals, Baatz and the employees have become actively involved in implementing quick response manufacturing (QRM) initiatives in recent years. The manual and robotic welding cells it maintains have especially benefited from the strategy. In addition to reorganizing welding cells and employing ongoing maintenance routines for equipment, the company has also replaced its solid welding wire with metal-cored wire as part of its QRM initiatives.
First alerted to the benefits of metal-cored wire technology by a customer, Baatz contacted his distributor, Tom Caminiti, owner of Endweld Supply Corp. in Johnson City, NY, to trial Hobart Brothers Metalloy® 76 metal-cored wire on the company’s manual cells. According to Baatz, the results were significant enough to implement the wire in the majority of the company’s manual cells and also its six robotic cells; a decision that has resulted in measurable productivity increases, quality improvements and cost reductions.
REFINING OPERATIONS FOR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
Adhering to QRM principles, Square Deal Machining carefully forecasts every aspect of its business — from material purchasing to manpower — according to its customers’ estimated demands, typically forecasting three weeks in advance. Baatz says it also involves its employees with brainstorming new ideas to improve operations. “We work one department at a time and have stand-up meetings to talk about changes that need to be made throughout our facility,” notes Baatz. “The results have been tremendous. I think our busyness has come from what we’ve been able to do as a team to make this company leaner.”
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