If increasing sales is a priority, offer customers a bigger selection of products and services. That is part of the strategy that has made Bryco Machine, Inc. (Tinley Park, Illinois) one of the fastest-growing precision turning shops in the Chicago area.
In 2001, Bryco Machine was focused primarily on the production of small-diameter parts on CNC Swiss turning centers. The company sought to distinguish itself from competitors by going that extra mile when it came to customer service: Its operating philosophy was summed up in its motto, "Whatever it takes" (to satisfy the customer).
When the manufacturing slump hit in 2001, competition became more fierce. A lot of jobs were lost to low-wage countries, and Bryco found itself competing with more U.S. shops for CNC Swiss machining work. "We were working hard to hang on to the jobs we had," Bryco owner Bryon Bettinardi recalls. "Some of our customers—even the smaller ones—were using as many as a dozen vendors doing similar CNC work."
The Next Level
Bryco survived the hard times and, when business picked up, Mr. Bettinardi resolved to take the company to the next level. That meant adding capabilities that the competition did not have. "We had passed up a lot of jobs from our customers involving large-diameter parts that were beyond the size range of our production machines," he explains. "Our customers were taking those jobs elsewhere. However, we were committed to growing the company, and we decided that we could no longer afford to let that work go by default. We decided to invest in the kind of equipment that would enable us to handle larger parts in addition to the smaller Swiss parts on which we built our reputation."
Bryco asked L. G. Evans, a machine tool distributor in Lombard, Illinois, that had supplied the shop with all of its CNC Swiss machines, to suggest a machine more appropriate for larger parts. The distributor was familiar with Bryco’s machining operations—and with the shop’s growth plans. It recommended the purchase of a seven-axis Eurotech 420 SLL CNC turning center that would provide the shop with the same capabilities for machining larger parts that characterized its Swiss machining operation. After thorough consideration, Bryco purchased the machine from L.G. Evans. Eurotech Elite’s U.S. offices are located in Brooksville, Florida.
The Eurotech 420 SLL is a slant-bed turning center with a main spindle and subspindle, both with a C axis and upper and lower tool turrets. Each turret has 12 tool stations, all of which can be equipped with live tools as well as turning tools. Each turret can reach either spindle, providing maximum machining flexibility: Both can be used at the same spindle simultaneously (as shown in the close-up photo) or each can be used at a separate spindle simultaneously to balance machining operations and reduce part cycle time.
The machine is designed to provide 25 percent faster cycle times owing to proprietary control logic that allows simultaneous multiple operations and does away with unnecessary idle time. Designed primarily as a production machine, the Eurotech machine has a full complement of unattended machining features, including spindle eject with confirmation and air blast (keeping chips from the chuck interior or spindle bore); subspindle load monitoring; tool-life management and in-process monitoring of tool wear and breakage; integral material handling with bar feed interface, parts catcher and conveyor; and an integrated chip conveyor that provides worry-free chip control.
Importantly, the machine will accommodate barstock up to 1.77 inches in diameter. "Before, we passed up millions of dollars in orders because we could only go up to 1 ¼ inches," Mr. Bettinardi confesses. He expects to make up for lost time with the new machine: "The majority of our new business is going to come from our existing customer base," he explains. "We will be building on our reputation for quality and delivery to capture the business we weren’t able to accommodate before. We already have commitments from customers who want us to grow with them. At the same time, we will be reaching out to new companies whose parts require the sophisticated capabilities of our new machine."
Besides Bryco Machine’s first Eurotech machine, two more Eurotechs are scheduled to be installed this year. "The time on all three machines is already filled," Mr. Bettinardi says.
A fourth machine will accommodate barstock up 2 5/8 inches in diameter, further expanding the firm’s large-part machining capability. The machine, a Model 710 SSLY, will have Y-axis movement capability on the upper turret, making it even more suitable for complex parts requiring off-center milling and drilling operations. The Y-axis movement capability also permits the use of an EGS Tooling System, a gang tooling arrangement that allows as many as 40 tools to be mounted on the 12-station upper turret. The EGS system is said to provide almost no index/tool change time for many operations.
Additional equipment purchases by Bryco include more CNC Swiss machines and a pair of two-axis CNC lathes designed primarily for short-run and prototype work. A 12,000 square-foot plant expansion provides more room for larger production volumes as well as holding finished and partially finished part inventories for faster order fulfillment and storing finished parts when requested by the customer. The added space also holds more raw goods inventory, enabling the shop to turn around orders in a matter of days. "We store more raw materials to give our customers the fast response they need," Mr. Bettinardi explains. "That is one of the reasons for our continuing growth. With the technology, the personnel, the machines and new plant space we have added, we expect to double our sales over the next 2 years."