Haimer’s 25,000-square-foot facility includes a training and demo area for the company’s range of shrink-fit, balancing and tooling technology.
Recently, I got to visit Haimer’s newly expanded North American headquarters in Villa Park, Illinois. The company’s facility has grown from 9,000 to 25,000 square feet where it maintains $5.5 million in inventory for its range of tool holders, shrink fit machines, balancing machines, 3D-sensors and cutting tools.
This area I call a tool room for lean manufacturers.
The expansion includes new training area for customers and distributors as well as a showroom/demo area with high-speed VMC. The company also has a five-axis tool grinding machine and extends its German hospitality to visitors with a large reception area and 25-foot-long bar.
The tool holder lights above the 25-foot-long hospitality bar were a nice touch.
As I toured the facility, I called to mind a number of articles we’ve written about the company’s tooling technology. For example:
They’re called “driveway moments,” and fans of National Public Radio describe them as broadcast reports that are so captivating you end up sitting in your car once you’ve arrived home just to finish listening to it. My variation on that theme is the “parking lot moment,” which always seems to occur just as I’ve gotten to work. A recent example involved a segment on the Marketplace Morning Report during which Antoine van Agtmael—a trustee at the Brookings Institution—discussed the book he co-authored with colleague Fred Baker titled “The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation.”
Antoine van Agtmael has co-authored a book describing the transformation of rustbelts into “brainbelts” by harnessing the power of visionary thinkers, local universities, regional government initiatives, start-ups and big corporations.
A summary by Brookings states that “manufacturing has long held that the key to maintaining a competitive edge lies in making things as cheaply as possible, which saw production outsourced to the developing world in pursuit of ever-lower costs. [The authors] crisscrossed the globe and found that the economic tide is beginning to shift from its obsession with cheap goods to the production of smart ones.”
During the interview, the author described a combination of forces including visionary thinkers, local universities, regional government initiatives, start-ups, and big corporations that are transforming former U.S. rustbelts into “brainbelts.” Factors including a collaborative approach to working and a sense of freedom and trust are producing smart products that are transforming industries by integrating IT, sensors, big data, new materials, new discoveries and automation. Go here for a video of a panel discussion on the subject to learn more. Also read this blog post about an innovative approach to pumping life into small manufacturing communities in Kentucky.
Design freedom is one reason to choose additive manufacturing, but it can also be a logistical solution. Heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar is looking at the technology from both angles, exploring how it can leverage AM to advance designs of new components but also to speed delivery on existing and legacy parts.
The fuel filter base above is one example. A component used in the engines of Caterpillar excavators and other products, the original aluminum alloy component would have been cast. “Would have been,” because the supplier is no longer operating. That means that to support aftermarket customers, Caterpillar would need a large minimum order to justify the tooling cost with a new casting supplier.
Laser melting offers an alternative to this scenario. A version of the part made with this technology offers the required functionality, but without the need for tooling or dealing with a new supplier. In this case, laser melting is also a much faster way to deliver this legacy part.
Caterpillar has recently opened an Additive Manufacturing Facility where it is exploring additive’s potential both in designing and producing parts. Read more about the company’s AM deployment strategy in this story.
A few weeks ago, I introduced Bandit, a border collie who runs a continuous mood improvement program at a CNC Swiss shop in North Carolina.
This is Bentley. Bentley is the official greeter at MRS Machining in Wisconsin.
In response to that post, Matt Guse, president and owner of MRS Machining, sent me a picture of Bentley, who is the official greeter and top dog at this shop in Augusta, Wisconsin. Matt says that “Bentley loves to greet folks from time to time when they come and visit. Having a shop in a rural area, we don’t get many visitors, so he is always excited to see folks when they show up. My wife even brought him some shop shoes so he doesn’t get chips in his paws when walking through the shop, but like most dogs he doesn’t really care for them.”
Al Popovich, the owner of Accurate Design & Fabrication in Custer Park, Illinois, sent this picture of the shop dogs at his company (apparently after they had had a long day of strenuous morale building).
Al appreciated our spotlight on shops dogs and said it was “a nice change from trying to keep up with all the automation and technology. A good dog often puts things in perspective.” He also added that these shop dogs are “all members of Fabricators Union Local K9.”
Preben Hansen with Nelly and Cooper.
Preben Hansen, president of Heimatec Inc.. in Prospect Heights, Illinois, sent this picture of him with Nelly (on the left) and Cooper. I am told that these fine dogs are a big part of the company family and roam freely throughout the office, always lifting everyone's spirits.
My sincere thanks to Matt, Al and Preben for sharing these photos.
Students at Northern Maine Community College's Precision Machining Program receive valuable real-world CNC experience and other manufacturing training.
Given the opportunity, manufacturers can greatly benefit from working with nearby community colleges. Companies both large and small can work closely with schools to determine the manufacturing industry’s foremost training needs and the schools can help recruit new talent. In addition, some schools, like Northern Maine Community College, produce lot sizes of 100 pieces or fewer for customers from all over the country; customers pay tooling, materials and shipping costs in return for labor at no charge. What benefits have you found working with community colleges?