Process Involves Team Work, Part 1

Tony Goff, plant manager of The Oilgear Company's Fremont, Nebraska, pump facility is not a newcomer to manufacturing. But his almost 25-year career had not prepared him for the impact that a local SME chapter plant tour had on him and on this supplier to the international fluid power market.

Columns From: 12/1/1999 Modern Machine Shop,

Tony Goff, plant manager of The Oilgear Company's Fremont, Nebraska, pump facility is not a newcomer to manufacturing. But his almost 25-year career had not prepared him for the impact that a local SME chapter plant tour had on him and on this supplier to the international fluid power market. Their customers wanted more parts, quicker delivery, with better pricing, and "by the way can you also show an improvement in the quality!"

It was not so much the machines that caught Tony's eye on that tour of Vickers (Omaha, Nebraska), but that the process was running so smoothly. His inquiries brought an introduction to Steve Leiding, national account manager of Cincinnati Machine and a meeting during IMTS 1998.

Welcome to "TeamKey." The solution to improving the manufacturing process at Oilgear was not just the purchase of two Maxim 630 HMCs with ten pallets and two load/unload stations, but rather how the operation was defined.

"The process is a shared responsibility involving Cincinnati Machine and The Oilgear Company," Steve says. "The joint project builds upon the strengths, capabilities and expertise of the individual team members in a focused, well-defined, joint development effort."

Cincinnati Machine provided the application knowledge and experience in applying the latest technology horizontal machining centers and flexible manufacturing cells. In addition, Cincinnati used its corporate expertise in metalworking fluids and cutting tools. Furthermore, Cincinnati has developed relationships with a number of outside tooling and fixture suppliers and invited them to participate in the project.

"The Oilgear Company had an abundance of knowledge relative to the design and performance of our specific parts, as well as years of manufacturing experience particular to those parts," Tony added. "We assigned essential individuals with the necessary background and skill sets (processing background, programming experience, tooling knowledge, fixture aptitude) to the team process."

The "TeamKey" approach provided the opportunity for Oilgear personnel to work hand-in-hand with Cincinnati's application engineers and other relevant representatives in the development of the process. This team effort assured that Oilgear had a knowledgeable trained and experienced manufacturing staff that was familiar with the entire project and was ready to begin production.

Combining the strengths of each team member provided synergy of effort, typically resulting in solutions that no one party may have developed independently.

Initially Cincinnati and Oilgear worked together to mutually define the scope of the project (number of parts to evaluate, "clean sheet" approach vs. "adapting," and so on) and define the responsibilities. The project scope and deliverables portion (machines, tooling, programs, fixtures, run-off, and so on) of the "TeamKey" documented the specifics of the project and the responsibilities for delivery, estimated the timeframe, and outlined the personnel requirements.

Once the project scope and deliverables had been defined, a detailed project schedule that also clearly defined responsibilities was developed and used to manage the entire effort. A benefit of this approach is the potential to save money on the purchased components of the project. Once Cincinnati and Oilgear had jointly defined those elements, Oilgear was able to purchase directly from selected vendors.

In the end, after all the analyzing and assistance from Cincinnati, it will be Oilgear that must own the process (tooling, fixturing and programs as well as the machine tools) and must maintain these elements on a day-to-day basis.

Next month we will attend one of the team meetings and learn how this group of people with very diverse backgrounds was able to provide the solution.

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