The shops I choose to profile in this magazine are those that apply innovative metalworking technologies in creative ways. Many of these successful shops share another trait: they offer customers more than they might expect of their vendor. Both parties benefit from that effort. Consider four shops I’ve visited and how they go the extra mile for their customers by:
Taking on non-machining work. A customer of Florida’s R&D Manufacturing Industries wanted to outsource the repairing of certain used assemblies. R&D, which was already machining components for the customer’s new assemblies, took on that rebuilding work. In addition to helping its customer, the shop made money on the work by having machine operators rebuild assemblies during moments of idle time.
Delivering higher quality parts. Eastern Science is a Massachusetts shop that often machines parts to dimensional tolerances or surface finishes that are much better than the customer’s specifications. Thus, its customer receives a higher quality part. In addition, by demonstrating its precise machining capabilities in such a way, the shop positions itself to win additional work requiring tighter tolerances.
Offering prototyping services. Metal Craft Machine & Engineering, located in Minnesota, typically runs prototype work through its production machines. Its customers benefit because a machining process is ready to roll whenever the trigger is pulled to start production. In turn, the shop is more likely to win that production work because all aspects of the production machining process are in the can. And by that time, it has had the chance to work through issues that reveal themselves only during the production run.
Writing programs before designs are completed. How quickly a medical device manufacturer can deliver new products to hospitals largely depends on shop responsiveness. Florida-based Structure Medical immediately generates entire CAM programs from the initial component designs it receives. The shop invests in this programming time realizing that the component designs will likely change before any machining work is performed. However, this reduces time to market because making minor changes to an existing program is easier and faster than developing entire part programs after a design is finalized.