Top Shops 2013: WSI Industries

Our Shopfloor Practices Honors Program winner for 2013 thoughtfully considers the best shopfloor practices to support its advanced machining capabilities.


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Establishing Effective Shopfloor Practices

NASDAQ-listed WSI Industries is a contract shop in Monticello, Minnesota that focuses on establishing relationships with customers to secure long-term, high-volume programs. This approach requires a larger up-front investment in capital equipment and process engineering than many other machine shop business models, notes Benjamin Rashleger, company president. Establishing effective processes for this type of work requires thoughtful consideration of the supporting practices applied on the shop floor. The video above (filming/production by Creative Technology Corp.) explains why WSI is the Shopfloor Practices Honors Program winner for 2013, touching on these key elements of its shopfloor strategy:

  • Clean, orderly facility—Maintaining a tidy, organized facility is important to ensure employee safety while providing the tools employees need where they’re used. Plus, the shop shows well, making it an asset for selling manufacturing. The facility is temperature-controlled, too, which helps ensure machining accuracy and repeatability.
  • Advanced inspection—WSI invests in sophisticated inspection equipment, including CMMs and measuring arms, for use on the shop floor. Mr. Rashleger says employees “own their part quality,” which is why the company provides them with advanced inspection equipment that can be placed very near production.
  • Value-adding services—Beyond manufacturing precisely-machined components, WSI offers assembly, component testing and inventory management to enable daily delivery of sub-assemblies to customers when required. In this way, the shop is more of a partner than vendor.
  • Setup reduction—Repetitive, small-batch work represents one portion of WSI’s business. To speed setups, the shop uses tool presetters as well as common cutting tool and fixture libraries. In addition, turn-mill machines enable some parts to be produced in a single setup.

Company Description

WSI Industries opened in 1950 as a contract manufacturer for industries such as aerospace and communication booming in the wake of World War II. Then, as now, WSI’s customers drew on its expertise in engineering and manufacturing precision parts and assemblies. In 1958, under the company name Washington Scientific Industries, WSI became a publicly held company and is currently traded on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol of WSCI. The company name was changed to WSI in 1999.

Today, WSI divides its business into three primary sectors: high-volume aluminum work, repetitive batch work and large-part machining for primarily energy-industry customers. As part of its project management system, the company assigns a program manager to each customer to serve as the single point of contact for crucial job information.

End Markets Served

  • Aerospace  
  • Defense      
  • Energy        
  • Engine components
  • Medical
  • Semiconductor


Workpiece Materials Commonly Machined

  • Aluminum alloys   
  • Plastics       
  • Steel alloys
  • Stainless Steel
  • Titanium

WSI Industries

213 Chelsea Road

Monticello, Minnesota 55362

Phone: 763-295-9202

Fax: 763-295-9212