Customer Success Story

Retrofit production equipment for low-volume and changeover applications? Oh, yes, we did.

It’s a fact of automotive manufacturing: older model cars need parts. But there comes a time in the production cycle when the demand for those parts drops dramatically. So, how can you make room for new, high-volume production runs while continuing to produce a lower volume of service parts?

That was the challenge presented to Metrics Works by a leading manufacturing of high-pressure diecast products and engine components for some of the top OEMs in the automotive industry.

The Background

This award-winning Tier 1 automotive supplier had spent more than 10 years mass-producing an aluminum die cast part, taking up 5,000+ square feet of space in their own manufacturing facilities. Their runs were very high. Their quality even higher.

But the time had come for the main production program to end. This meant they needed to transition this part to a lower-volume, service phase. But they simply could not justify reserving thousands of square feet of manufacturing space, as well as maintaining their production equipment to continue production for the life of the part.

Could Metrics Works help them by providing a low-volume run, freeing up their space, equipment, and resources to make room for future, high-volume parts for new models?

The Metrics Works Approach

The short answer is, yes. And the first thing we did was determine whether we could use any of their production equipment for the low-volume application. The answer to that was yes … and no.

Our facility in Effingham, Illinois is designed to support high-mix, low-volume production runs to deliver high-quality castings, forgings, machinings, stampings, and more with daily volumes ranging from 120 to 1,200 parts per day per dedicated production line. Making their ask happen would be no problem, so that was a good start.

Next, however, we needed to tackle the issue of production equipment. We evaluated the customer’s equipment and determined that we could leverage some of it in an as-is format. We also determine that we could retrofit a portion of it to make it suitable for the low-volume application.

But we didn’t stop there. We then transferred the usable equipment to our location and set it up. Then we got to work developing the rest of the required tooling equipment. We then put everything through a rigorous PPAP (production part approval process). Could we meet the customer’s engineering design and exacting specifications? Challenge accepted and approval received – all within an aggressive timeframe of 4-6 months from transfer to approval.

Success

Of course, the customer’s other demanding expectation was for Metrics Works to deliver the same quality machining, assembly, inspecting, and testing on this low-volume project as they themselves did when the part was in mass production at their facilities – and we did.

“We appreciate how Metrics Works helped us overcome our low-mix, high-volume challenge. They helped us rethink the way we approach the service phase, allowing us to better serve our OEM customers, as well as expand our operation. And they did it without asking us to invest in expensive equipment or production space.” 

In fact, one of the reasons they turned to us was because we have all the automotive manufacturing capabilities they need, including automotive experience, mass production machining capabilities, production staff with decades of experience, and an understanding of – and dedication to – stringent requirements, regardless of whether we’re making 1 part or 100,000 parts.

More Success

With the success of the first program, our customer then looked to us for more. Now Metrics Works is running not just 1 part number, but 8 different parts with potentially more to come. We’ve adapted the equipment, too, so that we can do quick changeovers. This allows us to run parts for 2 days or 2 weeks, as needed to meet demand.

In addition to our ability to quickly adapt and change, this customer relies on Metrics Works for storage and shipping assistance. Because we’re geographically located within 3 hours of all their facilities, we store their parts until we have a full truckload. We ship, they inventory, and everyone is highly satisifed.

Freeing Up Space, Equipment, and Resources for Future Programs

Do you have an unending budget? Unlimited warehouse space?  All the time in the world? Of course, you don’t. Nobody does. Which is why Metrics Works is offering these ideas to help you ready your organization for strategic pivots and rapid changes without breaking the bank:

  • Look ahead to your ongoing service requirements.
  • Assess your existing processes and equipment.
  • Identify which, if any, equipment could be transitioned to a smaller footprint.
  • Determine whether you need additional tooling equipment developed.
  • Evaluate your organization or current supplier by asking:
    • Are they delivering porosity-free, defect-free machined castings?
    • Do they offer quick production and tooling lead times?
    • Are they competitively priced for all manufactured parts and tools?

Contact Metrics Works to learn how you can benefit from our high-velocity, Just-in-Time production and shipments for your next production phase.

For OEM and Tier 1 automotive manufacturers, we offer:

  • Aluminum Diecast Parts and Components
  • Assembly and Machining Services
  • Lightweight Metal and Alloy Castings
  • LVHM Production Runs
  • Smart and Agile Digitized Production
  • State-of-the-Art CNC Milling

What is Lean Manufacturing and Why Does It Matter to OEMs and Tier 1 Shops, Foundries, and Suppliers?

What is Lean Manufacturing and Why Does It Matter to OEMs and Tier 1 Shops, Foundries, and Suppliers?

Lean manufacturing isn’t new, but it is revolutionary.

At Metrics Works we’ve been doing a lot of lean manufacturing training lately, so we wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing. More importantly, we wanted to share how training our team helps us deliver added value to automotive, industrial, medical, and agricultural OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers like you.

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

At its core, lean manufacturing is a commonsense approach that maximizes productivity while minimizing waste. As simple as it sounds, implementing lean manufacturing is never easy, nor is it every truly complete.

That’s because lean manufacturing is both a philosophy and an approach to continuous improvement. It requires organization-wide commitment combined with implementation of best practice techniques throughout the entire supply chain.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of lean manufacturing for us—and for you:

  • Improved cycle times
  • Increased efficiencies
  • Faster development
  • Decreased defects
  • Lower production costs
  • Less waste and waiting
  • Better inventory management
  • Enhanced customer service

When Did Lean Manufacturing Start?

There’s a bit of debate over whether lean manufacturing started with the first known use of the name in the 1990s, with a well-known Japanese auto manufacturer in the 1930s, or with an integrated production process that rolled out of Detroit in the early part of the 20th century.

You can read a more robust version of lean’s history here. The short version, however, is that it doesn’t matter when lean manufacturing started.

What matters is that lean manufacturing, done right, improves operational effectiveness and manufacturing excellence, resulting in delivery of the best possible parts at a fair price in the fastest possible time. Learn more about Metric Works’ commitment to delivering on lean manufacturing’s promise through what we call Last Mile Manufacturing.

The 5S Methodology

There’s a lot that goes into lean manufacturing, including various components and subprocesses, each of which serves a unique purpose and provides a specific outcome. Do a quick online search of the keywords “lean manufacturing” and you’ll be bombarded with 1+ million results, scads of research, and thousands of opinions about it.

That’s why instead of talking more about lean manufacturing in general, we’re going to focus on is the 5S training we recently conducted with a pilot group of Metrics Work team members at our Effingham, Illinois, USA location.

What is the 5S Methodology?

5S is a series of process improvement practices designed to support manufacturing excellence. It helps organizations like ours to identify potential issues and resolve them in ways that:

  • Eliminate causes of defects
  • Reduce or remove redundancies
  • Improve changeover and handling times
  • Advance safety outcomes

Many (including us) consider 5S to be foundational to best-in-class lean manufacturing. In fact, the reason we’ve implemented 5S is simple: Our goal is to supply our customers with the right product in the right quantities at the right time.

Our goal is to supply our customers with

the right product in the right quantities at the right time.

 

Benefits of 5S

For us, 5S is a system that creates repeatable efficiencies that save us (and, ultimately, you) valuable time.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of 5S:

  • Clean, well-organized workspaces
  • Visibly evident results
  • Inspired, motivated, and disciplined employees
  • Easier, safer work environment
  • Enhanced worker accountability and personal pride

5S Training: Top Takeaway

Like other aspects of lean manufacturing, 5S is not a “one-and-done” operational checklist. Instead, it’s a way of thinking and doing that is ingrained in our culture so we can achieve small yet profound incremental improvements over time.

Here’s how we summed up the biggest takeaway of 5S training for our team:

Don’t Let Perfect Get in the Way of Better

Service Parts Machining for Die Casters and Foundries

Automotive OEMs require their Tier suppliers to produce and maintain inventory of OEM quality parts for service and repair for 10+ years after their project ends or model changeover has happened. In the wake of labor challenges, die casters and foundries are looking for more ways to produce these infrequent and unpredictable supply chain demand components.

Aluminum die casting demand is expected to grow from 8% of vehicle weight to over 14% as Electric vehicle adoption continues. Die casters should review if their existing casting, machining, assembly, secondary processes should be available for OEM production or service parts?

Challenges for these Tier suppliers in offloading are many:

1) Quality systems for machining sub-supplier – Foundries and die casters need to have at least an internal PPAP from the machining source. OEMs are not likely to require PPAP for service parts, so die casters have more flexibility in picking a sub-supplier. However, they must ensure that the machining source has ISO9001 or IATF certification.

2) Capacity – Foundries must ensure that the machining sub-supplier has extra capacity. Service part orders and demands fluctuate considerably, and they usually go down farther out of the model year it goes. Machining shops must flex their capacity with equipment, labor, and materials to support these demand changes.

3) Resource base – Machining shop should have depth in tooling and maintenance resources to support long periods of time production. The shop should also have engineering resources to maintain work holding fixtures, gages, and support fixtures such as leak testers, assembly machines, and fixtures.

4) Quick tool changes – Machining shop should preferably have the ability for quick tool changes. They should have many of the equipment needed to have rapid tool changes in place to enable the production of high-mix low volume parts with quick lead times and competitively.

5) Secondary processing – The machining shop should be able to manage secondary processes such as assembly, outsourced powder coating, painting, etc to support ongoing production and shipping issues. As MOQs get small, the willingness of painters and e-coaters gets harder as well. The machine shop should have a good relationship and vendor base locally to manage these secondary processes.

6) Re-pack and EDI capabilities – Ideal machining shop should support repackaging activities in returnable containers, packing in individual bags to ship to distribution shops along with EDI capabilities for proper part ID, barcoding, and traceability paperwork.

To help find a machining shop which can support foundries and die casters for overflow machining work or service parts machining, please reach out to us at sales@metricsworks.com