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.
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.
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.
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