Creative product design, excellence in quality, and significant improvements in productivity were among the achievements honored by the Precision Metalforming Association

Last fall, the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) announced the winners of its 2015 Awards of Excellence in Metalforming, applauding the achievements of companies—and one school—that have dedicated themselves to continuous improvement of their products and services. The annual awards recognize the high standards of achievement set by the metalforming industry in the areas of design, safety, quality, training and education, process control, product development, and productivity.

Award winners included Quality Industries, LaVergne, Tenn. ( Higgins-Caditz Design Award); Trans-Matic Manufacturing Co., Holland, Mich. (Pitcher Insurance Agency Safety Award; Ulbrich Award for Competitive Excellence in Product Development); Highlands Diversified Services, London, Ky. (Zierick Manufacturing Corporation Productivity Award); Kryton Engineered Metals, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Pridgeon & Clay Excellence in Quality Award); Zierick Manufacturing Corp., Mount Kisco, N.Y. (Link Systems Process Control Award); and Schoolcraft College, Livonia, Mich. (Clips & Clamps Industries Educational Institution Award).

Winners were honored with a special plaque, commemorative flag, and a cash prize on November 8, 2015, during the FABTECH tradeshow in Chicago. Following are descriptions of the award winners in the Design, Product Development, Quality, Process Control, and Productivity categories.

Quality Industries Earns Design Award for Enhancements to Innovative Space Cooler
Quality Industries, Inc. (QI), an ISO 9001:2008 certified metal fabrication company in LaVergne, Tenn., received the 2015 Higgins-Caditz Design Award for its redesign of the Culer XC3000 space cooler. The Design Award, created by the Worcester Pressed Steel Co., Worcester, Mass., and sponsored by The Quarterly Club, recognizes a manufacturing company for outstanding achievement in developing an innovative product design.

Founded in 1972, QI employs 500 people and has grown to be one of the largest and most diverse independent metalworks manufacturers in the United States, servicing the heavy transportation, alternative energy, electrical enclosures, and towing and recovery-equipment industries. Through its engineering services, the company seeks to refine and improve customers’ product designs to maximize integrity, functionality, and efficiency while minimizing production costs.

The award-winning atomizing evaporative cooler is manufactured with a combination of off-the-shelf components and custom fabricated metal components, including more than 150 separate line items. A high percentage of the fabricated components are manufactured in-house at QI using CNC punch presses, lasers, press brakes, CNC milling machines, arc welding and spot welding machines, and a powder-coating system. Assembly takes place on a custom-built line that was designed, fabricated, and installed by QI personnel.

Numerous enhancements and additions were made to the new generation Culer XC3000 atomizing evaporative cooler, making it more powerful, compact, portable and durable—and more aesthetically pleasing—while also decreasing per-unit cost. The design improvements included updating the water tank from an off-the-shelf plastic tank to a punched, formed, welded, and anodized aluminum tank; lowering the fan body between the wheels, resulting in improved appearance and stability; moving the tank fill location from the top of the unit to the side of the unit, creating a more convenient height for filling; and moving the atomizers into custom-designed brackets to hide unsightly tubing and fittings and prevent moisture from collecting on the front of the grill.

In addition, the weight of the unit was reduced by more than 100 pounds through FEA analysis of key support structures and optimization of sheet metal thickness. An air tank was also integrated into the system to provide air to the atomizers during shutdown, eliminating approximately $80 per fan unit.

As a result of the design changes, year-to-year sales were reported to have increased dramatically, with 10 times the number of purchase orders compared to the previous year, and sales were projected to increase 20 fold by the end of 2015. In addition to increased production, cost-saving design improvements yielded an 18 percent decrease in total unit cost. The result is a lower-cost product with a premium look and more features.

Based in Nashville, Culer develops and markets patented atomizing evaporative coolers for professional and home use.

Trans-Matic, Recognized for Cost-Saving Parts Consolidation, Wins Product Development Award Trans-Matic Manufacturing Company, Holland, Mich., was named winner of the 2015 Ulbrich Award for Excellence in Product Development for developing and deep drawing two new canister parts that provided its customer with a substantial cost saving while reducing the number of parts and welding operations required. Trans-Matic, a provider of engineered, deep-drawn metal stamped components, mechanical assemblies, and proprietary products to numerous markets, operates manufacturing facilities in Mesa, Ariz., and Suzhou, China, in addition to its Holland, Michigan site.

The Product Development Award, sponsored by Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals, Inc., North Haven, Conn., acknowledges a manufacturing company that demonstrates outstanding innovation in developing and manufacturing a product that best uses metal in place of a nonmetal competitive material, or that develops a product using flat-rolled material that was previously manufactured using more costly manufacturing processes.

Trans-Matic was approached by its customer, Qnergy, to stamp small tube-like parts (called canisters) from Haynes 230® alloy for its Stirling engine-powered electrical generator. Haynes 230 is a “super alloy,” and is not normally deep drawn. Trans-Matic’s engineers first ran several computer forming simulations, and then worked together with experienced toolmakers to develop a feasible—and then optimal—forming methodology.

The original canister design had three parts—a tube and two end caps. The end caps were machined from solid Haynes bar stock, and then each cap was welded to the tube. The three-piece, two-weld design was expensive, considering that there are 80 of these canister assemblies per Stirling engine, and it was difficult to achieve dimensional and durability requirements. As Trans-Matic worked with Qnergy, the design was changed to two deep-drawn stampings using the same Haynes 230 material. The Trans-Matic parts would be stamped to completion in the press and then joined with one weld at the customer’s facility.

Initially, high-strength carbide tooling was used to form the longer filter canister, but the carbide tended to damage the part surface and open the grain structure. The Haynes material was also very abrasive for the tools. The die designs were revised, and new specialized ceramic die components were used to minimize scoring and grain elongation while lengthening tool life. For the prototype phase, the Haynes material was purchased in 4- by 8-ft. panels that were sheared to strip width and welded together to form a coil.

With the shorter cold transition canister, punch wear was not a problem for the low-volume prototype runs, but once the production runs began, punch tooling wore significantly after only a few thousand parts. Special lubricants and coatings were investigated, and the solution was to treat the M4 punches with a coating specifically designed for abrasive materials.

The filter canister was produced in a 16-station tool, using a 551 Baird 75-ton transfer press. The cold transition canister was manufactured in a 12-station tool, running in a 12-12 Waterbury 30-ton transfer press.

Trans-Matic’s new canisters provided Qnergy with a 44 percent cost saving by moving from three parts with two welds, to two deep-drawn parts and one weld. The new design also improved dimensional stability and durability.

Kryton Engineered Metals Wins Quality Award
CLEVELAND, OH—November 9, 2015—An outstanding quality management system earned Kryton Engineered Metals, an ISO 9001:2008 certified manufacturer in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the 2015 Pridgeon & Clay Excellence in Quality Award. Kryton, a prominent maker of spun metal and fabrication parts whose services range from laser cutting to metal spinning and welding, won the Quality Award in recognition of “outstanding achievement by a manufacturing company in the development and implementation of a company-wide quality system that effectively uses continuous improvement.”

Kryton’s quality system includes executive management commitment, management review, software featuring paperless shop floor data entry and real-time interaction, a dedication to team member training and education, customer partnerships to reduce nonconformance, and preventive action.

Kryton management reviews all activities relevant to ISO certification requirements. Quality staff presents to management a monthly operations report that includes detailed information and charts on all aspects of the operations, including customer on-time delivery, PPM ratings, shipments, scrap, and much more. This report is distributed to all Kryton employees via e-mail, and pertinent charts are shared through electronic message boards throughout the facility.

The company also uses ERP production software that features paperless shop data entry and real-time interaction. At the conclusion of each operation, the system prints a move ticket that shows the step completed and the next step required, providing accurate identification for all products in process. A scrap tag also is printed immediately on nonconformance so that material is identified and quarantined.

Scrap is reconciled daily through the ERP software. The system also allows for a “cause and corrective action” or internal 8D to be issued if needed. Scrap is calculated through the exact operation point at which the part was scrapped, providing accurate cost data. As a result, Kryton has realized a dramatic scrap reduction.

The company believes in continuous learning for its team members, offering an education/tuition-reimbursement program for employees, as well as employee training onsite and offsite to keep employees up to date on job knowledge. Kryton has five team members who are bronze-certified in lean manufacturing, one team member who is a Six Sigma certified blue belt, and another who is Six Sigma green belt certified.

Kryton is a strategic partner with its largest customer, and many others, in an effort to reduce nonconformance. This typically includes quarterly interface meetings in addition to training and meetings at corporate offices.

Zierick Manufacturing Wins Process Control Award
Zierick Manufacturing Corporation, a manufacturer of connectors and other stamped metal components for the electronics industry, has long been a source of solutions for complex interconnection requirements and problems. The company received the 2015 Link Systems Process Control Award for its Surf-Sert Autotaper.
Zierick Manufacturing’s Surf-Sert Autotaper, used for production of surface mount technology components, was designed and built in-house to reduce the production cycle and minimize cost to its customers. Air cylinders, solenoid valves, and a stepper motor are used for feed, cutoff, positioning, and insertion processes, which are automated through the use of a programmable logic controller (PLC) and numerous sensors.
Photo courtesy of Precision Metalforming Association / Zierick Manufacturing Corporation.

Sponsored by Link Systems in Nashville, Tenn., the award promotes the application of electronic-analog closed-loop process controls in the metalforming process. It recognizes innovative electronic solutions, implemented by a North American manufacturing company, which have resulted in significant improvements in quality and productivity, as well as cost reduction.

Used for production of surface mount technology components, the Surf Sert Autotaper was designed and built in-house to reduce the production cycle and minimize cost to its customers. Air cylinders, solenoid valves, and a stepper motor are used for feed, cutoff, positioning, and insertion processes. These processes are automated through the use of a programmable logic controller (PLC) and numerous sensors. The machine also relies on a stepper drive, two power supplies, circuit-protection mechanisms, and a pushbutton control panel that will eventually be replaced by a human-machine interface (HMI) unit.

Maintaining repeatability with regard to the positioning of the carrier tape was a challenge. The tape is positioned using a stepper motor with a 20-tooth sprocket. The sprocket teeth engage the pilot holes of the carrier tape in a similar way that many tape feeders do. The plastic carrier tape is vacuum-formed, which dictates rather generous tolerances. If the position of the tape is slightly off, it can cause the part to become lodged into the cavity. To avoid this type of insertion error and others, a through-beam sensor was added to detect the position of the tape.

The through-beam is transmitted through a single pilot hole in the tape. The PLC program sends pulse signals through a stepper drive to a stepper motor, causing it to rotate in micro-step increments of 0.018 degrees. This pulsing occurs until approximately 80 percent of the transmitted light is received by the sensor and the other corresponding I/O conditions are met.

The machine’s program is stored on a Panasonic FPX series PLC. A combination of standard IEC-61131-3 sequential function charts and ladder logic is used to control machine operation. The program controls all standard operations and also allows for the machine to respond to several different circumstances and continue running without human intervention.

Use of the PLC also reduces set-up and reload time by automatically leading in and trailing out the reel of tape with correct number of unpopulated cavities, as required for the customer’s pick-and-place machines. The machine can detect when a part fails to be fully inserted into the cavity of the tape. If this situation arises, the machine will take a corrective action by actuating an insertion plunger above the cavity, which assists the part down into the bottom of the cavity.

Zierick Manufacturing serves numerous markets, including industrial controls, automotive, HVAC, solid-state lighting, medical, and security.

Productivity Award Goes to Highlands Diversified Services
The 2015 Zierick Manufacturing Corporation Productivity Award recognizes outstanding achievement by a manufacturing company in the development and implementation of programs, processes, and use of assets that lead to significant improvements in productivity. Highlands Diversified Services (HDS) of London, Ky., received the award in recognition of productivity improvements related to a satellite-dish assembly for a telecommunications company. The company specializes in metal stamping, secondary operations, powder painting, and assembly, serving the automotive, appliance, telecommunication, aerospace, and office-equipment market segments.

HDS company management reviewed the entire process surrounding the satellite-dish assembly (which includes a satellite dish, mounting base, and support arm) from stamping to packaging, and made improvements across the board. A staging area was created that is dedicated to the satellite-dish assembly only, is close to the paint-line, and reduces the time spent by the forklift driver handling associated totes. This staging method frees press personnel from being dependent on a forklift to remove their full totes. It also frees paint-line personnel from being dependent on a forklift to bring them parts. This improvement resulted in a 25 percent reduction of labor (forklift driver) per shift.

Stamped satellite dishes previously were placed on paint racks that only held two dishes, but HDS redesigned the rack to hold four dishes. After the new rack configuration was put in place, HDS averages 6000 dishes painted per shift, a throughput increase of 100 percent.
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