DIRECTOR OF FACILITIES — WINSERT, INC.
“IMTS is the place to discover new ways to improve the bottom line. There's no better way to find the next great thing in the industry. With all these experts, businesses and potential partners brought to one place, it's like a smorgasbord. It has everything we could possibly imagine or want.”
When Winsert Inc., in Marinette, Wis., took a bold step to start making its own high-heat, wear, and corrosion-resistant alloys, it created new challenges for the machining operations. Innovative tooling and high-performing equipment discovered at IMTS have given the company a distinct market advantage and a nearly perfect OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) productivity score.
Concerned about making parts for extreme conditions cost effectively and without exposure to volatile metal markets like cobalt, Winsert’s founder, Stephen Dickinson, had the foresight to form a materials research and development department to create high-performing proprietary alloys.
“A lot of machine shops can make parts from standard trade alloys, and they end up competing on price,” said Geno Lemery, director of facilities for Winsert. “Our custom alloys let us offer a unique product to our customers, so we now have a clear differentiator in the market.”
The company hired a team of metallurgists and began making custom alloys and components for applications within the internal combustion engine, emission controls, industrial valves, power generation, and food processing. Today the company has 186 employees making over 12 million special parts yearly from exotic alloys that are high-temperature resistant, wear resistant and corrosion resistant. Winsert’s campus includes a state-of-the-art materials research center that includes the research and development department.
Winsert has many patented and proprietary alloys utilized in a wide array of extreme applications. The company’s metallurgical expertise has allowed Winsert to shift its brand from being a traditional valve seat insert supplier into a leading global provider of innovative alloy solutions and a partner to many of their OEM customers. The company’s tested and proven alloy solutions allow their OEM partners to experience substantial cost savings and cost stability when compared to the high cobalt-content materials that are traditionally used in the marketplace.
Once an alloy is developed and the parts cast, they are machined, ground and heat treated. It takes about four weeks for the company to go from bringing in the pure raw elements to shipping out a high-precision, high-performance component.
IMTS has provided the information Winsert needed to transform from an ordinary machine shop to an extraordinary world-class company on a journey of continuous improvement and lean manufacturing.
“Ten years ago we were somewhat stagnant,” Lemery said. “There was nothing unique about our mechanical capabilities over other suppliers. But at IMTS, we’ve discovered equipment, workholding and cutting tools that we never knew existed.”
At each IMTS, Lemery brings teams of employees, each with a plan to focus on areas at the show. Employees from the production, manufacturing, quality assurance and metrology departments will be looking for solutions that directly impact their areas at IMTS 2018. They use the MyShow Planner app to map out target booths and routes for each team ahead of time.
This opportunity is important to employees because every operator is responsible for his/her own quality, and Winsert’s customers require very precise measurements at tolerances of two to four microns.
“They all know that some new technology at IMTS could be a great advantage for their department or for the company as a whole,” Lemery said. “For example, this year we want to find better CMM vision capabilities that hold tighter tolerances and reduce measurement time. We’ve been looking for better vision systems for years and we hope to find them at IMTS 2018."
Although there is a significant cost to bringing a team to IMTS for five days, Lemery knows that pre-planning and a focused strategy at the show will bring them an ROI.
“We spend time looking for a process improvement or cost-saving solutions that will return what we invested in attending the show,” Lemery said. “We come on Monday and stay on the show floor every day until they kick us out. We hit our target areas so we cover what’s most important.”
While walking the show floor at IMTS 2016, Lemery discovered special cubic boron nitride (CBN) cutting tools from a previously unknown tooling supplier and found a solution that has doubled tool life and reduced costs by 35 percent, saving the company more than $100,000 annually.
Since the alloys being machined are so hard with unique properties, standard CNC machines and cutting tools are not sufficient. Takamatsu Machinery showed Winsert some robust machines for hard, tight-tolerance parts at IMTS 2010. Since then, the company has purchased 80 Takamatsu machines that contribute to an OEE of 90 percent, a nearly perfect productivity score.
“We went into the show knowing we needed a really tough machine that could handle our conditions, which are especially challenging because the hard metals produce metal shavings and fines that can get into everything,” Lemery said. “IMTS gave us the chance to meet with a few machine providers to inspect inside the machines and make sure they were properly protected to hold up to our applications. That’s something we could not do so easily any other way.”
At the last couple of shows, Lemery and his team were looking at quick-change workholding. With a lot of part changes during a shift, an analysis revealed that changeover was taking up a large percentage of operators’ time, during which the machines were down and unproductive.
“We found a unique workholding solution at IMTS 2014 that shortened switchover times from 90 minutes to under 10 minutes,” Lemery said. “Now we’ve significantly increased our machine uptime, which is a big part of our lean and continuous improvement.”
Although Lemery is confident that Winsert is using the best equipment available, he will always be on the hunt for new technologies that optimize operations.
“IMTS is the place to discover new ways to improve the bottom line.” Lemery said. “There’s no better way to find the next great thing in the industry. With all these experts, businesses and potential partners brought to one place, it’s like a smorgasbord. It has everything we could possibly imagine or want.”Read More Stories