Category Archive: domestic manufacturing

The Effect of Continuous Improvements on Manufacturing and Business Processes

Improving a business is an easy idea to agree with but a much harder one to implement. Finding areas that need improvement and making changes accordingly is one of the most difficult ideas to quantify. Systematically improving performance on a continuous basis is very difficult for most industries to do on their own.

We were also looking for ways to make improvement a continuous and structured effort when we learned about Kaizen Events. This approach engages the employees in determining where improvements can be made and how to successfully implement solutions.  By improving the process, we reduced inefficiencies and increased the quality of the final products.

Because we have been extremely successful with the Kaizen approach, we produced a new eBook to outline how this can be used to improve manufacturing operations as well as any other business structure. How to Use Kaizen Events to Optimize Manufacturing offers a glimpse inside Manor Tool and our drive to improve company performance.

describe the imageWhen you download this eBook, you will explore

  • What a Kaizen event is
  • How Manor implements Kaizen events
  • Examples of Kaizen success stories at Manor 
  • Barriers to implementing Kaizen events
  • Creating an effective Kaizen event
  • The real power of Kaizen events

Sometimes, the greatest obstacle to modifying or changing a process is the idea that “that’s the way it has always been done.” With Kaizen events, the issue isn’t to tear processes down but to build them up through improvements that have been carefully evaluated through knowledgeable discussions.

Having experienced this process first hand, we believe that Kaizen events are well worth the time and effort. We have used Kaizen events to target improvements in safety and efficiency throughout the company and continue to improve our processes for our employees and our clients.

Download How to Use Kaizen Events to Optimize Manufacturing for free from our website today to begin the process of optimizing your operation.

How to Use Kaizen Events to Optimize Manufacturing

Manor Tool Helps Support Engineering Education

The manufacturing industry has helped shape the face of our country for hundreds of years. With the development of new technologies, many professionals have been able to meet the growing application demands of the industry. As time progressed, applications became increasingly challenging, spurring the need for newer technology and competent workers to utilize said technology.

Manufacturing is widely considered a “traditional” industry, in which most of the professionals have decades of experience; though experience is a highly sought after trait, many workers have long since reached retirement age. With these workers retiring, the industry is looking for the next generation of engineers.

At Manor Tool, our team is all too familiar with this problem—that’s why we regularly participate in educational programs to encourage interest in manufacturing.

Last January, our company partnered with the University of Illinois to give students real world engineering experience. With support from Manor Tool, a senior engineering student team of four tackled some significant assignments. Students were tasked with:

  • Performing in-depth research on casting and other technologies that may be applicable for die fabrication

  • Selecting two dies and reviewing each for cost and lead time reduction

  • Analyzing current stamping drawing designs, materials, and applications

  • Researching lubricant technologies for the materials selected

  • Analyzing force and friction environments in which the dies much withstand during stamping operations

  • Development of progressive die fabrication and lubrication alternatives for die design

  • Reviewing alternatives with Manor Tool personnel for applicability, feasibility, cost, potential prototyping, testing and economic analysis

  • Finalizing recommended designs, lubricants, and economic analysis for delivery to Manor Tool & Manufacturing Co. along with final report and presentation

 University of Illinois and Manor Tool  Back Row left to right: Pratham Gandhi, Brian Hoppe, Matthew Wiencek, Jingtin Lin. Front Row left to right:  Kevin Segebarth, Tom Simeone

  

Our engineers provided students with feedback for each of these tasks and helped finalize the results for highly detailed reports and presentations. Each team of students worked diligently to complete assignments under the watchful eye of Manor Tool’s team of specialists.  

“It was great seeing the students’ progression over those few months, said Kevin Segebarth, General Manager of Manor Tool. “I was impressed by their very professional manner and eagerness to learn—in my experience, many engineers don’t fully recognize the importance of continuing to learn and grow.”

Learn more about how Manor Tool supports the next generation of engineers by contacting us today.

 

Internal Machining Centers for Tool & Die Production and Maintenance

Manor Tool & Manufacturing believes customers deserve the finest in tool and die manufacturing. We believe it is an integral part of the manufacturing process. Our eight machining centers create the tooling required for production, supporting one of the largest tool rooms in the greater Chicago area.

These internal machining centers provide the control required to meet the demands of production cycles in today’s just-in-time work environment.

Reasons that Internal Machining Centers Help Meet Production Cycles

Consider the following:

  • Lead times and production scheduling. Our in-house machining centers allow us to set and follow your timetable to complete the tooling. Using a secondary source for machining exposes the tool & die company (and the customer) to unplanned delays.
  • Better accuracy. Specific tooling requirements for tooling features such as hole size or if the hole is tapped, countersunk, or reamed are programmed by us right off the geometry and done in a single set up. Conveying the same information to an outsourced supplier of machining requires more communication, increasing the potential for error, added scrap, and more re-working to fix mistakes.
  • Improved productivity. Keeping all machining in-house prevents issues encountered using a secondary source. There is no downtime because of delays caused by transportation time or supply chain bottlenecks. Employees maintain focus on the customer’s deadline because there is no downtime caused by sending the tool out for machining.
  • Maintaining control of the die/tool. There used to be a public service announcement (PSA) that appeared around 10:00 in the evening: “Parents, do you know where your children are?” The PSA implied that children left without supervision might get into trouble. The same implication fits when having your product shipped to a secondary supplier for machining. You may know the tool & die shop, but how well do you know their machining source? Our in-house machining centers eliminate this worry. The bottom line result is the on-time delivery of an accurately made product without the excessive waste associated with outsourced machining.

Manor Tool Machining Centers

Our eight machining centers are housed in two locations:

Manor Tool & Manufacturing headquarters (three machining centers that work primarily on maintaining dies)

  • Okuma 3-axis CNC machining center
  • Feeler
  • VMC Haas VF5

CLL Engineering (five machining centers focus on die production)

  • Quantum CNC machining center
  • 2 – Okuma 3-axis machining centers
  • Haas CNC machining center
  • Haas TL-2 CNC lathe
  • Versatility in the Machining Center

These machines provide the versatility to accommodate large capacity dies, offer high-speed milling and perform standard CNC machining. Each location emphasizes either production or maintenance support.

However, both locations have the flexibility to do the other’s work in order to meet production needs. A complete list of our tool room equipment is available here:

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For more information on our manufacturing processes, or to learn more about Manor’s in-house machining centers, contact your Manor representative today.

Top Reasons for Reshoring in Manufacturing

Reshoring: A Reversing — and Growing — Trend

Reshoring—the trend of bringing manufacturing jobs from overseas back to the United States—has become increasingly common in the past few years.

It marks the beginning of a reversal of jobs leaving the U.S. for cheaper labor and enterprise costs in developing Asian countries like China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, which in turn translated into cheaper prices for consumer goods like cell phones and flat-screen TVs.

reshoring manufacturing jobs

Many companies now, however, including such massive manufacturers as Ford, General Electric, Whirlpool, Apple, and Wal-Mart, are heavily investing in reshoring. The Boston Consulting Group recently conducted a study that found that executives at over half—54%—of companies based in the U.S. with more than $1 million in sales are either planning on or actively considering bringing back production from China to the U.S. A similar survey in 2012 found that only 37% of executives were planning to reshore.

According to these executives, economic conditions seem to favor reshoring. Although specific circumstances and the benefits are unique to every company, there generally are three main reasons to reshore.

1. Narrowing Gap in Pay

A significant factor behind offshoring to countries like China has been lower costs of labor which led to lower manufacturing costs overall. This pay gap, however, has been recently shrinking. The International Labor Organization found that real wages in Asia were up by 7.1%-7.8% every year between 2000 and 2008.

In addition, according to the Boston Consulting Group, the average Chinese worker received 10% higher pay and benefits every year between 200 and 2005, which jumped to 19% every year between 2005 and 2010. The Chinese government has even set a target to increase the minimum wage by 15% every year until 2015.

The Economist reports that, following a 2010 strike, Honda gave its workers a 47% raise in pay, while the Foxconn Technology Group, manufacturer for big tech firms such as Apple, doubled the wages for their workers.

By contrast, the McKinsey group reports that pay in advanced countries grew by only 0.5%-0.9% from 2000 to 2008. Real wages in America—declining annually 2.2% since 2005—are comparatively more favorable to manufacturing firms.

2. Lower Energy Costs in the U.S.

Energy costs are critical to any company considering reshoring. Since 2005, wholesale prices for natural gases have fallen by 50% thanks to a rise in large-scale deposits from underground shale deposits yielded through hydraulic fracturing. In contrast, natural gas is three times more expensive in France, China, and Germany, and prices are expected to remain that way for several decades.

It is expected to take between five to ten years before the infrastructure can be put in place for large-scale export of American natural gas. This means that domestic energy prices will remain more cost-effective over other countries.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, natural gas is estimated to account for only 2% of average American manufacturing costs, while electricity is expected to account for 1%. Natural gas and electricity in China, by contrast, is expected to account for 6%. The energy advantage is also expected to create 1 million more jobs as more factories are built.

3. Shorter Lead Times

Due to the 2008 financial crisis, order sizes for U.S. manufacturing companies have decreased, while those for companies overseas have increased. However, this leads to longer lead times, especially as supply chains can become complicated depending on the method of shipment, such as by cargo ship.

Manufacturing here in the U.S. can be far faster than offshoring. Products can travel quickly and reach customers sooner. It can also lead to more collaboration between marketing and engineering teams, helping improve time-to-market as well as resulting in a better product.

The Reshoring Forecast

According to Forbes, reshoring will continue in 2015-2016, but mostly for manufacturing companies that have access to cheap natural gas and global markets, such as chemicals and metals. Reshoring will also grow for industries that see rapid change, such as technology and fashion apparel, where the value of the product compared to weight ratios make it difficult to justify the cost of air freight.

Products that require little labor are also expected to reshore. Chemical plants, for example, will bring jobs back, although most of these jobs never left the U.S.

Advances in Reshoring

reshoring initiative websiteFurther enhancing reshoring efforts in the U.S. is the Reshoring Initiative. Founded in 2010, the organization is a collection of manufacturers dedicated to bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.

According to the Reshoring Initiative, the forecast looks even better for the return of jobs.

  • Since January 2010, there have been 25 known cases of fabricated metal products reshored, involving 1,749 U.S. jobs.
  • Thanks to reshoring and foreign direct investment, there are now more jobs coming back each year than are being lost to offshoring. In 2003, there an estimated 150,000 jobs offshored and only 2,000 reshored. In 2013, there were an estimated 30,000 jobs offshored while a calculated 40,000 jobs reshored. The projections for 2016 predict 20,000 offshored jobs compared to over 50,000 reshored jobs.

Reshoring is ultimately beneficial to the U.S. economy. The IEEE states that the key to successful reshoring is to perform comprehensive Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculations, which reveal the true cost of offshoring.

The TCO calculates the cost of products sold, “hard” costs such as prototyping and shipping, risk-related costs such as quality, opportunity cost, and branding, as well as strategic and environmental costs. Using these calculations reveals that through reshoring, an estimated 2 million jobs can be created in the U.S. in 2015 alone.

TCO analyses help manufacturers clearly see the benefits of bringing these jobs back to the U.S., especially when compared to rising costs shipping costs and wages overseas, and the resurgence in popularity of American made goods.

The Reshoring Initiative offers a free TCO calculator so you can aggregate of cost and risk factors into one cost.

The organization also has various tools and resources such as the Reshoring Library, the Economic Development Plan, and the Skilled Workforce Development Plan to help companies see how reshoring can be beneficial across the enterprise.

Sensible Domestic Manufacturing

The message seems to be clear. Based on narrowing pay gaps, rising energy costs, and complicated supply chains, manufacturing domestically seems to make the most sense as jobs return to the U.S.

Manor Tool has been located in Illinois since our founding. In many ways, our capabilities illustrate the very real benefits of reshoring. Due to our domestic headquarters, we can fully partner with our customers, ensuring constant transparency, meticulous attention to quality, and most importantly, rapid turnaround times.

Our stamping, tooling, and design capabilites are all subject to the highest quality standards. These services were instrumental in quickly providing clients across a range of industries with solutions such as an aluminum alloy drawn basin for the medical industry, and a steel dimpled annular for the automotive industry.

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At Manor Tool, we have seen—and are proud to be a part of—the rapid and continuing growth in the manufacturing, fabrication, and time-to-market capabilities of companies right here in the U.S.

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