A 1-Year Line Transfer Completed Within Months - How Flinchbaugh Engineering Turned the Need for Space into Lower Labor Costs and Higher Production Yields

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A major manufacturer of construction equipment decided to expand their assembly competency in their Dyersburg, Tenn. facility. The need for more space meant outsourcing their machining operatons or expand the facility. They had less than a year and no budget to be up and running at full capacity. Flinchbaugh Engineering made it happen within eight months.

A major manufacturer of construction equipment decided to expand their assembly competency in their Dyersburg, Tenn. facility. To do this effectively, they needed more floor space. This meant outsourcing the machining operations or physically expanding their facility. However, there was no budget for new equipment or construction and they were under a major time constraint. So, moving their machining operations to an outside source was the most efficient solution.

When the decision was made to outsource, they approached Flinchbaugh Engineering, Inc. in York, PA about taking over their machining operations. After an exhaustive logistics evaluation, Flinchbaugh engineered a thorough transfer plan that would have the entire machining line up and running within months.

The manufacturer had built up a parts supply that would last about 12 months, so the transfer had to be completed well within that time frame. The major challenge was how to transfer eight machines - each requiring its own trailer - get them overhauled, installed and running at the same quality that they were producing in-house before their stock ran out.

Within eight months, Flinchbaugh Engineering had the entire line transferred to their York facility and running 24/7; a process that usually takes one year. At eight weeks after start-up, they were machining the parts with a 4.9 Sigma rating - better than twice the industry standard - and 50% less defects than the client was producing in-house.

Flinchbaugh moved the production line to their facility in two 3-week phases. They spent another two weeks, per machine, doing rigorous Total Preventive Maintenance (TPM) on the 15 to 20 year old machines. Many of the machines hadn't seen this level of maintenance since they were brand new. In addition to the TPM, which saved the client about $1.3 million in rebuilding costs, Flinchbaugh engineers revamped some of the fixturing to be more efficient, precise and robust. Had they purchased new machines, it would have cost the client around $2.6 million, not including the construction costs for expanding the facility.

To achieve faster start-up and better production quality, Flinchbaugh worked closely with the client's 6 Sigma Black Belts and used the 6 Sigma procedures they already had in place. Once the production line was established, Flinchbaugh sent one of their employees to train in the client's 6 Sigma program. Having a 6 Sigma Black Belt on staff allows the Flinchbaugh team to be more proactive and make decisions based on a systematic, standard and data driven approach.

While Flinchbaugh uses the same machines and specifications that the client did in-house, they have refined the process and set up the equipment in single piece flow cells. This arrangement allows errors to be caught at the process point of work instead of days later in large quantities that conventional batch processing produces. They are continually refining the process to improve production efficiency and quality.

By providing more precise parts with a significantly lower rejection rate - less than 100 of the 225,000 parts produced are rejected annually - the client is realizing substantial savings in labor costs as there is less teardown of the finished assembly. In this case, it is unknown if the part is defective until it is assembled and in testing. Better parts and less teardown of assemblies means an increase in the number of completed assemblies per year. It's simple, high quality parts mean more assemblies which equals more revenue.

The line transfer to Flinchbaugh Engineering has freed about 6,000 square feet of floor space in the client's plant and allowed them to concentrate on their core competency - assembly.

In business since 1978, Flinchbaugh Engineering, Inc. has grown to include complete engineering and machining of component parts for diverse industries. Line transfers are a key component of the company's growth.

For more information about Flinchbaugh, an ESOP company, visit http://www.flinchbaugh-usa.com.


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Mary Anne Piccirillo
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