Georgia Metal Fabricator Awarded Contracts with Newly-Reshored Caterpillar Plant
Caterpillar, Inc.'s recent reshoring investment of $200 million to bring work back from Japan and move it to a facility near Athens, Ga., has significantly impacted Ga.-based Impulse Manufacturing, Inc., which recently was awarded significant contracts with the heavy equipment giant to supply parts for mini-hydraulic excavators and small track-type tractors.
Impulse Manufacturing, located in Dawsonville, Ga., will be providing bracketry items, along with small and large welded parts for a total of eight different Caterpillar models, said Impulse Director of Sales and Marketing Karl Baysden in a phone interview. The Georgia metal fabrication company is a full service high-tech metal fabricator located 30 miles north of Atlanta. Impulse, with 150,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space, offers a wide range of metal fabrication services ranging from simple laser cutting services and high volume stampings to complex weldments and assemblies.
"It's a big deal for us," said Baysden, adding that many of Impulse's competitors were reviewed by Caterpillar before they chose Impulse. "It is my understanding that they checked out every major fabricator in the region," he said. "We have invested very heavily in equipment and technology here, and we've invested a lot of time and money and put a lot of attention into our processes and quality."
Baysden explained that the family-run business has a "robust" quality program and makes sure they invest in the latest technology to stay ahead of the competition. Having gone through a rough period when the economy dipped in 2009 and orders dropped more than 50 percent, the company made a concerted effort to engineer a more automated business, where robots do much of the welding, lasers cut through sheets of steel, and computers track productivity. Being the picture of high-tech manufacturing is what made the company survive the recession, he said.
"Impulse has always invested very heavily in technology. So when you come to our plant, everything is new," Baysden said. "The second a machine comes out that's better, or faster, or more efficient, we're looking to sell off the old machines and bring in the new machines. So we're taking advantage of the technologies that our equipment suppliers are developing and we're also trying to capitalize on process improvements internally."
For the Caterpillar contracts, Impulse plans on purchasing additional robotic equipment and forming equipment, as well as going forward with plans to upgrade its powder coating capability during the next 18 months. The company also projects hiring about 150 people during the next three years, with the majority of that growth attributed to the new Caterpillar facility. Impulse currently employs about 220 workers.
Since winning the new contracts with Caterpillar's Georgia plant, Impulse has also been contacted by other Caterpillar facilities throughout the U.S. that are interested in having Impulse supply parts to them as well. The company, which serves customers in mostly construction and agriculture across the country, also has contracts with Case New Holland, Yamaha, and Oshkosh Corporation. One of Impulse's customers, which manufactures vending machine equipment in the U.S., recently decided to reshore work back to the U.S. by working with Impulse, Baysden said. He sees a trend in reshoring and feels that U.S. fabricators have an edge over their overseas competitors.
"Generally speaking, the equipment that the larger metal fabrication suppliers in America utilize is significantly more advanced than the manufacturing equipment that's used in Asia," he said. "They're still relying on mostly manual processes, and when you go manual, there's room for error. But here we're utilizing a high-tech piece of equipment that is highly automated and takes some of the human error out of the equation."
Unlike an overseas supplier, Impulse can deliver lean and resolve problems fast, he said. "If a customer needs a design change or is having issues with a part, we're a quick car ride or short flight away from meeting face to face," Baysden said.
Impulse Manufacturing is ranked number 14 in the 2012 "FAB 40" list of the 40 largest metal fabrication companies by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International.
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