Precision Metalforming Association Presents Awards of Excellence in Metalforming

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Companies Are Recognized for Achievements in Areas of Design, Process Control, Quality, and Safety

Six companies received Awards of Excellence in Metalforming from the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) for their accomplishments in the areas of design, safety, training and education, process control, and quality. All winning companies, recognized as having dedicated themselves to continuous improvement of their products and services, were honored in March at a ceremony during PMA's METALFORM trade show in Rosemont, Illinois.

The Higgins-Caditz Design Award, recognizing a manufacturing company for outstanding achievement in developing an innovative product design, went to Feintool North America (Cincinnati, Ohio), for its design and manufacturing of a fineblanking tool reported to dramatically improve upon earlier processes for manufacturing manual seat reclining components. Solid State Stamping, Inc. (Temecula, Calif.) won the Pitcher Insurance Agency Safety Award; SKD Automotive Group (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), received the Signature Technologies Process Control Award; and Stripmatic Products, Inc. (Cleveland), took home the Parkview Metal Products Excellence in Quality Assurance Award.

Winners also included E.J. Ajax & Sons, Inc. (Fridley, Minn.), winner of the A.R. Hedberg Training and Education Award, and Lincoln High School (Warren, Mich.), recipient of the Clips & clamps Industries Educational Institution Award.

SKD Automotive Wins Process Control Award for Use of Signature-Analysis Units

Analysis of force and distance testing enables more accurate detection of defects in assemblies

SKD Automotive Group, a direct supplier of metal stampings and modular assembly components to the automotive industry, received the Signature Technologies Process Control Award for integrating online signature-analysis units to all press-fit assembly applications within its facilities. The signature-analysis units allow the Brampton, Ontario (Canada) company to inspect all assemblies for defects, such as misalignment, missing components, incorrect insertion force, and incorrect insertion depth.

Using force and distance sensors as the sensing devices, the signature-analysis units conduct force and distance testing. The process is measured through analysis methods that include force versus time, force versus distance, and distance versus time. The overall relationship between force and distance forms the "signature" for the operation. This is the key to detecting even the smallest of defects, which other monitoring systems miss, and leads to fewer false positives.

At SKD, the units are integrated into the assembly-equipment PLC and return a real-time pass/fail signal to the operator. They also halt the assembly equipment and lock out the questionable piece for proper disposition by authorized quality personnel. All signatures are retained for 100-percent traceability and for periodic review for abnormalities, including nominal shifts or spikes in loads.

The introduction of signature analysis has reportedly led to increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved quality. Productivity increased after cycle times were dramatically reduced, as a number of online inspections, where operators would swipe each part through a gauge, are no longer required.

The reduction in cycle time also has led to reduction in cost, as more parts are now manufactured in the same amount of time. Finally, the overall quality has increased due to the added in-process control. Since implementing this technology, SKD reports no customer complaints regarding insertion depth and retention loads.

The Process Control Award, sponsored by Signature Technologies (Dallas, Tex.), is one of eight Awards of Excellence in Metalforming that are presented annually by the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA). According to PMA, the award promotes the application of electronic-analog closed-loop process controls in the metalforming process by recognizing innovative electronic solutions, implemented by a manufacturing company, that have resulted in significant quality, cost reduction, and/or productivity improvements.

Stripmatic Wins Quality Award for System that Values Personal Responsibility

Unique approach places responsibility for quality in hands of machine operators

A quality-management system that produces outstanding results without the use of an inspection department earned Stripmatic Products Inc. the Parkview Metal Products Excellence in Quality Assurance Award. The Quality Award recognizes outstanding achievement by a PMA manufacturing member in the development and implementation of a company-wide quality assurance system that effectively uses continuous improvement.

Established in 1946 and located in Cleveland, Stripmatic Products specializes in stamped tubular-shaped parts for the automotive, heavy truck, farm, appliance and industrial equipment markets. The company's approach to quality systems is unique when compared to a typical metal-stamping company. As Stripmatic relies on the design of tooling and processes early in the manufacturing cycle, it uses electronic and traditional information systems to bring information directly to the manufacturing floor. Yet, the stamping firm does not use an inspection department: Stripmatic produces an average of 40 million parts per year without a dedicated quality inspector. Instead, machine operators are 100% responsible for the quality of their product, including the documentation of inspection results.

Stripmatic's philosophy is one of personal responsibility, and that responsibility is placed with the employee. Although the quality department is responsible for the planning of the product and quality-related documentation and activities, everyone in the company has access to key quality measures down to the individual-machine-performance level. An information board is constantly updated with performance measurements of on-time shipments, average number of days from due date to completion date and internal quality issues.

An integral part of Stripmatic's quality-assurance program is Stripmatic's use of in-die sensors. Through analysis of data, risk points are identified and areas of prevention are addressed. Wherever a risk is identified, a Poka Yoke solution is applied where the control is no longer operator-dependent. In addition, 5S teams have been established in all functional shop groups. These teams meet regularly to identify and implement improvements in their areas.

Its development of quality awareness is reflected in Stripmatic's achievements of ISO 9001:1994 with QS-9000:1998 Quality Management System Registration in October 1999, and TS-16949:2002 in June 2006. Improvement to the company's quality system continues today. In December 2005, Stripmatic set a goal to be five-sigma for the outgoing PPM, which equates to 233 defective pieces. Since then, the company's actual performance has dropped from 5679 PPM to 556 PPM. The company's goal now is to reduce that to six-sigma of 3.4 PPM.

Solid State Stamping Wins Safety Award for Comprehensive Workplace Program

Multi-faceted program has reduced recordable injuries, workers' compensation insurance premiums

Solid State Stamping Inc., received the Pitcher Insurance Agency Safety Award for its commitment to providing a safe work environment for employees, customers, and visitors. The company, a manufacturer of electronic contacts primarily for the automotive industry, employs approximately 75 workers at its facility in Temecula, California.

Solid State Stamping has established a comprehensive workplace safety program that aims to raise safety awareness among all employees, reinforce positive safety behavior, and reduce the risk of injury and illness. The company's safety committee meets monthly to review safety concerns raised by employees, as well as injury and near-miss reports; perform facility inspections; and make recommendations for safety-training content. The committee publishes the Safety Gazette, a newsletter distributed every six weeks that contains articles focused on safety both in and out of the workplace.

At six-week intervals, Solid State Stamping holds safety luncheons for all employees. Prior to the luncheon, a 30-minute training session for all employees focuses on topics ranging from PPE, hazard communication, and proper lifting techniques, to customized awareness programs. These programs include "safety in real time," designed by the company's HR and training manager to address everyday risks that employees face. Guest speakers—such as a licensed physical therapist—are invited to cover specialized or technical safety subjects by providing, for example, training on avoiding muscle strains and sprains. As an added incentive, the safety luncheon menu is adjusted based on the number of days without a recordable injury.

Primarily employee-driven, the company's safety-recognition program allows workers to highlight safe behaviors with safety recognition cards. The cards are available to all employees, including supervisors, to present to another employee. At the safety luncheons, drawings are held for $25 rewards. Annually, a single recognition card is drawn from all those submitted throughout the year for a $250 reward. In addition, Solid State Stamping instituted a formal suggestion program in 2003, allowing employees to submit suggestions to the safety committee for review and approval for implementation. Those who submit suggestions also are entered into the safety-recognition drawing. Additionally, employees receive rewards for making suggestions based upon the degree of complexity or the impact of the idea.

Solid State Stamping has experienced measurable benefits as a result of its safety program. By 2003, the company's workers' compensation costs had increased to approximately $360,000. Afterward, a conscious effort was made to educate employees about wasted costs resulting from avoidable injuries; many of the safety initiatives undertaken by Solid State Stamping were a direct result of this education.

In 2006, the annual premium for workers' compensation insurance was one-third of the cost in 2003. The number of recordable injuries since 2003 has continued to drop as well, from 8.8 per 100 workers in 2003 to 2.2 in 2005 and to zero injuries in 2006, according to the company.

The PMA represents the North American metalforming industry, a $41 billion industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating and other value-added processes. Its nearly 1,200 member companies include metal stampers, fabricators, spinners, slide formers, and roll formers, as well as suppliers of equipment, materials, and services to the industry.

For more information on SKD Automotive Group, visit www.skdautomotive.com.

For more information on Stripmatic Products Inc., visit www.stripmatic.com.

For more information on Solid State Stamping, Inc., visit www.sss-i.com.

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