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2014 Awards of Excellence in Metalforming Honor Industry's Top Achievements


Trans-Matic Manufacturing Company won the Higgins-Caditz Design Award for it re-engineering of door closer components for the LCN division of Allegion. The door closer originally comprised a cast cylinder body that incorporated several machined parts, but Trans-Matic worked with Allegion to redesign some of the machined parts to be made as deep-drawn stampings. As a result of their collaborative efforts, the spring tube and spring tube cap were combined into one deep-drawn spring-tube stamping, and the machined, threaded, and broached end plug was converted into a deep-drawn and threaded stamping.

Ultimately, the new spring tube and end plug stamped designs saved over 20 percent in material versus the original machined designs. The tube cap component was incorporated into the stamped spring tube, resulting in the use of two deep-drawn parts versus the three original machined parts for the door closer.
Photo courtesy of PMA.

The Precision Metalforming Association’s 2014 Awards of Excellence in Metalforming recognize innovations ranging from design and product development to education and workforce skills training.

At the FABTECH tradeshow in Atlanta, Ga., last November, The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) honored the winners of its 2014 Awards of Excellence in Metalforming. Presented annually, the awards recognize the high standards of achievement set by the metalforming industry in the areas of design, safety, training and education, product development, productivity, and educational institution. Winners were honored with a special plaque, commemorative flag, and a cash prize.

Trans-Matic Wins Design Award for Re-Engineered Door Closer Components
Trans-Matic Manufacturing Company’s efficient, cost-saving re-engineering of door closer components for the LCN division of Allegion was recognized as the winner of the 2014 Higgins-Caditz Design Award. Trans-Matic, headquartered in Holland, Michigan, provides engineered, deep drawn metal stamped components, value-add mechanical assemblies, and proprietary products to numerous markets, including automotive, builders’ hardware, appliances, plumbing, and HVAC, among others. The company also operates facilities in Mesa, Arizona, and Suzhou, China, in addition to its Michigan site.

The award-winning project involved the re-engineering of several door closer components in the 4040XP and other heavy-duty door closers made by the LCN division of Allegion, a provider of security solutions for homes and businesses. The door closer originally comprised a cast cylinder body that incorporated several machined parts, but Trans-Matic worked with Allegion to redesign some of the machined parts to be made as deep-drawn stampings.

A number of concepts were generated by Trans-Matic’s engineers in collaboration with Allegion. Among them were the combining of the spring tube and spring tube cap into one deep-drawn spring-tube stamping, and the conversion of the machined, threaded, and broached end plug into a deep-drawn and threaded stamping.

The spring tube is manufactured with a 16-station transfer die in a 600-ton Minster transfer press, and the end plug is manufactured with a 13-station transfer die in a 300-ton Waterbury transfer press.

The new parts are in production today and are less costly than the original parts. Trans-Matic also adds a screw adjustor assembly to the spring tube, providing additional savings to Allegion.

The project created a number of benefits for Allegion. The Trans-Matic designs and assumption of assembly work generated an overall 27 percent reduction in cost for Allegion. The new spring tube and end plug stamped designs also saved over 20 percent in material versus the original machined designs. In addition, the tube cap component was incorporated into the stamped spring tube, enabling the door closer to use two deep-drawn parts versus the three original machined parts.

Created by the Worcester Pressed Steel Co. (Worcester, Mass.) and sponsored by The Quarterly Club, the Design award recognizes a manufacturing company for outstanding achievement in developing an innovative product design. Along with recognition in industry publications and at events, Trans-Matic will receive a $1,500 cash prize.

Pentaflex Wins Training and Education Award for Comprehensive Workforce Skills Training
Pentaflex, Inc., a Springfield, Ohio-based contract stamper specializing in deep draw, heavy gage stampings and welded assemblies for the heavy truck market, received the 2014 A.R. Hedberg Training and Education Award for its multi-faceted efforts in improving the skills of its workforce. In addition to heavy trucks, Pentaflex also services the automotive, agricultural, off highway, and defense industries.

Since 2009, Pentaflex’s employment level has doubled. But with Ohio’s unemployment rate dropping to less than six percent, it is increasingly difficult to find qualified employees, and those who are hired require significant training. Key elements of the company’s education and training system are communication, problem solving, and employee self-improvement and advancement.

Pentaflex has addressed productivity issues by providing all employees with formal education about lean management and problem-solving techniques. The 8D process is used to investigate customer-reported issues and internally-reported quality issues. To enhance the company’s problem-solving techniques, a 6-sigma black belt and green belt training program was initiated in 2013, with one black belt and two green belts having completed formal training to date.

At the end of the classroom phase of training, a graduation exercise is held to reinforce the importance of lean skills. Cost-saving projects have included 5S, die-change reduction, and assembly-cell cycle-time reductions. In 2014, 21 people had gone through the class, and seven lean projects had generated nearly $100,000 in savings. In addition, a “war room” has been established and daily meetings are held to capture 5S and process audit opportunities.

As an additional resource to Pentaflex’s lean efforts, formal training programs are led by outside experts in areas to improve employees’ problem-solving skills, such as blueprint reading, proper operation of coil-feeder systems, and lockout/tagout.

Pentaflex’s dedication to improving the skills of its workforce is reflected in the fact that one hundred percent of its employees have taken some form of formal training program during the past year. The company’s pay-for-skills program features dedicated skill sets required to advance from a beginning operator through five categories, with compensation rewards for each skill set. In 2014, 20 percent of Pentaflex associates graduated to the next skill set with accompanying merit pay increases.

Another area of focus is Pentaflex’s work to create job opportunities and excitement in the community about careers in manufacturing. Each year on Manufacturing Day, the company hosts students and educators for tours of its facility. Pentaflex is also involved with Clark State University, the local chamber of commerce, and other manufacturers in the local Clark County Manufacturing Collaborative, dedicated to creating a pipeline of trained workers for manufacturing jobs.

The Training and Education Award recognizes an outstanding achievement by a PMA member company in employee technical education through a comprehensive training program. The award is sponsored by HPL Stampings, Inc., Lake Zurich, Illinois, in memory of A.R. (Ray) Hedberg, a leader in employee training. As the winner of the award, Pentaflex will receive a $1,500 cash prize to present to an educational institution that provides coursework directly enhancing metalforming technology.

Lean Initiative Earns Productivity Award for Metal Flow Corporation
Metal Flow Corporation, a metal stamping company headquartered in Holland, Michigan, uses a variety of metals to produce high-volume, technically sophisticated custom metal components through the deep draw process and progressive die stamping. But it was the company’s deft use of lean manufacturing that caught the eyes of the judges in the Productivity category of the Precision Metalforming Association’s (PMA) Awards of Excellence in Metalforming. By reducing work-in-process and finished-goods inventory and improving quality on a product where two parts were deep drawn and welded together, Metal Flow earned the 2014 Zierick Manufacturing Corporation Productivity Award as part of the PMA’s annual Awards of Excellence.

Efficiencies were evident in Metal Flow’s improvements to the original process, which required components to be stamped in an individual cam-operated plunger press. Parts then were moved to an outside wash and returned to Metal Flow, where two people per shift on three shifts conducted a semi-automated weld process. The process ended with employees sorting and packing the parts.

Metal Flow’s solution was to stamp, wash, and weld the parts in a captive, lean work cell. The parts are then boxed into finished goods off of a fully automated weld cell.

Prior to the lean initiative, defective parts per million (PPM) exceeded 100; that metric has shrunk to less than one. And whereas total labor prior to the initiative comprised 15 people, all labor is currently performed by six people. The original inventory, including work-in-process, was six weeks, and that timeframe has been reduced to only five days.

The Productivity Award, sponsored by Zierick Manufacturing Corp., of Mount Kisco, New York, recognizes outstanding achievement by a manufacturing company in the development and implementation of programs, processes, and use of assets that lead to significant improvements in productivity.

Product Development Award Recognizes Deep-Drawn Titanium Housing
Trans-Matic Manufacturing Company also received the 2014 Ulbrich Award for Excellence in Product Development for developing a deep–drawn, titanium housing for a premium-value air wrench tool.

The air tool currently uses an investment cast titanium housing that was then machined for bore and mounting surface. It also has mounting holes, which are drilled and threaded. The cost of the titanium casting and machining process is significant, so Ingersoll Rand approached Trans-Matic to investigate and develop a production process methodology to deep draw the titanium housing and assemble it to a new steel insert. The savings would come from reduced processing and machining costs by using a work-hardened, deep drawn grade-two titanium shell that is 0.062-inch thick.

The Trans-Matic engineering team ran multiple forming simulations with the company’s proprietary software/data base to define material properties, determine forming feasibility, and validate the tooling designs and reduction ratios for each tool station.

The deep draw prototyping process for these titanium parts required a 300-ton stamping press. Flat blanks and subsequent formed parts are hand-transferred through several punch/die stations. The production parts would run on a 400-ton automated transfer press.

After the prototype shells were formed, edges were trimmed square. The next step was the assembly of the steel insert. Two assembly concepts were developed—one involved a structural adhesive and the other was a unique mechanical interlock design accomplished by side swage. The bonded prototype parts met the pull-test requirements. The mechanical assembly concept also was prototyped and yielded similar acceptable forces in the destructive pull test.

The result was a high-value titanium deep-drawn housing assembly, made in the most cost effective way possible. This development project has demonstrated the feasibility of drawing and forming heavier stock titanium. Benefits include substantial cost savings, as well as slightly less hand-tool weight.

The Product Development Award, sponsored by Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals, Inc., of North Haven, Conn., acknowledges a manufacturing company that demonstrates outstanding innovation in developing and manufacturing a product that best uses metal in place of a non-metal competitive material, or that develops a product using flat-rolled material that was previously manufactured using more costly manufacturing processes.

Workshops for Warriors Wins Educational Institution Award
Workshops for Warriors (WFW), a San Diego-based non-profit organization, received the 2014 Clips & Clamps Industries Educational Institution Award for its outstanding work to educate veterans and place them into advanced manufacturing careers. Workshops for Warriors is a board-run, fully audited 501(c ) (3) nonprofit that offers veterans free training and certification in advanced manufacturing skills.

The Workshops for Warriors educational program allows veterans to choose classes in welding or machining. Each semester is four months long and results in credentials from industry-leading accrediting bodies, such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and the American Welding Society. All of Workshops for Warriors’ training is provided at no cost to veterans, funded by private donations from throughout the manufacturing industry.


Workshops for Warriors (WFW), a San Diego-based non-profit organization, received the 2014 Clips & Clamps Industries Educational Institution Award for its outstanding work to educate veterans and place them into advanced manufacturing careers. A complete program of 16 months (or four semesters) with WFW leads to advanced-level training and job placement at annual entry-level salaries of $50,000 or higher. Graduates don’t leave the program with “a Workshops diploma,” said Ana Guedes, executive vice president of Workshops for Warriors; “they leave here with credentials from SolidWorks, Mastercam, NIMS, and AWS- real-world credentials recognized across the industry.” Here, one of the graduates, Dennis Chambers, shows his certificate for an Associate Level of Mastercam Certification.
Photo courtesy of PMA.

“Workshops for Warriors is really the house that American manufacturing built,” said Ana Guedes, executive vice president of Workshops for Warriors, in a statement. “Companies like Haas Automation, Amada America, Sandvik Coromant, and trade associations like PMA, FABTECH, and AWS have all been tremendously supportive of our efforts to transition veterans into manufacturing, and have donated materials and funds to make our mission possible. These companies recognize the need for a skilled labor force and understand that we have built a top-notch training pipeline that not only helps underserved veterans, but is also rebuilding American manufacturing.”

The Workshops for Warriors curriculum has two primary tracks—welding and machining. A complete program of 16 months (or four semesters) leads to advanced-level training and job placement at annual entry-level salaries of $50,000 or higher. Even one semester allows veterans to land jobs with starting wages over $18 per hour. Every class involves classroom education and ample practical, hands-on training; graduates are provided with work experience and assistance with job placement. Every Workshops for Warriors graduate has found a job, many within the machining/fabrication and metalforming industries.

Workshops for Warriors markets the program through outreach to active-duty service members, transitioning veterans from military hospitals’ Wounded Warrior battalions, and through community outreach. Employers, recognizing the tremendous value of the training and credentials they are provided, regularly seek out Workshops’ graduates.

“We build the workforce that manufacturing employers want,” said Guedes. “Our graduates earn portable credentials demonstrating their level of competency. Nobody graduates from Workshops with a B+ or a C- grade; they must pass to the industry standard for quality control. They don’t leave here with a Workshops diploma; they leave here with credentials from SolidWorks, Mastercam, NIMS, and AWS- real-world credentials recognized across the industry.”

The Educational Institution Award recognizes a public or private educational institution that provides outstanding training and education services to companies in the metalforming industry. The award, which includes a cash prize, is sponsored by Clips & Clamps Industries, of Plymouth, Michigan, and funded by the Dul Foundation.

The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) is a full-service trade association representing the $113-billion metalforming industry of North America—an industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming and roll forming technologies, and other value-added processes. Its nearly 900 member companies also include suppliers of equipment, materials, and services to the industry.

Source: Precision Metalforming Association

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