Design and Engineering Support is Key Capability of Custom Metal Fabricator
GARDEN GROVE, Calif.—BHI Manufacturing Solutions (formerly Bazz Houston), a custom metal forming company that added precision sheet metal fabrication to its operations in 2015, is in the business of manufacturing high-quality parts to precise customer specifications. The company produces parts for a diverse range of companies in industries such as aerospace, power management, medical device, consumer products, irrigation, and electronics.
Applications for these parts span small electrical components, terminal connectors, door hardware components, lighting controls, and sensors, as well as aerospace cockpit controls, airplane galley components, control panels, and enclosures, among others.
“We manufacture many different parts for irrigation—not just enclosures, but also the control panels and miscellaneous mounting brackets for the electrical components,” wrote BHI Manufacturing Solutions President and CEO Javier Castro, in an email interview. “We also manufacture a wide range of products that are used in many different types of aircraft, including components for onboard galleys and evacuation slides, and we also deal with components for light rail and mass transit vehicles.”
To produce the variety of parts required by its customers, BHI Manufacturing Solutions uses manufacturing processes such as coiling, CNC wire forming, four-slide stamping, progressive stamping, and single hit stamping. For sheet metal fabrication, the company provides laser cutting; turret press stamping; MIG, TIG, and spot welding; press brake forming; hardware and fastener insertion; riveting; and assembly. Also on site at the company’s Garden Grove, California headquarters is a full tool room that includes multiple EDM machines, mills, lathes, grinders, and ovens to support the creation and maintenance of production tooling.
BHI Manufacturing Solutions can hold “industry standard tolerances or better” in all of the processes that it employs—a testament to a robust quality system that focuses not just on quality assurance, but on quality control, Castro said.
“We perform Statistical Process Control (SPC) on all parts manufactured, and our machine operators receive extensive training to ensure consistent performance of parts,” he said. “Our quality team understands the importance of controlling and improving the system, rather than fixing a single situation. Internal opportunities for improvements are constantly documented and completed to ensure the company and our staff continues to improve.”
As effective as they are, the processes employed by BHI Manufacturing Solutions are not unique in the manufacturing world. Rather, it’s the skill level of its people—particularly in the engineering department—that enables BHI Manufacturing Solutions to understand its customers’ aims and achieve the results that they desire, according to Castro. The company is especially proud of its engineering department, which Castro calls “a multi-talented team that works with customers from the initial design of a new or existing product, through prototyping to finished part.”
“It is very important to us that our customers understand that we are not simply a supplier of metal forming and fabrication products, but that we can also offer substantial design and engineering support,” he said. “We focus our sales efforts on customers with strong R&D that are constantly developing new products, and, as such, need support from a design for manufacturability perspective. This is where our engineering team can add significant value.”
BHI Manufacturing Solutions' work as a diversified manufacturer of parts for multiple industries allows its engineering department to learn how different types of parts are designed—knowledge that comes in handy when confronted with difficult manufacturing challenges. The company often works closely with customers to determine their design intent and to provide ideas for design changes that can save money and provide a more controllable part, according to Castro.
“We are committed to informing customers of potential areas of design improvement on both new and existing parts,” said Castro. “When reviewing prints, our engineering department focuses on designing for manufacturability, designing for Six Sigma, and designing for cost.”
One of the company’s major customers awarded BHI Manufacturing Solutions its 2013 Innovative Supplier of the Year Award in recognition of its “superior design and engineering capabilities.” The design support provided by BHI Manufacturing Solutions included the redesign of a critical part that saved the customer well over $500,000 per year.
Recently, BHI Manufacturing Solutions helped a customer redesign a battery contact for a universal remote. The company provided an alternative material choice that would allow its customer to eliminate a post plating operation, which, in turn, saved cost, prevented potential delays or fallout in plating, and shortened the overall lead time. “We provided gap analysis to help validate the design parameters with our customer,” noted Castro. “In addition to this, we helped identify areas of improvement in the physical design of the part.”
One design change was the elimination of a punching operation for the tab that would make contact to the battery. The punching operation would increase die maintenance because of the thin punch required for the design feature. “We suggested using a lanced tab, which greatly improved the frequency with which we would have to maintain the tool, again saving costs,” Castro said.
The company also addressed tight tolerances and dimensions that were unnecessary in the final assembly. In an effort to improve the design for Six Sigma, the company eliminated the unnecessary dimensions. Fewer dimensions were required to maintain control of the product, speeding up the quality process for BHI Manufacturing Solutions and its customer’s incoming inspection. Some dimensions were difficult to visualize, so they were redrawn to improve clarity for the quality inspectors and operators, Castro said.
In another case, BHI Manufacturing Solutions was required to work with material that had a specialized coating on both sides of a sheet. One side was polished to reflect a certain UV wave length; the other side was a rougher mill finish.
“The polished side had to have areas that would provide electrical contact points,” said Castro. “The back side had to have the special coating removed and be re-plated to provide a different type of protection. The major challenge was implementing manufacturing processes to accomplish the final requirement of the polished surface not having any flaws or scratches what soever. All this was required through all the fabrication stages of shearing, laser cutting, forming, stripping, and re-plating the parts.”
BHI Manufacturing Solutions' newly added precision sheet metal fabrication facility—made possible by the acquisition last year of FTB & Son, broadens the company’s manufacturing services and complements its metal stamping capabilities. It also brings BHI Manufacturing Solutions' manufacturing footprint to 140,000 square feet—counting facilities in Garden Grove, California and Tijuana, Mexico—and increases its number of employees to more than 170.
“This new acquisition allows us to expand our prototyping capabilities to all areas of metal manufacturing and enables us to provide these new capabilities to our existing customers, while giving us the ability to service an even wider range of industries,” said Castro. “Using state of the art laser, turret and brake press machines, BHI Manufacturing Solutions can now offer both high volume and short run production of sheet metal parts and unlimited shape cutting capabilities.”
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