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Superior Machining & Fabrication
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North Texas Manufacturer Upgrades Machine Shop Ahead of Aerospace Expansion
MUENSTER, Tex.—As part of Superior Machining & Fabrication’s expansion into the aerospace sector, the North Texas manufacturer has completed a list of upgrades to its machine shop. The upgrades are expected to prepare the company for clients in the aerospace industry.
The improvements include the purchase of new CAD/CAM software, a larger 5-axis bridge mill for hard metals, and a 5-axis SNK bridge mill. Additional upgrades include tripling the size of the quality room, adding an assembly room, and creating a staffed tool/fixture room, as well as benchmarking trips to Mazak and Raytheon, and the introduction of “Lean” manufacturing/5S throughout the shop.
The shop was also broken down into cells with their own “leader/supervisors” to improve product flow.
Having lean training is an important part of staying competitive in the aerospace manufacturing business, which is why all of Superior's staff is getting involved, said Superior President, Giles Walterscheid.
“We are also both ISO 9001:2000 and AS9100 certified, as well as experienced with Just-In-Time, all of which help us eliminate waste throughout our production process to provide the best quality, delivery and cost performance that aerospace customers expect from their suppliers,” he said.
Continuous improvement initiatives often known as "Lean Manufacturing," have origins in the low-mix, high-volume world of larger automotive OEMs and top tier suppliers. However, many smaller suppliers have struggled to adopt these methodologies because of their very different high-mix, low-volume nature.
“The key is to focus on the process, not the parts,” said Jeff Walterscheid, operations manager. “When you are a high-mix, low-volume aerospace supplier, you’ve got a lot of information flying around on the shop floor. Unless it’s precise, timely, and accurate, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, and with these mistakes come expensive rework.”
Superior’s shop totals 110,000 square feet, with a staff of 150 employees working over two shifts. The shop's equipment includes more than 100 CNC machines, including full 5-axis vertical mills, multi-tasking lathes with 5-axis milling capabilities, 4-axis horizontal machining centers with 56 pallet change stations, vertical 3-axis mills, CNC lathes with live tooling, and a fully operational tool room equipped with a complement of manual engine lathes, knee mills, surface grinders, cylindrical grinders, lappers, and more.
Chris Reyling, aerospace sales manager for Superior, said the factory itself has now become the company’s biggest sales tool.
“Superior isn't really in the parts business,” he said. “We’re in the process business, and reducing the waste involved is critical, so we can remain competitive in the future.”
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