Custom Metal Former's Engineering Support Helps Customers Reduce Costs
GARDEN GROVE, Calif--Fifty years of manufacturing custom metal- and wire-formed parts for industries ranging from aerospace to electronics, hardware, and irrigation have enabled BHI Manufacturing Solutions to build a unique problem-solving repertoire. One of the company's key strengths, according to its principals, is its ability to provide the crucial engineering support that helps customers reduce their total costs of manufacturing a high-quality part. BHI Manufacturing Solutions' wide-ranging manufacturing capabilities include low- to high-volume metal stamping, specialty wire forming, spring manufacturing, and fourslide forming. The company also makes ribbon forms and small assemblies of component parts, and offers post-forming processes, such as powder coating, heat treating, and passivating.
"We are an international company experienced in manufacturing and exporting our goods," says BHI Manufacturing Solutions President and CEO Javier Castro. "As a Maquiladora company, we can also manufacture and deliver directly in Mexico, which has a growing aerospace industry. We also have a number of customers in the medical, telecom, defense, and automotive sectors."
Both of the company's manufacturing facilities--one in Garden Grove, California, and the other in Tijuana, Mexico--are ISO 9001:2008 certified and AS9100 compliant. They're also located near major aerospace manufacturing hubs: Garden Grove is close to major West Coast aerospace companies, and Tijuana is home to the Mexican aerospace industry, which Mr. Castro says is "growing much more rapidly" than the company had anticipated. BHI Manufacturing Solutions provides mainly metal stamping, engineering, and assembly to its customers in this market, most of whom are manufacturing components for commercial aircraft.
"There seems to be a big push for the Mexican OEMs to buy parts regionally," says Mr. Castro. "We have some key customers that we're developing that have fairly large facilities in Tijuana and other areas of Mexico."
For aircraft manufacturers in the U.S., BHI Manufacturing Solutions makes aluminum brackets, switches, and a variety of other parts for the interiors of commercial aircraft. Several major aerospace companies, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Eaton Aerospace, and Bombardier, have certified BHI Manufacturing Solutions as a supplier, according to Mr. Castro. "The aircraft parts we make for the American defense industry all have to be manufactured in the United States," he says.
BHI Manufacturing Solutions (www.bhisolutions.com ) has made inroads in the aerospace industry, according to Mr. Castro, largely because of its reputation--built over the last 50 years--and the fact that the company has been certified as a supplier by companies such as Boeing and Bombardier. "Our certifications and qualifications help us attract this type of work," he says. "Companies that we've dealt with keep coming back, and our good reputation gets passed on by word of mouth."
One of the company's keys to building and retaining a loyal customer base has been its unwavering commitment to providing "the highest quality products at the best possible price." By providing engineering support (design for manufacturability) and--in some cases--product redesign, BHI Manufacturing Solutions is able to help customers lower their total costs without sacrificing quality, according to the company's marketing director, Patricia Houston. The company ensures a quality part at the best possible price, Ms. Houston says, through an approach known as Design for Process Capability. Using this approach, the company evaluates the feasibility of a wide range of materials, including common and exotic metals such as titanium, Inconel, stainless steel, high- and low-carbon steels, beryllium copper, and galvanized and silver-plated materials.
The company's engineering capabilities paid big dividends when one customer, a manufacturer of hardware products, asked BHI Manufacturing Solutions to help re-design a bracket. The customer's two main objectives--to improve the strength of the part and reduce material usage by 23%--seemed contradictory at first. But with the help of BHI Manufacturing Solutions' engineering department, which created a prototype of the bracket, the customer successfully accomplished both. The result was a part with better overall performance at reduced cost. "We looked for different materials for the part, so we were able to reduce the amount of material used," says Mr. Castro. "We used a high-strength, low-alloy material, as opposed to typical cobalt steel."
BHI Manufacturing Solutions' engineers also redesigned the forming edges of the part. "Where it wasn't a folded edge, it became a drawn edge, which strengthened the part," he continued. "So even though we reduced the material in the part by over 20%, it became a stronger part. Our innovation and design and engineering saved the customer a lot of money. After the first year using our parts, the company was able to save about $500,000, which was a major savings for them."
Recent expansions to its tooling department--including the addition of CNC machining equipment, surface grinders, and mills--have enhanced BHI Manufacturing Solutions' capabilities for providing quick-turn prototypes. As a result of the improvements, the company is able to use CNC machining centers where manually operated milling machines and lathes had previously been deployed. BHI Manufacturing Solutions can use the machining centers to build progressive die tooling, make prototypes for customers, and design and fabricate fixtures. Most prototype and short run orders can be completed within two weeks, according to the company.
Another cost-saving measure is the use of fully-integrated manufacturing software that provides the company's inside sales staff with "real time" order status. The enterprise-wide, manufacturing resource planning (MRP) system makes BHI Manufacturing Solutions' operations at both of its divisions (California and Mexico) visible to staff members in its administrative and engineering departments.
"This system has streamlined our administrative and manufacturing processes greatly," says Mr. Castro. "We can check the status of any order, at any time. We can see if raw materials have been purchased and received, if any parts are getting outside processing and when they are due back, and what stage any job is at. It gives us a lot of speed and efficiency in the global marketplace."
Ultimately, the software enables the company to better service customers by ensuring on-time delivery and accuracy of inventory, improving productivity, and reducing lead times, according to Ms. Houston. "All of [these measures], plus our proximity to many of our key customers, can result in significant cost savings," she concludes.
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