According to Headland Machinery , in a "just in time" world, job shops like Metal Dynamics Co. in north-eastern (Holmesville) Ohio are worth their weight in steel. Reliability - both to their customers and from their laser cutting machine - has been an important factor in Metal Dynamics' ability to meet demanding deadlines and achieve business success.
For more than seven years, Metal Dynamics has provided high volume production components and assemblies to one of the largest agricultural manufacturers in the country. Laser cutting technology has helped Metal Dynamics to meet this customer's weekly production requirements while giving them the flexibility to serve others with lower part volumes.
Metal Dynamics Co. President Scott Plance has insider understanding of this customer's needs - he used to work for them. In fact, the manufacturer's increasing need for on-time delivery of parts was the genesis of Metal Dynamics. In 1998, Plance started spending his evenings welding components for the company. By 2000, there was enough work for him to go full-time with his business.
Fabrication was an area in which Plance had a great deal of knowledge. While at the agricultural machinery manufacturer, Plance had helped start the company's fabrication department and was part of the machinery selection process. After narrowing their choice to two major machine tool manufacturers and visiting both facilities, the company ultimately chose a TRUMPF combination laser/punching machine.
This experience was useful when Plance decided to invest in laser technology for his own shop. Having invested in a TC 500 R punching machine and C series press brake for his shop, he understood the value of TRUMPF precision. When Plance had visited the TRUMPF production facility, he was impressed with the cleanliness, manufacturing process and dedication to quality. "I still remember seeing how the machines were made. I could appreciate the care with which they were manufactured and felt the company was more particular about their machine assembly," explains Plance. "You could tell that the little things really mattered in how they put the machine together.
Almost eight years later when he bought his own machine Plance went back to TRUMPF and purchased a five-by-ten foot flatsheet laser cutting machine, a TC L 3030 with 4,000-watt laser resonator. "I've had a great experience with TRUMPF," says Plance. "Our laser is running great and has never been down. I've been pleasantly 'not surprised'. The machine does everything the salesman said it would do."
Reliability was a key factor in Plance's decision. "I chose TRUMPF for their dominance in the field and dedication to making the industry better," he explains. "I don't have the manpower to "fix for fuss". TRUMPF's reliability and speed were important to my decision."
To maintain his own reputation for reliability and on-time delivery, there was no room for error as Plance got up to speed with his laser. Although a typical run is 20 to 30 sheets (about 900 parts), it isn't uncommon for Metal Dynamics to have a 20,000 part run. And with only four employees, manpower is at a premium. "I had planned thirty days to 'ramp up', but I didn't need it," he says happily. "I was cutting right away. One week after installation, the machine was running twenty hours a day."
Familiar with Plance's dedication and work ethic, his former employer (and now biggest customer), knows he will do whatever it takes. "They know I'll run through the night and handle the jobs that other shops can't. They don't want to be tied to one supplier, but my competitors can't guarantee on-time delivery."
Reliability and on-time delivery are crucial since Metal Dynamics supplies parts directly to their customer's production. "We feed three to four lines," says Plance. "And all the parts are used on a daily production schedule. Our parts are needed to keep the line going."
Keeping up with the growing demand makes the high-speed nature of the laser cutting operations important too. In addition to the machine's other high-tech features, Plance credits TRUMPF's process control system, or PCS, and Sprintlas(r) "on the fly" piercing with helping to provide the necessary speed - and competitive advantage. "The quick pierce makes it possible for me to beat my competition," says Plance. "My competitors pierce 1/2-inch material in 10 seconds. I can do it in just a couple of seconds."
Metal Dynamics invested in laser cutting technology to diversify their business and attract new customers. Not surprisingly, Plance holds his potential customers to the same high standards he sets for his own company. He uses his laser cutting machine to attract customers who are interested in timely, quality work and who have a reputation for reliability - just like Metal Dynamics.