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Manufacturing

Producing parts just in time

By Russ Olexa

November 2009- When it comes to any type of air movement, Greenheck Fan Corp., Schofield, Wis., has the products and control systems to create comfortable environments. Greenheck is a worldwide manufacturer of air-movement and control equipment, and its ventilation products are typically found behind walls, in ductwork or on roofs. Its products move air in, out and around a building, making life inside more pleasant.

Founders Bernie and Bob Greenheck's company employs more than 2,850 and has more than 1.5 million sq. ft. of manufacturing space.

Today, Greenheck is on a lean manufacturing journey that has allowed it to produce products on a just-in-time basis to save costs and better compete in the marketplace. However, as a sheet metal fabricator and stamping house, getting stampings on a JIT basis is difficult because of the nature of the process.

Lawrence Toboyek, manager of maintenance and tooling, says the company is able to do a 1-minute die change, allowing it to switch parts quickly for the production schedule, which often dictates up to four die changes per shift.

Then and now
Not too long ago, Greenheck's employees were working three shifts six days a week and often on Sundays. The capacity was at its peak, and the need for another stamping press was quite apparent.

"At the time we had a 330-ton Aida press, and we were running into some capacity constraints," says Toboyek. "We have an older stamping press that failed us and was no longer available as an option to help with our capacity needs. On a short-term basis, we were jobbing the work out to vendors. Orders were going strong at this time, so we really needed a new press.

"The Aida 330-ton link-motion stamping press we bought about seven years ago has an 8-ft. bed, but we only had several dies that needed this capacity," he says. "We decided to look for a smaller-tonnage stamping press with a 6-ft. bed as a backup."

Pleased with its Aida press, Greenheck found that buying another jumped to the forefront of options. Nonetheless, the company says some investigating and review of other competitors ensued.

Experience counts
Asked why Greenheck eventually bought another Aida press, Toboyek says, "It basically came down to our experience with the company and the reliability of our existing press. We have a good working relationship with our local Aida representative, so that was really the breaking point that put us back with Aida. Our local representative did a great job supporting us with our first one. Even though this is a smaller 220-ton press, it uses similar controls as the other one, so operator training wasn't an issue. We also look at standardizing our equipment as we move forward using lean manufacturing techniques. This helped drive the decision." FFJ

Sources

  • Aida-America Corp.
    Dayton, Ohio
    phone: 937/237-2382
    fax: 937/237-1995
    www.aida-global.com
    e-mail: info@aida-america.com

  • Greenheck Fan Corp.
    Schofield, Wis.
    phone: 715/359-6171
    www.greenheck.com

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