Process Insights

Investing in New Technology Enables Company To Diversify

Makino Machines Provide Added Capability At Miltronics

In November 2002, Trust Technologies—a Kilroy company and established manufacturer of equipment for the aerospace, transportation and power-generation industries—purchased the assets of medical products manufacturer Miltronics & Skye. Miltronics was acquired to diversify the business, but specific customer and market focuses are still maintained within each company.

Trust focuses on defense-industry and aerospace applications, while Miltronics focuses exclusively on the medical marketplace—manufacturing medical appliances and instruments for orthopedics companies.

Both Miltronics and Trust operate under the same roof in Mentor, Ohio, and are separated only by market focus and the tape lines on the floor. What they share is precision engineering, lean manufacturing and innovative partnering with their clients, particularly in the critical product development stages.

“We understand manufacturing and know that we can bring our expertise to our client’s design right from the beginning,” says Bill Stuart, president of Miltronics. “It’s a lot easier to change a design when it’s fresh on paper, as opposed to when it’s already committed to, or is just getting ready to go to production.”

By providing their design expertise up front, Miltronics helps customers reduce costs and make products more efficiently by driving shorter lead times and shorter development times. This expertise is enhanced with the new technology that Miltronics has acquired through Makino.

Technology Improves Results

“There are a lot of people trying to get into the medical markets, and the customer requirements are very different,” Stuart says. “Our engineers are asked to produce more and more complex products, and it requires the latest technology to be able to manufacture those products competitively.”

In addition, Miltronics is often faced with producing a large number of parts for a customer product launch in a very short period of time. To help them with their just-in-time requirements, they purchased a Makino a51 horizontal machining center in June 2004 that has significantly improved their edge on the competition.

“The a51 has certainly given us added capability,” says Stuart. “We have identified many parts across our entire business—both medical and aerospace—that are better suited to be machined on the a51.

“Our spindle uptime is incredible on the Makino a51 machine. There are periods where we run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the machine never stops, except for pallet changes. From a reliability standpoint, the machine has been excellent and we’ve not had any issues.”

Part Finishing

Since consistency in appearance is critical in the medical business, Miltronics has extensive secondary finishing processes on most parts, such as high-energy deburring, heat treating, electropolishing, passivation, glass beading or laser marking.

“Our OEM wants to receive a finished part that they can package and label once it gets to their facility,” says Stuart.

With the Makino a51, Stuart says they can give a customer the best quality product with shortened lead times. Surface finishes have improved significantly without having to add additional cycle time to their parts. And on some parts Miltronics has reduced secondary-finishing operations by as much as 50 percent.

Miltronics has also seen significant improvements in process capability from the a51—bringing quality up from a Three-Sigma to a Six-Sigma level, which has reduced in-process and final inspection requirements on certain dimensions.

“I see a dollar savings beyond any cycle time improvements from the a51,” says Stuart. “Our process capabilities are improved, and so is the quality of the product. The reduced secondary processing required on a part also adds to the value or payback on a piece of equipment.

“We now utilize the savings in cycle times to bring more value-added machining to our customers—through better product quality and aesthetics, greatly reduced in-process rejection rates, higher customer satisfaction and lowered post-processing time.”

Capability and Value

Miltronics and Trust often face challenges with the types of materials they are cutting. The high-temperature and high-strength alloys tend to be harder on equipment. Stuart says the kind of reliability and repeatability over time that the Makino machines can provide is key to the success of its business.

But what has really impressed Miltronics about the a51 even more is the machine’s capability versus price.

“It’s at a price point that I think stands out from its competition,” says Stuart. “We are machining very complex parts. Certainly the speeds, the chip-to-chip times and the SGI have tremendous benefit for our applications. And, the machine’s reliability has lived up to what Makino touts.”

Reputation and Support

When Miltronics was looking for a new machine, they looked at many brands and manufacturers. Makino’s process expertise and quick delivery capabilities attracted their attention.

“We were in a situation where we had to get a capable piece of equipment on our floor to produce a large number of parts for a client product launch, or we would not be able to satisfy our customer’s needs,” says Stuart. “Makino was the only manufacturer that could turn that around.

“There were a lot of firsts for us on this machine—like Makino’s SGI.3, the Renishaw tool measurement system and Renishaw probing system. Makino distributor Technical Equipment was great with the integration of those new technologies into our business and supporting us post-installation.

“The combination of Makino, Tech Equipment and our internal resources made a win-win situation for our customer,” Stuart continues. “If it weren’t for the capabilities of the Makino a51 and the support we received, we would have struggled to do it. We are very pleased, and I think Makino recognizes that there is business here for them in the future.”

Capabilities Expand Business

As Miltronics stays at the forefront of technology, they are able to give their customers more capability.

“Our customers have more latitude with their product designs, because now Miltronics has the technology to produce those product designs more efficiently,” says Stuart. “We have always said that if you can draw it, than we can make it. But, that doesn’t mean that the product can be made in production volumes at a price that can be sold in the marketplace. As technology evolves, we can apply it to help your customer design better products. And that’s what we’re doing.”

Miltronics is running 14 Swiss machines and five other milling machines. Some of the older equipment is targeted for replacement as Miltronics evolves the business and grows. Machines like the a51 are replacing this older technology. In fact, Miltronics took delivery of an identical a51 in June of 2005.

In addition, Miltronics wants to utilize more automation and are looking at purchasing a Makino MMC to run multiple machines across their medical and aerospace businesses.

“We doubled our business the first year we had the company,” Stuart says. “And by enhancing our technology over this last year, we’re going to double the business again.”

For additional information on the products and services of Miltronics & Skye, contact the company at:
9470 Pinecone Drive,
Mentor, Ohio, 44060.
Phone: 440-354-9595;
Fax: 440-354-8989;
E-Mail: [email protected]