Extruders Executing and Delivering in a Challenging Environment
by Investing in Plant and Process Improvements
The past 12 months has been a busy time here at Extruders for our Factory Improvement Taskforce (FIT.) The team was tasked with the challenge of increasing customer satisfaction while enhancing quality & improving capacity. The program started by asking, how do we increase our customer’s delight? After a detailed analysis, we zeroed in on the equipment and processes that if they were enhanced, would improve quality & capacity and therefore customer satisfaction by allowing us to continue to promise and deliver some of the shortest lead-times in the industry.
The improvement candidates were rank ordered and scored for their potential. The finalist ranged in scope from extruder furnace upgrades to, new hot saws, to upgraded material handling equipment, to enhanced thermal break/ debridge capabilities. And of course, all this new equipment and processes required the accompanying increase in workforce training. Management reviewed the list of candidates and agreed to fund all the projects because of their high payback in enhanced customer satisfaction.
The most ambitious project was the specification, evaluation, purchase, installation, and start-up of a new Granco Clark furnace. The total effort required over one year. This furnace has added a new dimension to our capabilities; we can now process a wider range of aluminum alloys which permits us to be an even better one stop shop for all your extrusion needs. The new system began operations Jan 3, 2013 and we are already seeing improvements with better quality, better extrusion consistency, and increased capacity.
The next major effort was the selection and installation of a new hot saw. This improvement was planned and implemented to take advantage of the greater processing capabilities the new furnace provided. With this saw, we have more precise control of our in process materials, less scrap, and greater process speed. The combination of the new furnace and saw, allows us to increase our capacity and overall equipment effectiveness, thus increasing our capacity and ability to continue to increase customer satisfaction with short lead-times while volume requirements increase.
The next major process improvement we decided to implement was to upgraded the extrusion handling equipment. We selected new Kevlar belts to handle the hot extrusions as they came out of the presses. The total program took 3 months to plan and implement and the new Kevlar belts allow us to handle the hot aluminum extrusions at higher speeds and still have fewer surface scratches/ imperfections and assure graphite free extrusions.
Some of our customers want us to provide a post extrusion process called Thermal Break or Fill and Debridge. The Thermal Break, “Fill and Debridge”, process provides high insulation for window and door components. This process inserts a resin into an aluminum pocket and then cuts the bottom of that pocket out so there is no aluminum connection. The Thermal Break process provides insulation from both hot and cold temperatures thus increasing the thermal efficiency of the assembly. To continue to exceed the ever increasing specifications for this type of processing, we investigated and then purchased new equipment that allows us to have better flow control and greater batch to batch consistency. The total effort required 1 month of planning, acquisition and implementation.
In addition we also invested in 5 new long haul delivery trucks with the new Extruders paint scheme. These new vehicles help us to ensure we continue to meet our on-time delivery commitments. As you drive down the highway or look out on your receiving dock and see our new trucks, it is a clear reminder Extruders is continuing to invest time, money, and resources to become the industry choice for aluminum extrusions.
If you would like to visit the facility for a tour, please contact your Extruders sales person or for more information on Extruders and its quality aluminum extrusions and services, please visit www.extrudersinc.com
For more than 35 years Extruders has dedicated itself to building a solid single-source aluminum extrusion company with a national presence, and with an uncontested reputation for quality, delivery, and service. Founded in 1975, Extruders began producing aluminum extrusions on a single press, today our capacity exceeds 75 million pounds annually and we are investing over $2 mil a year in capital equipment to continuously improve quality, safety, and capacity. We currently employ approximately 200 people at our 218,881 square foot facility in Wylie, TX. We serve a variety of industries located in the Midwest and throughout the United States and Mexico. We provide value added aluminum extrusion products and solutions to industry leading companies.