CHICAGO - Precision Custom Products Inc. has spent $1 million to add equipment and expand the size of its DeGraff, Ohio, plant to accommodate an increase in demand for its products. The custom molder of thermoplastic elastomers recently increased the size of its sole facility to 42,000 square feet from 28,000 square feet, said J. Greg Best, president and general manager of Precision Custom Products. He discussed the project at the National Design Engineering Show and Conference, held March 13-16 in Chicago.
As part of the project, the company also purchased four new injection molding machines to supplement its existing 12 presses.
The addition, which began in August and was completed in February, increases the firm's capacity by one-third. This is the molder's second expansion in three years.
The company needs the extra capacity to handle an increase in demand partially brought on by a new contract with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Precision Custom Products will supply the tire maker with an undisclosed automotive part to be used on the Ford Taurus, Best said.
``But mostly we're expanding because of our normal growth,'' he said. ``We've increased our sales 20-25 percent each year for the last three years.''
Precision Custom Products will not add any workers as a result of the project.
``In fact, we're 20 employees smaller than we were 11/2 years ago. We used to have 70-75 employees, but now we're at 55,'' said Best, who recently was promoted to president and general manager after more than 16 years with the firm. He previously served as vice president of sales and marketing.
A new manufacturing philosophy helped Precision Custom Products reduce its work force, Best said.
``We've gone to a more cellular manufacturing type of environment ... which was a new concept for us,'' he said.
Cellular manufacturing enables a unit to maximize efficiency by rearranging the plant's operations, Best said. The factory no longer will have its machinery in one location, packaging in another and storage in yet another.
The facility will be grouped into separate self-contained units in which a part will be packaged and stored near the machine that produced it.