Moving beyond its base as a traditional toolmaker, PME Cos. has expanded into injection molding at its South Carolina facility and added product design at its Michigan headquarters.
The company, based in Center Line, Mich., just completed an expansion at its 6-year-old plant in Anderson, S.C., and reorganized the facility, said Vice President Tom Ruczynski.
Formerly concentrating solely on injection toolmaking for PME's automotive customers, the plant now will be split equally between mold making and injection molding.
``It complements our customers, and we see a lot of our growth coming from injection molding,'' Ruczynski said in a May 15 telephone interview. ``Our Tier 1 customers want us to take more responsibility for managing the process and the project. This allows us to assist our customers even more with their molding programs.''
The company plans to mold interior, exterior and functional components for automotive suppliers, Ruczynski said. Those smaller parts will be added to larger systems assembled by PME's customers, including production of instrument panels and bumper fascia.
PME has added 12,000 square feet to its 44,000-square-foot Autegra/PME unit. Eight injection presses, with clamping forces of 50-700 tons, were shipped to the plant, after being tested at a temporary molding facility in Warren, Mich., for the past 11/2 years, Ruczynski said.
The facility has room to expand, primarily in injection molding, to close to double its current size, he said. The company would like to add more presses fairly quickly and expand its 35-person work force in Anderson, he said.
Another growth area for PME is in product design and contract services. In Warren, the company just merged its prototyping and tool design and engineering unit with its new product design operations. The new unit is known as Pinnacle Design + Development, a change from its former Pinnacle Technologies name.
The unit works from a 3-year-old, 31,500-square-foot facility, which includes private design studios and rapid-prototyping operations.
The shift to product design, where PME engineers will work directly with auto suppliers on new vehicle programs, is rare for toolmakers, Ruczynski said. While many Detroit-area tool shops are involved on the tool design side, it is more unusual to work directly with carmakers and suppliers on completed parts, he said.
``We definitely see that need,'' he said. ``When we assist customers with product design, we can better manage costs between part design and tooling.''
Other automotive toolmakers also are taking a better-rounded approach to customers. Delta Tooling Co. in Auburn Hills, Mich., is working with its customers on new specialty vehicles, while Paragon Die & Engineering Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich., has launched both compression molding and a customer-driven prototyping tooling service.
PME started as Proper Mold and Engineering, a full-service maker of automotive injection molds. Now, Warren-based Proper Mold is one of three divisions, with the other two being Pinnacle Design and its Autegra/PME operation in South Carolina.