Roncelli Plastics Inc. is hiring and has invested almost $500,000 since November for new equipment, computer software and facility upgrades.
The firm machines and fabricates engineered plastic and nonmetallic parts and components. The company aims to boost value-added assembly and diversify its end markets.
``We are trying to distance ourselves from the average machine shop,'' by adding capabilities and using lean manufacturing, Riley Cole, vice president and general manager, said in an interview at the company's plant in Monrovia, where it is headquartered.
The firm employs 78, up from 55-60 in early January, and owns adjacent buildings totaling 37,000 square feet.
Roncelli took delivery of a $200,000 Mori Seiki Co. Ltd. computer numerically controlled lathe in April and a $90,000 Fanuc Robodrill Alpha T21iD vertical machining center in February. The Robodrill's run rate of up to 20,000 revolutions per minute allows Roncelli to compete for jobs machining test sockets for the semiconductor industry.
A $20,000 Brown & Sharpe coordinate-measuring machine from Hexagon Metrology Ltd. arrived in May.
Roncelli uses Exact Holding NV's JobBoss shop-management software to schedule just-in-time receipt of raw materials. Acetal, nylon, polycarbonate, acrylic, polyetherimide, polyetheretherketone, glass laminate, phenolic and other composite materials are used extensively.
The company is streamlining processes and material flow. Roncelli relocated its routing department, is consolidating space for raw materials and, by late summer, intends to transform 300 square feet into a Class 10,000 clean room, primarily for making medical components.
The firm refurbished and outfitted 2,000 square feet for a controlled-climate area. The improvements cost more than $100,000. The space houses four mills and lathes and a quality-control office.
In the past, temperatures sometimes have limited production on critical-dimension jobs to a few cool morning hours. ``For years, we have been fighting Mother Nature,'' Cole said. ``Short of having a programming issue, the weather is no longer in play.''
In a value-added diversification, Roncelli is segregating some router, mill and lathe equipment in 5,000 square feet to machine aluminum, copper, brass and some stainless steel for assembly as needed with a customer's plastic components. ``Right now, we are taking baby steps with metal,'' Cole said.
About 60 percent of Roncelli's output goes to customers in Southern California, 10 percent to northern California and the remainder elsewhere, including 14 other countries last year. Fifteen years ago, the machine shop exclusively supplied California companies.
Industries contributing most to 2004 sales of nearly $8 million were defense at 16 percent and semiconductors at 15 percent. Sales totaled $6.5 million in 2003.
The company's largest customer, Boeing Co., accounted for 5.5 percent of 2004 sales, mostly for parts for the military's C-17 tactical transport, which is assembled in Long Beach, Calif.
Roncelli has a materials-resource center on its Web site, conducts capability seminars at customer locations and supplies CD-ROMs for marketing purposes, said Mark Mush, national sales manager.
Gino Roncelli founded the business in 1969 and continues as its owner and chief executive officer.