Maytag Corp.'s decision to close a washer and dryer manufacturing plant in Florence, S.C., has Kamco Plastics Inc. looking for new customers.
Kamco has a plant-in-plant setup in Florence - it molds and conveys 3 million parts per year to Maytag. Kamco also does custom molding for two other customers in Florence, and the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company hopes to bring in more work.
``We have a major home appliance manufacturer visiting to talk about the same needs as Maytag,'' said Jack Shedd, Kamco vice president of sales and marketing.
The Kamco dilemma stems from recent developments.
Maytag of Newton, Iowa, said Nov. 7 that it plans to close the Florence plant in early 2006. Maytag, which employs about 60 in Florence, is preparing to be acquired by Whirlpool Corp. of Benton Harbor, Mich.
The next steps for Kamco are materializing slowly. ``I do not want to get into details,'' Shedd said. Maytag is ``a very good customer, and we are working through details of the contract that will make things be good for everybody.''
The Kamco collaboration with Maytag in Florence began nearly three years ago. Kamco set up the Florence plant-in-plant site and eventually invested about $15 million.
Kamco started injection molding parts in November 2003 for Maytag's Neptune top-load washing machine.
Of 32 Kamco-molded parts on the Neptune, 11 are manufactured in the Kamco Florence facility. The largest component is an insert-molded washtub. Fourteen pounds of glass-filled polypropylene encapsulate an in-mold, laser-checked, 8-pound cast-iron bearing. Kamco created the process and designed the tool.
Kamco in Florence employs 47 and operates 10 robot-equipped Toshiba presses with clamping forces of 500-2,450 tons, typically with 80 percent utilization. Secondary operations include heat staking, hot-plate welding and assembly. A full shop for tool repair is on-site.
The plastics processor imposed Six Sigma quality procedures and, within months of starting, drove performance toward an early goal of zero defects per million parts. Kamco has maintained that threshold on almost a monthly basis.
Kamco leases 45,000 square feet in Florence and can accommodate up to 14 injection molding machines. The adjacent Maytag Florence laundry product assembly site occupies 422,000 square feet.
Another Kamco plant in Reynosa, Mexico, is 60,000 square feet, operates 12 presses of 100-500 tons and serves four separate appliance customers, including Maytag.
Kamco's two Schaumburg plants are 65,000 square feet and operate 32 presses of 55-720 tons.
For all operations, Kamco reported 2004 sales of $41 million and is projecting $50 million for this year.
Norbert Kaiser heads family-owned Kamco as chairman and chief executive officer. Douglas Mulay joined Kamco as president in 2001, and Shedd took the sales and marketing position in July 2004.
Mulay and Shedd, during tenure with Mulay Plastics Inc., helped established a plant-in-plant arrangement with Sanyo Manufacturing Corp. in Forrest City, Ark. Sanyo acquired the Mulay plant in 2001 and now operates that site making television sets. The PIP format at Sanyo set a pattern for Kamco and Maytag.
``The Kamco solution [in Florence] utilizes lessons learned and more from upfront process control and lean manufacturing and engineering,'' Shedd said. ``Each tool and process in Florence was designed for Six Sigma.''