Max Machinery Inc. has moved to a new facility in Healdsburg, Calif., virtually doubling the size of its operation, to handle a 25 percent growth spurt in business during the past year.
The company, which manufactures urethane processing systems and custom-built blending machines, has nearly completed renovations to the site, which spans 35,500 square feet - almost twice the size of its former 18,000-square-foot site, which also was located in the city.
New PU applications and improved equipment technology spurred an increase in demand for the firm's equipment, which led to the expansion, said Chief Executive Officer David Whitney.
The additional floor space has been earmarked for another demonstration processing machine and an expansion of Max's process development area, where customers are able to fast-track their research and development.
The facility also offers greater height to accommodate the addition of 225- and 400-gallon tank options and the firm's blending machines, said operations manager Andrew Hiles.
``The taller head space will allow us to build the tanks on the machine frames and still be able to lift and lower the internal pumping systems with an overhead crane,'' he said.
``The building that we have been using for the last 35 years was originally a bowling alley. Over the decades, we have managed to squeeze a lot of work through this small space, but the desire to expand our customer support area makes it necessary to move.''
Max, founded in 1967, has been modernizing its manufacturing equipment and evolving its product lines during the past five years, Whitney said. It's also made ongoing investments in computer numerically controlled equipment, design tools and enterprise resource planning systems.
While the company specializes in designs that it said offer optically clear, bubble-free urethanes and tight ratio and temperature control, it continues to tackle other problem areas in the industry, branching out to apply its material conditioning and flow-control capabilities in the manufacture of thermoplastic elastomers and Spandex.
``The addition of another demonstration machine will allow us to offer process development time to more customers,'' Hiles said.
But its main product line remains PU blending and dispensing equipment used in reactive casting processes, Whitney said.
``We also manufacture and sell an extensive line of high-precision positive-displacement flow meters that are used in a wide range of industrial applications,'' he said.
Max, which employs about 60, has become a global operation, he said.
The 40-year-old firm primarily supports U.S., Japanese and European multinational businesses, but many of its production platforms are in operation in the Far East and in other low-cost manufacturing countries, Whitney said.
The PU industry is prospering, Whitney said, citing two reasons. The first is because of material advancements, with an increasing range of materials available to meet the needs of emerging product applications.
He said tailored material formulations continually are being developed to deal with changing market requirements, increasing the range of products that can benefit from urethane's physical properties.
The second reason, he said, is that advancements in PU technology - including expanded use of automation - are increasing production output and cutting manufacturing costs to levels that are competitive with alternate technologies.
``There is a continuing need for machine and process technology development to support emerging high-volume applications,'' Whitney said, ``and an increasing requirement for custom manufacturing solutions that include process automation.''