Mack Molding Co.'s recently launched machining center makes stainless-steel, aluminum and carbon-steel parts that are integrated into the firm's plastic products. Though the center has been operating less than three months, Jeff Somple already is looking to add equipment.
We anticipate that we will be expanding it with new equipment within a year, said Somple, president of the northern operations of MackMedical and Mack Molding Co. in Arlington, Vt.
We think it will be very helpful in the medical and computer business markets, said Somple in an interview at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show West, held Feb. 8-10 in Anaheim. It is going to allow us to participate more heavily in the instrumentation side of the medical business. Medical is moving rapidly toward becoming 50 percent of our business.
But the $1 million machining center isn't the only way Mack is looking to be more efficient and provide more services.
The Statesville, N.C., plant of Mack's southern operations, which does super-large part molding, has added its first four all-electric presses. The presses range in size from 72-198 tons and use 50-80 percent less energy than comparable hydraulic presses.
In the northern operations, Mack's Cavendish, Vt., plant has added a new computer numerically controlled center to machine plastic parts. Its East Arlington, Vt., plant has added a 1,650-ton Engel Duo press to increase its capacity to mold large industrial battery cases.
Somple is excited about the savings he expects from a new box machine for the Arlington plant that arrived in early February.
The fanfold converting machine, from Packsize International LLC in Salt Lake City, turns corrugated cardboard stock into boxes that are custom-sized for the products being made. Custom sizing eliminates the need to stock many different sizes of boxes and the need to add packaging material when a product is smaller than standard shipping boxes.
We hope to be up and running on this by the end of [February], Somple said, adding that he expects to save 20 percent on packaging costs.
The company saw the Packsize machines at the MD&M East show in New York last June, Somple said. They give you the machine. They own it. They install it. You buy the corrugated from them.
He said Mack will use the machine for roughly 80 percent of its packaging boxes the Arlington plant, but will continue to buy and stock some high-volume boxes where it makes sense.
In our business, packaging has been a challenge over the years, said spokeswoman Julie Horst. Costs have begun to explode because each time you get a new customer, the product is just a bit different or a different size and shape. This will allow us to free up space in the warehouse, to help the environment by using less material and to save money for ourselves and for our customers.
While the box-making machine will save money, the machining center at the Arlington plant which began operating in November will save Mack's customers time in getting their products to market, Horst said.
Somple agreed. It is one more cog in our vertical integration strategy and feeds into our strategy of having everything our customers need plastics molding, sheet-metal fabrication, and machining under one roof.
We used to have to buy [machined parts] or not participate in that portion of a product, Somple said. We can now make the entire product and not just the plastic handle, for example, on a surgical device.
A lot of times these [parts] go together, and working with one company is a lot easier because our customers can't risk having a far-flung supply chain, Somple said.
He said the new machining center is easy to program.
We had it up and running and making a part in three days, he said. They are basically big computers.
People think of this as old-time manufacturing, but it is not. People are just not aware of how automated and sophisticated milling and turning centers have become.
The center located in the toolroom at the Arlington plant includes a Mazak Integrex Mark IV turning center, two Citizen 20VII lathes and several pieces of auxiliary equipment.
Mack will use the equipment to manufacture components for medical devices, computer equipment and products such as solar-powered trash compactors from BigBelly Solar Inc. and f'real milkshake machines from f'real LLC.