For mold maker Mantz Automation Inc., the automation part of the name is a way of life.
The Hartford, Wis., private company continually tries to streamline the work flow to speed things up and ensure quality at each stage. But its strategy goes beyond mechanization.
“[Automation] is a process,” said Mantz Automation operations manager Todd Doerfert in a phone interview. “We try to control the process.
“We will keep investing in automation equipment, but the focus is on automating the process,” Doerfert explained.
Automation has permeated the company's culture since it was established in 1989 by Bob and Denise Mantz, who still own the business. Bob Mantz, an experienced toolmaker, decided right away to invest heavily in computerized machinery as a step up from traditional, hands-on techniques.
“In 1989, much of what we started was based in CNC machinery,” Doerfert said. “Until then it was a craftsman's business.”
Mantz is a diverse mold maker. Upwards of 80 percent of its business is in thermoplastic injection molds but work can involve unscrewing molds, gas assist molds, overmolds, stack molds and several other configurations. It also builds thermoset molds and specialties like cast metal dies. For trials and short runs, Mantz Automation recently invested in 200-ton and a 500-ton injection presses, and is making room for the likely future purchase of a 1,500-ton machine.
In recent years Mantz Automation has spent about $112,000 on employee education as part of its automation drive. The human investment complements financial investments of $500,000 in design software and some $7 million in new machinery, including two new Fidia five-axis CNC machines. In March it will take delivery of a Fidia gantry to bolster its strategy of bringing all tool building steps in house.