Changing at the speed of light.
Laser light, to be specific, is helping change the face of manufacturing in Saskatchewan as it has around the world.
Whether you call it 'just-in-time' or 'lean' manufacturing, shortening the time it takes to get raw steel from coil form to finished products allows for reduced production times, improved inventory management, quicker turnaround times (1) In batch processing, the time it takes to receive finished reports after submission of documents or files for processing. In an online environment, turnaround time is the same as response time. for finished product and a natural division of steps in the manufacturing process.
But to get the full sense of how laser technology has redefined the very initial phases of manufacturing it is important to understand how it was once done.
Components as small as washers or as large as shovels on highway graders were punched, cut with torch or an intermediate cutting technology to laser - plasma. Further machining and finishing was required to ensure the component could be placed in the jig jig, dance of English origin that is performed also in Ireland and Scotland. It is usually a lively dance, performed by one or more persons, with quick and irregular steps. When the jig was introduced to the United States, it was often danced in minstrel shows. or mold for final assembly and welding.
These steps in the production process lengthened length·en
tr. & intr.v. length·ened, length·en·ing, length·ens
To make or become longer.
lengthen·er n. the time of delivery, took employees outside of their required roles and left many finished products, which while designed to be exact duplicates of each other, actually ended up with small differences.
These differences were commonplace and acceptable when small numbers of units were being produced. But as with any industry, as consolidation takes place and fewer manufacturers with longer production runs occur, the need to have components, replacement parts and a level of standardization to allow for warranty work and parts inventory Noun 1. parts inventory - an inventory of replacement parts
inventory, stock list - a detailed list of all the items in stock then becomes critical in servicing the product after the initial sale.
This has becomes increasingly important as local and domestic markets shrink in relation to many manufacturers' total market scope. Products once destined des·tine
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.
2. for your neighbor are now shipped worldwide.
From machine shops full of torches, plasma cutters, grinders, and milling machines, the component manufacturers of the past are gradually being changed to facilities with as much or more technology as the 'normal' office environment.
Couple this with technology that allows for precise construction of parts as small as a loonie Loonie
A slang term for a Canadian dollar. It is derived from the picture of a loon on one side of the coin.
Just like in the U.S. where the dollar is referred to as the "greenback", the loonie is a often used to refer to the Canadian dollar. to as large as a panel on the side of a garbage truck and you have the emergence of businesses like Precision Industries. Located in Regina just north of one of Canada's most profitable steel companies, Precision Industries has been laser-cutting metals, primarily steel, for more than half a decade.
President Gary Zaremba and marketing and sales director Lee Woods Lee Woods (July 1964 –) is an English artist who created a Genetic Zoo series of humorous animal paintings.
Woods was born in the Devonport district of Plymouth, England and remained in the South West of England area until moving to the former Federal Republic of have had six years to not only understand the technology of laser cutting, but also the associated technologies of computer assisted design (AutoCad) and computer numerically controlled (CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) See numerical control.
CNC - Collaborative Networked Communication ) machines such as their Trumph lasers. But they have spent their time working with customers like Brandt Industries' agriculture division in changing processes at both facilities to get laser technology as a critical component of 'just-in-time' or 'lean' manufacturing.
"I'm still amazed a·maze
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.
2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.
v.intr. some days because I know when Brandt phones and they need parts to keep their production facility working at full speed we can do it," says Zaremba. "Our shop can take steel, which is just days old from Ipsco, have our programmers make any necessary design changes and then laser cut two, 200 or 2,000 identical parts which Brandt doesn't have to modify."
Lee Woods says the sales process A sales process is a systematic approach for performing product or service sales. The reasons for having a sales process include seller and buyer risk management, achieving standardized customer interaction in sales and scalable revenue generation. involves educating their clients. "Fabricators of all sizes from across Western Canada
Western Canada, commonly referred to as the West are beginning to find out laser cutting can make parts faster and more efficiently than previous methods," he says. "It means they can forget about part manufacturing and inventory."
"When we can combine three or four functions by cutting components with the laser, customers like Brandt are able to reallocate Verb 1. reallocate - allocate, distribute, or apportion anew; "Congressional seats are reapportioned on the basis of census data"
allocate, apportion - distribute according to a plan or set apart for a special purpose; "I am allocating a loaf of resources to assembly and marketing;' Woods continues. "It allows them to narrow and refine their focus."
"It really comes down to letting the customer concentrate on what they are good at, while we concentrate on what we're good at. Both companies seem to benefit from the change."
Whether they are used for scanning packages at the store, corrective eye surgery at the optometrist optometrist /op·tom·e·trist/ (op-tom´e-trist) a specialist in optometry.
A medical professional who examines and tests the eyes for disease and treats visual disorders by prescribing corrective or listening to your favorite CD, laser technology and its applications are growing as fast as is the growth at Precision Industries.
It's all the same technology, or at least the same principle exclaims Ross Woods, brother to Lee and a former journeyman electrician by trade and today production manager at Precision Industries.
"Energy, electrical energy is coupled with laser active material, in the case of Precision Industries the material is [CO.sub.2] or a combination of three gases, [CO.sub.2], Helium and Nitrogen," Ross Woods says.
Initially housed in an area which today has only a shipping area and office, the facility has grown in step with its customers, of which more and more are demanding high-quality parts in short time frames to meet the needs of this modified manufacturing process.
"We have an addition underway which will see us increase our laser cutting ability," states Zaremba, "and we are also carefully calculating the additional needs of our 'just-in-time' customers as a means of further outsourcing portions of the manufacturing process. It only makes sense to have complementary functions completed in one place away from the fabrication fabrication (fab´rikā´shn),
n the construction or making of a restoration. stage."
While Precision Industries' primary business is laser cutting, a young group of highly skilled forming operators is emerging to meet a growing demand in this segment as well. Add to this a computer-controlled torch, plasma and shear, and Precision Industries affords customers a wide range of metal fabrication with tolerances in the millimetre- and single-degree-range.
The future looks as bright and optimistic op·ti·mist
1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.
2. A believer in philosophical optimism.
op as the past, as manufacturers begin to see the advantages and savings associated with the concept of lean manufacturing Lean manufacturing is the production of goods using less of everything compared to mass production: less human effort, less manufacturing space, less investment in tools, and less engineering time to develop a new product. , aided by laser cutting in Western Canada.
In fact, its success can only benefit from the work of individuals like Jim Semple and Harold Gartner, managers from Brandt who are among a group representing manufacturers, suppliers and interested parties structuring a provincial organization to discuss issues, opportunities and the obvious benefits of laser technology and any other enhancements that can get their operations more efficient and profitable.
"At the end of the day," says Zaremba, "all we want is to help make our customers and us more profitable. It makes it a lot easier to hire people that way."