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Building on quality.

Building a company from ground-zero to sixty-plus employees doesn't happen by accident. Since day-one, American Tool & Mold's mission statement has been to achieve and maintain a "zero-defect status" with "never ending quality improvement." Such foresight and dedication to quality has led this progressive company specializing in mold building and design to the top of its field.

In 1980, Les Carroll and his wife Madeleine founded American Tool & Mold (AT&M) in a modest, 1500 sq-ft building. As the business began to take shape in the early to mid 1980s, AT&M moved into its current 32,000 sq-ft facility in St Joseph, MI.

The company's experienced engineering staff enables them to offer customers a wide variety of design capabilities. These range from basic die layouts up to, and including, a 100% detailed accurate design, while maintaining and satisfying each customer's standards. High-tech equipment and automation have played a strong role in the company's solid growth. But the real key has been the commitment of management and staff to implementing solid quality programs. An integrated manufacturing control system developed and supported by DCD Company, Minneapolis, MN, has been instrumental in helping AT&M achieve its mission objectives.

According to Kevin Selvidge, plant manager, the company wanted an information system that would bring together all aspects of the business. "We purchased DCD's Job Shop Control System for the IBM RS/6000 as the foundation for our entire quality process. Our primary goals in selecting the right system were total integration, adaptability to our business, and capabilities for future growth," continued Mr Selvidge.

AT&M migrated to the DCD Job Shop Control System from a non-integrated, home-grown costing and tracking system. There was very little computerized historical detail and virtually no on-line inquiries--either current or historical. While AT&M could get data listings from its old system, there were no truly analytical output reports or screen inquiries available to help them run the business more effectively.

Today, AT&M relies on the DCD software system for four critical areas of its business:

Monitoring the cost of quality--internal and external failures. Through the use of different tracking levels on a job, complete detail is captured on all types of scrap and rework, with key management analysis available through DCD screen inquiries and reports. Prior to DCD, AT&M was not able to track quality detail and, therefore, was constantly in a reactive rather than proactive quality management mode.

Automated processing of quotes and jobs through the system. AT&M's estimator can now easily retrieve information from prior jobs and make more accurate and timelier quotes to the customer. Prior to DCD, AT&M processed quotes and jobs largely by hand; or when computerized, information was either incomplete, non-integrated, or had to be keyed in multiple times to get the same result.

Fully integrated accounting functions. The goal was to reduce the outside accounting functions performed on a monthly basis. For example, AT&M wanted to generate monthly statements in-house and utilize its accounting firm for quarterly audits. AT&M is currently running G/L parallel with its outside accounting firm, with all other accounting functions being performed in-house. Prior to DCD, certain accounting functions were run on the computer, while others remained manual tasks. This led to inaccuracies in critical bookkeeping areas as well as inefficiencies, causing delays in generating monthly financial reports.

Quality management information system. DCD's accurate and integrated database of information allows AT&M personnel to generate specialized reports for new ideas in the monitoring and prevention of quality defects. Again, prior to implementing DCD, AT&M was not able to capture detailed labor entries and thus had no preventative quality system. Today, AT&M's quality management information system, based on an integrated database, is a primary key for improving customer satisfaction and gaining market share.

In addition to the DCD system for automating business operations, AT&M offers complete 3D CAD/CAM design and machining capability by way of Computervision Personal Designer, Personal Machinist, and Personal Machinist Universal running on a series of networked 486 PCs. Information from the CAD/CAM stations is downloaded directly to Sharnoa CNC equipment.

AT&M looks forward to a strong future in mold building and design. "DCD software is a great start for a company looking to integrate information across all areas of its manufacturing business. Through our implementation, we have learned to continually monitor all aspects of the system to stay out in front of potential problems," concluded Mr Selvidge.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Machine Controls & Software; American Tool and Mold
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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