Southeast

Ultra Machining Company

Industry:  Aerospace, Energy / Oil & Gas, Industrial, Medical, Commercial
Machine Type / Process:  Multi-Axis Machines, Mill Turn Centers
Challenge

“If you’re making something like an orthopedic power tool used in surgery, you can’t afford to make mistakes,” said Randy Hatcher, Facility Manager of UMC, “For us, accuracy is everything.”

UMC provides high-end manufactured parts and tools to medical, aerospace, commercial, industrial and energy markets: all customers that demand the highest quality product. Profitably producing such products from a facility with 2-axis lathes or 3-axis machines was simply a thing of the past.

Assessment

“At one time, we had a part that was produced in 7 operations: 4 turning operations and 3 milling.” Hatcher said recently, “We had batching, high scrap, and less accuracy than we wanted. And if there was an error, we wouldn’t find it until it was already down the line. It wasn’t lean manufacturing.”

UMC needed a solution to shorten the process, reduce waste, and improve accuracy and the possibility of human error. They turned to Ellison Technologies for help.

Solution

Machine tool experts from Ellison Technologies assessed UMC’s unique needs and, using the latest technology in multi-axis machining, proposed a customized solution.

Installing a single multi-axis lathe was the first step, and after witnessing the machine’s impressive impact, UMC added another six machines over the span of several years.

Parts that required multiple operations were folded into a single operation that included both milling and turning capabilities and removed the possibility of human error. The previously existing process that included multiple set-ups, increased part errors and supply bottlenecks, were condensed. Accuracy improved while production time shortened. The difference was soon apparent.

End Result

“[This] multi-axis machine lit us on fire,” Randy said, when describing UMC’s enthusiasm for the company’s latest CNC machine tools. “Imagine machining parts out of bar stock in a single step!”

UMC underwent a significant cost reduction in its operations, as well as dramatically reducing fixturing, set-up time, scrap, and batching. And the level of part quality far exceeded the level of the previous process.

UMC’s ability to respond to complex demands and win more customer orders also improved.

We had a customer come to us with a request for a newly designed part that was specifically made for a multi-axis machine tool,” Hatcher explained, “The customer was only going to place the part in a shop that had a certain number of axes to do it." By utilizing the machines recommended by Ellison Technologies, UMC was able to win the work.

“We were able to acquire a new customer and a new part just because we had the capability.”

Today, UMC is a premier manufacturer to an impressive array of industries and intends to remain so by using Ellison Technologies machine tools.

Hatcher concluded, “Working with Ellison Technologies and their machines changed the face and direction of this company and every addition reaffirms that. They helped us break out of the way everyone has done business and take the next step.”

Before:

• Multiple Machines per part
• Multiple Operations/Set-ups
• High Scrap
• High Operating Costs

 
After:

• Part made on one machine
• Single operation/Set-up
• Top-of-the-line accuracy
• Parts made at a profit

Company Background

When Terry Tomann, of Ultra Machining Company (UMC) started the company in his Minnesota garage in 1968, he had two goals in mind: providing customers with premier manufactured products in multiple industries and employees with the best working conditions possible. He even chose the company name to reflect those aspirations. The word, “Ultra,” meaning to “go beyond others,” caught all the ideas Tomann had about the future of his manufacturing business and he set about making it happen.

Tomann quickly developed a reputation for treating his people well, from providing employees with both small but often overlooked amenities, to large items that made a difference in their daily lives. Whether he had 3 or 30 employees, Tomann made it a point to personally thank his employees for a job well done.

Terry’s dedication led to results. His business began to bloom, even amongst the tumultuous times of the Oil Crisis’ and the Vietnam War, and proceeded to grow in the 80’s, 90’s and into the new millennium. But as technology grew more complex and business ever more competitive, UMC, and its new CEO, Terry’s son, Don Tomann, realized it would have to adapt to thrive.