Pitcher Insurance Agency Safety Award

No Lost-Time Accidents in 20+ Years

EJ AjaxE.J. Ajax & Sons, Inc., Fridley, MN, received the 2010 Pitcher Insurance Agency Safety Award for its safety program—the company has enjoyed more than 20 years without a lost-time incident and more than seven years without an OSHA-recordable incident. Among the company’s safety policies: Every new hire receives safety gear that includes safety glasses (prescription if necessary), a $200 pair of work boots with full metatarsal protection, and ear protection. Workers who handle sheetmetal also wear elbow-length Kevlar gauntlets. All safety equipment is replaced at company expense when needed—no questions asked.

The safety culture is strictly enforced: One violation within a 12-month period warrants a verbal warning, the second is put in writing and the third results in a one-day paid decision-making leave, when the employee is sent home to decide whether he can follow safety policies. If not, termination results. The enforcement of safety policies also includes random drug testing for all company employees, including office employees and officers.

Safety training is continuous with an annual minimum of 10 hr./employee. Workers also have total authority to shut down any machine if they question its safety. The company’s safety program includes other unique elements, including a wellness program with ergonomics professionals making regular site visits. An incentive program rewards employee safety with annual bonuses equal to half of the company’s savings from reduced workers’ compensation rates.

Link Systems Process Control Award

A More Efficient Process for Cleaning Stamped Metal Parts

Pridgeon & ClayPridgeon & Clay, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI, received the 2010 Link Systems Process Control Award for its efforts to improve part cleanliness, which led to breakthrough productivity gains. In 2006, Pridgeon & Clay sought to improve the cleanliness of its stamped parts. A Six Sigma team addressed the problem, first by brainstorming factors leading to the loss of washer-bath process control. It then determined optimal wash parameters for optimal cleanliness and long-term system reliability, and discovered s to reduce oil-load impact.

In July 2008, a multistage project was recommended to senior management and approved for implementation. Plant upgrades were completed by year-end at a total investment of $209,000. Resulting improvements in washer-bath quality and performance include an overall cost reduction of $194,937.50. Washer downtime is rarely noted as a cause for downtime in the department, and production personnel rarely concern themselves with the cleaner combination inside the washer.

Pridgeon & Clay then implemented the technology at its joint-venture operation in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2009, and will implement it throughout the remainder of its global operations within the next two to three years.

Ulbrich Award for Competitive Excellence in Product Development

Three-Piece Stamped Assembly More Cost Effective Than a Cast Part

Radar IndustriesRadar Industries, Warren, MI, received the 2010 Ulbrich Award for Competitive Excellence in Product Development for developing a three-piece metal stamped engine-transmission component that attaches the engine and transmission to the frame of the vehicle. The award-winning transmission mount, originally a casting, was redesigned to be incorporated as a progressive-die stamping. Four one-out progressive dies produce the parts.

Not only does the stamped transmission mount reduce manufacturing costs by more than two-thirds, but Radar Industries’ design delivers several functional improvements, including less weight, smaller size and improved stability.

One of the unique features of the stamped part is that it requires no secondary machining operations. Also, specialized machines no longer are needed for inserting the customer’s bushings, as key location features have been integrated into the stamping and assembly process.

Zierick Manufacturing Corp. Productivity Award

Incentive-Based Program Improves Welding Productivity

Anchor MfgAnchor Manufacturing Group, Cleveland, OH, received the 2010 Zierick Manufacturing Corp. Productivity Award for its Top Gun incentive-based program to improve productivity on jobs in its welding area. Anchor targeted for improvement dozens of its lowest performing jobs, based on hours earned versus actual hours charged to each job. It incentivized employees by offering gift cards to those who ran the greatest number of quality parts in one shift within a calendar month.

In 2010, management solicited ideas from floor associates to improve the program. As a result, changes included incorporating rewards for an entire shift in addition to individual awards, an effort that promoted team unity.

Numerous benefits have been realized through the Top Gun program, including a 61 percent improvement in productivity, a 20 percent reduction in labor to sales. Top Gun parts have generated more than $700,000 in annualized savings across 30 parts.

A.R. Hedberg Training and Education Award

New OJT Program Improves Performance of Newly Placed Employees

Pridgeon & ClayPridgeon & Clay, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI, received the 2010 A.R. Hedberg Training and Education Award for its on-the-job training (OJT) program instituted for hourly production positions. New hires, as well as newly placed employees, work with designated OJT trainers to attain the knowledge necessary to properly perform their duties. Trainers were selected by the firm’s HR department and department managers.

Once a new hire or transfer has been identified, the trainer is given the OJT curriculum. He then spends one to four weeks teaching the trainee proper job skills. At the conclusion, the trainer and trainee sign paperwork acknowledging completion of the training An HR representative audits the trainee on the floor to verify the training, then documents the training in the firm’s computer system.

As a result of the OJT program, Pridgeon & Clay has experienced increased quality and output of work by newly placed employees; reduced employee turnover; increased ability to identify and react to subpar performance as soon as possible after hire, to limit negative influence on Pridgeon & Clay’s quality ratings; and the ability to ensure that any necessary changes in skill set are immediately addressed. The program also enables Pridgeon & Clay to require less previous experience when hiring new employees.

Clips & Clamps Industries Educational Institution Award

Better Technical Instruction Attracts New Manufacturing Companies to Tennessee

The Tennessee Technology Center at Shelbyville, Shelbyville, TN, received the 2010 Clips & Clamps Industries Educational Institution Award for its Machine Tool Technology program. The program gives students practical experience on lathes, grinders and vertical and horizontal mills, as well as hand tools and bench work. Students in the advanced phases of the program receive instruction and perform practical experiences on CNC equipment.

The program stresses safety, quality and continuous improvement, while students develop skills working with precision tools such as calipers, micrometers and indicators, and learn to read blueprints and understand CAD drawings. Training related to tool and die work allows students to construct and try out new molds and dies in injection-molding machines and stamping presses.

The excellent skills of the center’s graduates helped convince two new companies to locate in Tennessee—Fischer Tool and Die and Summit Polymers. And, the local Chamber of Commerce has made the Machine Tool Technology program a highlight of recruitment visits. MF

Industry-Related Terms: CAD, Center, CNC, Die, Run, Transfer Die, Transfer
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Finishing, Management, Safety


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