November 30, 2009
MANITOWOC – From humble beginnings in 1965, Manitowoc Tool & Machining has grown to one of the largest Computer Numerical Control production machining companies in the nation.
In the industry, a large player is considered to have 100 employees. MTM’s workforce has 310 employees.
Last year brought many improvements and diversifications to the company with facilities on Clipper and Expo Drives. Company sales grew more than 20 percent, and there was increased employment level.
MTM deployed a strategic goal of creating an independent business unit. MTM performs three major services – CNC production machining, building of stamping dies, and production stampings.
The building of stamping dies and production stampings was moved to a separate facility. The new facility is state-of-the-art in terms of technology and flow.
This decision put a spotlight on that business unit, and its key employees flourished in the new environment – so much so that a 17,000 square foot addition was added to the facility in December.
This addition occurred less than one year after occupancy of the new facility.
The addition represented the 12th building expansion, and increased MTM’s work space to 250,000 square feet, or 5.7 acres of manufacturing.
The new facility also is state-of-the-art in terms of quality control. MTM quality is judged in defective parts per million (PPM).
The MTM stamping plant operates at a quality level of less than 150 PPM, meaning 99.99 percent of all products shipped are acceptable. This puts MTM at a strategic advantage compared to overseas competition. This year will bring many new changes for MTM stamping plant, including an increase in personnel, additional automation, additional stamping equipment, and diversification into products and services currently not available. With solid core competency, the company’s president, Scott Mertens, believes it is important to expand the company’s current business scope.
MTM has the skill level and automation to be competitive in an expanded arena.
MTM Plant No. 1, the CNC machining facility, underwent major enhancements in 2006.
MTM had the strategic goal of developing customers in different industries to have diversification in our customer base.
This goal was clearly accomplished and aided MTM in its strong growth. The new industries served fueled the addition of new equipment and process.
It also expanded our customer base to worldwide, vs primarily the United States.
By gaining international customers, MTM has proven it can successfully compete on a global basis.
MTM’s new process includes Six Sigma lean manufacturing. MTM has both green belts and a black belt on staff.
Part of their responsibility is to systematically go through the major processes at MTM to be assured operation to 3.4 defects per million (Six Sigma), with zero waste in the system.
A diverse customer base, extreme lean process and a Six Sigma quality level will enable MTM to continue the solid growth and expansion strategy the organization’s history has witnessed.
MTM invests heavily in technology and its people
By Charlie Mathews • Herald Times Reporter • November 18, 2009
MANITOWOC – For Wisconsin manufacturers to emerge from the recession in a strong position, they might look at Manitowoc Tool & Machining.
All it is taking for the local company is millions of dollars in new technology, more intensive training of the workforce, and “100 percent on time delivery with zero ppm (parts per million) defects,” said Scott Mertens, MTM president.
That means no defects at all, with MTM making parts for everything from locomotive crankcases to satellite circuit boards with tolerances in ten-thousandths of an inch – far less than the diameter of a strand of human hair.
“We are very optimistic,” said Mertens, noting 2008 was a record revenue year for the 45-year-old company with plants on Expo and Clipper drives.
“In January the pipeline turned off, but we engaged our sales force heavily with laser precision, going after new opportunities and current customers to fill capacity,” he said.
MTM has hired 80 workers since June, some called back from layoff, and it will be hiring 15 to 20 more.
The company already had dozens of sophisticated CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines capable of creating parts small enough to fit in the hand to those weighing thousands of pounds made out of aluminum, ductile iron, steel, brass and bronze.
One machine is described as a “Mazak Multiplex 6300Y twin spindle-twin turret 6-axis center with gantry robot.” That translates into parts made with maximum efficiency and conformance to blueprints.
To assure the part – for example 800-pound compressor rotator housings for air conditioning units – meets specs, it is hoisted on to a coordinate measuring machine elevated table.
The new technology, installed at MTM in summer, uses multiple optical probes to assess the physical measurements of the part down to 0.0001 inch, far too small for the naked eye to see any flaw.
Manitowoc instead of Mexico
MTM has customers in the automotive, transportation, medical technology, recreation, heating-ventilation-air condition and defense industries.
Highest quality, on-time delivery and competitive price are expected from “job shops” like MTM, which frequently are taking castings from foundries and using CNC machines to finish off the part with the appropriate holes, notches and other physical features needed to work properly.
“We have one customer with parts headed across the border to Mexico, but the truck was turned around and sent to Manitowoc,” said Dave Blondheim, vice president of engineering for MTM.
“My engineers work hand-in-hand with companies to reduce costs and get a better product in the end,” said Blondheim, who’s pursuing his master’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University.
Larry Jaeger, MTM’s executive vice president, said production floor journeyman tool and die makers and machinists and other employees, have gone the extra mile in 2009 to make sure the company can deliver on its bids and commitments.
Beyond basic skills, Jaeger said MTM employees are expected “to be self-starters, eager to learn … strong aptitude with a good attitude.”
Along with the millions of dollars of new technology added this year, extensive in-house training programs help employees and the company live up to its commitment to deliver “world class performance.”
A journeyman tool and die maker by trade, Jaeger said the next wave of new hires will include individuals of varying skill sets from entry-level machine operators to set-up technicians.
With 300 employees, he said MTM is running around the clock seven days a week.
Larger piece of smaller pie
Mertens said about 5 percent of its business comes from Manitowoc County, 30 percent from other Wisconsin counties, 60 percent from other states and about 5 percent from international customers including the parts that will end up in Israel.
MTM has about 100 customers with no single company having more than about 12 percent of its business.
Marketing is done via its Web site, trade shows sales representatives and – the most
effective – word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.
“Our size helps us,” said Mertens, a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh business major graduate. “We are larger than 99.5 percent of our competitors with more equipment and more horsepower in engineering.”
While manufacturing in the US has rebounded in several sectors in recent months, economic challenges remain.
“In a global slowdown, we look for diversification and penetration … taking larger pieces of smaller pies,” Mertens said.
“Certainly, a key to MTM’s future is our dedicated machinists working hard and smart every day,” he said. Mertens said MTM is committed to getting larger and investments in technology, lean manufacturing, engineering and training will continue.
“Some companies are going under, and only the strong do survive,” Mertens said. “The only way we can continue to gain work is to show financial strength.”
Blondheim knows why he enjoys coming to work and believes the feeling is shared by others at MTM.
“Every day is different, completely new and exciting, which makes it as much fun to come to work as it can be,” he said. “We are never standing still.”
Photo Credit: Manitowoc Tool & Machining’s Gary Koeppen positions a compressor rotator housing on a coordinate measuring machine capable of measuring part specifications in ten-thousandths of an inch. (Gannett Wisconsin Media photo by Sue Pischke)