Assembly in Action: Supplier Key to Machine Builder's Success
May 25, 2007
Cincinnati Automation & Test (Machesney Park, IL), a division of MAG Cincinnati Automation (Sterling Heights, MI), builds automated assembly and testing equipment for the automotive, truck and off-highway vehicle markets, as well as the aerospace, medical and electronics industries. The company offers an assortment of standard equipment modules, such as conveyors and material handling devices. However, its core business is the design and fabrication of custom automation systems for the assembly of light and heavy-duty finished products.
A key to the company’s success and competitive strategy is the identification and establishment of relationships with unique suppliers for its component needs. According to Noel Nichols, the company’s director of standards and development, “We rely heavily on our supplier base for the production of components, allowing us to focus on our core strengths of engineering and system integration. Once our design solution is established, we have a regimented system of part supply and procurement. Engineering identifies the part, such as a shaft, collar, roller, switch assembly, structural section, motor or bracket. Then procurement places the orders. We emphasize the functionality of the part, the price and the delivery schedule.”
Nichols notes that reliable and efficient parts procurement becomes especially important toward the end of each project. Specifically, as a design begins to take shape, the cost impact ramps up dramatically. Should a part be out of spec, or the delivery late, or the quantity not exactly what was ordered, the impact becomes progressively more severe.
“In the final stages of assembly and system testing, failures become critical,” Nichols says.
One of Cincinnati Automation & Test’s key suppliers is automation components supplier MISUMI USA (Schaumburg, IL). According to Nichols, “MISUMI USA has found a niche among the suppliers to Cincinnati Automation & Test because it offers configurable factory automation components.” In practice, Cincinnati Automation & Test relies on the supplier for a wide range of components, including linear shafts, linear bushings, locating pins, pivot pins, washers, collars and circular posts.
According to Nichols, “We chose MISUIMI as a supply partner, because they have good quality, prompt delivery and excellent cost advantages for us.... We buy many parts in small quantities, and with most suppliers there are cost issues, right from the start. However, in working closely with MISUMI, we quickly realized there were cost and quality advantages to their standard components.”
In fact, Nichols says there have been instances when the price savings that resulted from using MISUMI have been instrumental in landing new business. Recently, for example, the company was able to dramatically reduce the cost of the antibackup latch used at the end of its conveyor systems. In the past, the company had sourced the fabrication of this component to a local machine shop. But, after realizing it could configure this part and purchase it directly from MISUMI for a savings of both time and money, Cincinnati Automation & Test shifted its sourcing.
“Another differentiator is that MISUMI has a CAD configurator that allows our engineers to configure a part, download the native CAD file, modify the file and then insert the file into our CAD assembly, thereby saving substantial time and cost in the design phase,” Nichols says.
According to Nichols, SolidWorks and AutoCAD programs are primarily used in designing MAG Cincinnati Automation products. These programs and others are resident in the MISUMI CAD Configurator, thus allowing Cincinnati Automation & Test engineers to easily import the native files into their assemblies.
“Overall project management is founded on the triangle of quality, price and delivery,” says Nichols. “The old business maxim that you can only have two of those things simply doesn’t work in today’s business environment. We can, and we must, have all three, working in concert to support our unique machine build requirements, or the supplier is simply off our team.”
For additional information on automation components, call 800-681-7475 or visit www.misumiusa.com.
For additional information on automated test and assembly equipment, visit www.cinautotest.com, or call 815-282-7200.