Original Date: 10/07/2002
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Fabrication Facility
General Tool Company built a state-of-the-art fabrication facility and developed additional capabilities and certifications to support its customers. This led to new customers as well as expanding business with prior customers.
General Tool Company (GTC) manufactures precision fabricated and machined components. GTC faced a few challenges as the demand for its capabilities increased in volume. The old facility could not handle the new requirements as part sizes increased and part tolerances tightened. The facility was too small and the lifting capacity was limited. Another problem GTC faced was attracting and retaining critical welding and fabricating skills. Due to the physically demanding nature of the work and the high temperatures and humidity conditions experienced during the summer months, the employees faced a very uncomfortable working environment. The facility was congested due to the amount of work and the larger physical size of the parts, and the weight of the parts created safety concerns due to the limited capacity of the existing cranes.
The solution was to build a new, larger, modern, state-of-the-art fabrication facility. By using an employee team, past lessons learned were captured to incorporate into the new facility’s design. An air conditioned environment was required for employee comfort and necessary for holding tighter tolerances. The air conditioning system was designed to carry the welding smoke away from the operators. The cleaner air environment also contributed to higher quality welds. The gas supplies were piped throughout the facility to eliminate gas bottles on the floor and to keep the consistency of its supply.
GTC’s new facility is 32,000 square feet with two 20-ton overhead cranes, two 10-ton overhead cranes, two 3-ton walking jib cranes with the capability to add two more, and many stationary jib booms. Every upright beam can support a stationary jib boom. Flatbed semi-truck trailers can be backed into the facility and unloaded at the receiving and material storage area. The employees laid out the facility to enhance material flow. The floor itself was constructed with embedded, grounded steel I-beams that are coplanar within .125 inch every 20 feet and no more than .375 inch over the entire building length, creating the capability to use the floor itself for a precise fit-up table for large assemblies. The grit blast capacity was also significantly increased, and the chamber was designed such that the blast media is collected and pumped back outside for reuse which created a cleaner and safer environment for the employees.
During the facility’s planning, it was recognized that the capabilities needed to be broadened in other ways. Accreditation was obtained from National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (NADCAP) for welding, brazing, and nondestructive testing (NDT). Three employees are certified as weld inspectors, and GTC hired an additional weld engineer to perform these projects. GTC became a member of the Edison Welding Institute and is linked to The Weld Institute in the United Kingdom. GTC can now perform many projects including Level III NDT in radiography, ultrasonics, penetrants, and magnetic particle inspections. They also have full capabilities and certifications in place for aluminum, steel, and exotic materials.
The new facility can generate an excess of 100,000 direct labor hours per year. Now the employee turnover rate is near zero since they have a safe working and comfortable environment. GTC’s lost time accidents have also been zero for the last 24 months. With this implementation, new customers are attracted to the new facility and to GTC’s expanded capabilities and certifications.
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.