Case Studies

  • Case One: Rebuilding After a Catastrophe

    In a Wall Street article titled, ‘Rebuilding After a Catastrophe’ (May 19th, 2008) it shared how a Caterpillar facility, in Oxford Mississippi, responded to a devastating direct hit from a tornado. Nearly every bull-dozer, dump truck and excavator made by Caterpillar depends on high-pressure couplings that for years were exclusively made in this plant.

    By concentrating the production in one place, Caterpillar was facing a natural disaster that could have brought global production to a halt, caused thousands of temporary layoffs and resulted in tens of millions of dollars in lost sales.

    The morning after the February 5th tornado, Caterpillar looked to their network of suppliers and other facilities to replace the output – and to do it with a two-month window.

    Solution: Caterpillar turned to Autocam to lead production on seven key components.

    Knowing this was going to be a short-term event, Autocam stepped out of their comfort zone to help a valued customer. Autocam expedited tooling and material, as well as reallocated capacity, in order to start shipping product within three weeks. Within that short period of time Autocam successfully implemented continuous improvement objectives while having no quality issues.

    A group president for Caterpillar, Steven Wunning shared (this disaster) “could have been the most severe crisis,” in Caterpillar’s history.

  • Case Two: Taking over business from a financially distress competitor

    A Tier One supplier approached Autocam when a competitor was struggling financially. After discussing all the options with this Tier One, Autocam came to the conclusion that it would acquire the company in distress. Many times suppliers jump at the chance to desource competition, but most would prefer to do it under their roof. Autocam recognized the need to keep the aptitude in place for the benefit of the customer.

    This transaction allowed continued production at the original facility with many of the same people that they were used to working with. As a result this Tier One later became one of Autocam’s top customers.

  • Case Three: Global Source, Local Manufacturing

    A Tier One automotive customer shared with Autocam their need for increased volumes on one of their global products. After providing this customer millions of these parts through just one facility, Autocam put together a proposal to service their customer from several different continents.

    The customer agreed to the proposal, which included price efficiencies in the first year. In addition to being able to provide the customer with a more competitive price, they were able to use manufacturing sites to help hedge currency fluctuations as well as have the capacity in place to grow with the increased demand.

    With Autocam, you provide your company to the ability to grow in more directions.

  • Case Four: Gaining Efficiencies on Mature Products

    As an Autocam customer’s part started to be replaced by newer technology the two teams discussed the future potential for some of the systems more mature parts. As a result of those discussions, Autocam transferred manufacturing from where that expertise was developed to an overall lower cost manufacturing site that produced parts for that region. Our customer was able to benefit from our original development and experience with transferring that capability into a lower cost structure. In this case, these parts are contained in a facility that is dedicated to this program. This allowed our customer greater economies of scale, streamlined logistics, and benefits from foreign exchange. At its peak, the program shipped over 35 million parts per year.

    The seven quarter transition allowed our customer to feel secure knowing they had the capacity in place at the original site while the new location was ramping up.

  • Case Five: Product Development on a Tough Design

    When a customer designed a long, thin, hardened injector component, the challenge was to control the amount of distortion in heat treat so that time and effort was not spent trying to straighten out a bent part. Without a known solution, the customer looked to Autocam for options. In return, Autocam, with over 20 years of experience with form grinding, was able to layer production in a way that enabled the development of a process that yields a fully hardened, 125 mm long part that is straight within 10 microns and round within 5 microns.

  • Case Six: Product Development utilizing Tooling Expertise

    A high volume component made from a 300 series stainless steel was machined from square stock. The part had very stringent requirements for concentricity between features machined on the front and on the back of the part, but the variation in the OD tolerance of the square bar stock and the pickoff collet precluded achieving the concentricity required. Autocam’s solution was to develop a specialized tool that could flex to follow a pre-machined hole, even when the machined feature was too small to utilize conventional “floating” tool holders. This unique tooling solution enabled very high process capability on this critical part feature while using a very low cost multi-spindle machining process.

  • Case Seven: Product Development using Assembly Expertise

    In a press fit assembly operation of two high value added components, there was a critical run-out requirement of one part to the other after the assembly. Given the geometry of the two parts and the interface of the press fit assembly, it was not possible to control the assembly operation well enough to avoid a high scrap rate at this assembly operation. Using two parts that were to print, the resulting range of run-out results was significantly greater than the required tolerance, and rework was not possible. To avoid extremely high scrap costs, Autocam’s solution was to design a special assembly machine that would press the parts to within 150 microns of full depth, measure the runout, and then “steer” the press fit during the last 150 microns to bring the parts into specification.

  • Case Eight: Desourcing Competition

    At the recommendation that Autocam was an exceptional precision machining company, a major OEM approached Autocam to help resolve a bottleneck at their largest factory (and one of the largest light vehicle factories in the world). Originally, because of timing and the threat of shutting down production lines, the OEM suggested we take over our competitor’s machines as they were reluctant to invest in maintenance or new equipment. After reviewing, Autocam suggested we replace the old equipment with new. The OEM agreed and Autocam won the business.

    Quickly, understanding that the competitor was expediting shipments and barely maintaining the minimum capacity, Autocam PPAP in six months and was ready for production in nine. With that said, some of that lead time was because of machines coming from Italy, Japan and South America.

    The program called for more than 80 part numbers that varied in dimensions and tolerances. After our team completed their risk analysis, they recognized that one of the processes we usually outsource could compromise production. We decided to bring that process in-house.

    Execution of this transfer was considered a success by both the OEM and Autocam. In addition to recognition for Autocam’s time-to-market and commitment to a smooth transition, the OEM provided our team with their Supplier Quality award. As a result this relationship continues to thrive and this valued customer has become one of Autocam’s top customers in a very short period of time.