TECHLAB maintains a strong focus on quality in its research and development of vital disease diagnostic tests. By Janice Hoppe
TECHLAB specializes in developing and manufacturing intestinal diagnostics that are used worldwide with a research focus on enteric disease and microbiology of the intestinal tract. “We are diagnosing diseases in very sick people,” Vice President of Manufacturing Steve Harvey says. “We try to have all of our employees imagine someone they know or love, or themselves having to use that test to make sure every single test we put out there is to the highest quality.”
Drs. Tracy Wilkins and David Lyerly founded the Blacksburg, Va.-based company in 1989 based on research that came out of Virginia Tech’s Anaerobe Laboratory where they were investigating diagnosis and treatments for Clostridium difficile infection. C. difficile is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis. One of the reagents developed was an antiserum that could be used diagnostically.
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Colonial Tool Group manufactures custom products and provides turnkey solutions for customers in a variety of industries. By Stephanie Crets
For nearly 80 years, Colonial Tool Group Inc. has been manufacturing machine tools. It has evolved into providing turnkey solutions for broaching, tooling and machines, along with machining solutions for CNC spindles, indexable cutting tools and fixtures for automotive, heavy equipment, off-road and aerospace customers. The company also prides itself on producing custom-engineered products for the metal removing industry.
“Our products and services tend to last longer and outperform our competitors due to our engineered solutions,” CEO Paul Thrasher says. “Based on offering our customers unique solutions to their problem, it’s a lower cost to own for them. Products and services tend to last longer and outperform the competition’s since we have engineered solutions for the customer. We don’t typically have or make on-the-shelf commodity products. We look for customers who have unique problems.”
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Crown Group's service to customers extends beyond coating to include supply chain and inventory management. By Staff Writer
When a national agricultural and construction equipment OEM was facing a capacity problem related to coating operations in one of its assembly plants, the company looked to the Crown Group for help.
“Their previous coating operation had created a nightmare for their assembly plant,” a company representative says. The OEM was regularly shutting down the plant and running three daily shifts to deal with a coating backlog.
The situation quickly turned around after the equipment OEM invited the Warren, Mich.-based component finishing company to take over the coating operation. “We reengineered it from top to bottom,” the representative says.
Positive changes to the facility included reducing the number of coating shifts from three to two and greatly improving the coating line's ability to paint parts on the first pass from 5 to 98 percent. Crown Group also significantly improved inventory control and tracking related to the parts being coated. “[The equipment OEM] has 3,500 SKUs, most of which were being lost under the previous system,” the company says. “We were able to get inventory under control by implementing an ERP [enterprise resource planning] system and by being disciplined in the way we manage inventory.”
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Moxtek excels at producing optics and X-ray products that meet the demands of its customers. By Jim Harris
The technical expertise of Moxtek’s staff and the company’s ability to adjust its manufacturing operations to customer demands are at the core of its success.
“I think the people here are just outstanding,” says Roger Critchfield, vice president and chief logistics officer for the Orem, Utah-based company. “With the team we have, I feel that when we understand what the client’s problem is, we can solve anything.”
The company specializes in two types of technology: X-rays and optics. Moxtek operates divisions, or groups, dedicated to each technology type. “We operate two companies under one roof,” Critchfield says.
Moxtek maintains a strong market position in both of its product categories. The company’s customers include electronics and technology OEMs as well as the scientific sector.
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Beretta USA’s new Tennessee manufacturing plant upholds the company’s tradition of innovation and quality.
By Staff Writer
When Italian firearms manufacturer Beretta announced plans in 2014 to build a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Tennessee, the intention was for the new facility to supplement the company’s existing manufacturing operations in Maryland. However, once the ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the new facility in Gallatin, Tenn., the new facility was the home of all manufacturing operations for Beretta USA. A combination of generous incentives from the Tennessee government and changes to gun laws in Maryland made the move a prudent one from Beretta’s perspective, but the capabilities and space afforded by its new manufacturing plant mean the company likely won’t skip a beat in the transition.
The new facility covers 160,000 square feet on a 100-acre plot that will include an outdoor firing range. The new facility is expected to manufacture nearly half a million firearms each year, which will all be shipped immediately to the company’s warehouses in Virginia. Among the six types of firearms that will be produced at the Gallatin facility will be the M9 pistol, which is the standard sidearm of the United States armed forces. The facility will also produce the latest variation of the M9, known as the M9A3, which was designed specifically for use in desert environments and carries more rounds than the original M9. The facility also will be the origin point of five more pistol models as well as one shotgun model.
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Indiana oil refinery CountryMark has bolstered its success with a new process for scheduling preventive maintenance. By Chris Petersen
Conventional wisdom holds that if “it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” but that’s an oversimplification, especially for an operation as complex as CountryMark’s. The Indiana-based oil refinery processes approximately 28,000 barrels of crude oil each day and produces nearly 450 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel each year for the farmers that make up its cooperative.
Although CountryMark is successful, leadership determined that it was necessary to drive down costs and improve the reliability of its refinery even further. That’s why CountryMark recently implemented what it calls its WorkPlace Excellence Program, and the company says its success has been based on the principle that if the company eliminates failures through preventive maintenance and reliability engineering, it becomes proactive instead of reactive.
CountryMark is one of only two oil refineries in Indiana, and the fuel it produces is used by nearly 65 percent of farmers and 60 percent of school corporations within its service area. That service area includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. As of 2015, CountryMark was ranked as the 10th-largest private company based in Indiana, and it has been operating as a cooperative since 1919.
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SAS Manufacturing invests in automation and touts its domestic presence to compete with overseas facilities.
By Tim O’Connor
Circuit boards are complex electronic components, made up of thousands of parts, some as small as a grain of sand. If there is a defect in the finished boards, the customers can’t easily send them back when buying overseas. Or if the client wants to make a last minute design change to the amount of Ohms the resistor can handle, it’s difficult to halt production when there is a massive order next in line.
But because it is located domestically, SAS Manufacturing has the flexibility to quickly make those changes and quality checks and send the finished products to the customer without disrupting the supply chain.
The company’s advantage lies in its ability to turn orders around in a short time frame. An overseas manufacturer might be able to produce a circuit board for less money – depending on the cost of logistics – but it can’t beat SAS’s ability to react. “They’re not as flexible as we are locally,” President and owner Ted Smit says.
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Varian Medical Systems continuously improves its radiation technology while tightening up its production process to give patients with cancer a fighting chance. By Janice Hoppe-Spiers
Ninety-nine percent uptime would be a great number for any other manufacturing company to achieve with its products, but at Varian Medical Systems, that number is just not good enough. The company is full of innovators who are all working towards the same mission: to not just fight cancer, but to beat it.
“We try to think of downtime from a patients’ perspective. Let’s say a patient has a brain tumor and they’re being treated on a Varian machine and they have on a cranial fixation device so their face and head are firmly attached to a table and you can’t move,” describes Robert Wood, vice president of worldwide manufacturing. “It’s natural to be nervous because this is a big deal and you are getting X-rays delivered to the brain, and the machine stops working for 10 minutes during the procedure. From an uptime perspective, it’s only 10 minutes in a 24-hour day, but from the patient’s perspective, the patient was uncomfortable, had fear and might be questioning whether this treatment will be effective. While we know the patient was treated correctly, he still was uncomfortable and had a less than desired experience.”
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company began shortly after World War II when brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian developed a source of strong microwave signals that improved air navigation and warned of potential bombing raids. The klystron tube, a high-frequency amplifier for generating microwaves, can be found today in radar, satellite and wideband high-power communication, high-energy physics applications and as an essential component of the modern medical linear accelerator – a machine that helps clinicians target and destroy tumors using high-energy X-ray beams.
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