From: Modern Machine Shop,
Executive Editor, Modern Machine Shop
Here are five key elements of this quality contract shop.
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Although L&P Machine Products is a business unit of an OEM, it functions more as a contract shop than a captive organization, says Derek Martin, division president. Leggett & Platt, the shop’s parent company, sells automotive components and furniture products, but Mr. Martin says the two primary outside industries his shop is currently focusing on are oil/gas and aerospace. (For the latter, the shop has become certified to AS9100.) He believes his shop succeeds in winning new work by building relationships and gaining customers’ confidence as they recognize the overall value it offers. Here are five elements Mr. Martin says contribute to the shop’s success:
• Automation— L&P Machine Products has focused on integrating automation for many years to minimize labor costs. The shop has HMCs with pallet pool as well as an automated, six-machine cell that can perform turning, grinding and spline rolling unattended.
• Diversification—L&P Machine Products serves Leggett & Platt’s internal needs, but the shop is also going after external customers in other industries. In addition, it serves as an authorized Fanuc Robotics integrator helping other shops reap the benefits of automation. This enables L&P Machine Products to provide solutions more so than simply precisely machined parts.
• Multi-function equipment—To minimize setup time and work in process (WIP), the shop continues to integrate multitasking and five-axis machines. Its goal is to finish parts complete on one machine.
• Benchmarking—In order to see how the shop compares to like companies, L&P Machine Products uses benchmarking as a self-assessment tool. Mr. Martin. He says this helps set the direction of the company and sheds light on areas in need of improvement.
• Pushing the boundaries—Mr. Martin believes L&P Machine Products is able to stay ahead of its competitors because it focuses on continuous improvement and pushes the envelope in terms of its people and equipment. It does the same with its machine tool builders, oftentimes asking them to integrate new capabilities into their machines to best meet the shop’s production needs.
Leggett & Platt is a diverse, Fortune 500 manufacturer of furniture, automotive components and digital printing machinery. To boost its manufacturing and product development capabilities, Leggett & Platt established the L&P Machine Products, which consists of multiple, international locations specializing in high-volume machined parts, custom machining, process automation and specialized machinery manufacturing. Although the group originally served only the internal needs of Leggett & Platt, it now provides manufacturing solutions for several external customers as well.
Headquartered in Carthage, Missouri, L&P Machine Products benefits from vertical manufacturing capabilities it says can reduce costs, speed product-to-market time and ensure proper quality control. It relies heavily on automated processes to best meet the needs of high-volume work. Additionally, L&P Machinery Group offers benefits beyond standard machine shop capabilities, including engineering services, specialty coatings, plastic moldings, quality assurance programs and lean manufacturing practices.