This article appeared in the February 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Manufacturing can be fun and exciting but it’s the challenge that drives so many industry leaders. The ability to use your skills, your technology and your cutting-edge ideas to do something everyone else says is impossible — even your closest competitors — can make all the sacrifices worth it.
“Having a customer present our engineering and tooling group with a part that they think ‘can’t be manufactured’ and then present them with a part within budget, on-time and within specification...it energizes us and it just pushes us to look at that next impossible challenge and say ‘we can do that, too,’” said Mike Pacitti, director of corporate quality for The Schaller Group, a family owned manufacturer servicing the automotive, aerospace and commercial industries from a half-dozen in-state locations.
Beginning in 1945 as a tool & die supplier, the Schaller Group has advanced to become a full- service manufacturer proficient with “cradle-to-grave” projects including design, prototype, metal stampings, roll forming, welded assemblies, machining, laser cutting and waterjet.
“We are continually researching new technologies that will enhance our current manufacturing capabilities,” explained Pacitti. “Your reputation is dependent on cost, quality and on-time delivery. Continuous improvement through technology advancement certainly helps support those initiatives. It’s how you stay at the forefront of the industry and it’s how you support your existing customer’s needs and attract new customers.”
Schaller Group’s commitment to growth comes in many forms including technology, equipment and manufacturing floor space. In addition to state-of-the-art presses, machining centers, simulation software technologies and continuous autonomous machining, the company has also added more than 55,000 square feet to its aerospace facility and 52,000 square feet to its heavy stamping facility in the past three years.
“We also understand that you can’t go it alone, so we have entered into long-term agreements with both our customers and supply base,” Pacitti said. “It’s also important to stay in good communication with our customers to meet their additional needs, whether that is helping to reduce costs by offering alternative manufacturing methods, eliminating non-value-added operations or just accommodating them as they look to become more efficient and profitable.”
If your business looks to be on the rise, Pacitti and his team have some key recommendations to allow you to compete without running the risk of exceeding your capacity:
- Define your manufacturing scope and focus on your core competencies
- Audit your current processes / validate yield
- Work to mitigate the causes for lost production and understand cost of poor quality
- Learn from your successes as well as your failures
“Manufacturing offers a rewarding career path. Young people are rediscovering what a great career path it can be,” Pacitti offered. “The work we are all doing is vital and, if you can keep an eye to the future with continuous improvement and investment, there’s really no limit to where your business can go.”