Success By Design

Sept. 19, 2006
Attention to detail and good communications pays off.

Meticulous care reflects committment to quality.

When you enter the production area of Command Tooling Systems in Ramsey, Minn. you are immediately struck by how clean and orderly it is. The floor is so clean it shines, the aisles are unobstructed and everything seems to be exactly where it is supposed to be even though it's in the middle of a shift.

"We've paid a lot of attention to organizing for a smooth workflow," said Tim Gerbozy, manufacturing manager, "and it's paid off in faster throughput, higher job satisfaction and fewer accidents."

Founded in 1981, the company manufactures precision CNC toolholder products.They run 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday as their regular work week and then have a separate crew work three 12-hours shifts on weekends in a production bottleneck area to keep spindles turning and to get products out on scheduled delivery dates, says Gerbozy. The weekend crew is paid for 40 hours of time. Almost all of the company's machines are less than five years old, and all of them have their purchase prices shown on the front of the machine.

"It's a way of letting our people know just how expensive the equipment they are using is," saidJeffrey Allen, director of operations. "It adds to your sense of job satisfaction knowing the company has given you modern, expensive equipment to work with." Those price tags are just a small part of Command's formal and informal communications network.

"People want communication and want to know what's going on with their company," said Julie Pawlowski, human resources manager. "We have meetings once a month and our president tells everyone exactly what is going on, what we are planning, and we are always open to input from everyone."

On the shop floor communication is the name of the game. One operator will set up for a production run and then have another operator double-check the setup. It's part of their "buddy" system designed to put two pairs of eyeballs on everything before they push the buttons.

Work order travelers have every process that a part must go through detailed,and the operator and his "buddy" both initial them when each process is completed. This accountability enables the company to trace problems with a specific part back through each step, each machine and each operator that worked on that part.

"We don't have a quality control department because everyone who works on a part is responsible for the quality of that part," Gerbozy says. In addition to test and measurement equipment that measure to millionths of an inch at work cells, there is a temperature and humidity controlled room in the middle of the production area filled with state-of-the-art test and measurement equipment that every operator is trained on and expected to use as needed.

At the start of each shift each operator does preventative maintenance on his machines, and at the end of the shift he does a thorough cleanup of his area. Palettes and equipment are on wheels for easy movement from station to station, and so that they can be moved when cleaning is done. All of the aisles are thoroughly scrubbed by machine each shift. This emphasis on cleanliness is also an emphasis on doing quality work using quality equipment in a quality environment in order to produce the best possible tooling systems possible.

Command Tooling Systems Ramsey, Minn. Number of employees — 79
2006 sales — N/A
Markets served — All high precision machining, automotive, computer, aerospace, defense, job shop, medical, electronics and other leading-edge industries.

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