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Eliminate the Stall Zones

Nov. 27, 2007
Paravis Industries Inc. Auburn Hills, Number of employees – 35 2007 sales – N/A Markets served – Automotive, military land and flight systems and aerospace. Machinists at Paravis Industries have all the tooling they need at a ...

Paravis Industries Inc.
Auburn Hills, Mich.
Number of employees – 35
2007 sales – N/A
Markets served – Automotive, military land and flight systems and aerospace.

Machinists at Paravis Industries have all the tooling they need at a hands reach.

Paravis Industries Inc. is the “go-to” prototype facility for its automotive customers.

The shop provides its auto industry customers with prototypes and with the precision tooling components they need for their manufacturing lines.

Its automotive work still provides a dominant share – onethird – of its business, and Paravis Industries finds that keeping that business can be a challenge, but the shop has diversified, and now includes sales to military land and flight systems and aerospace markets in its mix.

“The automotive work we’ve kept is a good business. However, most of the long lead time components of yesterday have made their way overseas. The short lead time ones often remain here, and this is where we and other U.S. shops have to shine to be successful in the automotive market,” said Glenn Charest, owner of Paravis Industries.

“With that said, shops must operate within today’s shorter lead times and deliver the same quality as when they had longer lead times, and if they do, they will get business,” he added.

Paravis Industries gets its work done within those short lead times for its automotive customers and accomplishes similar work in its other markets mainly by eliminating “stall zones” in its processes.

First, the shop responds quickly to quotes and in-coming jobs.

James Carlton, vice president of manufacturing at Paravis Industries, said he adjusts his employee job schedules on a day-to-day basis to keep work moving through the shop. He – and everyone else at Paravis Industries – uses an automated job-tracking system it developed in-house.

“Today, automated job tracking is a must,” Carlton said. This is especially true for Paravis Industries, a shop that can have anywhere from 400 to 500 open jobs at any given time, jobs with volumes of 10, 20, or just two pieces.

Within the shop’s system, fail-safes prevent human error. The system will raise a flag and prompt for answers or information and will not proceed until the required data is entered. Paravis Industries has carried this system over to its maintenance and gauging programs, so the shop knows when a gauge is ready for calibration or a machine tool needs some type of preventative maintenance.

“Customers don’t accept the excuse of ‘my machine was down’ when a job is late,” Charest said.

Paravis Industries uses CNC-enhanced machines, such as this Southwest Industries mill, for job volumes under 12 pieces.

Machining operations at Paravis Industries include milling, turning and grinding with full- CNC equipment for job volumes higher than 12 pieces. The shop also has what it calls “CNC-enhanced” toolroom machines for its low-volume jobs.

CNC-enhanced lathes and mills allow the shop’s machinists to quickly run two or three parts. The CNC enhancements let machinists “teach” the machines easily by running the first part manually. After that, the machines have “learned” the part sequences and run the rest of the job automatically. Once a job is run, its sequences are saved.

To further reduce stall zones, Paravis stocks each of its CNC machining cells with the necessary tooling and fixturing and anything else needed by the cell’s machinist for the job. Everything is within a hands reach away, Carlton said.

The shop also does a lot of hardturning and hardmilling to eliminate secondary operations such as grinding, and it uses Hurco 4-axis and 5-axis machining centers to reduce the need for multiple part setups. Each of these machining techniques help the shop work within its short lead times.

Part quality is just as important as delivering on time for the shop because, once a prototype part is approved, Paravis Industries runs temporary production while its customer ramps up high-volume production for that part.

The shop conducts 100 percent inspection on all tolerances under 0.002 in., Carlton said, noting that the shop sometimes spends as much time inspecting a part as it takes to machine it.

Also at the heart of shop’s success are its 35 employees. The least experienced machinist has seven years experience. Carlton said he believes that if he takes care of them, they will take care of the shop.

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