James Tool Machining & Engineering Inc., in Morganton, North Carolina, started as a five-man machine shop in 1987, and has grown steadily over 25 years. Now – under the management of Jeff Toner, son of founder James “Bud” Toner — the business operates three manufacturing centers: engineering and producing hydraulic workholding, CNC production machining, and precision short run CNC machining. It is a well-established supplier of machined components to Fortune 500 companies and first-tier suppliers in the aerospace, heavy equipment, automotive, oil-and-gas, nuclear energy, and transport sectors.
And, recently James Tool achieved AS9100 certification for its manufacturing protocols and processes.
“We were driven by a need for market diversification and expansion of our current business,” Jeff Toner explained, “building on the strengths established from our aerospace success. “Our goal is to secure more business in market sectors that demand the same precision and production efficiencies as our aerospace customers.”
Toner explained how the company, already recognized for its in-house engineering of hydraulic workholding systems and its precision CNC machining capabilities, set out to obtain AS9100 registration in order to offer greater value for its aerospace customers, both current accounts and potential ones. The aerospace market is one of the fastest-growing manufacturing sectors in the Southeast.
James Tool produces parts in prototype, one-off, short run, and production quantities, using 4- and 5-axis CNC machine tools, from high- and low-carbon steels, nickel alloys, aluminum, stainless, thermoplastics, and engineered aerospace materials.
In its pursuit of the AS9100 registration, the company engaged in a rigorous process that included reviewing and understanding all the standard requirements, evaluating all current processes, gap analysis program (GAP) utilization, revision and implementation of all necessary processes, procedures, manuals, documentation and training, as well as the ongoing evaluation and continuous improvements in the processes and protocols in use at James Tool.
“We use state-of-the-art CNC machine tools of the latest generation, plus highly advanced metrology solutions to achieve and maintain consistent part quality,” Toner assessed. “We have 5-axis vertical machining centers, high-speed milling centers and multi-pallet workstations. In addition, we offer wire EDM, thermal deburring, CNC torch cutting, vibratory stress relief and a black oxide coating system in-house.”
In support of its production and quality control capabilities, James Tool has in-house CAD (SolidWorks) and CAM (MasterCam) programming capabilities.
In order to expand its services, and in anticipation of future growth, James Tool took a risk: it completed additions and expansions to its operations. It established a new, 30,000-sq.ft. plant in Morganton, and it added a new training complex for its 120 workers at another location. Overall, James Tool occupies more than 100,000 sq.ft. of manufacturing and service space in Morganton and Columbus, N.C.
“We are a very pro-active company,” Toner said. “We make a decided effort to acquire the latest machine tools and other technologies, so that we can continue to provide our customers the very highest quality products in the fastest possible turnaround times.”
But, Jeff Toner emphasized that the James Tool’s operators’ skills must be equal to the programming, machining, and metrology improvement. “Highly trained people create a better environment, where high-quality work, safety and production efficiencies lead to the very best experience for our customers,” he said, calling it “an ongoing commitment at James Tool.”
The new AS9100 certification and the investments in its operation prove that commitment.