Alumalloy Metalcastings Company of Avon Lake, Ohio, supplies aluminum cast parts and finished subassemblies to original equipment manufacturers of heavy trucks, autos and industrial equipment. Even though secondary machining of those parts comprised almost half of the company’s revenue, Alumalloy had been relying on third-party machine shops to complete this work. Quality issues would often be blamed on the casting when, in fact, these problems occurred in secondary operations.
The company wanted to produce high-quality parts, on time and with pricing that would win and keep orders. In an effort to improve quality and on-time delivery, Alumalloy decided it would machine its own parts. As it began to expand its secondary machining operations, it still struggled with extended lead-times due to issues with the commodity machines it had previously used. The company was experiencing poor chip removal and frequent way-cover replacements. After receiving a new contract, Alumalloy needed horizontal machining centers that could expand capacity and improve the company’s reliability and productivity.
In 2006 leadership at Alumalloy attended the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) with the goal of identifying a new horizontal machining center supplier. The team was impressed by the processing capabilities and engineering expertise that Makino demonstrated at the show. The following year, Alumalloy purchased its first Makino a81 horizontal machining center. Since then, the company has added four more a81 machines and five Makino a61nx horizontal machining centers.
The a81 and a61nx machines have enabled Alumalloy to maintain the reliability needed to meet demand for annual production quantities of up to 50,000 parts per order. The company has not had to replace a way cover, and chip removal is not an issue.
The company runs one extended shift for its more than 100 part numbers with short runs. It puts its most important jobs on the a81 and a61nx machines because of their reliability.
Today the company is able to offer a complete casting and secondary machining operation, ensuring high quality and on-time delivery, no matter the part size or quantity. The ability to offer the whole process—from raw materials to finished parts—is what sets Alumalloy apart from its competitors, which might offer only foundry or machining services. With the machines, the company can produce repeatable tolerances as tight as 15 microns on some parts, and it consistently meets deadlines in a demanding production environment. As a result of these investments, Alumalloy has won back orders for 18 parts that had previously gone to overseas competitors.