Custom Job Shop Gets LEAN

What started out as a 5S tool-room project to bring organization and reduce setup times has blossomed into a full organization-wide commitment to getting Lean.

GEM Manufacturing Inc. offers contract prototyping, machining, finishing and assembly for some of the world’s largest Agriculture, Oil & Gas and Hydraulic OEMs such as CNH, Eaton, Parker Hannifin, GE & Deere Corp.  Started by brothers Rob and Kevin Gottschalk in June 2006 in Bristol, WI. GEM manufactures some 2,000 different parts annually with runs ranging from 5-50,000 pieces. By May 2011 they opened a 2nd facility in Kenosha, WI to be able to keep pace with customer demand.

That first successful 5S tool-room project inspired Kevin and Rob to proceed into a Quality Lab 5S project, and then a Kaizan event. That Kaizan event led to GEM’s investment in January 2010 for an eNETDNC system for their shop to address inefficiencies with CNC program transfers and file rev control. eNET’s file rev control tools like the Smart File Compare feature for edited-uploaded programs insures that GEM’s master programs will never be lost or even edited without Management approval. Utilizing eNET also allowed operators to call and send programs quickly right from the machine control. Previously GEM relied on a time-consuming process of having to remotely cue programs from a CAM system, which involved the operators having to leave their machines to cue programs up from a workstation computer.  This cumbersome process came to a head when the CAM systems were unable to transfer programs to GEM’s new Mazak, Makino and Haas machine tools. The eNETDNC system worked flawlessly for all of their machines and control types.

Encouraged by the fact that these lean tools were allowing GEM to improve costs, quality and delivery times for their customers, GEM appointed an in-house Coordinator of Continuous Improvement in 2011. Their organizational commitment to being Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliant and applying Lean & Six Sigma techniques throughout led directly to GEM Mfg. winning a Small Business of the Year award from KABA in November 2011.  Motivated to keep the Lean momentum going the Gottschalk brothers attended the fall 2012 IMTS show to learn about eNET’s real-time Machine Monitoring. GEM was interested in streamlining the data captured on the floor and gaining insights into their machine utilization, so early 2014 they added eNET’s Machine Monitoring & Data Collection. According to owner Rob Gottschalk “We found eNET to be extremely customer focused and since their hardware is made in the USA the system is rock-solid, so they don’t have to charge their customers yearly maintenance fees. Since they also provide free software & hardware updates and phone support, choosing eNET for Machine Monitoring & Data Collection at GEM Mfg. was a no-brainer for us.”

Fast-forward to today and Rob and Kevin are still very satisfied with that decision to trust in eNET for Machine Monitoring.  GEM Mfg. has even rolled out an employee incentive program tied to machine cycle-on %/chip cutting time, based on the real-world data they collect through eNET.  GEM Mfg. is ISO 9001:2008 certified, has over 50 machines between their 2 locations and even recommends eNET to their industry-leading OEM customers.

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