Gardner Business Media

Methods - Aug 2018

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Gil-Mar is a large manufacturer based in Metro Detroit providing high-quality machining, fabrication and welding of parts for Tier 1 automotive and defense industries for over 30 years. The company operates out of three Canton, Michigan plants totaling 200,000 square feet, in addition to two facilities totaling over 500,000 square feet in Shanghai, China, which was established in 2004. Gil-Mar machines cast ductile iron steering link components and various engines and auxiliary brackets for Ford with a focus on the F-Series truck program, and a diverse component machining offering for Chrysler. They also make door hinge sets and frame mount housings for Ford via Tier 1 suppliers. Work at their domestic facilities requires a multitude of equipment (120 machines) ranging from milling and drilling to broaching, assembly and more. Forty-three of Gil-Mar's machines are from Methods, which in itself is telling. Sustaining Growth – A Strategic Machine Experiencing meteoric growth in the early to mid-2000's, Gil-Mar began a closer analysis of their production rates, machining capabilities, downtime and support. "After examining our machining operations, it became clear to us that some of our equipment lacked the technology and capabilities to run at the high performance levels necessary for our demanding applications and volumes," said Mr. Dave LaVigne, Plant Manager at Gil-Mar. "Average machines, lack of supplier expertise, and mediocre service and support led to increased downtime and losses. Around 2008 into 2009 it became pretty clear to us that we really needed to align ourselves with a highly skilled machine tool supplier that we could partner with, to arm us with not only leading machine tool technology and service, but the vision to help us automate and integrate machines and systems as a whole to enable smart manufacturing solutions for our growing application demands." Gil-Mar's search didn't take them far. Methods Machine Tools, who has a full technology center in nearby Wixom, MI, provided the insight and horsepower for Gil-Mar to take notice. "It made complete sense for us to give Methods the nod. They have leading machine brands, excellent integration abilities, application engineering, service and support, and are only 15 miles away from us with a warehouse full of parts and machines under power," said LaVigne. KIWA: A Horizontal Shift In December 2009, the Gil-Mar/Methods partnership got off to a fast start through high performance horizontal machining centers with KIWA machines. "We were experiencing breakdowns and poor service and support with the horizontals we were using," said LaVigne. "We wanted a new, serviceable machine with a good track record and value for the investment. When Methods showed us a KIWA KH-45, we were very impressed. The overall machine frame and casting is massive, very substantial. The machine is also exceedingly fast with chip-to-chip time of 2.0 seconds and tool change and pallet change times that blew away the machines we had. We have achieved 20% increases in throughput and uptimes are in the high 90's with KIWA vs. the mid 80's on our previous machines. Our part quality has also greatly improved. The KIWA's are extremely repeatable and the spindle is always in the cut." Since being introduced to their first KIWA horizontal, Gil-Mar has added 16 KIWA's to their operation, comprised of 14 HMC's and two VMC's, a testament to how productive, reliable and mission critical these machines are in Gil-Mar's manufacturing operation. RoboDrill Cell: Taking Automation to the Next Level Late in 2014 Gil-Mar was presented an opportunity to manufacture door hinge sets for the Ford F-150, but Tier 1 Midway demanded a high output- premium value solution. "We saw this as a large CASE STUDY: AUTOMATION AND THROUGHPUT EXEMPLIFIED Methods Machine Tools Helps World Class Automotive Manufacturer Grow Via Full Complement of Machining Solutions and Automation 24

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