When dealing with OEMs and tier one suppliers, speed is of the essence. Millions of cars roll off factory floors every year, and the drive for better fuel economy, lighter vehicles, and more puts pressure on the whole supply chain. For some, this frantic pace can seem overwhelming; for others, like Ultratech Tool and Design, it’s a challenge and an opportunity.
Located in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, family-owned Ultratech started as a tool and die shop 30 years ago and has grown into a production metal stamper working with program volumes of varying sizes. They boast turnkey-based solutions to stamping, and have the in-house capabilities to prototype, tool build, and run mass production.
In the midst of the bankruptcies and consolidations of the 2008 automotive recession, Ultratech found their footing in the stamping industry and took on OEMs as clients for low volume stampings. Over the last ten years they’ve cemented their position as a trusted supplier to the automotive industry, and in 2017 they adopted FTI’s FormingSuite COSTOPTIMIZER® Professional software as a key element to ensuring the speed and quality that speed and quality that are paramount to the Ultratech brand to their brand.
Before COSTOPTIMIZER®, Ultratech would receive an RFQ package from a client with the relevant CAD data and then would have to turn over the information to a draftsman that would design the lay flat of the part using the prints or CAD data, importing them into software and using that software to try and unfold the part into a blank. This process, depending on how many other parts that the designer had to deal with, could be as long as a day or two, and then a quote would be able to be generated.
Introducing a faster, user-friendly process
Now they’re able to complete package quotes the same day. They receive the part data, put it into FormingSuite, and from there can generate the quote within minutes. They can view reports and can determine areas of tool design concern immediately, and assess needs such as press size, number of stations, material utilization and more. “Using FormingSuite has been a big help” says Andy Melang, Business Development Manager at Ultratech. “Specifically it’s very [user] friendly and helpful with drawn components, which are inherently more complex.”
Andy recounts a recent win. “One of our customers came to us for a small bracket that is a late add to a new frame. Most of the tooling for the frame was built in China, but due to time restrictions they reshored it locally and needed quotes immediately as the tool needed to be built in 12-16 weeks. Using FormingSuite COSTOPTIMIZER® Professional, the time from them saying ‘we need this part’ to the time we sent the total cost with cost breakdown was a couple of hours. I didn’t have a day or two to get assistance from our tool designer, but because we could turn this around so quickly it not only looks like we want the job, but we look professional doing it.
Production hiccups are dangerous for automakers, and even a one-day delay could cost over a million dollars in revenue. According to Andy, “many customers send over a package for a quote at the beginning of the week and want the quote delivered by the end of the day. This is not too much of a challenge when automakers and tier one suppliers are sending over packages with the average five or ten parts. When it gets up to 30 parts in a package, being able to quickly assess with FormingSuite in a few minutes what the cost, blank shape, and process is – that’s essential”. It takes Andy an average of 6-7 minutes to get a quote from taking part data and putting it through COSTOPTIMIZER®.
Developing skills and reducing rejections
From spending time on the shop floor throughout his youth, Andy built a passion for the industry that he decided to pursue after finishing his schooling. Despite not having experience with CAD, and not having the 40 years of tool and die knowledge his father has, Andy’s able to produce quotes quickly and accurately. COSTOPTIMIZER® guides him through the steps he needs to develop the blank shape, nest, develop the tooling process and create the quotation and work plan for every job.
This guidance allows Ultratech’s quote packages to go out with confidence. Due to the speed of the quote generation process, Andy is able to spend more time working with
clients and learning more about tooling. The software also gives them the ability to visualize the strip layout in a matter of minutes, and allows him and his father Bill to easily view areas of tool design concern immediately. This allows them to create a more accurate tool and avoid manufacturing issues in their operation.
The proof of accuracy is in the numbers – PPM, or parts per million, is a common measurement of success in the sheet metal industry. It’s the amount of parts per million
that were rejected by the customer due to defects, and stampers want to keep this number low. In 2018, Ultratech produced and shipped over six million parts and only six
were rejected, making their total PPM 1. They even want to reduce that number.
COSTOPTIMIZER® is the cost engineering standard in metal stamping. Because of this, it’s used by many OEMs and suppliers to establish target costs. With OEMs and suppliers using the same software, there’s less of a margin for error, and the quotes suppliers are able to provide are on target with what the higher tiers and OEMs can expect. Some of the packages Andy receives from OEMs and tier ones have certain similarities to what he sees in COSTOPTIMIZER®, and that fact gives him validation that quotes are inline and on-target. The accuracy, confidence and speed that FormingSuite COSTOPTIMIZER® Professional provides gives Ultratech a boost to become and remain trusted suppliers to OEMs and tier one suppliers.