Toolholder System Empowers Workers, Boosts Productivity
First published in the August 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine
How do you boost productivity in a highly competitive industry segment while improving the quality of life for your workforce? That’s the story of Skills Inc. (Auburn, WA), a company that is so unique it has two bottom lines—one financial and one social.
Skills Inc. is exceptional within the manufacturing world in that it is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit company that is 100% self-funded through its four lines of business—aerospace manufacturing, aerospace finishing, technical services and business solutions. Despite the intense competition in its industry segment, the company successfully operates in an open market and receives no government subsidies.
Although nearly 60% of its 700 employees have a self-identified disability, Skills Inc. employs and serves a very diverse population of adults and youths across the organization. It provides essential industry, technical and workplace readiness training that is greatly needed but sorely lacking in today’s marketplace. The company has been in business since 1966 and operates three plants in Auburn and Seattle.
When Dan Olson joined Skills Inc. as plant manager of manufacturing in 2012, the company was using a hodge-podge of extended length tools held by milling chucks, collet chucks, and side-lock toolholders. The skilled operators were turning out a quality product, but it was slow, took a lot of effort and produced a lot of chatter and scrapped pieces. Dan knew the only way to get rid of the chatter and pick up some speed was to make a change in toolholders.