CHICAGO-On March 22, 2011, a group from the Manufacturing Summit led by Bob Vavra from Plant Engineering magazine, visited Dudek & Bock, a longtime world leader in springs, wireforms and light metal stampings for the automotive, appliance, housewares and other major high-volume, close tolerance markets. The purpose of the visit was to see how a seemingly traditional metalforming company, operating in the city of Chicago, sustains its leadership role in the world market, after 65 years in business. The attendees included representatives from various manufacturing and industrial service companies, all seeking to learn ways to improve their own operations.
The tour began with a presentation by Matt Puz, the Dudek & Bock vp for sales & marketing, supported by Mike Dudek and Raquel Chole, who head up the sales operations for the company, which operates plants in Chicago and Saltillo, Mexico.
The presentation recapped the history of the company, from its humble beginnings in 1946, when Mike Dudek’s grandfather Joe and his partner Stan Bock started the business with two four-slide machines for springforming and a commitment to vertically integrated manufacturing, product quality and efficient operation of the factory that was and is the envy of the industry. Dudek & Bock today maintains over 500 machines for use at both plants, retrofitting and rebuilding them in their Chicago factory, plus the company produces over 90% of its own tooling to minimize reliance on outside sources and the attendant cost/delivery issues. Currently, the company produces over 1500 products to order.
Puz also detailed the precision with which the operations of both plants are monitored, both in terms of employee productivity and machine utilization. Karen Pacana, one of the company’s account managers, addressed the scheduling of raw material purchases and shipping strategies, while Ken Kveton, part of the business development team for the company, spoke on the constant oversight exercised at Dudek & Bock to insure lower PPM and to streamline business integration between the two plants. Dudek & Bock recently purchased another supplier to the automotive industry and melded the operation into its Chicago plant. That company concentrated on the automotive seating industry, where Dudek & Bock was already established. As Mike Dudek observed, “We saw an opportunity to expand our product reach in the seating business, not only with the in-house capabilities we already had but also through this compatible company, who was making torsion springs and related products. The acquisition went smoothly and we are quite pleased with the results to date.”
Collectively, the automotive and appliance business represent 80% of the gross revenue at Dudek & Bock, as Matt Puz noted in his presentation. Selling to these high-volume, critical dimension industries is very challenging, as Puz further observed. “For several years recently, we invested over $1,000,000 annually in new CNC equipment to better serve our customers, through increased automation and capacity utilization at both our plants.” Karen Pacana added, “While some products are produced in the Mexico plant for local automotive business, most of it happens here in Chicago, affording us optimum control of the manufacturing and logistics. This reduces carrying costs and allows us to build a safety overrun into our jobs, which frequently gets used for aftermarket repair operations.”
Complementing the core competencies of spring, wireform and light metal stamping production at Dudek & Bock, the company also maximizes its value to customers by providing a number of secondary operations on products, including all the following: welding, riveting, inline tapping and extrusion plus drilling, swedging, grinding, tapping, deburring, stress relief, shot peening, degreasing, some coating and oven curing, plus specialized packaging to suit customer requirements.
Raquel Chole noted that the employees from the Mexico plant, nearly all young and all well educated, are frequently brought to Chicago for machine cross-training and instruction on the protocols used by the company for production evaluation. “This policy gives the employees a great sense of belonging to our organization and company culture, plus they come away from the experience here with multiple skill sets that can be utilized at the Saltillo facility.”
Eipe Varghese, the vice president for quality at Dudek & Bock, proudly discussed how the company has achieved ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO/TS 16949 certification. “Our full audit procedures and constant attention to continuous improvement protocols at both plants have made a big difference in the overall efficiency of the company. This reduces cost, improves delivery achievements and keeps us a valued supplier to our demanding major markets.”
Puz concluded the presentation with a detailed discussion on the “cost of quality” at Dudek & Bock. “We utilize world-class metrics to keep us a world-class company,” he said with no small amount of pride. “Quality has become part of our culture here and we review everything related to our machines, labor, overtime, earned hour ratio and more.” The result has been an outstanding 25% higher efficiency for man hours worked, over the last eight years, Puz noted.
Dudek & Bock is committed to a “design for manufacturability” strategy and utilizes an Advanced Production Quality Planning (APQP) process to make optimum use of the machinery and secondary operations in-house to produce products to specification and in the most efficient manner possible, Puz concluded.
Following the presentation, the group was led on a full tour of the Chicago plant, where Mike Dudek explained the Value Analysis/Value Engineering (VA/VE) concept that drives a key component of the company’s continuous improvement policy. “We frequently take a product that’s been made a certain way and, by using our production equipment and secondary operation skills, we are able to remove weight and improve the manufacturability of the product, without compromising the performance or quality in any way.” He further noted that, as a supplier to automotive, safety factors in the end product are constantly monitored. “We sample all our products throughout the run, including on every new spool of wire or coil of metal. This is a further back-up to what our quality department does on all incoming shipments.”
Monitoring the total production and all incoming jobs is done at biweekly staff meetings, observed Raquel Chole. Here, company managers review the performance issues of all machinery at both plants, plus perform an assessment on the incoming workflow. Energy use, IT issues, capacity utilization, “stretch opportunities” within an existing customer or market and manufactured product potential are all evaluated in an ongoing manner, through this process.
Eipe Varghese conducted the tour of his quality department, detailing how PPAP and segment checks are performed on all jobs at Dudek & Bock, sometimes in compliance with customer mandate, but more often to the stringent internal protocols established long ago by the company itself. “We perform load testing, full data capture and record keeping on all the work cells in the plant.” He noted the Mexico facility has a mirror image quality lab. “Gaging is often built in-house but we use external calibration services, as well, to be sure we’re on track at all times.”
In touring the machine maintenance department, Mike Dudek mused, “This is our old-fashioned art department, our black magic, if you will.” The department is staffed with many longtime Dudek & Bock employees, who have not only run every piece of machinery in the building, but are able to repair and retrofit it, as well. On a typical piece of heavy wireforming machinery, Dudek noted, “…you might be looking at $300,000 to buy it new, while our guys can make one of our old machines run as good as new for maybe 20% of that amount. Big difference.”
All in the group agreed this forward-thinking company was a fitting end to the Manufacturing Summit.
For video of this event, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=64D854D474995127
For more information, please contact:
DUDEK & BOCK SPRING MANUFACTURING COMPANY
5100 W. Roosevelt Rd.
Chicago, IL 60644