Quality, value, service boost Wisconsin die maker

Quality, value, service boost Wisconsin die maker

Owners analyze process continuously

Steady growth has been the story at BesTech Tool Corporation, a West Bend, WI, producer of metal stamping dies and tooling. Frank Fellenz and Michael Korneli bought a failing tool and die shop in 1993 and turned it into BesTech Tool. They moved into a brand-new facility in West Bend in 2000 and have continued to prosper since. BesTech now employs 35 people and works two shifts, six days a week, “but we can go 24/7 if necessary,” Korneli says. Korneli now serves as president of BesTech and Fellenz is vice president.

Selling stamping tooling to at least eight different industries, with automotive the biggest segment, BesTech aggressively markets quality, value, and service to all of its customers. In addition to the usual equipment for a die-making shop, BesTech owns several try-out presses (including a new Danly), a state-of-the-art CAD system, a new job estimating system, and a Flowmaster waterjet cutter (somewhat unusual for this type of operation).

Talk to Fellenz and Korneli for a few minutes and it is clear they understand value. They track it constantly, on new equipment purchases, on the performance of existing equipment, and on every job they sell to customers. EDM has been part of BesTech since its formation and its contribution to the company’s value offering has increased as its business has grown through the years.

BesTech had two used wire EDM machines when it was formed, inherited from the earlier owner. In 2000, they were replaced with a new Mitsubishi FX20 model, bought through Schweda Machinery/EDM Sales, Inc., Delafield, WI. Fellenz and Korneli describe the FX 20 as a “workhorse” that was used heavily from its first setup on.

“By 2003, it was time to step up to a submerged tank model,” says Korneli. “The speed and the quality of cut for wire EDM just keeps going up every year; a new one would cut better and faster. We crunched the numbers, and it made sense, so we purchased a new FA20.

“It wasn’t a real hard decision. You need to be on the edge of technology and product in this business, and the new machine will pay for itself in short order. We considered trading in the FX20, but we didn’t, and pretty soon we were booked and then overbooked, and both machines are still running strong,” he adds. Both FX and FA units use 0.010″ brass wire.

The co-owners considered EDM equipment from other manufacturers, but came back to Mitsubishi. Korneli credits the combination of Mitsubishi performance and Mitsubishi/Schweda service. “We’d had Mitsubishi for a long time, were satisfied, and we couldn’t come up with a reason not to buy Mitsubishi again.”

Value analysis pays off

The BesTech value analysis continues as machines churn out jobs for the company and the co-owners’ approach is interesting to study. Among the elements they look at in EDM operations:

Cutting speed: Fellenz and Korneli watch the time a wire EDM takes to make specific cuts. They track and forecast sq in/hr in purchase justification analyses. From the earlier, inherited wire EDM machines, to the FX20, and the latest FA20, the cutting speed has improved each time. This leads Korneli to project a 1.5-year payback on the FA20 “if we run it around the clock.” Bestech is close to doing that right now.

Cost per hour: “We’re using the EDM equipment more than in the past,” says Korneli. “The more you use it, the more the cost per hour comes down.”

The slowest link in the production process: For BesTech, that is cutting and skimming. The new FA20 can do a cut and a single skim where the FX20 needed to do two skims. “You gain efficiency with the newer machinery,” Fellenz says.

Setup: The PC controls on the FA20 are similar to those on the company’s other machines, speeding setup time and making things easier for the operators.

Outsourcing: The new Mitsubishi machine let BesTech back away from the outsourcing it periodically had to do, again reducing costs, contributing value, and making BesTech more competitive.

“You’re nowhere without service”

Service is the other important part of the equation for BesTech. Here again, Mitsubishi generated rave comments from the two co-owners because the FA20 requires significantly less maintenance than the earlier FX20 unit, and both take less care than the two earlier used machines. BesTech uses Schweda to do most regular maintenance and works with Mitsubishi directly when the infrequent problems arise. One operator was trained at Mitsubishi, another at the dealer, and there were no complaints about the training in either case.

“I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the service we’ve gotten and the two companies, Schweda and Mitsubishi,” Korneli says. “Without service and support you’re nowhere. I am willing to pay to get great service and support along with good technical knowledge. If Schweda’s and Mitsubishi’s service was average, we would have looked elsewhere, but with Mitsubishi quality and the Schweda service we never seriously looked at others.”

It all boils down to value. “Mitsubishi machines are a good value,” says Korneli. “The new Mitsubishi FA WEDM is much more productive than the FX machine and our older EDMs were. It does what it is supposed to do and that is what we bought it to do. We’re growing and we’re happy,” the BesTech President concludes. Mitsubishi EDM, www.rsleads.com/407tp-208; BesTech Tool Corp., www.rsleads.com/407tp-209

Copyright Nelson Publishing Jul 2004

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