Company News

VMP, Inc., Prepares to Debut Order Online System

SoCal inserts manufacturer views e-commerce as advantageous business move


A decade ago, the concept of e-commerce - conducting business over the still-new Internet - was an anomaly. Individuals opposed enumerated the risks, from misdirected orders to financial chaos to customer service unable to adapt to the specifics of online technology. Proponents, conversely, saw the potential in this new method of marketing and sales, and introduced it into their existing systems. The result? E- commerce as a marketing vehicle grew, becoming a force that now dominates the business landscape.

Today, e-commerce is considered de rigueur by companies intent on staying at the forefront of their respective industries. According to Bob Schreiner, Jr., Vice President & General Manager for VMP, Inc., a Southern California-based manufacturer in the inserts market, incorporating a sophisticated online marketing system into their already successful order system was a logical, albeit necessary, move.

"Our order online system will be up and running by the end of Fall 2002," explains Schreiner. "Historically, VMP has been a leader in the inserts industry for years; therefore, with Internet sales and marketing growing annually, it's only reasonable that we would implement an online ordering system that permits us to meet our customers' business needs more swiftly."

VMP's position in the competitive inserts market (for more than 40 years the company has developed inserts and spacers for rotational and injection molding, inserts for the sheet metal industry, and custom inserts for the automotive and recreational industries), is firmly established, the result of a commitment to customer service, united with business savvy and the consistent delivery of a quality product. The company database services more than 2000 customers and includes Boeing, General Electric, Gregstrom, and Rotonics Manufacturing Inc.

Five years ago, the company launched www.vmpinc.com as its first step in Internet-related sales. The Web site gives current and potential customers access to the VMP product line and custom-order options; in addition, the software program in place, which is capable of giving customers the ability to access VMP's complete inventory and then order accordingly, will be fully operational in the near future. Inaugurating the order online system, Schreiner feels, will provide both customers and company with even greater advantages.

"We already have an excellent reputation for low lead times and high product volume without sacrificing quality," he says. "This most recent addition will offer further benefits, such as allowing us to service the global market, reduce paperwork and eventually improve the profit margin."

The VMP order online system has been designed for ease-of-use. Customers visiting the Web site are directed to the correct page. Once there, they can select the part, indicate the product's attributes (thread size and material, for example), and submit the information (the system is secured to protect customer privacy.) And, says Schreiner, the current phone support will remain intact for those customers used to placing orders via telephone or who simply prefer conducting business directly with another individual.

Schreiner is particularly enthusiastic about the order online system's potential in helping VMP tap the global market beyond North America (VMP is already an established force in Canada and Mexico as well as the United States.) He feels that the new system, which is equipped to accommodate wire transfers from around the world, offers the possibility of doubling VMP's sales within 18 months. Noting that VMP has not raised its prices in nearly five years, he is confident that the increased business that comes from international sales will in turn permit the company to manufacture goods in higher volume, reduce product costs and ultimately result in savings that are passed back to its customers.

Says Bob Schreiner, "Truly successful marketing is a subtle combination of strategic thinking, advancement, access and communication. But it incorporates other key elements, such as product integrity and the willingness to recognize and remain abreast of ever-shifting industry demands. It means we must remain aware of the steps our competitors take, for this awareness allows us not so much to hinder their strides but rather enhance our own. And, perhaps most important, it is long-term strategic targeting of those business initiatives that will best benefit both VMP and its customers."

Accessibility, Vision Establish VMP, Inc., as Industry Leader

Once a neighborhood machine shop in a leased 5000-square foot building, VMP now dominates the market from its 25,000-square foot corporate headquarters located north of Los Angeles.

Rewind, if you would, to 1958: Bob Schreiner, Sr., a screw machinist with a reputation as something of an innovator within his industry, joins the Van Dalsen & Poquette Screw Machine Shop. Two years later, partners Harry Van Dalsen and John Poquette take on Ernest Moe as a third partner, an event commemorated by the renaming and incorporation of the business to VMP, Inc. Bob, Sr., runs the machines; the partners oversee the administrative concerns. Although a small operation, the company's reputation as a shop that delivers high quality service and products is born. And begins to grow.

Now, fast forward to 1990: The three original partners have retired or passed away. Thirty years post-founding, VMP's growth is reflected in its customer base (roughly 500) and the 14,000 square-foot plant it bought in 1984. Bob Schreiner, Sr., president of VMP, Inc. since 1969, issues a challenge to his children (and coworkers) Bob, Jr., Sue and Steve: Surpass the $1 million mark and I'll buy you each a new car.

Bob, Sr., passed away in 1991; two years later, his challenge was met. And, in the ensuing eight years, met again. Many times over.

VMP, Inc. today is a family-owned company that has grown and changed with the world around it, from humble beginnings to industry leader, through occasional lean years and ever-increasing flush times. Under the auspices of the Schreiner children, Bob, Jr., 46, Sue St. George, 42, and Steve, 44, (Bob Sr.'s wife, Betty, holds the honorary title of president), VMP has cemented its place in the competitive inserts market due to a business dynamic that unites customer service, product quality and razor-sharp strategic thinking.

First, consider the changes: once a neighborhood machine shop in a leased 5000-square foot building, VMP now dominates the market from its 25,000-square foot corporate headquarters located north of Los Angeles in the burgeoning Santa Clarita Valley in developing inserts and spacers for rotational and injection molding, inserts for the sheet metal industry, and custom inserts for the automotive and recreational industries. Once a three-man, three-machine operation, VMP today boasts 50+ automatic screw machines and an environmentally safe parts cleaning system (see accompanying story), and keeps more than 40 people employed during peak operating periods. Once supported by 30 local customers, VMP's 2001 database proffers a customer population of approximately 2000, and includes Boeing, Gregstrom, Rotonics Manufacturing Inc., Dakota Molding, Aggressive Molding and General Electric.

Now, consider the numbers: between 1995 and 1996, sales doubled ($1.2 million to $2.2 million); in 2000, sales increased 20 percent from 1999. Overall, VMP, Inc. enjoys an exponential increase of 15 to 20 percent in sales and volume annually. When VMP purchased its Santa Clarita facility in 1996, the shop was designed to accommodate an anticipated three-time growth. Five years later, the company is nearly there in terms of manufacturing, having doubled its original numbers; inventory-wise, VMP has not only tripled its original numbers but surpassed them twice.

An impressive history, yes - but to the people who comprise VMP, Inc., these numbers take on greater significance. The numbers are a legacy that unites hard work with a commitment to service, a legacy established more than 40 years ago, carried forward by the children of its former president.

"Much of our success comes from the fact that we're always thinking ahead of the industry," explains Bob, Jr., whose VMP business card reads Vice President/General Manager, but who also serves the company as advertising director, spokesman, troubleshooter, and shop straw boss. "Factor into this our reputation for the quality and cleanliness of our products, the technical expertise of our engineering staff and our ability to accommodate the delivery needs of our customers. Our philosophy is "if we've got it, you get it'.

Sue and Steve, chief financial officer and senior financial officer, respectively, agree, In theory, they serve as VMP's numbers gurus, overseeing the general ledger, payables and receivables and pension plan; in practice, like all VMP administrators, they have the ability to oversee activities throughout the company. Says Steve, "We put our life and our blood into this company. And it's paid off. I've seen a substantial increase in overall growth since taking over as SFO in 1991."

Meeting industry demands, recognizing employee value

"Giving employees a sense of the respect we as employers feel for them is key . . . It's important that our employees know they are appreciated - not merely needed."

"VMP has grown tremendously over the years," notes Jeff Carley, 48, senior operations manager, "and it's been fascinating to observe the changes. What hasn't changed is our focus to keep lead times down and product volume up, an approach that I feel is inherent to VMP's ongoing profitability."

Jeff's company tenure began in 1979 when he joined the VMP team as a machinist, a position for which he had only a rudimentary knowledge. The training he received from Bob, Sr., created the foundation for learning the broad-based demands of his present appointment. As senior operations manager, Jeff changes hats several times a day, moving from production to shipping to parts inspection (or as he may remark, "everything that Bob does not.") He also trains new shop employees to ensure VMP's proven method of production remains unhindered, although the company's turnover rate is less than dramatic. "In my time here," Jeff notes, "I'd estimate we've seen not more than five employees leave."

Indeed, VMP does enjoy a remarkably low personnel turnover, particularly for an industry where competing shops often woo experienced machinists with the lure of overtime and double shifts. Bob feels part of VMP's success at keeping its turnover down is grounded in the company's emphasis on employees having rewarding personal lives.

"Giving employees a sense of the respect we as employers feel for them is key," explains Bob, "and that is achieved in expected ways, such as overtime, and holiday parties and bonuses, as well as spur-of-the-moment events like a Friday barbecue. It's important that our employees know they are appreciated - not merely needed."

Another perque for VMP personnel is the plant's location. Santa Clarita is recognized as among the safest cities in the United States; also, many employees live in the area or its immediate environs. These points were taken into consideration when the company began planning its 1996 relocation, and remain a powerful incentive for commuters and families seeking relief from Los Angeles' notorious freeway gridlock and crime rate.

A commitment to customers pays off

Among VMP's core values: assuring that its products and services exceed customer expectations. In the late 1980s, VMP introduced MIL specifications for all its products (whether or not the items were intended for military or defense department use) as added assurance of high standards. The company is also ISO-compliant. Says Bob, "We are not ISO-certified in the sense that we lack the internal audit process that comes with certification. This doesn't affect the quality of VMP's products, however, which is already established."

Lisa Romero, 36, a 15-year VMP veteran, exemplifies the company's synergistic relationship with its customers. Lisa joined VMP in 1986 as a machine shop employee, over the years rising through company ranks in both shop and administrative positions. Today, as sales manager, she oversees all orders and pricing, and manages customer service and customer relations.

"We have an excellent rapport with our customers," she explains, "one that reflects an ideal blend of professionalism with a personal touch. This is how it was when I started here 15 years ago. This method of connecting with our customer base is a precedent established by Bob, Sr. and one that I know will continue."

Knowing each customer's needs and educating the customer, she believes, are paramount to VMP's continued success.

"Obviously, customers rely on us to help them meet their deadlines and work requirements," she says, "However, we don't simply write up orders; rather, we emphasize the specifics of each job, particularly for custom orders, by defining dimensional limitations, timelines and overall customer expectations. Once customers are aware of the requisite timelines, they can address other business needs while VMP completes the order."

The result? Says Lisa, "Our rejection ratio is extremely low."

Forward thinking proves an ideal equation for continued business

"With VMP, you get the sense that they will grow with you . . .VMP recognizes the process as well as the limitations of our industry and understands, often before we do, what products will prove beneficial."

According to John Hammond, vice president of Mainland Products (a custom rotational mold maker), VMP's responsiveness to its customers and knack for targeting potential product needs has cemented his company's 16-year relationship with VMP.

"With VMP, you get the sense that they will grow with you," he says. "In addition to key factors - always getting a return phone call, for example, or being informed of the options when we require a rush job - VMP takes business to the next level. VMP recognizes the process as well as the limitations of our industry and understands, often before we do, what products will prove beneficial."

Such a situation occurred last year. Mainland personnel had discussed the need for a special fitting for an automotive thread with Bob Schreiner. Mainland had no planned sales or defined goals for such a product; VMP, however, recognized the potential, did the research and development and brought the item to Mainland's attention. The Ontario, California-based Mainland (the biggest maker of rotational molds on the West Coast) has since designed the product into application.

"Essentially, VMP offers the assurance of receiving the ultimate in service," notes John. "We might find a less expensive supplier but not a better one."

Internet - and international

VMP's immediate and long-term strategic objectives include reaching a wider customer base through online sales. The company's Web page www.vmpinc.com, operational since 1997, offers visitors access to VMP's complete product line and custom-order options. Jeff Carley feels this is the next logical step in VMP's growth.

"We are continually expanding," he says, "and our numbers reflect this. Twenty years ago our rotational molding share was, perhaps, $2,500 annually; today it accounts for 60 percent of our business. Among my short-term goals is to explore the blow and vacuum molding industries and determine if VMP can expand into that market, too."

VMP also has plans that carry beyond the North American borders. An online order system is being developed to accommodate wire transfers from around the world, and is expected to be up and running by the end of 2001. Bob Schreiner believes that VMP has the potential to dominate the international inserts industry.

"I ask the question 'Is Egypt or Kenya getting a quality product?'" he explains. "I've seen the products currently in use internationally and I feel they lack what is acceptable in terms of design. VMP has the ability to provide the global market with a product not available from anyone else."

Agrees Jeff, "Moving into the international market will prove extraordinarily valuable once the logistics are worked out. Beyond that, I feel we can tap more market, domestically. Ideally, we will retain our share - plus a little more.

Rewind, once more, to the past: A screw machine shop is established under the guiding principle of high quality in service and product. And fast forward to 2001 . . . where some things remain constant.

Taking compliance a step beyond

In 1989, the State of California established rigid standards for manufacturers to follow when eliminating toxic chemical waste from their plants. Although VMP already adhered to a stringent cleaning process, it was evident that the company's current unit (a vapor degreaser built by Bob, Sr., in 1960) needed updating. Bob and Jeff, unable to find an acceptable parts cleaning system on the market, engineered a unit that would meet VMP's needs of temperature, correct cleansers, rotation, agitation, and durability.

"We attended the WesTec show that year," recalls Bob, "and met a sales representative from Magnus Equipment, an Ohio manufacturer of standard and custom washing systems. At the time, Magnus had a system that met some but not all our criteria. We required a system that offered minimal rinsing, left parts free of chips and prohibited parts oxidation. Several months later, they called on us and introduced us to a system that met these needs exactly."

Beyond meeting Bob and Jeff's original criteria, the Magnus system also provides timesaving benefits. On an average, more than 150,000 OEM and distributor parts routinely pass through the washer in fewer than three hours every day; the previously used vapor degreaser would require two operators and need to be in service 24 hours a day to complete the same product load. This element of speed without sacrificing quality has permitted VMP to increase its large-volume customer base.

Ultimately, the updated washer system enabled VMP to not only comply with State agency expectations but take them beyond by virtually eliminating waste (a key fact that is recognized by both Cal-OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency). In the two-and-a-half years VMP has used the Magnus washer, approximately 110 gallons of waste have resulted providing a dramatic decrease in disposal costs.

Shop upgrades accounting software

Published in Manufacturing Engineering, August 2001

HUDSON, Ohio - A forty year old, high production screw machine shop in Valencia, California manufactures inserts for injection and rotational molding, fasteners for the plastic injection and sheet metal industry, some proprietary, customer products, as well as a small amount of sheet metal products.

Family owned since late 1980, when Bob Schreiner bought out a partner of 10 years, the company today has about 25 employees and operates out of several facilities. The Valencia shop has 12-15 Davenport and Brown & Sharpe screw machines. CNC equipment can be found at other VMP locations.

"For the past 15 years we were using a comprehensive DOS-based software accounting package for our inventory, purchase orders, and related work," says company CFO Sue St. George, and Bob Schreiner's daughter. "We didn't use it to it's full capacity, though we did use it for inventory, order entry, and accounting." In spite of being quite familiar with the software after working with it such a long time, the need to capture more specific job information finally prompted the company to take a look at today's manufacturing and accounting software.

The order entry and inventory modules of the mid-eighties manufacturing software have evolved into sophisticated shop management systems in their own right, so there was a wide choice of systems to research. "With the intent of finding something a little more job specific," St. George relates, "we attended several trade shows. I believe it was at Westec that we saw Visual EstiTrack for the first time.

"We looked into several software packages. Then, Jeff Carley, our senior operations manager, did a bit more research and determined that Visual EstiTrack would do the best job for us in fine tuning both our shop and the office operations - integrating the whole package together," St. George says. After an interesting on-line, Internet demonstration "we decided to give it a shot."

It was mid 2000 when VMP purchased EstiTrack and its integrated Visual Books accounting package, giving the company both shop management and accounting capability. "We bought the package with the goal of implementing it on January 1, 2001. Though we had a couple of months to learn it, we didn't get much hands on experience, because we were still working in our old package."

In October, Rich Henning visited the plant and trained several VMP employees, including St. George. "During the week he was here, he showed us how to quote jobs and turn them into orders, and also spent time with me on Visual Books. Then, in January, we just rolled over and started."

Learning it 'on the job,' as it were, St. George ran into a lot of questions. "There haven't been any problems with the software, however. In fact, it has lots of nice features that I didn't have before. First of all," she explains, "EstiTrack and Visual Books are fully integrated, Windows programs - once jobs , they appear in the accounting program - everything comes over from the manufacturing side." St. George likes the tracking features for aging sales and receipts. Though while she was still learning the program, she had some challenges, such as with the bank reconciliation feature. "But that may have been me, learning something new - I used the other system for 15 years.

"The first month I used the program, I made mistakes, not really doing things correctly. A few months later, I spent time going back, discovering my mistakes, and fixing them. That capability to backtrack and fix problems is nice. I wasn't able to do that before." In the Fall of 2001, St. George also met with other Visual Books users at an annual user conference where other users answered a lot of her day to day questions. She also found the responsiveness of the vendor's help desk personnel refreshing. "Telephone support for the software has been phenomenal; if I have a question, instead of calling, I might have racked my brain for two days. When I finally called I found it to be is so easy. The woman I usually work with, Liz, has been fabulous - she will figure it out, or recreate what I'd done. They get back to me right away to me."

"The EstiTrack screens are good. The Navigator feature is all you need, once you understand how Visual Books works." The Navigator screen displays a program flow chart. "I go to the navigator screen and work through that. I don't use the actual menu bar at the top, since the flow (of the Navigator) works so well. It lets you switch between functions easily, between accounts payable, receivable, or general ledger."

"Payroll is a phenomenal program." VMP's own payroll had been done on the DOS system. "The payroll is very nice, very user friendly. My brother, Steve Schreiner, does our payroll, and in the beginning couldn't believe how easy it was."

According to St. George, Henning is receptive to any suggestions. "I constantly tell them what I would like, that would make the program better for us. Though it is a good program as it is, everything can use improvement. The programming staff at Henning is always quite receptive - they want customers to let them know when there is something we feel can improve our operation.

For information: Henning Industrial Software, 581 Boston Mills Road Suite 300, Hudson, Ohio 44236; Telephone: (330) 650-4212; FAX: (330) 528-0397; Web: www.henningsoftware.com.

Parts Cleaning System Helps Screw Machine Shop Maintain Quality

Published by Job Shop Technology Online

Valencia, CA—Oil-free, completely clean parts are a critical quality requirement for many manufacturers, including machine shops that produce thousands of parts per day. For one high-volume precision machining firm, an environmentally safe parts washer has been instrumental in helping to meet these requirements. VMP, Inc., a family-owned and operated company known for precision manufacturing of threaded and non-threaded inserts and fasteners, attributes much of its cleaning success to the use of a Magnus 36 SWR parts cleaning system. While providing the correct amount of heat, chemical concentration, agitation, and rotation, the efficient washer has helped the firm produce high-quality parts while taking on a greater number of large-volume projects.

VMP produces both standard and custom parts in conformance with Mil-I-45208 specifications. Operating a variety of cam and CNC Swiss screw machines, the company turns out screw machine parts ranging in size from 0.032-inch-diameter stock, to 3.5-inch-diameter rounds. Many of its jobs require VMP to cut holes and threads measuring 0.08-inch to 3/8-inch in diameter with 3/4-10 threads. Deep, blind holes with 16, 18, and 20 threads and a pitch at the bottom of some of the parts are common, according to Bob Schreiner Jr., vice president and general manager at VMP.

As a result, VMP's cleaning requirements include the removal of chips and oil from such holes, a task that the Magnus 36 SWR is able to perform. According to Schreiner, the rotation and vertical immersion agitation capabilities of the washer permit the constant flushing needed to remove oil and chips from all the "nooks and crannies" of the parts. "With the rotation, the parts are constantly tumbling to loosen the chips," says Schreiner.

By heating the cleaning solution to the correct temperature, the parts washer breaks down the oils and makes it easier to eliminate them. The solution also contains a rust inhibitor to prevent oxidation and rusting of parts. "A lot of our competitors use solvent chemical cleaning, such as perchloroethylene, which requires the parts to be dipped in alcohol before use," Schreiner says. "Our parts can be taken right out of their shipping box and placed on the injector pin of a molding system without any additional cleaning."

More than 150,000 parts that are machined by VMP are likely to pass through the Magnus washer in a matter of two-and-a-half hours, a level of efficiency that contrasts sharply with that of a vapor degreaser formerly used by the firm. That machine "ran 24 hours a day and took two operators," Schreiner notes. "Today, the Magnus washer handles the same workload, starting at 7:00 a.m. and finishing by 9:30 a.m. That is a dramatic improvement in time and cost."

The above article is a consolidated and edited version of a story that first appeared in Metlfax magazine, March 2001.

When Quality Demands Clean Parts

Published by Production-Machining

A critical quality issue of many parts is their final condition after manufacturing. They must be oil-free and completely clean. Meeting or not meeting these conditions can make them usable or scrap. This is a challenge for VMP, Inc. (Valencia, California), a screw machine shop that produces thousands of parts per day.

A few years back the shop was looking for a cleaning system that would help improve the final condition of parts. "Quality was our first concern," says Bob Schreiner Jr., vice president/general manager at VMP, when describing this search for the right cleaning system. "At the time, we had a 40year old cleaning system. It was time to step up in technology."

Mr. Schreiner's second concern was durability. "During the year that we were looking for the right system, I saw 3 to 5year life spans on many of the machines we saw."

Mr. Schreiner found that special combination of capabilities, quality and durability at Magnus Equipment (Cleveland, Ohio). The parts washer provides the right amount of heat, chemical concentration, agitation and rotation to meet VMP's cleaning requirements. "With their solidstate electronics and stainlesssteel construction, I can easily foresee a 40- to 50year life span for the Magnus washing systems we ended up buying," Mr. Schreiner says.

Efficiency was a definite benefit with the new Magnus. Since its installation, the unit has helped VMP maintain a competitive product cost while offering high quality parts and ontime delivery. Its speed and quality have enabled VMP to take on more largevolume customers, which has resulted in a tripling of the company's sales volume.

A pleasant costsaving benefit for Mr. Schreiner has been the minimal amount of waste sludge left from the cleaning process on the new parts washer. After 2 years of operation, VMP has only had to dispose of 55 gallons of sludge. And in California, with its stringent environmental laws, this can be a major concern.

VMP, Inc. is a familyowned business that started in 1960. Among its customers are General Electric, Boeing and Lockheed MartinMarietta, as well as companies in the medical industry. However, the company is well known for manufacturing threaded and nonthreaded inserts and fasteners, with many conforming to MILI-45208 specifications. It has a complete line of standard inserts and fasteners for industrial applications. Engineers at VMP will design or recommend parts for their customers' requirements, providing CNC screwmachined parts from four different facilities for rotational molding, injection molding, electronics and fittings applications. Materials offered include brass, aluminum, stainless steels and Ludloy.

VMP's CNC department machines industrial parts using Acme Gridley and Davenport screw machines. The Swiss department can turn out precision parts to a tolerance of 0.00005 inch to meet the requirements of the medical industry. The variety of machines within VMP can tackle parts ranging in size from 0.032-inch diameter stock up to 3.5-inch diameter rounds or 2.5-inch hex stock.

Jobs often require VMP to cut holes and threads 0.08 inch to 3/8 inch in diameter with 3/410 threads. "We have many deep, blind holes with 16, 18 or 20 threads and a pitch at the bottom on some of the parts," explains Mr. Schreiner.

According to Mr. Schreiner, the work at VMP required a cleaning system that offered minimal rinsing requirements, left parts clean and free of chips, and prevented any rusting or oxidation of the parts. "Rotation and vertical immersion agitation allows for constant flushing to get oil and chips out of all the nooks and crannies of our parts," he says.

"Magnus understood what we needed from the beginning," he notes. "The Magnus sales representative demonstrated the new Magnus 36 SWR featuring a heated tank, stainless steel construction and a vertical immersion agitation with rotation cleaning cycle. Once I saw the machine in operation, I could tell they were going to provide exactly what we needed."

Today, the Magnus washer accepts screwmachined parts from the four VMP machining facilities.

The elements required to meet VMP's cleaning requirements were temperature, the proper cleaning chemicals and rotation, combined with vertical immersion, agitation and time. Heating the solution helps break down the oils, allowing the cleaning solution to eliminate the oil. The cleaning solution also contains a rust inhibitor to keep parts from oxidizing and rusting.

Aggressive rotation is needed to allow chips to come out of any blind holes. "With the rotation, the parts are constantly tumbling to loosen the chips. The machine we were looking to buy had to provide axial rotation," Mr. Schreiner says. A continuous immersion agitation with rotation cycle flushes the chips out. Rotation outside of the wash tank removes any residual cleaning solution or chips remaining on or in the parts.

The rinse tank features an internal electric heater. "We run a lot of brass through the machine. If I set the water temperature at 175°F while we are running at full speed, the temperature might drop down to 168°F. We don't run as hot on the wash. The purpose of a hotter rinse is to put enough heat into the part so that it flash dries once it leaves the rinse water," says Mr. Schreiner. This approach means parts don't need to sit long on the drying table, which is not part of the parts washer.

Once they leave VMP, the clean parts arrive at the customer's dock and are ready for operation. "A lot of our competitors use solvent chemical cleaning, such as perchloroethylene, which requires the parts to be dipped in alcohol before use," he adds. "Our parts can be taken right out of their shipping box and placed on the injector pin of a molding system without any additional cleaning. This is a big savings to the customer."

More than 150,000 OEM and distributor parts machined by VMP will pass through the Magnus washer in a matter of 2.5 hours. "Our older system, a vapor degreaser built back in 1960 by my dad, ran 24 hours a day and took two operators. Today, the Magnus washer handles the same workload, starting at 7:00 a.m. and finishing by 9:30 a.m. That is a dramatic improvement in time and cost," says Mr. Schreiner.

VMP is also an environmentally conscious precision manufacturer. "We make a point of recycling our waste materials. We are trying to be a self-reliant shop. We are constantly filtering oils, using chip spinners, coalescers and filters right at the machining systems." The parts washer is an extension of that environmental mentality at VMP.

One of the Magnus washing units features a coalescer on its wash tank. Spent washing solution is circulated through the coalescer, allowing the oil in the wash water to split from the soap. The oil floats to the top of the water, where a skimmer collects the oil. "We can recycle the oil and put it right back into use during machining," says Mr. Schreiner.

The Magnus washer automatically keeps the water levels to a preset level. Cleaning solution and water acidity is checked using a pH monitor and titration.

The wastewater in the soap solution is evaporated off, leaving sludge. This sludge or waste from the cleaning system consists of minute debris that collects as sediment at the bottom of the coalescer. "We have had the system in operation for 21 months now, and we are just getting our first waste stream from the operation. From the volume we are seeing, we expect to generate only 55 gallons of waste sludge over 2 years. That's nothing compared to our previous method," says Mr. Schreiner. This minimal amount of waste generation does more than provide recycled washing solutions and oil, it also saves on disposal costs for VMP. "It costs $200 a barrel to dispose of this waste," says Mr. Schreiner. Reducing cleaning sludge amounts to this level promises to give VMP savings in disposal costs.

A ventilation stack attached to the Magnus system also adds recycling capability. The ventilation system provides a small amount of draw on the parts, which removes any condensation on their insides. "This low pressure system draws out moisture from all the nooks and crannies in the parts," says Mr. Schreiner. "Then once the moisture leaves the parts and goes up the stack, we have a system in the stack to collect the water vapor and recycle that."

Magnus components are easily accessible, making maintenance simple. "We already have the unit on a maintenance schedule. It only requires maintenance 5 to 10 minutes a day. Every 3 months we do a more indepth maintenance step that can take 2 hours. That maintenance procedure involves cleaning the air lines and ensuring they are free of debris. We also check the selfoilers on the system to make sure oil is being delivered where needed," Mr. Schreiner adds.

VMP expects it will have to add to its cleaning systems in the near future as production increases. "We will probably outgrow this system in 5 years, but we will definitely go back to Magnus for a larger system," says Mr. Schreiner.

Combination of cleaning steps removes chips and oil from deep, blind holes

Combination of cleaning steps removes chips and oil from deep, blind holes

Published by Metlfax Online

One critical quality issue is a part's final condition after manufacturing. It must be oil-free and completely clean. Meeting or not meeting these conditions can make it usable or scrap.

This is a challenge for VMP, Inc., Valencia, CA, a screw machine shop that produces thousands of parts per day. To solve this problem, they rely on a parts washer that provides the right amount of heat, chemical concentration, agitation and rotation to meet their cleaning requirements.

"Quality was our first concern," said Bob Schreiner, Jr., vice president/general manager at VMP, when describing his search for the right cleaning system. "At the time, we had a 40-year-old cleaning system. It was time to step up in technology."

Schreiner's second concern was durability. "When we were looking, I saw three- to five-year life spans on many of the machines we saw."

Schreiner found that special combination of capabilities, quality and durability at Magnus Equipment, Cleveland, OH, a manufacturer of standard and custom agitation washing systems for all types of industries.

Since its installation, the unit has allowed VMP to maintain a competitive product cost, while offering high quality parts and on-time delivery. Its speed and quality has enabled VMP to take on more large-volume customers, tripling sales volume.

Daily, thousands of screw machine parts produced by VMP, Inc., Valencia, CA, are run through the Magnus wash system.

A pleasant cost-saving benefit for Schreiner was the minimal amount of waste sludge left from the cleaning process. After two years of operation, VMP has only disposed of 55 gallons of sludge. And in California, with its stringent environmental laws, this can be a major concern.

High-volume, precision machining

VMP, Inc., is a family-owned business that started in 1960. Among its customers are General Electric, Boeing and Lockheed Martin-Marietta, as well as companies in the medical industry. However, the company is noted for manufacturing threaded and non-threaded inserts and fasteners, with many conforming to MIL-I-45208 specifications. They have a complete line of standard inserts and fasteners for industrial applications. Engineers will design or recommend parts for their customers' requirements, providing CNC screw-machined parts from four different facilities for rotational-molding, injection-molding, electronics and fittings applications. Materials offered include brass, aluminum, stainless steels, and Ludloy.

VMP's CNC department machines industrial parts using Acme Gridley and Davenport screw machines. The Swiss department can turn out precision parts to a tolerance of 0.000 05´´ to meet the requirements of the medical industry. The variety of machines within VMP can tackle parts ranging in size from a 0.032´´ diameter stock, up to a 3.5´´ diameter rounds or 2.5´´ hex stock.

Jobs often require VMP to cut holes and threads 0.08´´ to 3Ž8´´ in diameter with 3Ž4-10 threads and a pitch at the bottom on some of the parts," explains Schreiner.

Coordinated cleaning actions

According to Schreiner, the work at VMP required a cleaning system that offered minimal rinsing requirements, left parts clean and free of chips, and prevented any rusting or oxidation of the parts. "Rotation and vertical immersion agitation allows for constant flushing to get oil and chips out of all the nooks and crannies of our parts," says Schreiner.

Washer provides the right amount of heat, chemical concentration, agitation and rotation to meet cleaning requirements. Here, washer system's second stage shows three basket compartments.

Today, the Magnus washer accepts screw-machined parts from the four VMP machining facilities.

VMP's cleaning requirements were temperature, proper cleaning chemicals, rotation, combined with vertical immersion, agitation and time. Heating of the solution helps break down the oils, allowing the cleaning solution to eliminate the oil. The cleaning solution also contains a rust inhibitor to keep parts from oxidizing and rusting.

Aggressive rotation is needed to allow chips to come out of any blind holes. "With the rotation, the parts are constantly tumbling to loosen the chips. The machine we were looking to buy had to provide axial rotation," says Schreiner.

A continuous immersion agitation with rotation cycle flushes the chips out. Rotation outside of the wash tank removes any residual cleaning solution or chips remaining on or in the parts.

The rinse tank features an internal electric heater. "We run a lot of brass through the machine. If I set the water temperature at 175 degrees while we are running at full speed, the temperature might drop down to 168 degrees. We don't run as hot on the wash. The purpose of a hotter rinse is to put enough heat into the part so that it flash dries once it leaves the rinse water," explains Schreiner. This approach means parts don't need to sit long on the drying table which is not part of the Magnus washer.

"A lot of our competitors use solvent chemical cleaning, such as perchloroethylene, which requires the parts to be dipped in alcohol before use. Our parts can be taken out of their shipping box and placed on the injector pin of a molding system without any additional cleaning. This is a big savings to the customer," says Schreiner.

Fast and clean

Over 150,000 OEM and distributor parts machined by VMP will pass through the washer in a matter of 2.5 hours. "Our older system, a vapor degreaser built back in 1960 by my dad, ran 24 hours a day and took two operators," says Schreiner. "Today, the Magnus washer handles the same workload, starting at 7:00 am and finishing by 9:30 am, an improvement in time and cost."

VMP, is also very environmentally conscious. "We make a point of recycling our waste materials. We are trying to be a self-reliant shop. We are constantly filtering oils using chip spinners, coalescers and filters right at the machining systems," he says.The Magnus washer is an extension of that environmental mentality at VMP.

One of the Magnus washing units features a coalescer on its wash tank. Spent washing solution is circulated through the coalescer, allowing the oil in the wash water to split from the soap. The oil floats to the top of the water, where a skimmer collects the oil. "We can recycle the oil and put it right back into use during machining," says Schreiner.

Operator loading baskets into washer agitator/rotation receiver.

It automatically keeps the water levels to a preset level. Cleaning solution and water acidity is checked using a pH monitor and titration.

The waste water in the soap solution is evaporated off, leaving sludge. This sludge or waste from the cleaning system consists of minute debris that collects as sediment at the bottom of the coalescer. "We have had the system in operation for 21 months and we are just getting our first waste stream from the operation. From the volume we are seeing, we expect to generate only 55 gallons of waste sludge over two years. That's nothing compared to our previous method," says Schreiner

This minimal amount of waste generation does more than provide recycled washing solutions and oil, it also saves on disposal costs for VMP.

"It costs $200 a barrel to dispose of this waste," says Schreiner. By reducing cleaning sludge amounts to this level promises to give VMP significant savings in disposal costs.

Three baskets of parts complete the submersion/agitation process.

A ventilation stack attached to the system provides a small amount of draw on the parts, which removes any condensation on the inside of the parts. "This low pressure system draws out moisture from all the nooks and crannies in the parts. Then once the moisture leaves the parts and goes up the stack, we have a system in the stack to collect the water vapor and recycle that."

Components are easily accessible, making maintenance simple. "We already have the unit on a maintenance schedule. It only requires maintenance five to ten minutes a day. Every three months we do a more in-depth maintenance step that can take two hours. That maintenance procedure involves cleaning the airlines and ensuring they are free of debris. We also check the self-oilers on the system to make sure oil is being delivered where needed."