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Micron’s 71st Anniversary

Micron’s 71st Anniversary

Micron celebrated 71 years in business with cider and donuts — fall treats that just make sense with Halloween right around the corner.

It’s an unusual accomplishment for a family business to be in operation as long as this. As we celebrate this milestone, we reflect on the changes our manufacturing industry and the world have undergone since the company’s founding in 1952. Throughout the years, not only have we survived, but also grown, changed, and achieved the level of organization and quality we exhibit today. We are proud that this is continuing into a third generation of family ownership-operation and look to the future with excitement for what’s to come.

In addition to the 71st anniversary of the company, we also rang in several work anniversaries. Congratulations to Katie, controller, Sean, quality engineer, and Joel, engineer, on 5 years at Micron. And a big congratulations to Jaycon, programmer and team lead, on 10 years. Thank you for your contributions to our success!

The “Rat Patrol” with Harmel Academy

The “Rat Patrol” with Harmel Academy

Harmel Academy of the Trades enlisted the help of Micron to build themselves a system from the ground up — the “Rat Patrol”.

The Rat Patrol is a system Micron created to keep our shop clean without an outside janitorial service. Within this system, we rotate cleaning tasks on a weekly basis. Every employee from machine operator to company president shares this responsibility for the cleanliness of the shop. Detailed work instructions guide us through the cleaning processes. And because every employee can participate, the workload on each of us is light.

This system caught the Harmel class’ attention when they toured Micron’s facilities. And when Harmel’s curriculum required students to build a system to address an existing need, they decided to use Micron’s Rat Patrol as the model for the creation of their own version.

Back to School

Micron’s continuous improvement expert, Dave Seabrook, spent a Friday morning with the students teaching the fundamentals of building such a system. Then the students put the lesson into action, working through the steps themselves.

First they set the goals and scope of the project. The group discussed the challenges they would need to overcome in achieving their goal. From there, the team assigned action items to complete the project.

They used 5S visual management to convert their current restroom to a well-organized area where every item in it had a purpose and housed all the items needed to perform a weekly cleaning. Then, they created work instructions for each task in the process and the visual systems needed to divvy up the responsibilities.

Each week, one member of the Harmel class cleans the restroom according to the rotating schedule and the work instructions they created. Then, the person scheduled to clean in the following week performs an audit to make sure the cleaning duties were completed. The end result is a robust system that will ensure the desired outcome — clean facilities.

Working with this group of young men and the Harmel program is always a pleasure, and we’re proud they identified our Rat Patrol system as one they wanted to model and recreate. We enjoy this employer-educator partnership immensely and look forward to working with Harmel again in the future.

New L32 CNC Marks Milestone

New L32 CNC Marks Milestone

A newly installed CNC brings Micron’s vision of standardization to full fruition.

The new machine — a Citizen Swiss lathe — expands Micron’s production capabilities and versatility. It increases the longevity and performance of our fleet. What’s more: it’s a final move within a long-term plan to upgrade and standardize our equipment.

These upgrades reflect Micron’s continuous improvement goals, which in turn benefit our customers.

CNC turning versatility

Micron’s combination of Swiss and conventional CNC lathes means we can deliver a wide range of options to our customers. We think of this versatility in terms of diameter size, overall length, material, and complexity of the part.

Micron can turn parts 2″ in diameter and smaller from bar stock or can hand load rounds up to 3.5″ in diameter. Our use of Swiss-style CNC lathes, such as this new L32, offers advantages in turning longer parts with greater accuracy and precision.

The new L32 can run bar stock up to 32 mm (1¼”) in diameter or smaller. This is a size up from the 20mm machine it replaced. The change increases our production capacity for the larger diameter parts — a range where we find high demand. But because it can run smaller stock too, we don’t sacrifice any capacity in the smaller diameter ranges.

The standardization journey

Standardization of equipment has been a long-term goal of Micron that has informed several key machine sales and purchases. These include the recent sale of our Mori Seiki and purchase of a Miyano in addition to the replacement of our 20mm Citizen with the 32mm Citizen.

By having the right combination of machinery, we’re able to reduce training time and improve knowledge retention among our production team. Common tooling across our machines creates opportunities for faster lead times and lower production costs. Additionally, most of our machines are now serviced by a single distributor.

Citizen L32 Bar Loader

A great machine

Machinist Dan “Ski” Szczepanski says the new machine is a nice upgrade.

According to Dan:

“The L32 is great because it’s spacious inside the machine. That makes changing tools and removing debris pretty easy.” Additionally, he says, “the newer machine works with a different type of bar loader that’s much better than the old one.”

Aside from the specifics of this purchase, upgrading our CNC equipment always feels good from the perspective of a precision machining shop. Being able to re-invest in our production capabilities reflects our hard work and success over past years and a commitment to grow and improve in the future.

With any luck, this great addition to our shop will provide many years of service to us and our customers.