Lester in front of Aggressive Grinding Services Shipping Ceramic Parts

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2013 Year End Newsletter

Thanks to the efforts of all our employees, sales during 2013 were increased by 12%, making it our best sales year ever! Our goal for 2014 is to experience another 10% in growth. During the past year we have built the foundation to make this happen with equipment purchases, inspection equipment investments and training initiatives. In addition, our Customer Service Department’s successes with developing new customers as well as increasing our market share with existing customers will assist our efforts in achieving this goal. A focus on new sales and marketing campaigns as well as continued improvements in our processes and quality will be essential in 2014.

In 2013, in order to strengthen our marketing efforts, new literature, a robust web site with strong search engine optimization, new sales presentation templates, print media exposure and technical competency were initiated. The plans for 2014 will be to build on this to attract and retain new customers. Five to ten potential new customers will be selected and visited in the next 90 days. In addition, the Customer Service team will solicit new orders from customers with whom we have established a good relationship due to the successful trial orders that were completed in 2013. Our top customers will continue to receive special attention as our track record of quick delivery, high quality and good customer service continues to satisfy the demands of the industry.

Our growth can also be attributed to our efficient and effective production planning under the leadership of Production Managers, Shift and all our Department Leaders. Their management has assisted in accomplishing the industry-leading 3 to 5 day delivery which our customers expect, and is also what sets us apart from our competitors.

As a result of the positive contributions of all our employees, during 2013, eligible employees received up to $3,957.69 in quarterly bonuses. A total of $348,051.27 was paid out through the bonus program. Through achieving improvements in cleanliness, organization and maintenance it was possible to award these bonuses. In 2014, we will be further refining the existing program in order to continue to support the goals of the company and our employees.

Additionally, our increased sales have provided the opportunity to increase wages and improve our employee benefits. We implemented an increase of our starting wage by 50% to $12.00 which has allowed us to recruit and retain better skilled employees. Our increases in overall wage rates have strengthened our ability to attract as well as maintain highly qualified operators. In March of 2013, changes were made in the administration of the 401k plan offered to employees. Through Duncan Financial and American Funds, employees are offered a diverse selection of investments. Assets in the plan have experienced an overall increase via employee contributions and investment returns. In April, health insurance benefits were improved by reducing employees’ out-of-pocket expenses for doctor/office visits. Also in April, employees received a pair of Ecco work shoes or boots. In May, performance reviews and wage increases were completed.

Our objectives for 2014 include a focus on the training and skill development of our employees, further refinement and utilization of the E2 system and improving our quality programs. Together we can ensure a successful future for Aggressive Grinding Service, our employees and their families. Our success in achieving our objectives will result in attaining our company’s vision of providing a positive work environment that is the vehicle our employees use to achieve their personal, professional and financial goals.

Employee development has been seen in the various training opportunities offered throughout 2013. Ten of our newest employees were trained in Shop Math, Blueprint Reading and Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing. These classes lay a foundation for the essential skills our machine operators need to be successful.

AGS invited the Indiana University of Pennsylvania OSHA Consultation Program representatives to schedule a visit to conduct air quality testing and perform a health and safety audit. We are happy to report that the results showed air contaminant levels well below the OSHA Eight-Hour Average limit and all recommendations made during the safety audit were implemented in a timely fashion. In an effort to further ensure employee health and safety, Mutual Aid Ambulance Service conducted training in First Aid, CPR and AED use. Two-year certifications were received by those employees trained.

Quality Production Changes

Aggressive Grinding Service continues to place top priority on “fast>precise>efficient” delivery of product to our customers and we are always looking for new ways to improve aspects of this goal. Improvements in our quality and production have been made by investments in both people and equipment. Close to $1 million dollars was reinvested at AGS this year in capital expenditures.

AGS purchased three new CMMs to be used in the OD Okuma, ID Okuma and Usach departments enabling us to move the two existing CMMs to Inspection and Kellenberger. These machines have improved the inspection process for customers as well as demonstrated an ease in use for our operators. Less time can be spent by operators verifying dimensions of parts through programming, data storage and improved repeatability. Training on this new equipment was provided by Hexagon Metrology to eleven of our operators.

In order to further improve our inspection processes, we also purchased two Keyence optical image measurement systems. These systems are designed to provide superior measurement speed and accuracy. They have functions of an optical comparator, measuring microscope, CMM, Contracer, calipers and micrometers. They are currently being used to inspect nozzles in the Kellenberger and ODTT departments, freeing up an inspector for other jobs. The microscope feature enables us to visually inspect jobs that require a very good finish on punches that we are doing for a steadily growing customer. Training by the manufacturer as well as in-house cross-training was provided to a total of 19 employees to date.

Three new Tru-Tech Revolutions purchased by AGS will provide several significant benefits. These are more robust machines than our existing 3 axis Tru-Techs and enable us to grind large diameters in our Drill Division, eliminating the need to send many jobs to the Kellenberger department. These new machines are much more accurate and versatile and will allow us to grind many jobs originally scheduled for the Rollomatics as well. As the Drill Division experiences bottlenecks in the Rollomatic department, the addition of these machines will allow us to maintain our quick deliveries while reducing the potential need for Saturday hours. Some jobs that used to require two operations can now be finished complete at the new Tru-Tech Revolutions, saving time and resources. An existing 3 axis Tru-Tech was relocated to our Okuma OD department eliminating the need to send jobs to the Drill Division for grooving.

MeasurLink continues to be very helpful in ensuring Statistical Process Control by providing Real Time SPC charts and Analysis for operators with reports and alerts. At this time, repeat jobs have been entered into the system by our Quality Department. This system in many cases eliminates the time and effort spent by employees on paper SPC charts and also enables us to provide the required reports to our customers in a consistent format.

As a part of the 5-S system, departments throughout the facility have been redesigned to maximize efficiency and reduce the number of steps for employees to effectively get their jobs done. Through employee input, the Shipping department was redesigned to achieve a better flow and efficiency with both the shipping and receiving functions.

The Drill Division experienced several positive outcomes for its staff. The addition of the Tru-Tech Revolutions provided an opportunity to evaluate and enhance the flow of the department. In addition, the Maintenance department constructed a wheel storage system to organize and catalog all the wheels for the Tru-Tech department.

By completing an in-depth 5-S, we have been able to identify additional inventory of hand tools, inspection equipment, diamond grinding wheels and grinding coolant. By improving organization, we have reduced unnecessary expenditures for these items in 2014.

Other benefits of our reorganizing efforts include establishing a dedicated Maintenance department room, a larger Machining department and a comfortable employee lunch room that also has the potential to act as a Training Center and Meeting Room. Through these efforts we have seen great improvements in our Cleanliness, Organization and Maintenance ratings throughout the shop. We are currently at an average 8.9 rating across the board, and starting off the year on the right foot.

The World Global Command Center located next to our shipping department uses E2 Scheduling to assist our Production Managers and Supervisors in identifying potential problems and/ or bottleneck departments. They meet there twice a day to review current conditions, identify the best allocation of labor resources and put together production plans for second and third shifts.

In 2014, the focus will be on cross-training of all employees. This month marks the beginning of a comprehensive program that will involve multiple employees being trained throughout departments. This year’s goal is to have all employees exposed to and trained in as many departments and on as much equipment as possible.

Research Development and Technology

Our R&D efforts in super hard materials have been directed mostly to PCD materials. Visits and presentations to various PCD makers have resulted in trial orders and commitments to use AGS on future projects. PCD makers also grind their own materials so our efforts focused on being known as the premier grinder for all super hard materials and a reliable overflow source. Operators in the Kellenberger and Wire departments have been instrumental in the completion of several R&D grinding projects involving PCD and other super hard materials. These successful ventures present multiple opportunities for increased business.

AGS worked with several key wheel manufacturers to test wheels in order to make improvements in our grinding processes. During 2013 over 30 wheels were tested at our facility, which resulted in improvements in our Cut-Off, CNC ID and Okuma OD departments for grinding carbide, ceramic and PCD materials.

Our Maintenance department, with the help of many other employees, have accomplished countless tasks both big and small throughout 2013. Several major projects included plumbing, wiring and installation of numerous machines throughout the shop. Their expert skills led to the construction of the new employee lunch room. Nine OD Tru-Techs and one manual OD grinder were rebuilt, including the installation of ball screws. Many hours were spent troubleshooting, initiating and completing repairs on machines and equipment. Their support assisted in minimizing machine and equipment downtime, and is greatly appreciated! We recognize that all of our employees are a great resource of skills and knowledge, therefore if you see a project being done where you feel you could lend your expertise, please let us know.

Community Involvement

AGS continued on our philanthropic path in 2013, making contributions to community and charitable organizations. Quite a few employees assisted in these endeavors providing their skills and expertise. This also included AGS contributions with equipment usage as well as monetary donations. Some of the organizations we supported were the Playland II Rebuilding Project, Rotary Field Improvement and the Lincoln Highway Roadside Museum.

The Eastern Westmoreland CTC machine shop was the recipient of a donation of equipment from AGS. This included a RAM Optical Comparator as well as computers, monitors and inspection equipment.

As a final note, the Sutton Family would like to thank the employees for all the hard work and dedication that made 2013 such a successful year. It is only through the efforts of the employees of AGS that all of our accomplishments are possible. It is with great appreciation and admiration of all of you, our employees and your families, that we look forward to 2014 and your continued support.

Aggressive Grinding Service, discusses important parameters for the grinding of advanced ceramic materials.
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Capabilities Brochure The cover photo of August's Ceramic Industry features our wireless digital micrometers that send a real-time data point signal, captured by the MeasurLink® system, to the SPC database which is then displayed on overhead screens posted throughout the shop.