Lester in front of Aggressive Grinding Services Shipping Ceramic Parts

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2014 Year End Newsletter

Sales and Marketing

Thanks to the efforts of all our employees, sales during 2014 were increased by 13.4%, making it our best sales year ever! During the past year we have continued to build the foundation to make this happen with investments in equipment, tooling and employee training initiatives. We have set the stage to continue our growth efforts for a successful 2015.

Research and Development

During the 4th quarter, as well as throughout the year, we have worked with a number of customers on research and development projects on materials such as PCD (poly crystalline diamond) and various types of ceramics. Additionally, we worked with several of the wheel manufacturers on improvements of diamond grinding wheels. Most recently we have tested wheels for grinding PCD, ceramics as well as tested newly developed metalbond wheels. The departments these wheels have been tested in include Rollomatic, Stahli, Centerless and OD Tru-Tech. We look forward to continue developing these relationships for the benefit of all involved.

Employee Benefits

During the fourth quarter several employee benefit initiatives were undertaken. Employee lockers were purchased and installed in the shop. Each division received a set and employees were each assigned their own locker. Employees are able to store their personal belongings in a secure manner, by doing so we are able to keep the entire shop looking clean and organized. In addition, a water fountain and eye wash stations were purchased and installed in the Drill Division.

In an effort to promote safety in the workplace, AGS will once again be providing work shoes to employees. Employees can purchase the work shoes/boots of their choice at M&M Leather in Greensburg and AGS will pay up to $100 towards the purchase. Employees have until January 31st, 2015 to take advantage of this benefit. Please keep in mind that the shoe/boot must have a slip-resistant sole. M&M Leather may offer additional discounts to help with costs. M&M Leather is located at 6041 State Route 30, Greengate East Suite 25, Greensburg, PA 15601. 724-837-4136.

Due to the success of 2014, a Year-End bonus was issued to eligible employees. The total bonuses distributed to employees in 2014 was $351,709 and includes quarterly bonuses, year-end bonuses, ten and twenty year bonuses, employee referral bonuses and idea bonuses.

Training

Several training initiatives were undertaken during the fourth quarter. These include training provided by Hardinge, Inc. at AGS, for our Kellenberger operators on each shift were able to participate. A local vendor conducted courses on Shop Math, Blueprint Reading, Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing and Metrology. Ten employees participated in this training.

Eleven of our employees were also trained in Conversion of Conversation to G-Code using the AGS training center and an instructor from Westmoreland County Community College. Upcoming training in 2015 include Rollomatic training, MasterCAM training, G-Code training and CNC Surface Grinding training provided by Okamoto.

Safety Committee

AGS thanks the Safety Committee members for their continuing efforts to ensure a safe working environment for all employees. The committee meets monthly to review all safety issues and look for ways to enhance the safety at AGS. They welcome any and all suggestions and concerns of AGS employees. The safety committee is looking for volunteers for the upcoming 2015 year.

Maintenance

Our Maintenance Department was busy with a list of major projects. Planning for the layouts and installation of the new Kellenberger, Centerless and Surface grinders involved a great deal of effort to implement smoothly with little production downtime. The Stahli Department was reorganized to allow for better flow for the Surface Grinding Department, this included moving one of the Stahli’s and relocating the plumbing lines. In the Centerless area upstairs, room was made for the two new Super-Tec Centerless grinders. The department now has a total of three machines with new digital readouts.

Our Maintenance Department spearheaded the repairs of a number of machines throughout the shop including several ODTTs, Overbeck, Usach, Rollomatic, Kellenberger and Surface grinders. They also completed a renovation of the men’s bathroom in the front of the shop. This included removing all the old fixtures and metal walls, the installation of new flooring and fixtures. In the Drill Division an office was constructed. This office provides a quiet environment for taking phone calls in that area of the shop. The office was constructed as a moveable unit that can be relocated if necessary when moving large machinery and equipment.

As we continue to grow and add machine capacity, the task of maintaining our coolant and air quality systems grows. We currently have 6 Transor units and 33 Mist Busters that require regular maintenance to ensure they are working properly and providing good coolant and air quality. Three additional Transor systems will arrive in 2015. Measures have been put into place to track the maintenance of these items. Having the best possible air quality and working conditions for our employees is a top priority.

In addition, in an effort to further improve air quality and reduce shop noise, the Torit dust collector in the front of the shop was removed. The Maintenance Department hung new piping to accommodate expanding the system from the Torit in the rear of the shop.

A major rewiring project was completed prior to the installation of a brand new server to support our technology systems, increase security as well as speed and efficiency. Every computer and piece of networked equipment needed to have new CAT 6 lines. In addition, all of the outdated and obsolete wiring was removed. A new camera system was also installed, which provides crystal clear images of the entire building and outside areas.

A complete over haul and 5-S of the storage area was completed. This included removing machines and equipment out of the area for selling or repurposing in the shop. Additionally, several large loads were removed and scrapped or salvaged. This allows for better organization for the items needed for regular maintenance and repair of the equipment at AGS.

Quality

Throughout 2014, weekly quality meetings were held with representatives from Customer Service, Production Managers and Quality Department. These meetings provide a review of nonconformance issues from the preceding week. Corrective actions and their implementation are discussed and action items are determined and assigned. In order to prevent repeat mistakes E2 routings are updated to include new procedures, instructions and inspection methods.

Inspectors, Production Managers and Department Leaders will continue enforcing the policies and procedures that have made AGS successful. This includes 8-steps, completing in-process inspection, ensuring SPC reports are completed and verifying jobs travelers are signed off and all operations have been completed.

Production

Due to the efficient and effective production planning under the leadership of our Production Managers, Shift Supervisors and all our Department Leaders, our average sales per month were increased. Additionally our average delivery time for 2014 was 3.5 days.

A nozzle cell was incorporated in the Kellenberger Department. This setup allows for nozzles to be completed in the Kellenberger Department, without the need for utilizing the OD Tru-Techs. This has also allowed the ability to complete the majority of ceramic grinding in the OD Tru-Tech Department.

A wheel balancing program has been implemented at AGS. Using machine-mounted wheel balancers we have been able to balance wheels on the Rollomatic and Kellenberger grinders as well as one of the Okuma OD grinders. The benefits of balancing grinding wheels includes increased life of the wheel as well as reduced vibration, improved surface finish on parts and extended spindle life. We will begin balancing Surface and OD Tru-Tech wheels during the next phase of this project.

AGS announced the promotion of Nicole Luttner to General Manager. Nicole will be responsible for the company’s ongoing daily business operations. Her background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Policy and Administration from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s of Business Administration degree from Seton Hill University. Nicole has over fifteen years experience in the human resource field. Having been with AGS for 10 years, she has fulfilled a number of roles during that time including production support, human resource management and administrative support.

“It is my belief that Nicole has stepped into this position by having taken the lead in nearly every project she has been placed on. Her ability to communicate, direct and work with everyone on our team allows us to accomplish our goals and vision while maintaining a personal yet professional touch.” Lester Sutton

“It is an honor to take on this opportunity; it is a privilege to work with the exceptional team at AGS. I also look forward to working with our customers and suppliers in this capacity.” Nicole Luttner

At Aggressive Grinding Service, Inc. our employees are the foundation of our organization and our most important asset. Through their hard work and effort we are able to provide our valued customers the highest quality that they expect and deserve. Our goal is to operate our company successfully with the highest ethical standards and to conduct business with integrity and honesty.

5-S

5-S continued to be an important aspect at AGS in 2014. The process was further strengthened with the introduction of the Kaizen foam in the cabinets throughout the facility. This next step in improving the process makes it easier to visually inspect and ensure all items are in their appropriate place and that excess items are not accumulating unnecessarily. In December, a 5-S initiative was instituted by sorting, simplifying, sweeping and standardizing the entire shop, allowing us to re-establish the baseline as well as improve our ability to sustain the results of our efforts. In 2015, the weekly Cleanliness, Organization and Maintenance ratings will be reintroduced. Department Leaders will be responsible for completing an evaluation of their department each Friday. The Production Managers and Department Leaders will verify the results. Our goal is to have each cabinet at a “10” rating, which means all necessary tooling is present and accounted for and in good working condition.

Capital Investments

In support of ensuring the future growth and success of AGS the following capital investments were made in the fourth quarter of 2014. The installation of the 3 Super-Tec Centerless grinders with new digital readouts was completed. The final two Kellenberger Kel-Vista grinders were received and installed. Two CNC Okamoto Surface Grinders were purchased and received; three additional Okamoto Surface Grinders have been purchased and are scheduled for delivery in February. Our five horizontal hones were rebuilt to like-new status with the assistance of a Sunnen Field Service Technician.

These major capital expenditures were a part of the $4.3 million investment made at AGS in 2014. Including 4 new Kel-Vista grinders, 4 new Rollomatic grinders, Rush Machinery wheel dresser, new inspection equipment and upgrades, updated camera/security system, tooling, precision collets and fixturing investments, tooling and cabinet purchases, new floor scrubber, three Transor filter systems, rotary indexing table and air quality and handling systems. Below is a list of the major capital investments made in 2014.

MAJOR PURCHASES

COST ($)

Machines
4-ShapeSmart Rollomatic Grinders1,119,577.64
4-Harding KelVista Grinders1,019,000.00
5-Okamoto Surface Grinders231,670,00
3-SuperTec Centerless Grinders126,375,00
1-Rush Wheel Dresser60,000.00
New Control & rebuild of 2 Usachs243,284,00
Real Estate Investment285,000.00
Diamond Grinding Wheels518,990.00
Filtration System
3-6 Vessel Transors365,940.00
Sinto-grind Oil75,600.00
9-MistBusters (Air Quality Eng)16,502.75
Tooling & Cabinets
3 sets Rollomatic Collets56,211.38
High Speed Rotary Indexing Table44,202.00
Hardinge Collets & Tooling37,769.00
Tooling Cabinets (Rite-Way)20,645.00
Tooling for TT Revos (Tru-Tech)12,859.35
Bench Centers & Pofilometer (Ideal)6,160.00
Computer & Camera Systems
New Server & Installation20,176.00
New Camera System16,159.70
New Equipment
Cat Floor Scrubber8,277.00
1-Okuma OD Wheel Balancer8,051.25
3-Ideal Height Gages7,980.00
3-Ventilation Fans6,980.00
3-Kincade Digital Readouts4,046.01
Employee Benefits
100-Anti Fatigue Mats4,420.75
90 Lockers2,743.40
Employee Shirts3,607.50
Shoes1,800.00
Total Major Purchases4,324,027.73

2015 and Beyond

In 2015 the focus at Aggressive Grinding Service will be continuous improvement. This will encompass all aspects of our business from employee training and process improvement to the maintenance and upkeep of our facility and the machines and equipment. It is necessary to find a balance between focusing on production vs continuous improvements, we cannot be successful with one at the expense of the other. We are dependent on utilizing our resources in a manner that allows us to achieve all of our goals. Sometimes we get caught up placing emphasis on production and the numbers, while at times necessary, it is also essential to rebalance our efforts so that our machines and equipment are maintained in good working order and will be able to handle the requirements production places on it for years to come.

In addition, to continue our successful path it is necessary to maximize efficiency in all that we do. Innovation and creativity will be fostered by encouraging new ideas from our employees, which will be rewarded in relation to the overall positive benefit that occur from these ideas. We look towards our most valuable assets, our employees, to contribute these suggestions.

As we move forward to the year ahead of us, we want to thank each of our employees for a fantastic 2014.

Aggressive Grinding Service, discusses important parameters for the grinding of advanced ceramic materials.
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03:27
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.