Lester in front of Aggressive Grinding Services Shipping Ceramic Parts

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2015 YEAR END NEWSLETTER

SALES AND MARKETING
Customer Service-

Our Customer Service team added over forty new customers to our sales in 2015! Their efforts resulted in not only adding new customers, but also increasing the sales of a number of our existing customers. By further diversifying our sales base, we were able to minimize the effects of the economic downturn experienced in the manufacturing industry.

Our Customer Service Department remained diligent in their efforts to get in front of our customers to increase sales. During the fourth quarter these efforts included scheduling and attending holiday luncheons with local customers to thank them for their business. Also the entire Customer Service Team attended the Society of Carbide Engineers Holiday party. This event put our team members in contact with many of our customers and vendors and provides an opportunity to build relationships through networking.

Throughout 2015, our Customer Service Department hosted visits and plant tours at AGS as well as made visits to customer locations to discuss our capabilities. Our best sales tool continues to be a visit to our shop. Customers that take a tour remark time and again how impressed they are with our facility, technology and employees.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Test orders for over twenty customers were completed during 2015. These efforts have led to orders from new and existing customers, with more to come in 2016.

AGS continues to work with various manufacturers to develop new and improved grinding wheel technology. In December we purchased ten-inch roughing wheels to compare against the incumbent wheel. After several days of testing it was determined that the new wheel’s capabilities have improved our processes for some applications. We will continue to pursue further improvements in 2016.

In an effort to pursue a Stahli wheel that is capable of grinding both carbide and ceramic, thereby eliminating the need for two separate grinding wheels; AGS is working with two diamond wheel manufacturers. We have worked with the manufacturers on several versions, experiencing improvement with each wheel. Our latest endeavor is a combination grit wheel. This wheel will arrive in January 2016, at which time testing will begin.

Throughout 2015, we worked with manufacturers developing and testing grinding wheels in the Kellenberger, Rollomatic, Stahli, OD Tru-Tech and ID departments. Many of these efforts have resulted in improved processes and grinding capabilities.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

In January, work shoes/boots were provided to all AGS employees through M&M Leather. This successful program ensures that all our employees have access to slip-resistant and safe footwear.

Due to the hard work of our employees, over $391,000 in employee bonuses were paid during 2015. These bonuses included 10-year bonuses, bonuses paid to employees for innovative ideas, a third quarter bonus as well as a yearend bonus.

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.

TRAINING

A goal of 2015 was to focus on employee development; therefore training was a major initiative throughout the year. By capitalizing on the slower periods, we had the opportunity to expand the skills and knowledge of many of our operators. Training included cross-training between departments, specifically focusing on the areas within each division. This endeavor included several months of combining the off-shifts to a larger third shift which provided the manpower necessary to make this happen. MasterCAM training was conducted several times throughout the year.

Training manuals for each department were designed and completed. Many hours of hard work were put forth to develop the manuals; which provide a valuable resource for operators new to a department during the training process. To assist with production planning, each manual includes a list of qualified operators for the department.

Training was also accomplished on inspection equipment including: the CMMs, Keyence LED and IMM systems, Zeiss Contracer and more. Throughout the shop our operators have a solid understanding of the best methods for inspection that are available. These efforts ensure the best quality is provided to our customers, which in turn leads to future orders.

In 2016, we will continue to focus on training and improving the skills of our talented workforce.

    “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

SAFETY

Our safety committee members worked together as a valuable resource providing safety-related input to AGS throughout 2015. The committee implemented a weekly walk-thru evaluating the premises for any safety concerns. A different employee is chosen each week, so a fresh set of eyes will be checking for potential hazards or concerns. Deficiencies are noted and placed on the To-Do List, as necessary, so that immediate action can be taken.

Utilizing a sound decibel meter, an evaluation of noise levels was completed in multiple areas throughout the shop. The results indicated there were no areas in the shop that exceeded the OSHA standard of 85 decibels, except for the coolant room, where existing signs are posted requiring ear protection in that area.

In an effort to protect and enhance our indoor air quality and to contribute to the health and well-being of our employees, Aggressive Grinding Service, Inc. implemented a smoke free workplace policy. Smoking is prohibited in all areas within the building, including the shop floor, restrooms, lunch room and hallways. Smoking is only allowed in designated areas outside of the building and away from doorways and windows.

AGS partnered with a local environmental compliance company and retained its services to ensure our company is in compliance with applicable environmental regulations. As a part of this program, a walkthrough of our facility was completed to evaluate our current compliance systems and offer recommendations as needed.

To ensure the safety of our operators, individual fire suppression systems utilizing extinguishers were installed on each oil-based coolant machine. This allows the discharge of the fire extinguisher while eliminating the need to open machine doors, prohibiting a fire potentially escaping the containment of the machine. Training was completed instructing each employee on the operation of the system. In addition, individual MistBuster systems were installed on all the machines that utilize oil-based coolant. This was completed as a precaution to prevent a potential fire between machines with a shared system. Aggressive Grinding has made the investment to use Sinto-Grind TTS oil-based coolant which has a very high flashpoint, greatly reducing the chance of fires to occur.

MAINTENANCE

Throughout 2015, major maintenance projects and improvements were completed at AGS. The Drill Division’s entire floor plan was redesigned with a new layout to accommodate the installation of two new 6-vessle Transor units and a better workflow. With the addition of the Rollomatics, Transors, and additional surface grinders it was necessary to move almost every piece of equipment in the division to accomplish this goal. Hundreds of man hours were dedicated to the planning and execution of the new floor plan. It involved the relocation of equipment, cabinets, air lines, duct work and electrical lines and drops. Many CAD drawings of different floor plans were used to determine the final layout of the Drill Division. This project has improved the efficiency and work flow of the entire division.

Enhanced landscaping at the front of the building, new signage and the addition of a flagpole has given our business an updated and noticeable presence. In addition, many areas of the exterior of the building were repainted to give our facility a clean and updated look. Painting projects throughout the building were completed including the entire front office and reception area, giving customers and visitors a great first impression of our company.

A number of machines and equipment were cleaned and painted as well as received maintenance to ensure they are in good working condition. This included several centerless and surface grinders, both blanchards and two OD-Tru Tech machines. By investing in the maintenance of our machines we are able to add value to this equipment and ensure that it is in excellent working condition for years to come.

In October the first of two new GI-20 ID grinders was received and installed. These machines provide additional capacity to our ID Department. In addition; a high-rise surface grinder was put back into service in the Drill Division. This machine will give the department additional surface grinding capacity, as well as the ability to grind taller parts within the Division.

In order to keep carbide and ceramic sludge material separate, spare coolant tanks labeled either CARBIDE or CERAMIC were installed in several departments in the shop. It is the responsibility of the Department Leader and Operators to switch out the tanks as necessary depending on whether grinding carbide or ceramic.

At the end of the fourth quarter, we began the process of changing out the water-based coolant and introducing new coolant into the tanks and system. This process will likely take several months and will be completed during the first quarter of 2016. As tanks are filled with new coolant, it is extremely important that operators do not mix it with the older coolant being phased out. Coolant tanks with the new coolant will be marked with an orange sticker. In order to prevent cross contamination, only water is to be added to the tanks with the new coolant.

QUALITY

In an effort to further improve our Quality Department and inspection methods, several initiatives were completed in 2015. As a part of our cross-training efforts, the members of the Quality Department received training and instruction on the proper use of inspection equipment throughout the shop. Department Leaders and Inspectors provided the necessary training to ensure our team members are up to speed with the precision equipment at AGS. This allows us to maximize the efficiency and in- process capabilities of the department. Training included proper operation and care of bore gages, rollomatic gages, comparators, tri-rolls, Keyence, CMMs, contracers, height gages, Ram Optical and Measurlink systems.

Gage pins throughout the shop were certified and serialized and placed into departments for use. The numerous gage block and gage pins set were organized and missing items were located and replaced to ensure adequate working sets where needed.

All indicators, indicator bases and inspection equipment throughout the shop were etched and inventoried. This project will ensure that these items can be located and returned to their proper department in support of 5-S and the cleanliness, organization and maintenance of our facility.

PRODUCTION

During the months of October, November and December the average delivery to our customers was 2.7 work days, including jobs sent out to vendor. For the entire 2015 year, the average delivery to customers was 3.2 work days, including jobs sent out to vendor. During a slowdown in business, it is extremely important for us to continue to meet the challenge and expectations of our customers by delivering a quality product in the quickest possible time frame.

By capitalizing on our unbeatable delivery and quality results, we earned the opportunity to gain new business. Due to the success of this project, especially given the last-minute request and staffing shortages due to vacation and the Christmas holiday, it is likely we will earn this business again in the future. In addition, due to the successful completion of a variety test orders for new and existing customers, we expect to receive new business in the coming months.

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/COM

A major 5-S of the entire shop was completed during the fourth quarter. This initiative took several weeks to accomplish. Every cabinet and storage area was cleaned and organized; missing items were located or replaced. Labeling, inventorying and etching of items ensure that they can be returned to their proper location. When everything is in its’ place operators will always have what they need on hand, which improves efficiency. This project gives us a well organized start to 2016.

5-S

MAJOR PURCHASES

Due to the over $4 million dollar investment in 2014, in 2015 major purchases were reduced to $1 million. Resources were allocated towards employee-centered endeavors including bonuses, training and development.

The following major equipment purchases were made during 2015.

MAJOR PURCHASES - 2015

COST ($)

Transor Filtration Units (3)$365,940
GI-20 Okuma ID Grinder (1)$300,000
12X24 SA Okamoto Surface Grinders (2)$ 87,120
ACC 6X18 Okamoto Surface Grinders (2)$ 72,602
12X24 SA Okamoto High Rise Surface Grinder (1)$ 45,100
2015 Ford F-150$ 48,958
Zeiss Surfcom NEX 030-13-N Contracer$ 36,005
Mistbusters (11)$ 20,999
Quills, Wheels and Tooling for Okuma ID Grinders$ 10,000
Hubs for Kellenberger Grinders$ 7,425
Metal Structures$ 7,376
Software Upgrades (Zeiss Calypso, AutoCad, Inventor)$ 7,020
Office Furniture and Printer/Copier$ 6,055
Ebbco Coolant Filtration Systems (2)$ 5,477
Pneumatic Tailstock for Rollomatic)$ 5,017
Total Major Purchases - 2015$1,020,178

In addition, a second GI-20 Okuma ID grinder is on order and due to arrive during the first quarter of 2016. This machine has a value of $331,000.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Throughout 2015, Aggressive Grinding employees were involved in a number of projects within the community. Specifically, employees worked on projects for school buildings throughout the Greater Latrobe School District, the athletic fields and Legion Keener Park. It is a goal of AGS to continue to be involved in projects in our community. Thank you to all of the employees involved.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016

Due to the initiatives and improvements undertaken during 2015, we are heading into 2016 in a prime position ready to face new opportunities and challenges. Our well trained team, advanced technology, state-of-the-art machines and equipment and well organized facility give us every advantage. Our goal for 2016 is to continue to increase our market share of outsourced grinding by gaining new customers and increasing sales with existing customers.

Many accomplishments were made during the year that we all can be proud of. Thank you to all of the AGS team members for making 2015 a successful year!

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.