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Sheldahl, Inc. Automation Case Study

The Situation
Sheldahl�s Longmont, Colo. facility needed to improve the turn-around time of their tooling process. A turnaround of one to two weeks was being achieved with two full-time employees and two contract employees. The internal CAM department analyzed the situation and said the cost to cut the turnaround time to consistently less than one week would be $250,000. Keith Casson, vice president, Micro Products Business Unit Manager of Sheldahl, called TRI-C Design to invite us to review the tooling process.

TRI-C President Keith Hildahl and Director of Automation Services Dave Roesler performed an audit at Sheldahl, Longmont on March 14, 1997. The results of the audit revealed:

  1. The CAM system in use did not meet all of the company�s needs and, as a result, other software tooling packages where used to fill the gaps. This caused substantial duplicate effort and processing. 
  2. The outputs being produced were seen as �overkill� for what was truly needed for tooling. 

TRI-C gave this feedback to Keith Casson. On April 8, 1997, Keith Casson called TRI-C again. The internal CAM group had resigned. Keith Casson wanted us to fly to Longmont as soon as possible. Hildahl and Roesler arrived at the Longmont facility the next morning. 

We spent approximately six weeks in Longmont. While supporting their day-to-day CAM requirements as necessary, we performed a detailed audit of the existing process and then determined a revised automation path. We then automated and refined the tooling process.

The Results

  1. With TRI-C�s automation of the tooling process, Sheldahl was able to process the same amount of work it had previously been processing, but with fewer than half the people. With TRI-C�s solution, the work was done with fewer than two people. 
  2. In addition, the turn-around time dropped from one to two weeks to just two to three days.
  3. Sheldahl also experienced improved quality and consistency to the production 
  4. This was a cost savings for Sheldahl, but more importantly it simplified and 
    improved their �start up� processing and dramatically improved their delivery capability to their customers. Longmont�s goal was to deliver functional first article product to their customers within two weeks after certified order. The TRI-C system improvement made this goal attainable. 

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