C&A Tool Is Moving Forward

Getting Better and Stronger: “We are taking advantage of this slow period to come out better and stronger than we ever were going into it. And thatʼs the goal from top to bottom of the company.“ Jeremy Kilgore, Grinding Pod Go To Guy, C&A Tool.

CHURUBUSCO, INDIANA — C&A Tool is on the move, looking to take its manufacturing processes up at least another notch in anticipation of its next growth spurt. According to company founder Dick Conrow, that could be coming before the end of the year.

Because of its continuous push to develop its products and processes, this 40 year old job shop is positioned to continue expansion into any number of manufacturing growth areas. “This”, according to Conrow, “is nothing special, just common sense.”

C&A’s grinding pod is a good example of this brand of common sense at work. This is where critical internal grinding operations are completed on the company’s Swiss-made Voumard machines. Concentrating various areas of expertise into dedicated pods encourages engineers and toolmakers to work together to refine their unique expertise.

C&A Tool also looks to key suppliers like Meister Abrasives to partner with them in their development, testing and training activities.

Jeremy Kilgore, C&A’s Grinding Pod Supervisor, enumerated some of the ways Meister has played an important role in developing advanced grinding processes that keep his company competitive:

Wide Selection / Fast Turns: “Since we are a job shop we have a wide variety of wheels– lots of different grades, grits and sizes. Meister supplies them all quickly. C&A also maintains an inventory of the most frequently used wheels and dispenses them via a vending machine which helps keep track of wheel life by job. Meister also supplies a wide range of quills and dressers that they can match to the requirements of our applications.”

HPB Wheels: “We are using a wide variety of HPB Vit-bonded CBN wheels. We still use quite a few conventional vit CBN wheels, but the majority of wheels are HPB. They really make a difference, especially on production jobs. These wheels hold size better and you donʼt have to dress them as often. On some of our fuel injection work we used to dress every 5 parts. Now we can go 100 before dressing. Thatʼs a huge savings in terms of labor and wheel costs.”

Product Consistency: “Grinding is the last in a long chain of manufacturing steps, and there is a lot riding on it. So consistency is very important to us. Meisterʼs consistency is the best by any means over any competitor. Thatʼs a definite!”

Problem Solving: “Meister works with us to develop wheels for specific parts. One they developed for grinding powder metal gears took 20 seconds off the cycle and we only dressed the wheel every 400 pieces. This made a tremendous difference.”

Consultation: “Tom Cappadona, Meisterʼs Midwest Sales/Applications Engineer, is very accessible. He always answers the phone and visits the plant when we need him. We have about 50 people in the grinding pod. Tom works with our 4 core pod leaders to resolve issues. Then they pass the information along.

To improve manufacturing consistency, C&A is creating a usersʼ guide capturing best practices of the grinding veterans, so others can set up jobs using similar parameters. To move that project forward Tom pitched in to help and feeds on different parts and different types of wheels.

These may seem like a bunch of small things, but they add up to make a big difference.”

About joelcassola

Joel Cassola is a commercial journalist who has written feature articles and case histories for clients in more than 100 trade magazines.
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