Welcome to MFG Day at Keats

MFG Day, STEM Education and Why Keats Cares

Bert and Glenn Keats saw more than just the Northwest Side of Chicago in 1958 — they saw opportunity. Starting with three employees and growing to triple digits is something we’re proud of as a company and as a family, and we couldn’t have done it without smart, dedicated, hardworking people.

MFG-Day-LogoNational MFG Day

We know that the future of our company — and American manufacturing — lies with today’s students and their communities. It’s why we’re so proud to be a part of Manufacturing Day and modern education in Illinois.

Keats-MFGDay-1-2014We’re thrilled to join the nation’s manufacturers on October 2, 2015, in opening our doors for tours and education about our craft. Connecting with future generations is important to us — we were just as proud to host young people as to see Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner last year, and we look forward to sharing our work again with this year’s tours.

Keats and Education

The team at Keats supports education and opportunity for young people at every chance we get, not just once a year. We developed Keats University for exceptional in-house training for our employees because it’s vital, not only to the success of our people and our company, but of our industry at large.

Today’s Illinois is a very different place from that of our grandfathers, and encouraging our young talent is more important than ever. These future engineers and manufacturers deserve not only to be inspired and hired, but trained and mentored — it’s why we promote STEM education and the Illinois Department of Commerce’s Youth Task Force Board. It’s also why we’re so lucky to be involved with the staff and students at Wheeling High School.

Of our 110 employees, 17 graduated from Wheeling High School. We’re proud to say that, and we were honored to be invited to teach a class for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs there. We strongly support the STEM Education Program at Wheeling, as well as the Manufacturing Career Internship program with the Illinois WorkNet Center. As we seek interns throughout the year, we’re fortunate to look to Wheeling for bright young talent.

To learn more about the work we do at Keats or the role of manufacturers and the future of American work, check out our feature in The United States of Trade. Over 50 years of excellence gives us more than a great story — it inspires us for the future.

The Growing Role of Machine Vision in Manufacturing

According to an AIA Vision Online article, machine vision is playing an ever-growing role in the electronics industry, especially as components continue to get smaller and smaller. Machine vision allows manufacturers to monitor and measure the parts being produced to ensure accuracy while maintaining peak productivity.

At Keats Manufacturing Co., our role as a small parts metal stamping company makes us the perfect fit for machine vision integration. As such, we’ve recently incorporated a Keyence Image Dimension Measurement System. We purchased the system back in December, and spent the next three months training for optimal use. The Keyence system allows us to perform inspection of several dimensions of each part at the press of a button, providing automatic part processing and measuring. We are now able to measure small metal stampings quickly, accurately, and easily without any conventional variation results. Since most of our parts are less than 2 inches long, the system is ideal for our small parts manufacturing operations.

When looking for our first dedicated system operator, Keats had to look no further than our own staff members. We began the selection process by identifying some of our top machine operators, and putting them through rigorous testing that included blueprint reading, measuring tests, and interviews. Machine operator Josh Moreno led the pack, and was ultimately chosen for the job. His responsibilities now include writing programs for each part we produce using the Keyence system. Josh is one of the younger members of our team, with about 2 years of experience at Keats, but already has set himself apart as one of our best machine operators on the floor. We are pleased to be able to promote from within, and are proud of Josh’s accomplishments at Keats thus far. We look forward to seeing the results of his work with the new machine vision system.

Manufacturing in the Global Environment

We’ve talked much about the American manufacturing industry here on our blog, but one thing that transcends national borders is environmental consciousness.  Within manufacturing, as well as on a global scale, a key concern for many responsible businesses is the objective to operate in a way that impacts our environment the least, and demonstrate an awareness and attentiveness to how the processes of production are regulated and managed, to optimize efficiency and minimize waste.
The organization that provides the global standards and certifications is ISO, and the particular series of certifications concerning the environment is the 14000 series.  Last month, Keats again passed our ISO 14001:2015 inspection and received our certification, something we’re quite happy about and proud of.   This certification covers many responsible business practices throughout our facilities, from the offices to the factory floor.  With considerations as broad as light-bulb types to spill-containment procedures, the certification ensures that energy management and environmentally sound practices are employed.
As awareness and concern for proper environmental practices grows, we at Keats want to be on the leading edge of reform, implementing and encouraging realistic approaches to energy management and environmental responsibility.  We hope you agree, and will continue with us on the road to an eco-friendly future.