Keeping Up with Technology: How Keats Manufacturing Co. Stays Ahead (Part 2)

Keats Manufacturing Company has been in business for over 50 years. During that time, we have developed an outstanding reputation for providing excellent customer service and industry-leading product quality.

Our responsive, highly knowledgeable customer service team is responsible for part of our reputation; and the rest is our exemplary part quality. We work hard at Keats Manufacturing to ensure that our products are always of the best quality available, and we maintain our high-quality by evolving our processes as technologies become more advanced. Our facilities — Wheeling, IL and Keats Southwest in El Paso, TX — each employ the most advanced technology available to ensure that each of your orders are of unsurpassed quality.

CNC Machining Equipment

cncIn computer numerical control (CNC) machining, machine tools are controlled by highly specialized computer programs. A detailed CAD drawing is created for a part, which is uploaded to the CNC machine’s computer. The software determines the ideal machine process, programs it, and controls the machine during production.

CNC machining is more precise, more repeatable, and faster than manual machining, and can produce shapes that are drastically more complex, including 3D shapes, manual machining cannot produce. At Keats Manufacturing, we use CNC machining for quick, precise tooling development and for repetitive, high volume jobs that require exceptional precision.  This equipment allows us to adapt quickly to changes and develop new manufacturing processes to better serve our customers.  The addition of our newest CNC machine from Milltronics USA allows us the capability to build replacement production machine parts such as cams, slides, blocks & die components extremely efficiently and quickly.

MRP System

jobbossOne key to a smooth production process is an effective material requirements planning (MRP) system.

MRP systems — which are used to plan and schedule production, and control inventory of both raw materials and completed parts — ensure required raw materials are available when needed, and required completed parts are available when deliveries are due. A good MRP system will keep material and product levels at roughly the minimum required levels to help control production costs like storage.

Keats Manufacturing uses an automated, fully-integrated software-based MRP system called JobBoss to plan manufacturing processes, purchasing, and delivery schedules, control inventory, and manage bills of materials.

We also integrate our MRP system to work with our customer portals and unique proprietary MRP systems such as Ariba, Covisint, Plex, and SAP.  Our team of 10 dedicated sales and customer service professionals are highly trained on unique customer portal integration and customer specific software requirements. Our MRP system professionals can work with your JIT “Just in Time” delivery / Kan-Ban system to custom print shipping labels as well as update stock levels digitally.

Keyence Digital Visual Inspection Equipment

Because part inspection is every bit as important as quality manufacturing in ensuring only perfect products leave our facilities, we are constantly upgrading our visual inspection equipment.keyence

We employ a range of digital visual inspection equipment from KEYENCE, a globally leading sensing technology manufacturer, at every step of the manufacturing process. Dimensions and tolerances are pre-loaded onto our server — the visual inspection equipment, including high speed machine vision systems, pull a part’s specifications and measure all of them virtually instantaneously on as many as 99 parts at once.

The data measured by the machine is then stored digitally on our server which allows us to implement statistical process control or SPC into our manufacturing process seamlessly.  This technology also takes the guesswork of the inspection process since the parts are checked the same way each time.

In-Die Camera and Laser Inspection

Another facet of our in-process inspection process is our in-die camera and laser inspection equipment.indie

This technology yields a number of important benefits. Most notably, it allows us to pinpoint errors before they become problematic, allowing us to reduce scrap, and minimize or eliminate rework time and cost. It is also helpful in eliminating quality control bottlenecks — production no longer needs to be stopped to find and diagnose a problem.

In-Die Sensing Technology

There is no time in your supply chain for unplanned downtime in the manufacturing processes of your parts and components. At Keats Manufacturing, we understand that.

laserWe use in-die sensing technology to achieve precise tool positioning, continuous alignment checks, and emergency press stopping. By using in-die sensing technology, we can drastically reduce damage and unplanned wear to your tools and dies. This allows us to increase not only production, but part quality as well.

Work with Keats

keats_supplychainThese technologies are only a handful of the tools Keats Manufacturing Co. uses to ensure the highest quality parts and assemblies for our customers.

To learn more about Keats and why we should be part of your supply chain, download our eBook, How to Add Keats to Your Supply Chain, for free today.

Keeping Up with Technology: How Keats Manufacturing Co. Stays Ahead (Part 1)

This is a two-part blog series. Check back in two weeks to read more about the technology Keats incorporates into their manufacturing processes.

Over more than 50 years in business, Keats Manufacturing Company has built a strong reputation of unsurpassed product quality and excellent customer service. This reputation is one that spans industries, sectors, and customers.

3d printerOur world class customer service team is responsible, in part, for our exemplary reputation — they are highly knowledgeable, responsive to our customers’ needs, mind all of the details, and focus on long-term relationships as opposed to sales figures.

Equally important is part quality. Even the best customer service can only do so much in the face of substandard quality. To maintain the high level product quality that drives our reputation, Keats works hard to stay informed of the constantly evolving technological landscape.

At both our main facility in Wheeling, IL, and our Keats Southwest facility in El Paso, TX, we employ a range of state of the art technology to ensure that we manufacture and deliver only the highest quality products possible.

3D Printers

Keats Manufacturing Company’s dedication to quality starts at the design and prototyping stage. We are equipped with cutting edge 3D printers — these tools are used not for production, but for prototyping.

The ability to produce full size part models quickly and inexpensively is invaluable. These prototypes allow us and our customers to inspect parts before beginning full-scale production, allowing us to correct errors and make improvements when it is easy and least expensive to do so. Through the use of this technology, not only will your product be of a higher quality, it will get to the market faster.

AutoCAD and 3D Visualization

autocadWhen your prototype is approved, we use the most modern AutoCAD software to finalize its design and 3D die visualization software to design the tooling components your part will require.

These two pieces of software help us plan the production run of your part, minimizing waste and raw material requirements, and develop tooling that balances performance with cost considerations.

Process Automation

autocad2Wherever possible, Keats integrates automation into our manufacturing and assembly processes. In both of our facilities, screw insertion and contact insertion have been automated, as has staking. Staking is a type of contact insertion wherein a emboss on one piece is inserted into a hole in another — the emboss is axially compressed, forming a permanent interference fit  Joint.

Keats also automates screw insertion and hole threading/tapping.  This process is fully automated through advanced production equipment that threads/taps holes in stamped parts as well as inserts a screw into the threaded hole.  The screw is torque checked in-line and a digital readout is displayed before the finished part is ejected from the machine.

Process automation increases our production capabilities, allowing us to accommodate larger production runs with ease, while keeping your costs reasonable.

Rotowire Chamfering

Common in mechanical and manufacturing engineering, a chamfer is a transitional edge between two faces of an object sometimes known as a bevel.

A value added automated process, we have seamlessly integrated rotowire chamfering into our manufacturing process — it allows for one-piece flow manufacturing in place of the multiple steps that would have been required in the past.

Wire EDM

wireWire electrical discharge machining (EDM) is an extremely versatile manufacturing process. Using an electrical current running through a hair-thin wire, electrical discharges remove material from a workpiece on a micron level.

Wire EDM allows us to manufacture highly complex shapes with unique geometries and maintain extremely precise tolerances. It works with materials of all types and is automated and fully CNC controlled. At Keats, we primarily use our wire EDM capabilities for the quick and precise manufacture and maintenance of tools and dies.

At Keats Our 2 state of the art wire edm machines allow us to respond extremely fast to any tooling malfunction issues.  In the event of a tool component failure, a replacement component can be replicated in-house within a matter of hours.  All of our tools are built with insert-able cutting and forming stations allowing us ease of maintenance and quick adaptability to customer driven part changes.

Work with Keats

keats_supplychainThese technologies are only a handful of the tools Keats Manufacturing Company uses to ensure the highest quality parts and assemblies for our customers. Check back in two weeks to learn about the other tools and technology Keats incorporates into their manufacturing processes.

To learn more about Keats and why we should be part of your supply chain, download How to Add Keats to Your Supply Chain for free today.

Material Matters: Choosing the Right Metal for Your Project

The dedicated team at Keats Manufacturing Co. has been crafting stamped metal parts since 1958. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen a number of unique projects and individual parts come through our facility. While many decisions — from design details to custom tooling — influence these parts’ performance, one of the first choices made in the manufacturing process is always the most critical: material.

Common Materials, Uncommon Quality

Every metal comes with its own benefits and weaknesses, and these properties lend each material to different ideal uses. StampingsAchieving the best results for a stamping project is always the result of carefully researching and choosing a part’s optimal material fit.

At Keats Manufacturing Co., we pride ourselves on offering the highest quality products, from common steel components to custom crafted specialized alloy parts. Here are our top five material choices for custom stamping projects.

Copper

Copper offers some of the best available conductivity (100%), behind only silver and gold in its performance. copper-metal-stampingCopper is also known for its corrosion resistance to industrial atmospheres, water, non-oxidizing acids, alkalis, and neutral saline solutions. While it doesn’t react with water, copper gradually forms a brownish-black oxide when exposed to atmospheric oxygen. Unlike rust, this oxide will actually protect the copper underneath from further corrosion.

Copper is very malleable, ductile, and responsive to precision tooling. For automotive and electrical stamped part applications, it is best used at 0.010” – 0.050” thickness.

Copper alloys commonly used at Keats are: C102, C110, C122, C194 & C197.

Our copper part highlights include reel to reel terminals, loose terminals, conductive lead frames, grids, wire forms, clips, antennas, and prototype and short-run parts. Our custom metal stamping portfolio also includes beryllium copper springs for use in hearing aid applications.

Phosphor Bronze

A specialized alloy of copper, phosphor bronze contains up to 10% tin and up to 1% phosphorous, which provides deoxidizing during melting. While phosphor bronze lacks copper’s extreme conductivity (only 15%), it allows for electrical connections to devices at ultra-low temperatures due to its fair electrical performance combined with very low thermal conduction.

Keats-Phosphor-Bronze-Terminal-StampingPhosphor Bronze is also insensitive to stress corrosion cracking and offers good corrosion resistance to sea water and industrial atmospheres. Known for its toughness, strength, and low coefficient of friction, phosphor bronze is a popular choice for springs, bolts, and heavy fatigue applications. It is best used at 0.008” – 0.050” thickness for automotive and electrical applications.

Phosphor Bronze alloys commonly used at Keats are: C510, C511, C519 & C521.

Our bronze stamping portfolio includes reel to reel terminals, contacts, loose terminals, conductive lead frames, grids, and prototype and short-run parts.

Brass

Often the most cost effective choice for electrical applications because of its lower price point than pure copper, brass is known for its malleability, hardness, and resistance to corrosion, not to mention its pleasing appearance. Made by blending copper and zinc, it offers higher malleability than bronze or zinc alone. Nearly 90% of its alloys are, in fact, a result of these materials being recycled!

thumb-brass-formed-hinged-contact-jawBrass offers good resistance to fresh water, neutral or alkaline saline solution, organic compounds, and standard atmospheres at sea, on land, and in manufacturing. Adding aluminum to a brass alloy can strengthen its given corrosion resistance, while adding lead can enhance its machinability.

With a solid conductivity of 28%, brass is common in automotive and electrical applications at thicknesses up to 0.050”.

Brass alloys commonly used at Keats are: C210, C220, C230, C260, C268 & C272.

Our brass part highlights include reel to reel terminals and contacts, loose terminals, contacts, conductive lead frames, grids, brush guards and holders, and prototype and short-run parts.

Aluminum

An extremely popular material choice, aluminum is likely best known for its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, making it ideal for strong, lightweight parts, both on its own and in combination with other metals.

bracketAluminum is also known for its corrosion resistance — it is tolerant to moisture and most chemicals — as well as its low density. The metal offers 61% conductivity and is capable of thermal and electrical superconductivity, as well.
Soft, durable, lightweight, ductile, and malleable, aluminum is popular for automotive and mechanical components at thicknesses ranging from 0.012” to 0.120”.

Aluminum alloys commonly used at Keats are: 3003, 1100, 5056, 5052 & 5154.

Our aluminum part highlights include clips, clamps and flat springs, brackets, latches, covers, wire forms, antennas, and prototype and short-run parts.

Steel

Annealed, cold-rolled, stainless — there are countless steel alloys designed to suit any industry. A classic combination of iron with carbon and any number of other elements, steel is created by reducing the carbon in iron ore and replacing it with materials to alter traits such as strength, conductivity, and corrosion resistance. In addition, heat treating processes such as annealing, quenching, and tempering can alter the material and its end performance.

Steel is typically resistant to corrosion with a wide conductivity range (up to 15%) and great formability and durability. A low cost option, it presents good baseline tensile and yield strength. However, all of these properties can vary greatly, offering a wide array of choices to create the perfect fit for a particular project. Annealed steel, for example, is far more ductile and fracture-resistant than its counterpart prior to heat treatment, and G1050 is an alloy specifically created for versatility and machinability in engineering applications.

Material Guidance with Keats Manufacturing Co.

With over 50 years of excellence in custom fabrication and small metal parts, the Keats Manufacturing Co. team knows a thing or two about material choices and manufacturing.

10-ways-reduce-turnaround-timeTo learn more about how solid research and great materials can benefit your next project, download our eBook, 10 Ways to Reduce Turnaround Time and Cost of a Metal Stamped Part, or reach out and contact us today.


reduce time and cost of your metal stamped part




Designing & Manufacturing Metal Stamped Medical Device Components

One of the fastest growing business sectors is the medical device industry. According to the Commerce Department, there are over 6,500 medical device companies, which generate $110 billion in the United States today.

At Keats, we do our best to stay on the cutting-edge of all the latest technology and trends in the manufacturing world. Our expertise is reflected in our latest white paper, Criteria for Design and Manufacturing of Precision Metal Stamped Medical Device Components.
This informative white paper takes an in-depth look at the importance of precision metal stamping in the very important medical device field. To get a better understanding of the future of metal stamped medical device components, let’s take a quick look at what you will find in Criteria for Design and Manufacturing of Precision Metal Stamped Medical Device Components:
  • Trends in Medical Component Manufacturing:
    In this section, we look at how miniaturization, ultra-tight tolerances, and new tooling methods are moving medical device manufacturing forward. We also discuss such hot topics as quality control, increased regulations, and the rapid pace of new medical technology advances.
  • Design Considerations for Metal Stamped Medical Components:
    In this particular section, we describe how every facet of the design and manufacturing process can be improved including: prototype utilization, secondary operation reduction, engineering services, doing a better job of defining micro metal stamping, and tips on exotic metals specialization.
  • Quality Control, Risk Management, and ISO:
    As we mentioned before, quality control is a major issue as massive numbers of different medical devices are being created seemingly everyday. This section covers the various credentials and specifications you need to stay ahead of the competition.

If you want to learn more about the future of high-end precision metal stamping and the medical device industry, please click on the button below to access our white paper, Criteria for Design and Manufacturing of Precision Metal Stamped Medical Device Components.


Keats’ Commitment to Safety

June is National Safety Month, and we at Keats heartily approve of the push for awareness and implementation of robust safety procedures in the workplace.  Part of what constitutes a job well done for us is a job that minimizes the risk involved with the operation of custom manufacturing equipment to provide the highest levels of safety and comfort to our employees, and peace of mind to their families.  It’s a commitment of ours, which is why we are doing our part to encourage best safety practices, and have taken proactive precautionary steps in our own plant to ensure we keep our employees safe and healthy.

We maintain a high level of cleanliness and organization on our plant floors – reducing clutter is not only efficient for productivity, but we’ve found that maintaining clear pathways between machines and organized works paces leads to a safer work environment.  It’s been years since we’ve had a lost-day accident – and this is thanks in large to our commitment to the continual improvement of our safety protocols.  Another proactive measure we’ve taken is to meet with our floor managers to design improved lock-out/tag-out procedures on our machines, and improved spill containment procedures – these conversations between management and operator are important for consistency and clarity of approach, and ensure that policies are accurate and effective for our operators.  Since our machines require specialized knowledge for operation and control, we have found that lock-out/tag-out procedures work well to ensure only those trained on particular machines can use them.  For spill containment, we not only want to provide our employees with knowledge of how to prevent these occurrences, but resources and training for what to do in the event that a spill occurs – this is why we insist on having our safety training in-house, so that we can be sure each employee is given job-specific instruction for maximum safety in every situation.

These are some of many ways in which we at Keats have chosen to promote the safety of our employees.  We hope you’ll join with us in doing the same, and pursue policies and procedures that work for your company to prevent injury, protect employees, and improve lives.