Peak Performance in the Machining Lab

Matching the right equipment for the job and having quality employees to handle the work is paying big dividends for this precision shop.


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

When visitors walk onto the machining floor of Magnus Precision Manufacturing Inc., their first impression is more than likely that they are not in a typical manufacturing operation. Magnus’ 55,000-square-foot facility looks more like a laboratory than a machine shop because of the design and cleanliness of the overall environment. A visitor finds no greasy, dark machining stations here. Everything about the operation is brightly lit and meticulously neat and clean, from the floor to each piece of material handling and machining equipment.

This spotless look is intentional. The Phelps, N.Y.-based manufacturing company is well known for its exacting production of complex parts for the aerospace, medical, optical, industrial and micromachining industries. “It is important that our manufacturing environment match up with the industries we serve,” says Don Miller, director of business development at Magnus Precision Manufacturing. “When our customers visit the operation, they are wowed by it. It is a huge selling point for our company and something we strive for every day.”

Equipment Selection

There is more to Magnus Precision than its pristine machining environment. Historically, the company has extensively researched and made its best effort to purchase the best equipment for its various machining processes. This has at times meant matching material handling equipment and lathes from different manufacturers. “Because of the parts we manufacture, we look beyond price to design, accuracy and overall performance,” Mr. Miller says.

This philosophy of sourcing equipment has led the company to pairing highly accurate lathes by manufacturers such as Nakamura and Hardinge with heavy-duty Iemca Boss Series bar feeders from Bucci Industries. In the Magnus CNC lathe department, numerous multitasking machines currently use Iemca bar feeders. “The bar feeders feature a very sturdy, stable design,” Mr. Miller says. “We’ve been very pleased with their performance and the support we get from their people, like Paul Kempf, Bucci’s regional business development manager.”

Mr. Kempf says, “We have a great deal of respect for the process Magnus Precision uses when determining its equipment purchases and feel fortunate that they have such great confidence in our bar feeders,” Mr. Kempf says. “Their philosophy of matching equipment from different manufacturers has worked extremely well for them. One of the Boss Series bar feeders they are using has been in place for 20 years and is still doing a superior job. If properly maintained and serviced, a bar feeder will often outlive the lathe,” he adds.

Magnus Precision is constantly adding to its equipment mix to be able to continue to efficiently make the highly precise machined parts required by its customers. Its current manufacturing area includes simultaneous five-axis CNC vertical machining centers, multitasking CNC turning centers with 0.000010-inch resolution, nine-axis Swiss-types with 38-mm capacity and full B-axis, CNC wire and sinker electrical discharge machines (EDMs), CNC horizontal machining centers with tool changers with as many as 300 positions, and a dedicated CNC prototype area for small lots and rapid response.

Looking to the future, the company is exploring increased automation of its processes. With growth comes new opportunities for larger runs of their products. “Our current setup is perfect for small to medium runs. That’s a large part of our business,” Mr. Miller says. “But as we work with larger-run applications, we will need to look at different types of automated machining and workhandling equipment. We definitely will be looking at Iemca short magazine bar feeders for our shorter systems.”

A Different Place

Mr. Kempf and Paolo Raspanti, CEO of Bucci Industries USA, recently had the opportunity to visit Magnus Precision to review the performance of its Iemca equipment and tour the facility. Mr. Raspanti was impressed with the company’s atmosphere. “My first impression was that I’m in a very different place,” he says. “It was very immaculate and felt more like a showroom than a machining operation. As I walked the manufacturing floor, I could sense that the people cared about their environment and were dedicated to taking care of it.”

Mr. Miller says, “We hear that a lot from our customers and vendors when they visit. It’s something all of us are proud of and work hard to achieve.”

All of Magnus Precision’s machining employees dedicate 20 minutes of their workday to thoroughly cleaning the equipment and machining areas. “We find that our employees are thrilled with their environment and want to keep it maintained,” Mr. Miller adds. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

This level of dedication can be attributed to the fact that Magnus is 100-percent employee-owned. Visitors to the facility see that pride everywhere they look, from the immaculate cleanliness of the machine shop to the quality of the parts the company manufactures. The company is also ITAR registered and has achieved ISO 9001-2008 certification.

Attracting the Right People

Magnus Precision’s machining laboratory also helps the company to attract high quality employees. Many of the engineers and skilled machinists at Magnus have more than 20 years of experience. “Our workplace definitely has a ‘wow factor’ for many of the people we interview,” Mr. Miller says. “We generally look for experienced machinists with a high skill set, technical propensity and the right attitude. We want employee partners who embrace the guiding principles we put on our website, sales materials and business cards.”

Magnus Precision began operations in 1978 and has evolved from a small tool and die shop to a global leader in the manufacturing of complex, close-tolerance machined parts with more than 70 dedicated employee stakeholders. The company has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Floturn Inc., an employee-owned metalforming company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, since July 2000. Floturn Inc. has five divisions operating in Ohio, New York and Kunshan, China. Most of Magnus Precision’s customers are currently in the continental United States, though they are developing business overseas.

Some of the parts the company manufactures include intricate aircraft hydraulic manifolds, ultra-precise lens barrels for medical and optical equipment, surgical instruments and cryogenic pump components, working with a variety of materials, including titanium, magnesium, Ultem, molybdenum, Hastelloy and invar, along with various stainless steels and aluminums.

Creating an Industry Model

Magnus Precision Manufacturing has not only created a model for how a machining operation setting can look; they have also created a model of how to procure and build effective machining cells. “Some companies don’t understand why cleanliness is important,” Mr. Miller says. “For us, it is a way of doing business. It attracts the type of customers we want to do business with.”

Magnus’ approach of pairing Iemca bar feeders with their various machining lathes is a customer-driven decision. “It has worked very well for them, and we feel it would work well for other machining operations who are looking to achieve maximum performance with their equipment,” says Mr. Raspanti of Bucci Industries. “Ultimately, the customer drives the process, but Magnus Precision is a perfect example of outstanding equipment pairing.”

Mr. Miller says, “Our partnership with our bar feeder supplier and other equipment manufacturers has worked well with our goal to build a productive and clean laboratory machining environment,”. “Our model has proven to be very successful for our customers and our company.”