We live in a global economy: American companies manufacturing overseas and European and Asian companies manufacturing in the United States. It’s been going on so long that it is easy to forget that inconsistencies persist in how business is done – whether people shake hands or bow, meet in offices or the wilderness.
One consistent difference remains: those following imperial system measurement and those following the metric system. Since this is a global economy, U.S. companies often use metric parts, leading to time-consuming measuring, converting, and cutting of larger metal components to make them fit specifications from a European design engineer. Twenty-six years ago, Paul Goldner saw this happening and set a plan to solve it.
Founded in 1955 by Paul Goldner’s father, Leo Goldner, in Toledo, Ohio, Parker Steel always sold structural steel and bars in inch sizes. The company enjoyed decades of success, but in 1991, the metal industry experienced a downturn, and Paul decided to focus on a part of the business few other suppliers were serving: metric sizes.
Paul began sourcing metric-sized metals of all types and sizes, storing them in the basement below his office and handling everything from purchasing to loading trucks. According to Jerry Hidalgo, president of Parker Steel, Paul sent flyers to manufacturers asking for feedback on different kinds of metric products and whether they needed them. He recorded the positive responses and focused on the most in-demand material.
Today, Parker Steel’s large supply of metric parts is warehoused in two facilities in Toledo. Approximately 5,900 different components are available off-the-shelf with access to thousands more through its worldwide supplier network.
Most of Parker’s customers are companies with machinery or equipment built or designed to metric specifications. If a part breaks, they need a piece of metric-dimension metal to fix it.“Because of our quick turnaround, we can get them the part they need within a day and they can get their machine fixed,” Hidalgo says. “There are also customers who are building special products and structures of European design, so they need metric metal to manufacture those parts.”
Orders range from a minimum of $85 to multi-truckload quantities, reflecting differing customer needs. If the material isn’t in stock, the goal is to find out whether it is obtainable within 48 hours.
“The majority of material that people buy from us stays in the United States, it doesn’t get exported,” Hidalgo says. “Industries range from medical to aerospace, nuclear, and wind energy to basic fabrication. One customer specifies components for a mobile Botox machine.”
The Great Recession of 2008 hit manufacturing hard, and Parker Steel was not immune to its effects. The company kept inventory levels the same, maintaining product availability for the customers who were still buying. When customers began either purchasing again or in larger quantities, they were able to fulfill orders quickly.
“We did not go into a slashing of inventory program. We made a conscious decision to maintain our inventory levels so that when things turned up, we’d be in a position to fill the needs of the customer and it worked out very well for us,” Hidalgo says.
In recent years, Parker Steel has had to figure out the ever-changing landscape of doing business across borders – shipping to Canada and Mexico. As part of its commitment to ship product the day the order is received, the company works with brokers who help expedite shipments by having paperwork on file and staying well-versed in customs requirements. But sometimes this isn’t enough, especially when customs agents and shipyards need to look closer at what is crossing borders.
Parker Steel is Custom-Trade Partners Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)-certified, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) certification indicating the company has security measures in place to minimize the risk of terrorist activity with its shipments. Established in 2001, there are 11,400 C-TPAT certified companies with security profiles and action plans.
“We are very diligent and put a lot of effort into making sure that we do maintain the proper security measures. It’s not a guarantee, but when there are issues – if we end up with very serious issues where the borders get shut down because of terrorism fears – we will be high on the list for our material coming in again when things open up,” Hidalgo says.
The company is ISO 9001-certified.
Disruption within the company itself is also rare. “Our delivery performance during the last three years has run from 99.6% to 99.9% for on-time delivery,” says Hidalgo, who has been with the company for 14 years after working with auto parts suppliers and consulting with CEO Paul Goldner. “Key to our success is the strength and dedication of our team, throughout the organization.”
Staffing was also a consideration when making the move from Parker Steel’s headquarters in Toledo to a larger facility in nearby Maumee, Ohio. According to Hidalgo there was no way to add more people without significantly redesigning the space, and he expects steady growth as they continue to search for new ways to improve customer service and adapt to changing ways of doing business.
“We have continual improvement meetings with our people, listening to suggestions from them. ‘What can we do to make your job easier? What can we do to make it better for our customers?’ We ask for those ideas, review them, and then implement most of them. That’s one piece. We certainly look at software. We’re always trying to improve our software to help us be more efficient. We look at the warehouse. What are the things we can change there to make us more effective,” Hildago says.
Just like Paul 26 years before, the employees at Parker Steel are still surveying customers to find out how to best meet their needs. The commitment has never wavered through good times or bad, and companies needing unusual metric parts and shapes know exactly where to go when imperial just won’t do.
Nothing lasts forever – at least not in endoprosthetics – and even the highest quality implant has a limited life, mainly because of poor surface finish quality. OTEC Präzisionsfinish GmbH engineers have developed a range of applications for automated grinding and polishing processes to offer a new dimension in medical implant surface finishing.
Implant surface finish requirements depend on the field of application with quality determined by a highly accurate fit, a homogeneous surface, and pronounced or minimal edge rounding.
OTEC engineers developed parameters for drag-finishing and disc-finishing processes to meet implant manufacturing requirements, supporting fast and economical surface finishing with consistent quality. Workpieces of varying shapes and weights can be deburred, ground, smoothed, and polished by placing workpieces loose or tiered in a rotating holder and moving them through customized abrasive media.
Bone plates usually require considerable edge rounding, and the surface should be as smooth and homogeneous as possible. Using a disc-finishing machine with different process parameters, traces of stamping and chip removal operations can be eliminated in a short time while producing a smooth, high-quality surface.
Otoplastic parts for hearing aids or hearing protectors are made from special plastics in a rapid manufacturing process that creates a rough surface. OTEC’s process quickly grinds ear molds in a disc-finishing machine. The machine delivers a smooth surface finish in a process that is gentle on the material – sensitive workpieces can be processed quickly and reliably without damage, cutting manual polishing processes where finish variations can occur.
Hip or knee joints require a homogeneous, smooth, highly polished surface for all contact areas. OTEC engineers developed a dry process for drag finishing where workpieces are clamped in holders and dragged through the right grinding and polishing media in stages. Clamping the workpieces prevents them from damaging each other. The processing results depend on use of the ideal clamping angle, enabling 0.03µm Ra values.
Bone screws, dental implants
Bone screws and dental implants are made of stainless steel or titanium alloys and require unrounded, burr-free edges with a smooth, polished surface for easy insertion/removal. The smooth surface simplifies disinfection before insertion. Using a disc-finishing machine it is possible to create a smooth, highly polished surface without significant edge rounding. After this single-stage process, workpieces are light in color and have a pristine finish with Ra values as fine as 0.03µm.
Consultation to production
To determine the ideal combination of process parameters of each application, OTEC engineers work with customers to determine process choices, processing media compositions, rotation speed, processing time, and (in the case of drag finishing) the clamping angle.
Air blow-off, parts drying
Maxumizer air blower systems built with the Maxum Bearing Bridge drive system use less energy and run on less horsepower at slower speeds. The drive system replaces a belt-driven system, employing separate bearing cases on either side of the drive pulley to properly distribute bearing load, reduce heat, improve service life, and offer 10x to 15x the L10 bearing life of older cantilever drives.
Maxum air devices include standard output flow and pressure data. Blower enclosures reduce operating sound level below 75dB at 3ft, are made from a corrosion-resistant polymer and have a small footprint, standard gages, oversize filters with pre-filters, and integrated skid mounts.
The systems’ converging, laminar flow technology enables air to reach the part in a stronger, faster, more concentrated form, improving efficiency while saving energy.
Coolant-actuated bar puller
Coolant fed through the Grippex 20L CNC bar puller from a CNC lathe’s coolant system pushes a piston forward so the fingers close on the bar stock. When coolant flow stops, the fingers automatically spring open.
With this bar puller, no adjustment by the operator is necessary as the fingers simply close until they contact the bar – supporting operations with multiple pulls on the same workpiece, even after the OD has been turned.
The Grippex coolant actuated bar puller can be used as a part loader/unloader, and when fitted with special jaws it can:
- Remove finished parts from sub-spindle and place them into the parts catcher
- Remove a bar remnant and drop it in the parts catcher for disposal
Wireless gaging products
Digital depth gage MarCal 30 EWR, MarCal specialty caliper 16 EWR, and universal caliper 16 EWR provide wireless data transmission of depth probe measurements.
The MarCal 16 EWR series includes several gages designed for measuring groove widths and distance between grooves. All MarCal depth gages and calipers offer IP67 resistance to dust, coolants, and lubricants and feature high-contrast digital displays, locking screws, zero reset functions, and immediate measurement readouts.
The MarCal 16 EWR digital caliper line includes a universal model and several specialty models that offer precise depth measurement via an integrated depth rod with measuring ranges of 0" to 6" or 8" (0mm to 150mm or 200mm) and resolution to 0.0005" (0.01mm).
MarCom Pro 5.2 software allows setup of measuring stations with wireless data transfer to a PC. Measured values from connected devices can be transferred automatically into separate Excel columns, tables, or files.
Expanded multi-purpose tap line
MultiTAP’s geometric design, special base material, and surface treatment allow it to handle a wide range of materials and applications. The line now offers regular- and extended-length spiral point and spiral flute taps, as well as roll-form taps.
MultiTAP uses high vanadium cobalt high speed steel (HSS-E), nitrided with an Ne2 surface treatment or TiCN-coated for extended tool life. It is available in both spiral point and spiral flute configurations for through- or blind-hole applications. Tap sizes cover a full range for UNC or UNF threads, from #4-40 to 1"-12", to metric sizes from M4 x 0.7 to M24 x 3.0.
The TNL20-9 sliding/fixed headstock automatic lathe has 9 linear axes, two turrets (each with 8 stations, max. 12,000rpm, 2kW), a back-working attachment (4 stations), and an autonomous counter spindle. It can deploy three tools simultaneously.
The TNL20-11 has an additional front-working attachment (6 stations, 3 of which are live, max. 12,500rpm, 2kW) on an autonomous X/Z slide. By the interpolation of the H-indexing axis of the front working attachment with the X-axis of the autonomous compound slide, Y-machining operations or tool offsets can also be easily performed with the front working attachment on the main spindle. It is possible to produce with up to four tools simultaneously to reduce machining times.