Prescription for joint success

Departments - Reference guide

A customer-first culture has been crucial to STD Med’s success since its inception in 1953. In fact, its distinguished customer service has been a major driver to enable STD Med to evolve from an everyday job shop to a provider of intricate pieces to the medical field and also the aerospace and military industries.

June 19, 2014
Elizabeth Engler Modic

Stoughton, Mass.-based STD Med, makers of premium-quality, high-precision medical parts and devices, doesn’t just talk about taking care of its global customers; its employees embody a dedication to this goal.

“We get personal with our clients,” says Dan Massucco, director of continuous improvement. “Our employees, from their first day with us, are taught to operate as if they owned STD Med.”

Romeo Belisle, STD Med machine shop/CNC manager adds, “We are truly a soup-to-nuts entity. We can literally do it all: design, engineering, quality control, sales, manufacturing done on the latest CNC and Swiss machines, warehousing, and kitting.”

Many of STD Med’s parts, including resurfacing and replacement implant joints, are made of materials that will provide the ultimate service life within a human body. However, these workpieces, especially those made of cobalt chrome and titanium, are costly and often extremely difficult to machine. Most runs are non-repeating, 200-or-less lots. A large percentage of the work is custom, and with that comes the need to partner with the right supplier.

Its strict corporate philosophy and vast capabilities have led STD Med to partner only with vendors with similar passion, commitment, and responsiveness to those it serves. One supplier, in particular, has been an exceptional fit.

“MSC Industrial Supply Co. is 100% dedicated to doing all it can to help us succeed,” Belisle begins. “Bill Gaudaitis, our outside sales associate, and John Gambale, our metalworking technical specialist, are committed to ensuring our complete satisfaction with everything they provide us. Our partnership with them and MSC is built solidly on value and communication flowing in both directions.”

Support and expertise

MSC, a broad-line distributor of more than 3,000 premium and classic metalworking brands and MRO supplies, now delivers more than just tools. It provides metal cutting application support and expertise along with inventory management solutions to help companies deliver cost savings and productivity.

A recent STD Med acquisition of new equipment clearly demonstrates how much the medical manufacturer depends on its MSC relationship.

“Once I assumed responsibility for our tool crib, in addition to my CNC department duties, I knew we needed to significantly increase tool management reporting and accountability. We had no solid or reliable historical tool-usage data. My first goal was to immediately take our tool crib to a much higher level of efficiency. That quickly meant knowing what we had on hand and, just as importantly, where it all resided,” Belisle states.

STD Med brought in numerous companies that offered tool vending machines. Of those, only one provider offered not just a machine, but a complete tool management program, including dedicated training and support.

“Right away, MSC sold us on the fact that they can always keep our vending machines loaded with a vast array of brands. Most critically, though, they also put a metalworking specialist right at my fingertips,” Belisle says.

Vending machine installation

STD Med has three MSC vending machines. Two are centrally located, near Jim Porter, who supervises STD Med’s vending transactions, for easy and secure access by all machinists. A Lista modular cabinet, also supplied by MSC, enables STD Med to store even more tooling in the area. The Lista-housed tool stock is electronically tracked by the MSC vending software. A third bay sits adjacent to another nearby machining cell. To date, John Gambale, MSC Industrial Supply Co.’s metalworking technical specialist, has helped generate more than 50 documented cost savings reports that have enabled STD Med to dramatically improve tool productivity, while slashing tool cost per machined part. Combined, these improvements have reduced costs more than $100,000.

Gaudaitis helped STD Med organize its tool crib via the MSC vending machine and its accompanying software that assists in effectively tracking inventory. Gambale now also supervises tool tests, is intricately involved in process improvements, and has brought in additional expertise for the brands MSC provides STD Med.

“Not long ago, he suggested we switch to Kennametal end mills for certain difficult machining applications throughout the facility,” Massucco continues. “The metalworking specialists saw the tests through and proved that the ROI of the Kennametal tools easily justified their higher price versus the incumbent brand, due to the improved overall productivity the tool brought to our production. The Kennametal products have proved to be the right investment for us.”

As for the actual MSC vending machine, Jim Porter, who supervises STD Med’s vending transactions, cites its automatic-reorder feature as most vital. “It maintains our minimums and maximums. It generates usage reports by job and by machinist. This data can be reviewed daily, if necessary. Of course, John and Bill are here weekly to assist us with our data review and to suggest any available new tool brands that might make us even better.”

Management, flexibility

Currently, STD Med’s dispensers contain lines such as Kennametal end mills for high-end machining, SPI measuring instruments, Hertel carbide reamers, Accupro end mills, specific exotic materials, and Atrax end mills. In addition, MSC works closely with STD Med to support the management of items critical to the shop, even when they are not supplied by MSC.

“That kind of flexibility, no doubt, helped seal the deal with MSC versus other vending machine contenders,” Belisle says. “In the end, our choice was rather simple because of all the expertise and value-adds MSC brought to the table.”

Kevin Mello, STD Med’s senior CNC programmer and rapid-prototype expert adds, “John is constantly evaluating brand options to test and load into our dispenser. He and I work very closely to always make sure that the tools we have on hand are the tools that will deliver optimum productivity for us. Because MSC has all the key brands in its portfolio, we benefit from being able to continually pit one end mill or drill against another, in various materials or cutting conditions, with John here not only to supervise the results, but also to provide objective analysis of just what will work best for STD Med.”

In the initial phase of implementation, STD Med’s workers had to become comfortable with the vending unit’s touchscreen interface and navigation. MSC’s training and support helped the firm’s machinists and crew quickly learn how to operate the vending machine, and realize how it could help them manage their huge tool inventory. With the new system, STD Med was able to eliminate the need for 24-hour tool crib supervision.

“We feed off John’s, Bill’s, and MSC’s incredible passion to take great care of us,” Belisle says. “Every day, together, we’re learning new and better ways to produce our parts more quickly and affordably. We’ve progressed so much, in fact, that we’re on a far faster pace to build new facilities to make us a more competitive worldwide resource.”

Because of the improved operational efficiencies realized through the MSC inventory management vending solution and complementary consultative relationship, STD Med can now run its tooling at increased feeds and speeds, making them more competitive and positively impacting STD Med’s bottom line.

“Our mission is to provide disruptive innovation for the medical device marketplace. MSC, through the metalworking expertise and dependable support of its field personnel, its inventory management solution, and especially, its real passion to know and help grow our business, makes certain that we have no disruptions in our quest to fulfill that objective,” Belisle concludes.


MSC Industrial Supply Co.
IMTS 2014 booth #W-1636