44 ■ ■ ■ Case Study
Automotive blanker presses on
Production software helps Kasle Metal Processing presses on
weather slowdown, prepare for the future
prestogesther ein 20s03 and openend the
Jeffersonville, Ind., facility in June
2004. The motivation was to offer Ford
a closer supply base for vehicle blanks
for its SUVs and trucks. The blanks
previously came out of Kasle’s
Woodhaven, Mich., facility.
So this joint-venture company had
its own controller and salesperson,
much like a stand-alone company, not
a division. KMP also offered expertise
that truly was unmatched in the geographic area.
“We certainly set ourselves apart by
being knowledgeable in and being
experienced with Class A body panels
and what it takes to screen, inspect,
and produce the panels,” said. Tom
Woods, KMP’s general manager, who
has been with the company almost two
years. “As you can imagine, the steel
mill has a great interest in us. In fact,
we actually work for the steel company
even though we refer to Ford as a customer.
“It’s a joint relationship,” he continued. “We actually work for the mill and
are paid by the mill, but we are close
with our customer and know what their
requirements and demands are. So we
need to communicate those and ensure
that the mill is in sync with what the
The 130,000-square-foot facility has
the equipment that helps KMP deliver
those Class A body panels. The most
unique aspects of its two lines are the
huge presses—a 600-ton Verson press
with a 186-inch bed on Line 1 and an
800-ton Verson press with a 204-in.
bed on Line 2. Enprotech, Lansing,
Mich., refurbished the press for Line 1.
The only other major difference
between the two lines is the nine-roll
straightener on Line 1 and a 19-roll
leveler on Line 2 for the more sensitive
jobs. Both lines have coil-changing stations, uncoilers, washers, and oilers
before the presses and a conveyor and
stacking system after blanking.
Automatic Feed Co. reconditioned the
CThe two consoles that control the two blanking lines at Kasle Metal Processing have three monitors with access to the enterprise resources planning system, die performance, and maintenance information. Increasingly supervisors are using the maintenance computer module to go online and access real-time production information that AIM Analytical software provides.
By Dan Davis,
Amidst the news of Ford
Motor Co.’s business
downturn, good news is
surfacing in Jeffersonville,
Ind., home of Kasle Metal Processing
KMP is the main supplier of Class
A vehicle body blanks to Ford’s
Louisville (Ky.) Assembly Plant, the
home of Ford Explorer® assembly, and
the Kentucky Truck Plant, another
Louisville facility where all Super
Duty® full-sized trucks are built.
Obviously, a dramatic spike in gas
prices last year forced many consumers
to rethink their interest in sport utility
vehicles (SUVs) and large trucks.
Whereas Ford once sold more than
400,000 Explorers a year, the company
sold less than half of that in 2006.
Sales also dipped for full-sized trucks, as
many businesses postponed additional
purchases to augment their fleets.
KMP company management eliminated a third shift and scaled back
the number of employees to 50. The
metal processor shut down for a week
in July and for another week at the
close of 2006.
Despite some of the difficulties,
KMP is upbeat about the future. The
last year was spent not so much on
soul-searching, but on searching for
efficiency. And using a software tool
from AIM Analytical LLC that large-
ly had been ignored, the company
found that it is operating more efficiently than ever before.
Ford also happens to be introducing
a redesigned Super Duty truck in 2007,
and KMP is making inroads with an
up-and-coming vehicle manufacturer,
Toyota. Coming off the heels of a dramatic slowdown, the new year is shaping up to be an interesting one.
The same statement can be used to
describe KMP in general. Kasle Steel, a
longtime supplier of steel products to
the automotive industry, and
Automatic Feed Co., a manufacturer of
steel processing equipment, came
The FABRICATOR | An FMA Publication
www.thefabricator.com | March 2007