Just got back from a site tour at Ore Savvy in Boise, ID, and I found it very cool what they were doing there. I actually got to see some of the things we've been talking about in my production engineering class in action. They're running a process based layout with intermittent operations to allow them to scale their volume effectively and allow for highly customized orders. Kenneth did a great job giving us the tour and I managed to ask him about when they do their quality checks for each component they're making. They run statistical sample testing on the parts every time someone reprograms a machine to begin a new run, with the samples being sent to their quality assurance department, and continuous statistical process control throughout the process. They're an expanding company and they've got a mix of older and freshly bought machines in their inventory, with about 57 employees on staff. It was cool to see just how many dies and tools they have for their punching machine, and we got to go across the street to their second facility, which does all the powder coating for the products.
Every station we visited had a different product in it, so I could see how they must have minimized their setup times in order to make so many different sheet metal products. They specialize in parts going into a lot of precision devices, so Kenneth and the quality assurance department have a lot of work to do making sure they're within the tight specification tolerances throughout the process. I forgot to ask him if they were targeting a 3-sigma or 6-sigma process control with all of the precision parts they make. It would be interesting to hear about how many standard deviations they were able to hit. Kenneth told us a story about how often customers send parts back to them that are out of spec, but then find out it was made by a competitor because their is evidence that a machine or process not used on site was used to cut the part. The edges of the different parts of sheet metal we were shown were very distinctive depending on if they were laser cut or punched by their machines, so I fully believe they would be able to tell which parts were theirs. It was interesting to think about how often this must happen with any company that is a supplier for a customer that is taking out orders with multiple companies. Kenneth cracked a joke about how those customers should take all of their orders from Ore Savvy, so maybe they'll be working on partnerships with some of their customers in the future, as they continue to grow.