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using different fi llers and techniques. Those customers have already received an average sixmonth payback on their investments. “We intend to expand more geographically,” he says, “especially as an applied technologies engineering company, looking for new application opportunities for ourselves and our customers. Our special projects group goes out through our distribution channels to fi nd customers who are peripherally aligned to our industry, to see what we can do for them. “The technology to make a bowling ball is core for us, for example, and the chemical content is not unlike what we’re used to; the same with polymer concrete, using the same basic resins with different fi llers. Our people are experts at blending, mixing, metering, and moving material to a source and dispensing it accurately. I can’t say enough about our people. With a vested interest, they’re solidly committed to our future.” facility in Shanghai to service the cast polymer industry much as we do in the US. The building industry in China is about ten times the size it is in the US. That business for us is developing, albeit slowly. Meantime the US housing situation is worsening, which means this is a struggle year for us, but we see light at the end of the tunnel.” In 2004 Gruber initiated a market diversifi cation strategy. Since it had developed its technologies in the international cast polymer industry, it decided to examine where those technologies might have other applications. So far it’s done several major, successful projects, such as an automated bowling ball plant in Mexico for Brunswick, a prototype manufacturing facility for Sea Ray Boats, a project in partnership with another automation company that produces architectural columns (a construction item), and a few factories for polymer concrete, which is a somewhat similar process GruberSystems,Inc. FedEX 90 January 08

January 08 91 More than six years ago, Hardinge Inc. began an internal lean journey, seeking ways to simplify, speed up and shorten the manufacturing and assembly process used to produce its family of turning, grinding, milling machines and workholding products sold to manufacturers around the world. As improvements began to materialize, it became clear that in order to maximize those gains, the supply chain would need to be improved as well. “We realized we had to optimize the supply end so the assembly team could realize the gains that the lean efforts have given it over the years,” said David Bassett, the global sourcing manager for the Elmira, New York machine tool division of Hardinge. At the same time, Hardinge came to believe that having a finely tuned and efficient global supply chain could become a powerful competitive weapon, particularly when combined with the improvements in both labor efficiency and the continuous improvements achieved through its lean manufacturing operation. And the company believes it is especially well positioned to take Hardinge Inc, a global supplier of metal cutting solutions, believes a tightly run global supply chain can be a powerful competitive weapon. Keith Regan learns how it’s using its worldwide footprint to make that idea a reality Hardinge Theglobal supplychain