Anticipating a change in market demand, T & L Automatics took a big step -- from screw machine work to advanced multi-axis CNC machining. That risky decision, and the entire business, nearly went up in smoke when fire struck a couple years ago. But owner Tom Hassett wasn't thwarted. Thanks in part to his newly purchased Eurotech Elite lathes, his vision for growth was not about to be scorched.
As one of the nation's leading screw machine companies and CNC shops, T & L Automatics has built a reputation over 30 years of manufacturing quality precision parts and innovative ideas that have helped their customers become more competitive in their markets. T&L Automatics, Inc. is a privately held company owned and operated by Thomas Hassett.
T&L Automatics was founded in a rented garage with just one of these Davenport Screw Machines.
In 1975, with the sale of his race car and loan from his dad of $3,500, Hassett founded T & L in his hometown of Rochester, NY. When the company started it did so with one Davenport Screw Machine and one non paid employee -- Tom.
Today, T & L Automatics has 120,000 square feet of manufacturing space, a variety of 80-90 machines, and lunch and locker rooms to accommodate up to 300 employees.
Ignited coolant was the cause of the fire that destroyed much of the business.
Fire Disaster Hits
On February 24, 2012, shortly after 1:30am, Rochester, NY fire crews were dispatched to the building of T & L Automatics Inc. on Emerson Street. First arriving companies reported heavy smoke from a 4-story industrial building and requested a second alarm almost immediately. Due to the size and age of the building, the fire grew to three alarms. A worker had been performing a cutting operation when sparks ignited the coolant being used, forcing the six employees to evacuate the structure. Thankfully, there were no reported injuries. The fire was contained to the first floor and knocked down by the responding fire crews within 30 minutes of their arrival.
Rising From the Ashes
Many machines and equipment were destroyed in the fire; but owner Tom Hassett had a vision that even a fire couldn't keep down. He asked his friends and vendors for help and he was able to keep his company running. Within a year he not only rebuilt what he had lost but he also continued with his plans for growth and added the most advanced multi-axis machines on the market -- the Eurotech Elite Rapido machines. He rose from the ashes, continued with the vision, retained his customers and procured new accounts.
T&L's Vision -- New Market Direction
Four years before the fire, T & L Automatics had taken a new market direction. They had decided to search out better precision work in higher markets, such as medical, aerospace, defense, and fluid power. The owner had an entrepreneur vision which drew him to the Eurotech products. Anticipating the change in market demand, he took a big step from screw machine work to advanced multi-axis CNC machining. He didn't step gradually or slowly; he jumped right into one of the fastest, most advanced CNC machines in the industry -- the Eurotech Elite. He bought a Eurotech 835SLY to begin this new market direction. He trained on his own machine with the assistance of the Eurotech engineers and began producing extreme precision parts within weeks.
T&L Automatics purchased two Eurotech Rapido machines as part of its rebuild after the fire.
"As we got into this niche market a little further, we found the Eurotech dual turret machine -- the 420SLLY," said Hassett. "That machine is absolutely phenomenal. A part on our other multi-axis CNC machines that had a cycle time of 74 seconds we run in 60 seconds on the Eurotech (an 18% savings)."
T & L invested in four Eurotech models. These machines reduced the machinist set-up time, increased production rate, and eliminated errors. Feature-to-feature accuracy improved, shorter and more rigid tools could be used, higher spindle/cutting tool speeds were achieved while reducing the load on the cutting tool. This allowed T & L Automatics to take on the toughest machining challenges. They could compete in the higher end markets that required high precision complex machining with microscopic tolerances.
The Learning Curve
"The learning curve for the multiple-axis Eurotech's was exciting," explained Hassett. "It only took a couple of weeks to understand being careful with commands for movement is the first order of business. While being trained by Eurotech in those two weeks, we got our first projects running really well and meeting expectations. Once an experienced CNC person understands the tool paths of each turret, spindle and slide the fun begins. We have had improvements every week. All of our personnel are making suggestions to reduce cycle times or improve tool life."
Cycle times were reduced because the main and sub spindles on the Eurotech machines were able to work at the same time.
According to Hassett, "the part we produce on the Eurotechs vs. other CNC lathes is long with a through hole. To get the drills working on the main and sub spindles at the same time was only possible with the Eurotech because of the sub dropping down so there is no interference with tooling patterns. Standard lathes have a fixed in line position between the main and sub spindles and getting two long tools, one working on the main and one on the sub, was impossible in this case. So we were waiting for each drill to finish on our other CNC machines but with the Eurotech the time was saved with both drills working at the same time."
T&L Automatics now uses a variety of 80-90 machines in its rebuilt facility.
Return on Investment
"With a fast machine," he explained, "you can offset the cost and over time get the machine for free. Return on assets is a main stay of concern in the manufacturing business. The formulas for this are simple. More parts per hour at the same labor charge for each piece and your return per hour is higher. If the labor content of a part is $3.00 each and you invest in a machine that will generate 20 pieces per hour instead of a cheaper unit that will produce 17 pieces per hour the return for the more expensive machine is $9.00 per hour. Given a 40 hour week and two shifts that's an increase in labor dollars of $720.00 per week or X 4.3 of $3096.00 per month.
From here you just need to look at debt service. How much more a month is the more expensive machine costing me. If the faster machine will cost $1000.00 more a month and all works well there is $2000.00 a month to use to reduce debt or put on the bottom line. Thus the parts per hour offset your machine payment, i.e., the higher technology gives you better throughput and that pays for the machine."
Want more information? Click below.