Belden Universal is a leading manufacturer of high-quality standard and special-purpose universal joints, drive shaft assemblies, and couplings.
Belden has undergone several transformations throughout the decades, growing from a small family machine builder into a global supplier of standard and custom couplings for many industries, including aerospace, medical devices, food processing, robotics, and energy.
Today, the company—which now has a sales office in Germany—has 46 employees operating 22 CNC machines (primarily high-precision conventional and Swiss type CNC turning centers). Belden’s commitment to quality is reflected in its multiple certifications, industry awards, and rigorous adherence to TQM principles.
Belden decided to digitize their daily production and OEE reporting to save time, increase visibility, and have data to drive Lean Manufacturing initiatives.
Many of the solutions we looked at required us to shut down production of a machine for several hours or even days to facilitate the required integration. We had Amper up and running on all of our machines after one day—with no need to stop production.
— Nick Sainati, General Manager
Before implementing Amper, Belden’s operators and managers were spending hours each day manually tracking production. Completing paper tally sheets not only ate into valuable production time, but resulted in delayed visibility into factory operations. As a result:
1) Management didn’t know how jobs were proceeding at any given moment without the tally sheet documentation. If the General Manager wanted a status update, he’d need to walk onto the floor and start asking questions.
2) Belden lacked real-time actionable insights that would enable increased productivity. As a high-mix, low-volume machine shop, reducing setup and changeover times were an obvious concern, but other reasons for downtime were not visible.
3) Despite the effort, daily OEE and monthly downtime losses reports were prone to inaccuracies and misinterpretations, making it difficult to spot trends, set effective goals and engage in meaningful improvements.
Belden’s management realized that it needed to replace its inefficient, inaccurate tracking process with an automated factory operating system.
Belden found that many such systems are complex and cost-prohibitive—especially when it came to integrating with their older machines. However, that was not the case with Amper. Belden chose to partner with Amper because it was cost-effective and easy to implement, taking only minutes to deploy on each machine.
“Many of the solutions we looked at required us to shut down production of a machine for several hours or even days to facilitate the required integration,” says General Manager, Nick Sainati.
“We had Amper up and running on all of our machines after one day—with no need to stop production.”
Within two weeks, Belden began reaping real-time visibility into machine status and utilization. And because operators were freed from completing paperwork, productivity immediately increased.
More significantly, over time, Belden has reaped dramatic improvements resulting in a savings of $110,000 annually—a roughly 10x ROI on their investment. Specifically:
Amper data revealed three major downtime culprits: excessive time to first part, "waiting for inspection" time, and deburring time. This allowed the team to launch continuous improvement programs that yielded the following results:
As a result of the regained capacity, Belden was able to postpone a $1 million capital expenditure—the purchase of two $500,000 machines—for 12 months.
Belden calculated that this 12-month pause resulted in a savings of $50,000 in annual interest, plus the principal payback.
Sainati says, “When the decision to purchase machines was finally made, Amper's data and analysis tools gave us a clear picture of where we needed capacity and exactly what type of machine to buy.”
At the end of the day, Amper’s factory operating system has helped Belden recover hours of capacity that adds up to big annual savings. It allows Belden to plan and time machine investments to its greatest advantage while also responding to shop floor conditions in real time.
For Belden, it’s added up to a 10x ROI on its Amper purchase—an outstanding investment by any measure.