SWISS TURNED COMPONENTS | (262) 743-1700

Welcome Ed Flores, CNC Operator

Michael Reader

Ed Flores joined Precision Plus (PPI) in November as a CNC Operator in the Miyano CNC turret lathe platform of the company’s Production Department.  He reports to Sam Kirkland, the Miyano Platform Supervisor.  Ed comes to PPI with five years’ CNC experience and in the near future, looks forward to continuing his education in pursuit of an associate’s degree in CNC technology.

Precision Plus Welcomes Two Youth Apprentices and Two Gateway Youth CNC Boot Camp Students

Michael Reader

Youth Apprentices

Jordan Belanus, a senior at Elkhorn Area High School in Elkhorn, WI and Jake Sherwin, a senior at Big Foot High School in Walworth, WI, have joined Precision Plus’ Youth Apprentice Program.

Jordan Belanus began working as an Information Technology (IT) youth apprentice at Precision Plus (PPI) on November 9, 2015, reporting to Jeff Lemmermann, the company’s CIO and CFO. The IT apprenticeship adheres to the IT Skill Standards Checklist established by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development.

Items on the checklist vary from soft skills such as communicating effectively and thinking critically, to job-specific skills such as upgrading an operating system or installing software. The checklist serves as a guideline to help the apprentice obtain designated competencies.

Jordan enjoys working on computers for friends and family, having developed an affinity for programming and networking. As an IT apprentice, he will also be putting those skills to work, performing back up operations, upgrading operating systems and installing software as needed. He will also assist to process employee IT help requests. As his internship progresses, Jordan should be able to perform certain tasks of his own volition, rather than being directed to do so.

In order to receive a certificate for his internship, Jordan must complete 450 total hours of work by August 2016. By state law, however, he cannot exceed 20 hours per week. He learned about PPI’s apprenticeship opportunity through his school’s career and technical education coordinator.

At Elkhorn Area High School, Jordan’s favorite subjects are algebra, physics and geometry. He plans to attend Gateway Technical College in the fall of 2016 and subsequently use its 2-plus-2 articulation agreements with the University of Wisconsin or with Milwaukee School of Engineering to continue his education in computer engineering.

In his spare time, Jordan enjoys playing video games, playing guitar, and practicing Tae Kwon Do, for which he holds a second-degree black belt.

Jake Sherwin began his manufacturing apprenticeship with PPI on November 2, 2015. He reports to Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training.

The manufacturing apprenticeship follows the Skill Standards Checklist established by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development for that purpose. The first part of the apprenticeship will include a general assessment of Jake’s math skills, micrometer and blueprint reading skills and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) interpretative skills.

After the first phase is completed, Jake will spend time with mentors from different departments to learn skills and applications from them first hand. Jake will be completing the core skills and machining unit of the Production Pathway of the Skill Standards Checklist.   Mentors will sign off on the acquired competencies at the end of their mentoring.

The curriculum at PPI goes hand in hand, with Jake’s curriculum at Big Foot High School. Jake learned about the apprenticeship opportunity at Precision Plus when Mark Beilman spoke to his technical education class in September. Jake knows that he wants to work in the trades—most likely in construction—after his graduation. However, he enjoys the science and agriculture classes he is taking, as well as helping with his family’s farm. In addition, he works part-time at Heyer True Value Hardware Store in Walworth, Wisconsin, so he is keeping his options open. His apprenticeship will also require him to complete 450 hours by August 2016.

When time permits, Jake enjoys hunting and fishing, baseball, and playing bass guitar in a band.

 

Youth CNC Boot Camp Students

Two Gateway students, currently enrolled in Gateway Technical College (GTC)’s Elkhorn Campus Youth CNC Boot Camp have begun their job shadowing experience at Precision Plus, as part of their current semester requirements.

Monday through Friday, Elliot Salentine from East Troy High School and Cameron Bunne from Elkhorn High School attend high school in the morning, followed by classes and training at GTC from 12:30 until 4:30 in the afternoon. As they learn different processes and applications at school, a concurrent shadowing program lends them the opportunity to watch professionals performing those jobs. Each student spends one hour per week at PPI to meet those requirements.

Thus far, the students have shadowed Marty Baumgardner in the Quality Assurance Lab, Ryan Landreman and Brad Pearson on the Miyano platform, and Curtis Hibl in the CAM Department. The shadowing will continue on the Tornos platform, the Secondary Department, the Scheduling Department and, finally, the Shipping Department.

Elliot and Cameron will continue their high school/boot camp schedule until the spring semester begins on February 2, 2016. At that time, they will attend their high school classes in the mornings, but will participate in a mentoring program at Precision Plus in the afternoon, learning and working in different departments. The mentoring phase will end in May 2016. The students will receive high school and boot camp credits for their experience at the company.

Although the Youth CNC Boot Camp mentoring program is similar to the Youth Apprenticeship program already in place, possible modifications may be made based on the students’ incoming skill level.

Cameron and Elliot are members of the first Youth CNC Boot Camp to graduate from GTC’s Elkhorn Campus in Walworth County. The program had already been running successfully at GTC’s other two locations in Racine and Kenosha.

For more information about Precision Plus’ apprenticeship and mentoring programs, please contact Mark Beilman via email or by calling 262-743-1700.

 

For Cathy Giese, Secondary Operator at Precision Plus, The Secondary Department Always Comes First

Michael Reader

Cathy Giese, Secondary Operator at Precision Plus (PPI) in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, has been a team member since March of 2010, as part of the Secondary Department.

For Swiss precision manufacturers such as PPI, secondary operations play just as an important role as manufacturing the parts themselves. Processes such as polishing, grinding, deburring, special assembly, or laser marking help to deliver a product with consistent quality and to specification.

Operation of the state-of-the-art equipment found in the Secondary Department requires individuals who are not only highly trained, but also be willing to learn about new equipment and operations. Cathy Giese has proven to be one of those individuals.

Terry Mumper, Manufacturing Engineer, who supervises Giese, explains: “My favorite thing about Cathy is her eagerness to learn. She is punctual and always arrives to work with a positive attitude. She works hard and is very conscientious of the quality of her work. She is a great part of the PPI Team and it is a pleasure to work with her.”

Giese concurs that she is driven by the opportunity to learn new things, such as inspecting job orders as well as learning to operate the OMNI-VISION® 2D/3D Inspection System, which allows for inspection of components and assemblies with the use of digital multi-frequency Moiré inspection probes.

Cathy appreciates her fellow team members, her excellent supervisor, and the company’s culture of respect for the family through workplace flexibility.

Outside of work, she loves to spend time with friends and family—especially her granddaughter. Cathy is an avid cook and baker, and is known for bringing samples of her delicious creations to share with co-workers. She also shares her culinary gift with her church, baking items for funerals and serving food at church dinners. In addition, Cathy is also a dedicated volunteer who helps with ushering on Sundays. She also loves sports, and is an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers and the Brewers.

Updates from Precision Plus’ Quality Assurance Department: Zeiss DuraMax CMM Added to The Production Floor; ISO 9001:2008 Certification

Michael Reader

Zeiss DuraMax CMM

Dale Wittlieff, Director of Quality and Continuous Improvement at Precision Plus (PPI) in Elkhorn, Wisconsin has recently announced the addition of a second Carl Zeiss DuraMax Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM).

The Zeiss DuraMax CMM is a compact 3-D measuring machine designed for shop floor and production applications, replacing traditional measuring gages with automated CMM programs. The DuraMax is equipped with a “VAST XXT” scanning sensor, which quickly and accurately delivers dimensional information on parts (such as size, form and position) that can be easily reproduced on CNC machines.

Precision Plus placed its first Zeiss DuraMax in the Quality Assurance (QA) Department, and was made available to both the QA staff for inspection purposes, as well as to machine operators, as it is perfect for quick in-between inspections of components.

The accuracy and popularity of the CMM prompted PPI to purchase a second one, to be located on the production floor, near the Miyano CNC machines, increasing operator efficiency, as the operators would not have to walk across the plant to use the CMM in the Quality Assurance Department.

The CMM also comes with the Calypso software, which calculates the ideal measuring run and travel paths. Additionally, it can be loaded from three sides, which contributes to its flexibility.

Along with the new CMM, Precision Plus received an offline seat where CMM programs can be created offline and tested before being released to inspect parts. It also opens up time to perform capability studies for new and existing parts on the CMM in the Quality Assurance Department.

ISO 9001:2008 Recertification

Following an intense recertification process, Precision Plus has formally received its ISO 9001:2008 recertification certificate, valid until September 14, 2018.

The surveillance audit process checked for the company’s ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, as well as enhancing customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for continual improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

For more information about Precision Plus’ Zeiss DuraMax CMM and/or the company’s ISO recertification, please contact Dale Wittlieff via email or by phone at 262.743.1700.

 

Precision Plus Conducts Customer Survey, Gets Interesting Results

Michael Reader

Precision Plus (PPI) of Elkhorn, Wisconsin recently conducted its first formal customer survey to gauge overall performance, while measuring various aspects of the company’s services. The survey was initiated this past August, resulting in fifty-four responses, primarily from customers serviced within the last fifteen months.

There were six primary questions asked:

  • Q1 Compared to your other business partners, how does Precision Plus rate when considering responsiveness to your needs?
  • Q2 Compared to your other business partners, how does Precision Plus rate when considering the quality of the items produced?
  • Q3 Compared to your other business partners, how does Precision Plus rate when considering the delivery?
  • Q4 Compared to your other business partners, how does Precision Plus rate when it comes to customer service?
  • Q5 What is your overall view of Precision Plus?
  • Q6 What is your primary role at your company?

When asked to compare Precision Plus to other business partners in the area of customer service, 72% rated PPI as “Among the Best,” followed by a 22% rating the company as “Above Average,” which totaled to 94% of customers expressing receiving exceptional customer service. Many commented further, pointing out the extra actions that earned the high grading: “Precision Plus understands what good customer service is. We feel like our business is highly valued. They have very high credibility. Precision Plus does not over-promote themselves; they deliver. Good corporate citizens.”

When asked questions about quality, responsiveness, and product delivery, the results were equally as glowing. Not one respondent rated Precision Plus as “Below Average” or “Among the Worst.” Looking at component quality, 94% of the responses were “Among the Best” (61%) or “Above Average” (33%). When asked to give a simple favorable or unfavorable rating on their overall view of Precision Plus, all 54 participants selected the “favorable” response.

“We were extremely proud of the ratings our employees earned,” noted Jeff Lemmermann, Chief Information and Financial Officer. “There were sixteen individuals who took the time to add additional comments, and those comments really praised the extra efforts the PPI team made to help them succeed.”

Precision Plus is looking to surveys like this to gain feedback from the marketplace on what keeps customers coming back. On the flip side, PPI is also looking for suggestions on how their products and services can be improved.

Lemmermann adds, “Even the comments with improvement suggestions, had a compliment. Furthermore, it was a pleasure to share these results with our employees to let them know how our customers notice their efforts.”

The survey also gave the respondents an option to be contacted for more feedback at a later day. Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus followed up on those calls.

Click here for a PDF of the survey results.

Precision Plus of Elkhorn, WI Celebrates MFG DAY with an Open House for the Community on October 8, 2015

Michael Reader

We want to extend a sincere “Thank You!” to everyone who helped make Precision Plus’ (PPI) 2015 Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY) Open House a success!

In all, there were forty-two guests who participated in the event on Thursday, October 8, 2015–members of our community that included educators, students, business partners, and the public at large.

The evening event, which began at 5:00 pm and concluded at 7:30 pm, centered on the manufacturing process as it is practiced at Precision Plus

Mike Reader, President and CEO of Precision Plus kicked off the evening by introducing the team, and sharing his thoughts about manufacturing. He pointed out the marked shift the industry has made over the years from a “dark, dirty and dangerous” environment, to clean, high tech industry surroundings that offer rewarding, high-paying careers to individuals who can combine their applied knowledge of STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), with the practical know-how of how things get done.

Following, several team members spoke about some of the different aspects of the operation:

  • Bill Wells, Sales and Engineering Manager, addressed the quoting and purchasing aspect of the business;
  • Rachel Cates, CAD Drafting, Engineering & Quality Assurance Support Specialist, talked about the design process, and featured a 3D design of a component;
  • Steve Dues, Application Engineer, explained how the CAM software works, and shared a video that takes a part from a 3D print design, through the CAM software to the CNC machine;
  • Terry Mumper, Manufacturing Engineer, talked about the Tornos machines, and the importance of math for designing CAMs;
  • Tom Lankford, Production Manager, explained how to optimally schedule production on different machines, and talked about the benefits to start “getting your hands dirty early in shop classes,” in order to become successful in a machining career;
  • Dale Wittlieff, Director of Quality and Continuous Improvement, talked about how quality fits into “everything” that PPI does, and explained the specifics.
  • Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training, spoke about PPI’s education outreach, and showed the “Millennials Video” made by Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce.

Following the presentations, guests took tours of the facility, had refreshments and took home a key chain souvenir, a scaled replica of the component featured by Rachel Cates in the 3D design and by Steve Dues in the video.

We look forward to MFG DAY 2016!

Precision Plus’ Employees Get Fitter and Healthier While Earning Rewards and Reduced Insurance Premiums

Michael Reader

When Precision Plus (PPI) of Elkhorn, Wisconsin delivers a job, it delivers more than just the metal that has been machined into components. It delivers the know-how, dedication, morale, wellbeing, and work-life balance of the people behind the components.

Creating a positive, safe and healthy environment for all employees, has been a continuous goal for Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus, knowing that the benefits have a positive impact not only on the employees but also on the company.

In 2012, PPI contracted with Healics, Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a company that provides employee health risk assessments and biometric screenings, establishes biometric markers, offers onsite coaching and onsite wellness programs, and educates the participants on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Over the past three years, employees have seen marked improvements in their health and related habits, including smoking cessation and increased physical activity, as shown by the results of yearly biometric testing.

In conjunction with the Healics program, Precision Plus has contracted with Humana as their insurance carrier. Humana offers a “Vitality Program,” which is an incentivized plan that challenges individuals to achieve different levels of wellbeing by improving on their habits and practicing healthier living. There are five vitality stages within the program—blue, bronze, silver, gold and platinum– and as employees achieve the next goal, the benefits aggregate.

When points and “Vitality Bucks” are earned, participants can receive rewards from the Vitality Mall, such as movie tickets, hotel stays, digital cameras and more. Points are also awarded for wearing a pedometer, or getting a flu shot. After participants achieve the Bronze Level, for example, they can also benefit from certain food discounts at stores such as Walmart.

It is a fact that insurance premiums continue to escalate forcing companies to have to share the cost with the employees. At Precision Plus, the company pays for a large portion of the premiums, with the employee paying the rest.   Companies participating in the Vitality Program, however, can benefit from a great incentive available to them when an employee reaches Silver Status: a 10% premium reduction for that particular employee.

We are happy to announce that to date, several employees have reached Silver Status. Precision Plus, however, has opted to not reap from that benefit, but instead pass it on to the employee as an added reward for his/her accomplishment.

So the phrase “Put the Pedal to the Metal” is taking on a different meaning here at Precision Plus The pedal may be that of the elliptical machine, or the bike in the spinning class…but the results achieved from pedaling, are bound to have a positive effect on the metal that will turn into fine components, thanks to a happy and healthy workforce.

Millennials in Manufacturing – Precision Plus’ Interns Featured in Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce Video

Michael Reader

Several of Elkhorn, WI’s Precision Plus’s summer college or college-bound interns were recently interviewed to get their take on working at a 21st century high tech manufacturing facility. The video was produced by Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce, Wisconsin’s Chamber of Commerce, to celebrate Wisconsin Manufacturing Month.

Here are some of the comments from the interns:

  • “You create something from a piece of bar.”
  • “You can touch and see something you drew on the computer”
  • “You get to operate machinery that’s really expensive and they trust you.”
  • “In the classroom, you learn all of the logistics, but here you actually get to do it.”
  • “You look forward to the challenges, but you know that if you get stuck, you can ask someone.”
  • “Expectations are not right. This is not a manufacturing plant from the 1800s!”
  • “You’re just not sitting down. You’re constantly moving!”

Precision Plus is proud to have both internship and apprenticeship programs that connect millennials with manufacturing, providing hands-on experience that is bound to contribute to their future and the future of our country.

For more information on Precision Plus’ internship and apprenticeship programs, please contact Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training by email, or by phone at 262-743-1700.

Machining a Great Career Path: Matt Schowalter’s Steps to Success in Manufacturing Technology

Michael Reader

When you ask what machining means to me, I could go on for hours with stories about how I made very complex parts on machines that are even more complicated than the parts themselves. Machining is by far more interesting than what most people know. From the challenges of implementing new complex equipment in the shop, to CNC programming, or even making complex parts in one setup. It is definitely a career choice that most don’t know how advanced it can be, especially the machining of today. Now, we can make parts in one setup that were once made in many setups on multiple pieces of equipment over a long time frame. My career is a success story in manufacturing technology as I have embraced the technology of today and here is how I made it happen with six easy steps in career success.

I started my career in metalworking when I was in high school after I enrolled in the Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship program. It is a program that is a partnership between the school, state, and industry. I learned all about machining from both high school shop classes and while working in a machine shop. It proved to be an excellent foundation for my career. The shop that I worked at turned out to be an excellent learning environment. The mentors were great, they encouraged me to go on in my career and do great things. Matt Schowalter

Matt Schowalter, CMfgT (Certified Manufacturing Technologist) is Machining Group Lead at Gauthier Biomedical. He recently wrote a four-page brochure to not only tell his manufacturing story, but to reach out to high school students and their parents to inform them about machining career paths.

Schowalter feels that is his way of giving back after being rewarded with a satisfying career in manufacturing, and represents the guideline he himself would have liked to have received when he was 16 years old.

To have a great career in manufacturing I have come up with six steps that I used to develop career success. They all are building blocks to great career accomplishments and are easily obtained by applying yourself to your career goals. You can do it, here’s how:

  1. Get a Technical Degree -A solid educational foundation is a critical building block, you will make a lot more money in your career if you follow through with a Technical College education.
  2. Serve a State Sponsored Apprenticeship -This is an excellent way to learn the skills of the trade and climb the pay scale also. It also will ensure that you are viewed as a professional in your career. By finishing an apprenticeship and becoming a journeyman, you will be put in a position to make a good wage for the rest of your career.
  3. Never Stop Learning – Enroll in at least two specialized classes per year. It is an excellent way to build a great resume also, as it shows future employers that you are a dedicated career professional.
  4. Become Proficient in Working with Others – This is the most important factor of the six steps. You will have more opportunities presented to you if you have the ability to work with everyone effectively
  5. Gain the Ability to Turn Manufacturing Issues into Career Opportunities – some may look away from the major issues that hinder the shop. These are the challenges that build a great resume, so ask your boss how you can help fix the major issues they encounter throughout the shop.
  6. Become a Certified Professional in Manufacturing – Consider this the bow on your career package.It will set you apart from the others in the industry. A certification from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers ensures that you have the knowledge to make a difference in the manufacturing industry. It also challenges you to be your best, by obtaining credits for recertification.

By following these steps you will become a leader in the manufacturing industry. You may ask what is next in my career. I can tell you working with others on machining issues and keeping up on the latest technology, more technical classes too, the keys to success in the manufacturing industry.

Schowalter encourages people to read his guideline and share it with others. To obtain a printed version to distribute, please contact Matt Schowalter via email, or download a PDF of his Machining a Great Career Path – The Steps to Success in Manufacturing Technology HERE.

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