AIS is a leading manufacturer of commercial office furniture including modular cubicle partitions, desks, and seating. Lutco has been a trusted partner in AIS’ production processes for over 25 years, providing desk posts, legs, shelves, flipper doors, divider door frames, and components that contribute to several different styles of office panel systems and movable wall units. These components and assemblies are made from multiple grades of steel, including different types of coil steel as well as welded steel tubing for a variety of office designs.
Metal Stamping Supplier Change Opens New Doors for OEMs
Initially AIS became a Lutco customer, along with a number of other commercial furniture manufacturers, during the acquisition of a smaller metal stamping vendor. The transition was smooth thanks to careful planning, and the newly-acquired customers were able to enjoy the benefits of a metal stamping provider with a breadth of additional value-add capabilities that would enable growth and increase production efficiency.
It was soon discovered, however, that AIS had at least one expectation that Lutco was not accustomed to: 24-hour quotes. The team at Lutco knew that timely order fulfillment was critical to their customers’ success, and made the necessary adjustments in scheduling and process development to meet this expectation.
Additionally, there was a discrepancy in expectations in regards to tooling ownership. In a typical stamping arrangement the customer will develop and provide their own tooling. In previous vendor relationships this had not been the case for AIS, and would have to be addressed before production could commence. To satisfy both parties, an arrangement was reached where AIS would provide their own tooling, and Lutco would leverage decades of metal stamping equipment maintenance knowledge to care for and preserve AIS’s equipment, maximizing the longevity and precision of their tooling.
Lutco Goes The Extra Mile to Meet Tight Turnaround Requirements
As Lutco continued working with AIS a Kanban arrangement was established, with Lutco maintaining a customer-specified amount of product on the shelf at any given time. With this system in place, an order could ship within 24 hours of the request, allowing AIS to maintain a consistent production schedule without unexpected delays.
AIS is a lean manufacturer and needed to work with a contract stamping, welding, and assembly partner that would fit into their JIT supply chain. Lutco’s ability to fulfill orders in an efficient and timely manner directly correlates to AIS’ ability to maintain their position in the highly-competitive office furniture market. Lutco’s efforts to keep production and turnaround times low has been a key contributing factor to AIS’s successful growth strategy.
As Lutco continued to work with AIS, the relationship blossomed. When AIS was acquired as a customer, they were exclusively utilizing metal stamping services, however the additional capabilities Lutco was able to offer allowed AIS to consolidate many of their manufacturing processes under one roof. Not long after the furniture stamping contract was established, the program was expanded to include additional value-added activities such as welding and assembly.
By combining these operations, Lutco not only reduced the complexity of AIS’ logistics, but further reduced production times by eliminating additional shipping delays as stamped parts no longer had to travel to secondary locations for welding or assembly services.
Efficient Metal Stamping, Welding, and Assembly Leads to OEM Growth
Following the success of the stamped metal furniture components program AIS had developed at Lutco, it was only natural for Lutco to be involved in the development of new processes as the AIS product line grew and order volumes increased. Soon, a program designed to stamp and weld desk posts grew to include movable wall components and door frames. Initial process instructions called for the door frame products to be drilled and welded by hand with hand jigs, but AIS was seeking an increase in production to 50 pieces per day—something not possible by hand.
Lutco was able to design a workcell that would be able to meet or exceed AIS’s 50 piece per day goal by investing in robotic equipment that would automate the process, simultaneously reducing labor and increasing production rates. AIS also eliminated some in-house operations by having Lutco supply more value-added assemblies rather than individual parts.
This investment in capabilities and equipment was further evidence of the proactive, mutually-beneficial nature of the relationship between Lutco and AIS, allowing the commercial office furniture producer to achieve production goals while driving Lutco to expand service offerings and allow other customers to leverage new equipment and expedited production opportunities.
Lutco: Doing Whatever It Takes to Drive Customer Success
At Lutco we take pride in metal stamping as one of our core competencies, but perhaps even more importantly, we take pride in meeting our customers’ needs and helping to facilitate the growth of their businesses. Lutco’s customer-centric growth model helps OEMs across a range of industries achieve their goals while offering an ever-expanding array of value-added production capabilities.
With heat treating, welding, stamping, and more all under one roof, Lutco is the complete solution for stamped metal furniture manufacturers. Lutco is one of the few companies in the northeast offering the capabilities to handle thick metal stamping with precision and competitive prices. Progressive tooling is the heart of the stamping process at Lutco. Lutco fabricates stampings made off blanking and progressive dies. Press capacity ranges from 40-400 tons and material gauges range from .010″-.375″.
Are you seeking a metal stamping provider that is aligned with your goals and invested in your success? Contact Lutco today to get the conversation started.