Sjoberg Tool and Manufacturing is a family owned job shop, celebrating their 40th anniversary, located in Hartland, Wisconsin. Still owned and operated by members of the Sjoberg family, they work to be an industry-leading precision sheet metal manufacturer. The family has been a long time supporter of Mazak laser technology.
"My family has always invested in new equipment, not mansions and cars," stated Jim Sjoberg, president of Sjoberg Tool and Manufacturing. He added, "I don't drive a jalopy, but I don't have a $200,000 car either. We've always had state-of-the-art equipment and that is why we've thrived. I doubt other privately help companies would be happy with our model. That's pretty typical in the industry. They don't want to spend the capital. They want to keep the profit margin huge. A family business is willing to do less [of a profit margin] typically."
In the 2000s manufacturing customers wanted only the parts needed at the time to reduce storing and tracking excess material. Six to seven week lead times vanished. Most work now falls into a three to five day turn around, if painting is not required.
The company maintains an on-time delivery rate of 99 percent while the industry average is around 87 percent according to a the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association's survey "Financial Ratios & Operational Benchmarking Survey".
Sjoberg purchased its first Mazak laser in 1992, but now have three Hyper Turbo X 3015 4kW laser-cutting machines, one MKII 3015 4kW laser, one SPACE GEAR 3015 4kW and most recently purchased an OPTIPLEX 3015 FIBER 4kW.
With the new fiber technology, Sjoberg learned about the increase in speed that fiber delivers compared to CO2. Sjoberg's new OPTIPLEX FIBER is cutting 10-guage steel at twice the rate of the CO2 laser. The fiber is even quicker in light-gauge materials. The fiber laser has also taken work away from the turret punching equipment.
With a variety of lasers, automation has helped to advance the fabricator's productivity. Sjoberg Tool & Mfg. has two types of automation, a Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) and an Extensible Manufacturing Cell (EMC) allowing laser operators to do other tasks instead of loading material onto the machines.
The automation does include a tower. Having the material storage towers keeps the machine fed which is necessary for the fiber technology's reaching high speeds on very thin material.
Continuing to strive for the best equipment helps keep Sjoberg competitive and stay ahead of the curve. The company also has many other pieces of high-end equipment such as Schroder SPB Evolution, SafanDarley E-Brake, and a material sorting racking system by Big Steel Rack.
While having a variety of high-end capital equipment investments also means investments in training the workforce. Supported by state grant money, which covers two-thirds of the overall training costs, Sjoberg has been able to pay for 5S lean manufacturing and general skills training.
The fabricator also created a a new position in 2015 to support this transformation. A new engineer, whose sole function is to identify continuous improvement opportunities within the company and has been on the job over nine months.
With continuous improvement in equipment, training and operations,Sjoberg keeps pace with customer demands to remain competitive.
Article published in the February issue of The FABRICATOR.