MGS Mfg. Group: Sampling Success

A foray into sampling led this toolmaker to design its own multi-shot tooling system and equipment.

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When first profiled by MoldMaking Technology in May, 1999, Germantown, WI-based MGS Mfg. Group’s primary revenue-generating activity was toolmaking. The past 10 years have seen an explosion for the company as it experienced a significant phase of growth and change—developing into a full-service “engineered solutions” provider of design, tooling, sampling, mold and part qualification, production molding, automation and turnkey manufacturing systems.

Much of this growth can be attributed to MGS Group’s oldest member company Moldmakers Inc. “This tool shop is an engineering beast,” notes MGS Group Marketing Director John Berg. “At more than 60,000 square feet, it features all of the traditional equipment you’d expect from a large, modern shop (wet/dry surface grinders, horizontal/vertical machine centers, CNC lathes, jig grinder, etc.) along with a deep staff of personnel (60+ journeyman toolmakers/CNC techs/EDM techs, 20+ designers/engineers, 20+ program managers), plus extensive automation capabilities. The automated tool shop features three high speed/high precision hardened steel machining centers with integrated robotics and CMM, three high speed/high precision graphite machining centers with integrated robotics and two CMMs, three dual machine sinker EDM cells with integrated robotics, and the ‘Monster’ cell—six wire EDMs with two CMMs and a rail-mounted, six-axis robot to feed it.”

 

A Turning Point

“One of the most significant events in the history of our company occurred in the late ‘90s when we created our first portable injection units to sample the multishot molds we were building,” recalls Berg. “The success of our ‘sampling’ units led to the development of full featured production models. The MGS line of Universal Multishot Systems (UMS) includes vertically and horizontally mounted injection units that convert a standard injection molding machine into a multishot press. Other UMS equipment includes Rotary Platens and Vacuum Units. The success of our UMS line has facilitated our growth as a leading provider of multishot tooling systems and equipment.

MGS toolmakers also took a lead role in developing MGS Automation Systems, Berg notes, which are custom equipment solutions provider for the downstream events associated with production molding, like assemblies, decorating, degating and packaging.

 

Developing and Acquiring

Berg predicts the company will continue to grow by investing in the development of new technologies to improve manufacturing efficiencies in the following areas: in-mold assembly, multishot development for medical products, water injection technologies, and automating value-added operations.

The company also recently developed and acquired several companies to strengthen its position in the marketplace. PMD (Prototypes, Molds, & Design) was developed as a company-within-a-company dedicated to time-to-market deliveries of tooling systems. “PMD is staffed to operate in a leaner environment,” Berg stresses. “It is equipped with the required machinery, but with a smaller staff. PMD does not house the automation capabilities of Moldmakers, Inc., and as a result, has a lower overhead structure, allowing PMD to be more competitive with customers not requiring the full engineering horsepower of MGS.”

In 2006, MGS acquired All West Plastics, an ISO Class 8 cleanroom/white room molding operation. Its most recent acquisition is Sousa Plastics in Chihuahua, Mexico. “This facility is now called TecStar de Mexico and serves a variety of markets (electronics, automotive, appliance),” Berg notes. “We will continue to look for strategic expansion opportunities in the next 10 years.”

A Decade of Difference

MGS Mfg. Group Director of Marketing John Berg recalls the last decade in the industry and takes a look at how the next 10 years could play out.

  1. Biggest industry change: The many challenges that seem to come at once: the drive by manufacturers to source overseas, what were once aggressive leadtimes are now the norm, constantly rising material costs vs. many customers negotiating upfront for price reductions.
  2. Top challenge in past 10 years: Customers who want Chinese tooling prices but top shop quality and delivery. The practices of ignoring the associated costs of overseas sourcing: international travel, extended delivery, undocumented mold components, etc.
  3. Top technology solution: Multishot (multiple material)/in-mold assembly.
  4. Top business strategy solution: Focusing on the customer’s business model and market strategies and relationship building/matching our internal resources to the customer/industry needs.
  5. Best time in past 10 years: Right now! Opportunities abound for companies willing to take investment risks and push the technology envelope.
  6. Worst time in past 10 years: MGS does not view life in this regard.
  7. What you remember most in moldmaking in past 10 years: In 2003 MGS had to replace its biggest customer base, which accounted for about 70 percent of our revenue stream. Our strategy was to develop opportunities in industries that offered great potential to make use of our extraordinary engineering and tooling prowess: medical/healthcare and packaging/containers/closures.
  8. A forecast on the industry for the next 10 years: Tool shops will need to maintain a commitment to technological development—creating better/faster/more profitable systems to manufacture molds for specific markets.

 

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