Mark Devaney reports on PHB, Inc., a company that continues to leave its mark in the die-casting industry.
In the high-pressure world that is the die-casting industry, small imperfections can lead to big problems. Only the careful survive, and one company, PHB, Inc., based in Fairview Pa., knows how to survive and succeed. The company’s reputation rests on its ability to provide quality services, processes and products to its OEM customers from such diverse markets as appliances, telecommunications, instrumentation, automotive, electronics, transportation equipment, military and aerospace, medical and health care equipment, hardware and HVAC.
“The PHB philosophy is to offer, under one umbrella, the integrated services required to provide a complete manufacturing resource,” says A. J. Kalil, vice president of sales
and engineering. “PHB can take a customer’s program from design through die construction, die cast, machining, molding and assembly.”
Founded in 1984, PHB is a privately held corporation with $100 million in sales dedicated to value-added manufacturing of high-quality components and subassemblies for the nation’s leading OEMs. PHB produces zinc and aluminum die castings comprising more than 30 million pounds in annual production, offering computerized shot and process monitoring and documentation, with more than 65 die-casting machines in capacities from 100 to 16,000 tons.
Historically, suppliers to OEMs have sought to continually improve their processes, quality and overall performance to maintain their positions as qualified suppliers. Currently, many suppliers have found it necessary to form joint ventures or merge with each other in order to offer OEMs a more complete manufacturing resource.
“In the coming millennium, OEMs are expected to require their suppliers to provide a more complete manufacturing capability to satisfy their needs,” says Kalil. “This realization led to the founding of PHB and has remained our defining and driving principle.”
The strength of this unique corporation comes with all divisions working together to offer quality value-added components and subassemblies in great volume. The PHB integrated manufacturing services consist of the following:
PHB Tool and Die Division
This division designs and builds tools for casting, molding and trimming. In- house capabilities include pro-engineering, mamma flow simulation, mold flow simulation, CNC sinker, wire EDM, CNC machining, digitizing, duplicating and polishing. Tool and Die assures the best-designed and built tools, enabling the manufacturing divisions the opportunity to enlarge their processing window.
PHB Die-Casting Division
This division processes more than 57 die-cast machines in capacities from 100 to 1,600-ton clamps. It utilizes the PHB-developed process monitoring system. As part of the process control, the process variables must be measured and analyzed.
This motoring system is simple to use yet sophisticated enough to monitor critical variables. It has improved quality, decreased die wear, increased output efficiency, cut re-melting costs, reduced machine downtime, decreased cycle time and reduced pieces cost. More than 30 million pounds of aluminum and zinc die castings are produced each year.
PHB Machining Division
As an adjunct to the die-casting division, the machining division has been developed to offer a wide range of secondary services. It provides customers with a source for high-tech machining. A primary consideration for meeting customer needs is the use of more than 50 CNC machining centers consisting of the following: horizontal high speed, vertical, lathes, flexible machining tri-cell. A major support component is a quality assurance department that assists manufacturing personnel in the development of processes utilizing the most current equipment.
PHB Molding Division
This division is the newest and smallest of the PHB group. In addition to supplying component parts for corporate subassemblies, it supplies custom components for other customers. With 22 computerized rubber-and plastic-molding machines, and working with several exotic materials, it manufactures product to close tolerance specifications. Like the machining division, it is experiencing dramatic growth and is playing an important role in the company’s integrated approach.
With more than 60,000 square feet dedicated to custom assembly lines, this division is the final link in closing the loop to satisfy the corporate objective to offer a “total manufacturing resource.”
At the heart of PHB’s customer network is a computer imaging system that allows live inspection of parts-in-process on the customer’s PC via a telephone link. This proprietary PHB interface has proven particularly useful in quickly clarifying requirements and is a good example of PHB’s value-added service.
“Because PHB controls all the variables, it is able to control the process, the quality, and the schedule,” says Kalil. “We do it right, because we do it all.”
Engineering and Employees
Throughout PHB’s full range of integrated services, there is a broad array of modern and innovative engineering tools, ranging from CAD systems to the latest in process-monitored CNC equipment, to the highest technology in rubber and plastic molding. PHB teamwork puts the responsibility for meeting the customers’ requirements with one entity. This teamwork approach offers total assurance that the customers’ requirements will not be in jeopardy. The end result is long-term partnerships and very high levels of satisfaction with its customers.