In baseball parlance, an ace is a singular individual, the rare gem on the pitching staff. ACE World Companies’ entire staff, from management to engineers to shop floor personnel, are all aces. Dan Harvey explains how this Texas-based organization has become a leading provider of material handling solutions.
In business for 20 years, ACE World Companies supplies customers with standard and custom-designed material handling solutions. A widely recognized industry leader, the Fort Worth, Texas-based organization effectively matches its solutions to virtually any field and application as it services a wide range of markets.
“We’re an engineering company and machinery manufacturer focused on building dynamic components to service all industries with a high concentration in the material handling industry,” describes ACE World’s Executive Vice President Rick Reeves.
The company’s extensive product range includes boat power systems, cranes, hoists, end trucks, power transmissions, controls, power rotating blocks and special machinery. Its offerings find extensive application in numerous industries including steel service centers and steel mills, metals, pulp and paper, transportation, power, concrete, engineering, government, aerospace, automotive, fabrication, petrochemical, oil field, lumber, gaming, manufacturing, marine, mining and refuse.
Whether standard or customized, all equipment and engineered solutions are developed in the United States and produced with the most sophisticated technologies available. Further, ACE World products have proven effective and safe not only in the U.S. but also in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Founded in January 1987, ACE World Companies began as a two-man enterprise operating inside the confines of a garage at the home of the owner, Ace Ghanemi. But by 1991, the company functioned out of a purchased facility comprised of 11.3 acres of land and 55,000 square feet of office/manufacturing space. Ultimately, it expanded into its current facilities that include 72,000 square feet of manufacturing space situated on nearly 17 acres located in Fort Worth.
At its well-equipped, modern fabrication and assembly facilities, ACE World Companies can custom engineer products to meet virtually any specification, thanks to a contingent of highly capable employees. Everything is constructed on time and at the highest quality levels.
“Quality is foremost in our minds,” says Reeves. Both management and staff embrace that mission, and the shared vision is embodied in a program called “We Draw the Line on Quality,” informs Reeves. “The program empowers any employee with the right to stop a shipment from going out of the door if they feel quality, in any way, has been compromised. Whether the problem involves anything from paint to structure, the product will be stopped before it exits the facility and the problem will be corrected. This is in keeping with our stated goal of ‘one time, every time, and defect-free.’”
Advanced Equipment and Processes
The Fort Worth facility includes a full-service machine shop equipped with large capacity conventional and CNC equipment. With its lathe capabilities, ACE meets customer cable drum needs up to 84 inches in diameter and 30 feet long. The five-axis CNC machining center enables precision gearbox manufacturing. An American Gear Manufacturers Association member, ACE builds a variety of gearboxes to meet the most demanding applications.
Manufacturing specifications reach up to 72 inches. In addition, the company’s climate-controlled, ISO: 9001 UL panel and control shop allows for a comprehensive program of onsite testing for quality assurance
At the facility, ACE integrates 5S and lean manufacturing into its daily scope of work. “We continually perform 5S activities throughout the plant,” says Reeves. “This has increased our shop-floor utilization by 30 percent and provides us with optimal visual planning for the big projects, as space is a critical factor in our business.”
This has led to better inventory management, adds Reeves. “We went from no-accountability of obsolete inventory to continued elimination and re-use of low-turning inventory,” he points out.
To better manage its supply chain, ACE World utilizes the Kanban System, a pull system that helps determine supply and production based on customer demand. “We’ve implemented Kanban on our high-volume product, the Ace Shaft Mount gear boxes,” says Reeves. “This has enabled us to eliminate stock-outs and has resulted in bare-minimum inventory levels.”
In addition, Reeves reports that since November 2006, ACE World has partnered with the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center to reduce transportation, motion and waiting time. “This has led to better utilization of our material handling equipment,” he indicates.
ACE World recognizes the need for heavily engineered products and has staffed up its capabilities to meet the demand. One of the ways it does this is through its engineering intern program and its three skilled trade apprenticeship programs registered with the Department of Labor Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. “We recognize the demand for the depleted skilled trades segment in the United States,” comments Reeves.
He adds: “ACE is constantly training employees to fill the skilled trade shortage, which include machinists, millwrights, welders, electrical workers, as well as provide true ‘job/machine shop’ experience.”
A forward-thinking company, ACE World backs up its inventiveness with substantial engineering prowess. The company’s diversified engineering staff excels in the mechanical, structural, electrical, hydraulic and fluid power fields. Specifically, the company’s engineering department consists of two professional engineers, seven mechanical engineers, one structural engineer and two electrical engineers, according to Reeves.
This has led to remarkable manufacturing achievements. “We have manufactured hoisting systems up to a 500-ton capacity including critical lift, polar, explosion proof, log handling, automated, 2-drum bucket, CMAA and AISE hot metal, and CMAA Class ‘A’ through ‘F,’ says Reeves.
Other products include polar trolleys for billet handling, dredge hoists, scrap handling cranes, ladle hoists, circular boom cranes, and stacker cranes. Highlights of the product line include the catalog Terminator series hoist. ACE World revolutionized the industry making available by catalog the built-up hoist products in half the lead-time of competition, says Reeves. “In 2008, we’ll launch our Terminator series two and three,” he adds.
ACE recently moved into the automated boat stacking industry. “Our Stack and Stow product line features automatic boat storage with the push of a button,” says Reeves.
ACE also offers a large-capacity end truck line. “Another key component in ACE’s lineup has been the development of our standardized power transmission product line, available from 20hp through 3000hp,” says Reeves.
Reeves indicates that a major factor in the company’s success is its willingness to take on what he calls the “oddball” jobs. “We really like the tough jobs that require specialized attention. Further, we’ll concentrate on specific areas and we do what we say we’ll do.”
That’s one of the reasons why the company has experienced on average a minimum of 20 percent growth in the past few years. Reeves further attributes growth to the fact that ACE has shifted to the systems side of the industry by providing turnkey solutions.
But at the heart of its success are its employees. “We also empower them to be creative in the design and manufacturing processes, from conception to completion,” says Reeves.
Made in the USA
All the while, as it advances its own fortunes, ACE World is striving to re-establish the United States’ position as a global manufacturing force. “We’re proud to say that our products are made in the USA, and we display the American flag to indicate that they are built by skilled U.S. craftsmen,” says Reeves. “We draw from domestic talent to be a true leader in machinery manufacturing.”
ACE World is highly focused in supporting its mission to serve customers by providing the highest quality engineered solutions. The company remains flexible in its design and manufacturing capabilities to serve specific needs. As a result, it is one of the select U.S. organizations that provide innovative turnkey solutions all the way from engineering to manufacturing.