Quick answer: By becoming a valued partner, reports Lorie Greenspan. For more than six decades, Demmer Corporation has supplied tooling expertise for a wide variety of industry programs.
It’s an understatement to say that Demmer Corporation has the tools to get the job done. A world-class supplier to defense, heavy construction, aerospace, railroad and automotive industries, Demmer supports the most robust vehicle and equipment programs using industry best practices and innovation.
Current President and CEO Bill Demmer describes how this came about: Post WWII, his father, John Demmer founded a tool-and-die company. The senior Demmer, a warrant officer who saw action in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, came home to a good job offered by his father-in-law, in a tool-and-die operation. He developed in the company for about five years, running the facility in optimal fashion. By 1951, he was ready to start his own tool-and-die operation. The postwar U.S. environment was a fertile one, and Demmer’s company supplied to emerging car makers such as Oldsmobile and Pontiac, as well as special machinery manufacturers.
The company’s capabilities continued growing: In the 1960s, Demmer experienced larger projects, primarily in the area of automotive stamping dies, and the ever-growing enterprise experienced an operational shift: 50 percent tool-and-die and 50 percent design and build of special machinery.
Poised to Take Over
As a graduate of Michigan State University engineering school in 1970, Bill Demmer spent summers helping to build machines in the Lansing, Mich. based plant. His entrance into the business coincided with several market shocks. For one, the early-1970s oil crisis occurred, and the hurt created another automotive transition: large car-manufacturing shifting into smaller car production. Automotive tooling platforms suddenly were cancelled and changed.
The company transformed and realigned, understanding that survival hinged upon adaptation and diversification.
Entering New Market Segments
Let’s let Bill Demmer continue the narrative: “Around 1976-77 we decided to diversify into defense, with the development and new release of legacy military vehicles,” he recalls.
These vehicles included the M1 Tank, the Bradley fighting vehicle platform and the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, something that now most people call the Humvee. “What was nice about military work was that the fabrication and machining programs lasted multiple years,” he says. “At that point we were 50 percent tools and dies for automotive and aerospace and 50 percent for military components.”
From there, the company embraced the new industrial environment, which requires agility, flexibility and creative solutions to adapt to necessary changes. “What helped us in the 1990s were Total Quality Management systems including process improvement. Throughout the 1990s sales revenue represented 80 percent automotive and aerospace and 20 percent military,” Demmer says.
Another challenge loomed: yet another auto industry downturn, this one taking place in 1996-97. Bill Demmer describes how the company responded: “We had to change our business model and focus on military work. With the Iraq War in early 2000s, we moved into a new phase of production, ramping up to 90 percent military with manufacturing MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protection) hulls for five different customers and the assembly of these for two different OEM customers.” As with other programs, these urgent military platforms ended.
Since 2010, with military 50 percent of the company’s focus, Demmer successfully ventured into the supply of heavy fabrications for construction, mining and railroad equipment industries, leveraging its expertise and innovation for such programs that can benefit the most from its capabilities,with a concentration on components for motor graders, large track vehicles, and earth moving equipment, as well as railroad car equipment and components.
A New Positioning
Ingenuity remains critical; it helped position the company where it is today.
Breaking it down, in the defense market, Demmer’s CAD/CAM department operates Demmer’s secure FTP site, as well as the company’s primary CAD/CAM systems (CATIA, Pro-E, UG, Spin Fire, AutoCAD and Solid Works).
As a vertically integrated fabricator, Demmer Corporation is experienced in the production of quality components, structures, assemblies, and complete capsules or hulls. Employing a wide assortment of state of the art cutting, forming and machining equipment. Demmer manufactures medium to large steel structures. The company has multiple state-of-the-art paint systems for production components and large weld structures on a single integrated path.
Vertical manufacturing refers to vertical integration of a value chain that a manufacturer undertakes to gain a strategic advantage. Manufacturers achieve vertical integration when they control or own elements within a value chain beyond the central manufacturing component.
In aerospace, the addition of 100,000 square feet of climate-controlled floor space allows Demmer to manufacture tools within tight tolerance, negating the effect of thermal expansion.
Demmer facilities maintain certifications in ISO 9001:2008, AS9100:2009 Rev C and ISO/TS 16949:2009.
Demmer’s large 3-Axis and 5-Axis CNC milling machines can perform complex composite lay-up mold manufacturing from steel, aluminum and Invar. These machines allow Demmer Corporation to machine large, complex tools in fewer setups, ensuring quality and allowing quick turnaround times. Demmer Corporation is also a leader in advanced engineering, fabrication, and assembly of large, complex assembly fixtures utilized in the manufacture of next-generation aircraft.
All of these capabilities along with Heat Treat and Paint are benefits to Demmer’s automotive customers. Palmer Engineering, Inc. production stamping facility –located in Lansing. Michigan – provides the company’s capabilities through value-added engineering. Demmer works with clients to reduce blank size, recommend materials of appropriate strength, reduce part weight, communize parts, and improve assembly quality. Demmer Corporation also regularly provides technical assistance at the stamping die design stage to confirm that designs are production worthy.
To further its value in the marketplace, Demmer also employs extensive automated welding capabilities, maintaining 40 welding robots. Lean flow and state-of-the-art lean techniques have propelled its customers’ success forward.
Part of Demmer’s lean philosophy is to be as vertically integrated as possible. With its paint, shot blast and preheat capabilities; the company can handle various programs. For example: MRAP hulls and military tank hulls were completed entirely in house, as well as other advanced engineering and prototype operations. In addition, Demmer’s program managers work closely with customers to coordinate the design team, providing the advantage of a single-point of contact. Through the changes and decisions that accompany every stage of development, Demmer’s program managers engage all departments to gather information, resolve issues, and keep customers informed.
Demmer partners with customers to select appropriate materials and work through any manufacturing issues. With support from Demmer’s CMM lab – and extensive quality assurance processes – any potential design complications are eliminated. The company carefully tests external components as they are integrated, ensuring that the completed product will meet or surpass all quality expectations. As the design is finalized, Demmer is able to rapidly enter production, helping to meet customer demands. “We always embrace and implement new technologies, looking at new armor solutions, researching what our customers need and how we can serve them,” Demmer stresses. “We constantly talk to customers about new program opportunities, and we look for opportunities to save them money.”
Safety and Environment First
“Safety is one of our critical process indicators,” Bill Demmer says, adding that the company is proactive rather than reactive when it comes to safety issues. Environmental Health and Safety coordinators perform routine safety audits to mitigate potential safety risks and are a part of project launch. Demmer is environmentally conservative, always emphasizing the need to eliminate waste – and is engaged in recycling efforts. Demmer Corporation holds ISO 140001:2004 certification.
In the end, our customer-centric company wants to ensure the best value. “A large part of that involves devising solutions that revolve around our processes which, in turn, translates into best value,” says Demmer.
He is involved in a company that demands a lot from itself – at the same time, his company’s client’s demand a lot from the provider.
In the end, Demmer Corporation provides all of the appropriate tools to make it happen.