Focus on Technology Fuels
Success at Batesville Tool and Die
By keeping up with the latest technology in the material forming industry, Batesville Tool and Die (BTD) has become one of the world's premier global suppliers of quality metal stampings.
Established in 1978 by Ron Fledderman with a small tool room and a single press, BTD has grown to a $135 million a year operation. With approximately 900 employees, the company has expanded to more than 500,000 square feet of building space with facilities in Batesville, Indiana; Querétaro, Mexico; and Aiken, South Carolina.
"We're very high tech," said second generation President and CEO Jody Fledderman. "We use laser scanners, servo presses, and simulation software. Technology in general is what our niche is... We constantly try to stay one step ahead of the mainstream stamping industry."
One of the more recent technology gains at BTD was the installation of a Minster FX2-600 high performance servo press. Featuring an integrated coil line and control, the FX2 servo press incorporates a low inertia drive resulting in industry-leading performance rates.
By providing high acceleration and deceleration rates, the Minster low inertia drive results in higher production rates with comparable levels of die protection and part quality. Higher operating efficiencies also result in energy savings.
"On the Minster servo press we’ve seen, on average, a 15 to 20 percent increase in strokes per minute," said Jay Fledderman, Vice President of Manufacturing at BTD. "And there hasn’t been a decrease in part quality.
"Reducing the snap through at the bottom of the stroke is very beneficial to us," he continued. "You can slow down at the bottom of the stroke so you can draw or blank at a slower speed, and speed up in the open part of the stroke to keep your production rates up."
In addition to the FX2-600, several mechanical Minster presses are in production at BTD on a three-shift operation, including two wide-bed E2 1200-ton HeviStampers. And according to Jay Fledderman, the durable track record of Minster presses at Batesville contributed to the decision to invest in the Minster servo technology.
"Minster presses just don’t seem to have components fail and wear out after 25 years... They’re just bulletproof," he said. "They’re really well-built presses, and if it would have been somebody else trying to sell a servo that didn’t have the background that Minster has in the mechanical side with the reliability of their equipment, I wouldn’t have taken the leap."
Responsive quality customer service has also been a part of the Minster-Batesville relationship over the years.
"We get a quick response from Minster Service," BTD Maintenance Supervisor Brad Nobbe said. "And when you call them, you talk to a real person... Anytime we need parts, we usually get them the next day."
With a robust construction and a 20 percent reverse load rating, the Minster FX2 Series was designed to run demanding high tensile applications. And the FX2-600 at Batesville has been impressive.
"If I was asked to describe the Minster Servo Press that we just purchased I would say, and I’ve told many people this, 'it’s a beast.'" Jody Fledderman said. "It’s a big machine. It’s a strong machine and we have a lot of confidence in its abilities."
As primarily a tier one automotive supplier, Fledderman stressed that he's happy with all six of his servo presses at the Batesville location, and feels that servo technology will give his company an edge in the face of changing material demands.
"That was one of the main drivers for us to have so many servo presses," he said. "We feel like having servo technology is going to be a big advantage as we get into more and more metals that are unpredictable."
In addition to the automotive market, BTD also serves the appliance industry and is always looking to diversify. With complete in-house tooling capabilities the company also offers many value-added services, including welding, assembly and more.
As BTD continues to grow, Fledderman stressed a continued focus on technology.
"If we’re going to spend several million dollars on a piece of equipment, we’re not interested in buying more of the same thing we already have," he said. "We have to get a technology bump in the process. That’s kind of our motto around here. That’s how we constantly increase our technology. We don’t want to just add capacity, we want to add capability at the same time we add capacity."