Calculated Risk – Machining capabilities come up short with larger part orders

Calculated Risk

A less self-assured shop owner might look for a lengthy contract or huge project to justify a multi-million dollar equipment investment. Not so Dan Boaretto. With customer parts growing in size and complexity, the president of Superior Machining Ltd. saw the need for a machine tool to enhance his company’s large part machining capabilities. That’s why Boaretto recently became the proud owner of a Toshiba machining centre big enough to machine components the size of a pickup truck.

That’s not to say he didn’t look long and hard before taking the leap. Boaretto investigated several competing equipment brands, and made two trips to the Toshiba factory in Numazu, Japan, before signing on the dotted line. Even then, he knew there were no guarantees that Superior would have work for the new machine when it arrived at Superior’s facility in Concord, ON. “Part of running a successful business is taking calculated risks.”

That risk came in the form of a Toshiba MPC-3680B double column machining centre, a super-sized machine capable of hitting five sides of a workpiece in a single setup, and equipped with a table beefy enough to carry a 40 tonne workpiece–the weight of a sperm whale or fully-loaded big rig. The additional capacity would go far to meet the needs of Superior’s oil and gas customers.

“Our parts have been getting larger,” Boaretto says. “With offshore oil extraction, companies are going deeper under the ocean floor. As a consequence, their equipment designs must handle higher voltages and fluid pressures, which as a rule calls for bigger, more complex components. If we don’t keep up with the changing designs, our customers will be forced to look elsewhere for their manufacturing needs.”

In all fairness, it wasn’t a huge risk. Superior Machining has a long and prosperous history, and not finding work for a new piece of equipment is unlikely for a shop with a track record like this. Since opening its doors in 1969, the company has made parts for offshore oil and gas, construction and transportation, mining, food processing equipment and, more recently, components for hi-tech vacuum chambers and coating systems.

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