Waupaca Foundry opens machining operations

AFS Corporate Member Waupaca Foundry Inc., a Hitachi Metals group company, announced it is opening a machining operation adjacent to its gray iron foundry located on the east side of Waupaca, Wisconsin. The new machining plant will machine brake components for the commercial vehicle market produced at Waupaca Foundry.

The facility has 50,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and will initially employ 15 skilled workers. The decision to expand operations beyond raw castings was to support customer demand.

“Our global markets are changing and customers want a higher level of value-added services,” said John Wiesbrock, executive vice president for Waupaca Foundry. “A vertically integrated model such as this takes the waste out of the supply chain for customers.”  Wiesbrock added opening this facility fulfills corporate objectives established in 2016 to vertically integrate services.

Braking components machined in the new facility will be used by heavy duty truck manufacturers. These components are cast and machined on site in Waupaca rather than shipped to Tier 1 suppliers. However, Wiesbrock adds that opening the machining operation will not eliminate the need for other supply chain partners providing machining services.

The new facility, which is managed by Jason Grasman who has nearly 20 years of experience in the machining industry, features innovations in modern manufacturing designed to automate production and provide ergonomic advantages for employees.

Robots unpack and pack parts onto skids to reduce the potential for repetitive injury to workers because employees are not handling the components manually.
Smaller robots called automated guided vehicles (AGV) are programmed with maps of the facility and transfer all parts to one of three machining cells.

State-of-the-art inverted, twin spindle CNC lathes produce consistently tight tolerance, high quality components.

Waupaca Foundry will recycle iron chips machined from the castings and re-melt for use to make new iron castings.

“It is a very technical facility with a lot of automation,” Wiesbrock said. “It helps us attract the best talent. We wanted something that will remain globally competitive and answer our customers’ needs not just for today but for the next 5, 10, 15 years.”

With the opening of the machining facility, Waupaca Foundry now operates five production facilities in Wisconsin where it is headquartered. This is the second machining operation for Waupaca Foundry, which also operates a machining facility located in Effingham, Illinois.