Ergonomically speaking

A workplace furniture manufacturer invests in fiber technology and enhances customer service, giving its employees new-found comfort

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Ergonomics in the workplace has become a major trend over the past several years. With the goal of providing comfort and avoiding stress or injury, it’s no wonder that employers are investing in products with ergonomics in mind. According to OSHA, ergonomics “is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of human needs.” A major component of that trend has been providing furniture to employees that reduces fatigue and discomfort.

Ergonomic office furniture has many benefits in the areas of health, safety and productivity. By incorporating ergonomic furniture into a workplace environment, business owners can expect everything from increased productivity and decreased absenteeism to better employee retention, improved health and safety, and increased job satisfaction.

But the ergonomic boom isn’t just helping employees. It’s also helping companies that produce ergonomic products. As a prime example, OMT-Veyhl USA has grown from eight employees in 2005 to about 300 employees in 2016. The company manufactures adjustable office furniture, manufacturing workspace stations and conveyors designed to fit the ergonomic workplace trend.

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The Mazak Optiplex 3015 fiber laser equipment delivers superior edge quality, more stable cut performance and greater throughput in stainless steel, copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, hastelloy, Inconel, titanium, thin gage mild steel and other exotic metals.

“We’ve grown exponentially just in the past year,” says Dan Shaw, vice president of operations at OMT-Veyhl USA. OMT-Veyhl is the merger of OMT located in Northern Germany, and Veyhl in Southern Germany. Its U.S. corporate headquarters are located in Holland, Mich.

With OMT-Veyhl USA’s rapid growth increase, the company was in need of new equipment. OMT-Veyhl USA had a CO2 laser, but it wasn’t keeping up with the ramp-up in production needs. Shaw, therefore, reached out to a trusted equipment dealer, CNC Fabrication Resource, in nearby Greenville, Mich., to help. In short order, CNC Fabrication got Shaw in contact with Mazak Optonics Corp.

After meeting with Troy Aldridge, regional sales manager at Mazak, Shaw was invited to the laser company’s home country, Japan. Knowing Mazak’s manufacturing efficiencies, Shaw saw this as a great learning experience – as well as a chance to see if a Mazak laser machine was the right fit.

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Going underground

In Spring 2014, Shaw visited Japan just as the cherry blossoms were blooming. But Shaw wasn’t there to spend his time taking in the local flora and fauna. He was there to go underground.

Mazak’s Underground Factory, located in Minokamo, Japan, is the first eco-factory of its kind. The 293,000-sq.-ft. facility is located 36 ft. below ground and is solely dedicated to the production of Mazak’s high-speed precision laser cutting machines.

When Shaw was introduced to Tom Yamazaki, president of Mazak, as well as many other top-level executives, he wasn’t yet a Mazak customer but he felt like one. “Everyone treated me respectfully and appreciated me,” Shaw says. “That stood out for me.”

Something as simple as a short 10-min. meeting also made an impression.

“The fact that a company of that magnitude is constantly working to improve and took those 10 minutes to talk about it, really resonated with me,” he says. “It’s the opposite of arrogance and shows how world-class Mazak is.”

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Since 2005, OMT-Veyhl USA has grown from eight employees to about 300, producing office furniture that feeds into the workplace ergonomic trend happening around the nation. 

A new look at service

When OMT-Veyhl USA was a small company in 2005, it participated in a team-building exercise where Shaw learned about the quality of his company – and his team.

“They wanted to know more about what was going on with customers,” Shaw explains of the more than 100 visits that happen on an annual basis. “They wanted to know about who was coming into their building, so they could be part of their solution, not the problem.”

After returning from Japan, his team’s request was granted. Shaw implemented a companywide announcement program to provide information to his employees about who would be visiting the facility and when.

“This is so we all can be a part of the process,” he explains, “and show potential customers that we value customer service and appreciate them.”

Since Shaw’s return from Japan, OMT-Veyhl USA has also implemented twice-weekly meetings. Held every Tuesday and Thursday, the meetings are used to discuss ways to improve the company.

“By adding the twice-per-week meetings, everyone sees that we are working to improve and be world-class,” he says. “Investing in the new technology and capital equipment has also shown our employees that our company is growing and improving, which leads to opportunities for them because of that growth.”

Because OMT-Veyhl USA creates ergonomic products to boost efficiency in workplace environments, the team is constantly thinking about how to bring productivity gains in-house, as well. They strive to work as efficiently as they can. To help in that effort, the company also implemented suggestion boards that allow anyone in the company to offer suggestions on how to improve. These suggestions don’t just come from the shop floor, however. They come from departments company-wide – from painting to logistics to the front office.

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The Optiplex 3015 fiber laser machine processes sheets up to 5-ft.-by-10-ft. and is available in 2-kW, 4-kW and 6-kW configurations.

Mazak Optonics and OMT-Veyhl USA

After Shaw convinced his colleagues and management that Mazak was the best option, OMT-Veyhl USA’s first Mazak laser machine, an Optiplex 3015 fiber, was installed in May 2015. With its processing capabilities, not to mention a great warranty and training, Shaw was confident the company was in an ideal situation with the acquisition of the new laser. So he actually ended up purchasing a second one.

“We didn’t want there to be anything to worry about with the purchase of the laser,” Shaw recalls. And as it turned out, the new equipment reduced the headaches involved with the previous CO2 laser, such as overhead expenses related to maintenance and operating costs.

The company’s two Optiplex 3015 fiber laser machines have improved operations at OMT-Veyhl USA by reducing electrical usage and maintenance services, and the increase in cutting speeds resulted in higher throughputs that greatly impressed Shaw.

“We went with the Mazak lasers because they are robust and reliable,” he explains. “We also purchased them because of the quality of the company’s service and support. Service after the sale is what really counts. We saw this transaction as a partnership with Mazak.”

Because the training at Mazak’s North American headquarters in Elgin, Ill., was so in-depth and thorough, Shaw’s team was ready to run with the new technology.

“We have people operating these machines that never knew how to run lasers before,” Shaw says. He attributes much of the small learning curve to the Optiplex’s Preview 3 control that uses a straightforward user interface to simplify machine operations. Its Intelligent Functions also make an operator’s job easier by automating setup and monitoring piercing and cutting operations to improve cut speeds and increase throughput – all while requiring less operator intervention.

After bringing the two fiber laser machines in-house, they were moved to a new part of the facility and were added to their own production line, which incorporates a new powder coating system. In short order, they were officially part of the high-volume production that OMT-Veyhl USA is known for. 

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Mazak’s 293,000-sq.-ft. Underground Factory, located in Minokamo, Japan, is the first eco-factory of its kind – solely dedicated to the production of Mazak’s high-speed precision laser cutting machines.

Finishing touches

Mat Ardell, OMT-Veyhl USA’s manufacturing engineering supervisor, confirms that the new Mazak equipment is improving productivity facility-wide. He also says that employee morale has improved. 

“All of our capital equipment gives more career opportunities to our employees, and they got excited when the new machines came in,” he says, explaining how the new Mazak lasers have improved internal operations. “We are now able to modify our scheduling processes. The Mazaks have helped increase our capacities and capabilities.”

This includes reducing lead times to meet customer demands. The most evident and essential improvement for OMT-Veyhl USA, however, is the increase in throughput, which has allowed them to create more products quicker. 

OMT-Veyhl USA has experienced serious growth throughout its time in North America, giving employers the ergonomic products they need to promote health, safety and productivity with their employees. And implementing Mazak’s lasers and customer service philosophy is further propelling OMT-Veyhl USA forward to a bright and successful future. In the end, the company is truly embodying a world-class operation, similar to what Shaw experienced during his visit to Japan. 

Mazak Optonics Corp.

OMT-Veyhl USA 

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