Muskogee Technology Blog
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Whether it is presenting Muskogee Technology (MT) to students at local community colleges and trade schools or educating high school students on the core skills needed to enter the manufacturing world, Muskogee Technology President/CEO, Westly L. Woodruff, and his Team are actively working to attract the next generation of skilled labor for MT’s future growth.
Passing the Stress Test
Alabama Power is one of 11 U.S. electric and natural gas utilities operated by the Southern Company. In their efforts to provide reliable electrical service to 1.4 million homes, businesses, and industries in the southern two-thirds of Alabama, they must make sure they only use the best equipment possible. One such piece of equipment is a crossarm that attaches to the power poles and holds the power lines. Ensuring the quality, strength, and resilience of crossarms can mean the difference between having downed or working power lines during inclement weather or harsh conditions.
Austal Industry Day in Washington, D.C.
It takes years to build strategic relationships in manufacturing and often even longer to garner any quantifiable returns on investment. Muskogee Technology (MT) knows that this kind of investment is well spent time and energy. MT actively works to nurture these strategic relationships, with the knowledge that when worked correctly, this effort will pay off in spades.
A team representing the Poarch Band of Creek Indians was invited to tour a world-renowned shipbuilding operation, Austal USA. The group included Tribal Council Vice-Chair, Robbie McGhee; Tribal Council Treasurer, Eddie Tullis; Tribal Council At-Large Member, Dewitt Carter; CIEDA President/CEO, Cody Williamson; CIEDA COO, Tim Manning; CIEDA CFO, Chad Klinck; Muskogee Technology President/CEO, Westly L. Woodruff; Muskogee Technology Business Development Manager, John Christy and Adrienne Mathison, from PBCI office of Government Relations.
Austal USA, headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, is a global leader in aluminum vessel design and construction. Its state-of-the-art campus was designed specifically with LEAN manufacturing principals in mind and features moving assembly lines and module construction components.
In the manufacturing world, strategic relationships are critical. As defined by the Business Dictionary, these types of relationships are an agreement between two or more entities to conduct specified activities or processes, to achieve specified objectives such as product development or distribution. Sometimes referred to as strategic alliances, businesses involved can find many benefits, such as knowledge and resource sharing, opportunities for growth, access to desired target markets and economies of scale.
Next Generation Manufacturing
It has been said that you have to have the right tools to do the job right. Muskogee Technology (MT) believes that to be true and is happily growing their diverse collection of CNC machines to include two new Haas vertical mills models VF-2SS and VF-9.50 and a Haas model ST-30Yaxis lathe machine.
These new machine capabilities will increase MT’s billable hours and will allow them to establish an expanded machine envelope capacity, which translates to being able to deliver a more varied product to their customers. These machines offer cutting edge technology, precision machining capabilities and entry-level bar feed automation which reduces machine downtime and increases profitability.
Exchange Mentor Program
Recently, Muskogee Technology (MT) received official confirmation of having been selected as a member of Alabama Power’s 2018-2019 Supplier Diversity Mentoring Program. Brenda Young, mentor program coordinator, said, “A selection committee made up of key business unit decisions-makers from Alabama Power and Southern Company Services (SCS) have selected your company for our signature program.” The program has recently been re-tooled under a new name/concept – EXCHANGE, Where Paths Cross, which is a signature supplier development initiative.
Muskogee Technology Achieves AS9100D Certification
In manufacturing, producing quality products is a crucial component of success. Throughout the years, many quality systems for the aerospace and defense industries have been developed leading to specific industry standards meant to ensure the delivery of high-quality products. The latest quality certification revision within these industries is AS9100D. Muskogee Technology received their designation as an AS9100D manufacturer in June of this year. AS9100 is a widely adopted and standardized quality management system and is an internationally recognized quality management standard specifically written for the aerospace industry. Its structure is based on the ISO:9001 quality management system (QMS) standard. Compliance with this specification is confirmed through a complex auditing and certification process.
Muskogee Technology Achieves Composites Nadcap Certification
Muskogee Technology (MT) has proudly received a Nadcap accreditation in Composites (COMP) after successfully passing a Nadcap audit for composite cutting and kitting services. MT has proactively obtained the certification to ensure alignment with its customers’ supplier quality performance requirements. Nadcap (National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program) is a globally respected accreditation body. It is an industry managed program developed by technical experts from prime contractors, suppliers, and government representatives. This program establishes stringent industry consensus standards allowing companies to replace their routine auditing of suppliers with a single approved audit through Nadcap.
High Flying Fun At Work
It was a special day at the Atmore Airport. On hand were over 30 representatives from Muskogee Technology, Tribal Council and Creek Indian Enterprises’ Board of Directors to greet the 2017 Honda Jet as it made its approach. Julian MacQueen, CEO of Innisfree Hotels, brought a 2017 Honda Jet to Atmore to give the Muskogee Technology Composites Team an opportunity to see the plane. This was a unique experience for the MT team since the Composites Team cuts and kits the composite materials used to make this specific jets’ fuselage. MacQueen gave the entire team a chance to tour the jet. For many, this was the first time they had ever seen the finished product, much less witnessed it in flight. Many were afforded the opportunity to fly in the jet, and for some, this was their very first time flying.
Soaring to New Heights in Composite Manufacturing
Through an agreement that began back in 2014 with GKN Aerospace, Muskogee Technology (MT) has experienced accelerated growth in composites cutting and kitting for the aerospace industry. In the beginning, Muskogee Technology performed an array of modernizations to fulfill their part of this new partnership. These upgrades included the installation of two Subzero freezers, one for raw material storage and another for finished goods. Also built was an environmentally controlled cutting room, most commonly referred to as the “Clean Room” and added four new Eastman Kodak static cutting machines. MT achieved all required certifications needed to process composite materials and grew their workforce as necessary to accommodate the new work.
Haas ST45 Lathe
They say you have to have the right tools to do the job right, which is why we just added the new Haas ST45 lathe to our machine shop. This new CNC tooling machine is a high performance live tool big bore lathe with a large-frame and a generous work envelope. Made in the USA, the Haas ST45 has a 12 sta-tion bolt-on turret with hydraulic clamping, large spindle nose and spindle bore and a two speed gear box. We are now able to produce much larger parts since this machine allows us to cut parts up to 32 inches in diameter and 44 inches long. The ability to produce these larger size parts is opening new revenue streams and attracting new customers.
Quest For Perfection
In an industry that is continuing to evolve with new processes and the advent of robotic welding, first-generation Marquis Brooks, understands that it is necessary to adapt or get left behind in the welding industry. He welcomes these industry changes with the simple goal of continuous improvement of his welding skills and trade knowledge. After graduating from a 7-month welding school nearly three years ago, Brooks started his welding career. He is now working at Muskogee Technology (MT) as a level 1 welder. Already certified in a variety of metals, materials and processes, including stick, 70/18, 60/11, 309, stainless, Mig, flux core and Tig, he seeks to grow professionally by perfecting his technique and continuing to expand his experience with new metals and processes.
Q & A with Billy Lane
How many years have you been in manufacturing?
I have been at MT for 10 years. I started by just putting screws in a bag (kitting), and now I am second shift lead in the Composites Department's clean room, where composite materials are processed.
What jobs have you performed at MT over the years?
I have worked in just about every area at MT. I started out in the Kitting Department, but I also spent time welding and have run many of the machines. I have operated the saws, CNC machines and the waterjet cutter. I have been in the Composites Department for the last three years, since its inception.
Welding is the process of joining metals by extreme heat. Its history can be traced back 2,000 years ago, the earliest being a Bronze Age example of small circular gold boxes made by pressure welding lap joints together. Today, welding is used extensively in light to heavy fabrication processes such as seen at Muskogee Technology (MT). There are many types of welding including SMAW, GTAW, FCAW, and GMAW. Gas Metal Arc Welding commonly referred to as “MIG”, and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding commonly referred to as “TIG”, are utilized daily in Muskogee Technology operations. This process is commonly used in MT’s light and heavy fabrication departments for products in industries such as wind energy, oil and gas, and shipbuilding. MIG welding is most suitable for fusing mild steel or common ferrous metals.
CNC machining is a manufacturing process in which pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery. CNC stands for "computer numerical control" and is the process by which Muskogee Technology (MT) fabricates many of its parts for customers in an array of industries.
CNC machine programs typically fall into two categories: CAM technology (CNC programming with use of CAM software) and conversational technology (CNC programming at the machine without use of CAD/CAM software). At MT's machines are capable of both technologies. Included in their arsenal of machinery you will find water jet, plasma and torch cutters, as well as lathes, milling, bending and forming machines.
RedStone Arsenal Ribbon Cutting
In January 2016, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians donated $1,000,000 to help relocate Gate 9 at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. The security access gate needed to be moved three quarters of a mile to alleviate traffic jams and improve unsafe driving conditions caused by the more than twenty thousand people using the gate daily.
Redstone Arsenal sits close to both PCI Aviation, a tribally-owned 8A company that provides services to the defense industry, and Townplace Suites at Redstone, a Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority (CIEDA) investment property.
Muskogee Technology's New President/CEO
Sometimes to take an award winning team like Muskogee Technology to the next level you have to change the quarterback, and that's exactly what they did when they brought on Westly L. Woodruff as their new President/CEO.
"We are confident that his many years of manufacturing experience will prove an asset to Muskogee Technology's continued success," said James T. Martin, CIEDA President/CEO.
This is the second time Woodruff has worked for Muskogee Technology. He worked as a welder over 21 years ago when the company was called Muskogee Metalworks.
2016 Boeing Excellence Award
Muskogee Technology has received the 2016 Boeing Silver Award. The Boeing Co. issues the award annually to recognize suppliers who have achieved superior performance. Muskogee Technology maintained a Silver composite performance rating for each month of the 12-month performance period, from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016. The awards are presented to companies the following year.
"Based on this outstanding achievement, Muskogee Technology also has earned recognition as a Boeing Performance Excellence Award recipient," a spokesman for Boeing said.
Aerospace partnership celebrated
A crowd of more than 200 came out to Muskogee Technology’s open house Friday, April 24, to celebrate the partnership it has established with GKN Aerospace. City, state and local government officials, economic developers and educational institution leaders were given tours of the flagship manufacturing plant and the new heavy fabrication facility, Muskogee Technology North, both in Atmore, Ala.
“The reason we are gathered here today is to unveil to the general public the transformation that has happened here at Muskogee Technology,” said James T. Martin, CEO of Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority.
Many public figures spoke during a special presentation.
Muskogee Technology expands to accommodate new machines
What do you do when you have huge machines and equipment but do not have a facility large enough to house them? As the old adage goes, “build it and they will come.”
That is exactly what Muskogee Technology in Atmore, Ala., has done. In July 2014, the need for expansion was obvious when the Poarch Creek-owned company started receiving heavy fabrication contracts, which required a new brake press machine so big they are literally erecting a building around them. Thus, MT North was born.
“By having this machine in-house, it allows us to eliminate the cost of going outside the company and is a lot faster for us to do ourselves” instead of sending products off to be finished, said Accounting Manager Lou Roberts.
Massive freezer creates big opportunities for Muskogee Technology
Business is booming at Muskogee Technology, and the reasons behind it are recent additions to the facilities in Atmore. Partnering with GKN Aerospace gave Muskogee Technology opportunities to work with quality customers and produce quality parts. The company utilized the space it has by expanding its abilities to manufacture at a higher level, building an industrial freezer and adding a cleanroom to produce parts.
Muskogee Technology began building the freezer in 2013 and started housing composite materials it purchased from GKN in May 2014. Since then, a cleanroom has been installed and four cutting machines were brought in to cut the material for GKN and its customers.
New cleanroom expands Muskogee Tech’s composite capabilities
Muskogee Technology has received the next certification in its steps to become a leading company in the aerospace industry. The company previously was certified on the industrial freezers it constructed to house composite fibers.
On Feb. 11, Muskogee Tech achieved its quality certification from GKN Aerospace on the new cleanroom MT has installed to produce parts for its GKN contract, including making parts for its customers. This certification allows Muskogee Tech to go into full production cutting composite material for GKN, a global engineering group.