Manufacturing Line Transfer Process

Strategic Cell Migration transfers your manufacturing cell and the process knowledge behind it from your location to Flinchbaugh’s manufacturing campus in York, PA. Then we operate and maintain that cell and all included machinery, tooling and test equipment to deliver on-time supply of quality machined metal parts. 

Knowledge Transfer

Before you decide to migrate your manufacturing process, we complete a detailed due diligence process to understand every aspect of the cell and the parts it produces. A manufacturing cell is more than just machinery and moving parts – it’s the brains and the hands of the production workers and engineers. Over time and through trial and error, your internal teams developed specialized insights, practices and time-proven processes essential to delivering repeatable quality. Not even the most elegantly prepared blueprint adequately captures this essential component of the manufacturing equation. Strategic Cell Migration values this institutional knowledge; so as part of our due diligence, we work with your team to fully understand how the cell works.

For the actual migration, we will deploy a team of maintenance engineers to supervise the disconnection, loading, unloading and reconnection, so the migration is efficiently orchestrated and completed.

Machine tool rebuilding and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) are among our core competencies, so older machines are restored to deliver quality, productivity and repeatability. Once your cell is operational at our facilities, it operates in a 24/7 nonunion, employee-owned environment according to the disciplines of Lean Manufacturing.
Some frequent questions (and the answers)  

How do you assess the capability of machinery?

As part of a comprehensive financial and technical feasibility assessment, engineers will inspect the machinery and talk to your personnel. Flinchbaugh wrote the book on line transfer and maintains and consistently improves a step-by-step playbook guiding all aspects of the line-transfer process. As we acquaint ourselves with a prospective customer, Flinchbaugh anticipates and then acts to proactively minimize the risks driven by the unique nature of the cell’s critical parts and production process. The scope of investigation into what makes a strategic cell work, and how it can work better, is unparalleled and no other company provides a service on par with Strategic Cell Migration.

My equipment is old; why should I consider transferring it to you and expect that you will be able to produce good products competitively?

Machine tool rebuilding and TPM are core competencies at Flinchbaugh Engineering. Your equipment will be restored to deliver quality, productivity and repeatability. Additionally, by capturing your tooling, fixtures, shop knowledge and programs, we can produce your product by the time-proven method you developed in your own shop. But it doesn’t stop there; we will use this as a launchpad for continuous improvement, applying the disciplines of Lean Manufacturing.

Who owns the equipment?

Typically, Flinchbaugh assumes ownership of the equipment, which more often than not is fully depreciated on our customers’ books. However, in special circumstances, we have transferred the ownership in phases when it makes good financial sense such as to avoid asset-impairment costs.

Is Flinchbaugh willing to buy our machines?

In certain instances, we will consider it if the machinery has broad applicability.

If Flinchbaugh owns the machines, will Flinchbaugh produce parts for other companies or competitors?

We will follow whatever Flinchbaugh and the customer agree to; however, to offer the greatest cost savings, we must operate the equipment 24/7 to fully absorb fixed costs and offer the lowest unit operating cost.

Who owns and supplies the raw material?

This is negotiable; we can procure the raw material from one of our approved sources or from your current source, if applicable.

Who handles and/or manages the move and has responsibility for the equipment?

Flinchbaugh supervises the disconnection and loading and manages the installation after machines are received at the Flinchbaugh facilities. Proper preparation is key to completing the move quickly and effectively. Through the learning accumulated from 17 line transfers, Flinchbaugh has written a book with detailed checklists by functional area to ensure that nothing is missed in the transfer process.

The line transfer might entail more than just machining. Is Flinchbaugh able to handle painting, welding, testing, etc.? Are those done in house or by outsourcing?

Typically these processes are outsourced; however, we will develop capabilities in-house if the business case is compelling. For example, we currently have in-house painting for one major customer, and we have also done powder coating. The York, PA, area has a good deal of underutilized manufacturing capability, and we usually have no problem finding good, cost-effective solutions for a variety of manufacturing operations.

How long does it take to get up and running?

Anywhere from one week to one month. We moved a dozen machines from Caterpillar in Dyersburg, TN, and had them hooked up and under power in our Pennsylvania facility in less than two weeks. Typically, we need one week to pull out the equipment and ship it and a week to set up at our facilities. Flinchbaugh will have maintenance engineers on site to supervise the disconnection and loading and to make sure that the move is efficiently orchestrated and completed.

Can you create inventory to cover for downtime during the line transfer?

We have capable and ready contract-manufacturing assets to support the short-term production of your products. However, because of the nature of typical line-transfer projects, it is best if extra inventory can be created by the customer before the migration. For all the reasons that make Strategic Cell Migration the superior choice to traditional contract manufacturing, the best quality and reliability are delivered when we utilize your equipment and know-how. Line transfers usually take less than a month to complete, from start to finish, and can take as little as two weeks.
Should your demand increase or the transferred machines become inoperable, Flinchbaugh’s contract manufacturing capabilities are available to support your customer’s requirements.

How do we know you can meet our supply-chain demands?

We understand that your parts need to be at your location precisely when you need them to meet your customers’ demands. Our employee-ownership culture is characterized by a high sense of urgency and solid commitment to customer satisfaction and delivery performance. That culture, combined with pervasive ownership of the principles of Lean Manufacturing and continuous improvement, results in a production team that is always trying to increase speed, quality and productivity. To that end, we employ a modern ERP system that drives our on-time delivery performance to levels consistent with MRP-II, class A.

Can you conform to my specific logistics demands and systems?

We conform to a number of specific systems and requirements for major customers like Caterpillar, Siemens and SKF. Our goal is to be a seamless extension of your in-house operations.

How will you get skilled labor to run the machines, particularly the specialized machines?

York County, PA, has a rich history of manufacturing and a strong local labor pool of skilled machine operators, but in certain instances, we have hired customers’ employees. Additionally, Flinchbaugh has the largest apprentice-training program in South Central Pennsylvania – larger, in fact, than Harley Davidson, Johnson Controls, United Defense and BAE. As part of the knowledge-transfer process, we will work with your production and engineering teams to ensure that our operators are fully trained to successfully and efficiently produce quality parts. This can be accomplished on your factory floor or here in York, PA.

If this is a turnkey operation, what resources do we need to commit?

To ensure the best results and effect a smooth transition, we will need cooperation and support from people knowledgeable about the intricacies of the current production process. Your operators and engineers will train their Flinchbaugh counterparts on the current process, ensuring complete transfer of know-how, engineering data, maintenance and tooling records. Shared ownership for the successful execution of the project and a willingness to work with us during start-up will ensure a speedy transition. In the past, we have actually hired recommended production employees.

What type of commitment or contract is required?

We prefer a five-year contract, although each case is evaluated individually. In special circumstances, we have executed agreements for as short as three years.

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