VICE PRESIDENT — SWISS PRECISION MACHINING, INC.
“At IMTS, we are able to see more efficient, better technologies. IMTS helped me become who I am today because of all the different things that are there. Part of my job is helping the doers in our company accomplish their jobs more easily, so I challenge them to bring two new technologies.”
Thankfully, Marquette University offers a School of Dentistry and a B.S. in Information Technology, because Cassandra (“Cassie”) Haupers started in one and finished in the other. Up to her junior year, Cassie dreamed of being an orthodontist. Then, like many people whose family runs a business, her summer job involved working for the company.
“I was working on the shop floor at Swiss Precision Machining and realized, hey, we’re making the tools that orthodontists use,” says Cassie. “I thought that was pretty neat, so my dream changed from being an orthodontist to following in my dad’s footsteps.”
Her father, Mike Haupers, founded Swiss Precision Machining (SPM) in 1979. Using seven Swiss cam machines, SPM made dental components, and the company still has those original customers. Today, SPM has a staff of 138 people (and growing) who use 90 machines (and counting) and are working out of a new 82,000-sq.-ft. facility in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling.
SPM has completed 150,000 jobs and has expanded to service the medical, aerospace, technology, fluid motion, sporting goods and musical instrument markets using CNC Swiss machines, CNC vertical machining centers and advanced assembly, finishing and quality control equipment.
Sharing the Dream
Several other members of the Haupers family share Cassie and Mike’s dream, including mother Kathy Haupers as Controller, sister Jennifer Haupers as Quality Control Manager and uncle Joe Haupers as Director of Sales.
Now, propelled by her dream to continue to grow the company, Cassie is VP of Operations and the future President of SPM. Since that first year on the shop floor, Cassie has worked diligently to earn the right to lead the company. She spent her first few years running the machines on the shop floor to truly understand Swiss technology. She then worked in the quotation department to learn the financial aspect of the business, where she ultimately became Engineer/Quoting Manager. Before assuming her current title, she also acquired skills and experience in quality control, office data entry and programming the CNC machines both manually and through CAD/CAM software.
“Cassie started out as a doer. She can machine parts,” says Mike. “However, as she’s evolved into a manager and running the business, she has her own dreams of where this company is going.”
“I am removing myself from more of the day-to-day activities,” Cassie says. “We have plenty of space in this building, so I am evaluating new technologies and determining which capabilities we should offer to our customers. Offering them one-stop shopping adds convenience, plus it lets us better control quality and scheduling.”
IMTS, a Place to Learn
As a VP of Operations who worked on the shop floor, Cassie is acutely aware of productivity roadblocks.
“We have a lot of demands from customers, so sometimes we have to push products through,” she says. “Some of the old ways that we used to do things may be a little bit obsolete. At IMTS, we are able to see more efficient, better technologies. IMTS helped me become who I am today because of all the different things that are there. I tell my team there is so much in manufacturing that you should try and learn one new thing every day.”
As one example, Cassie cites the machining of a micro plastic part about 0.001” long. Made from PEK, the deburring on it “was just outrageous. We tried thermal deburring, we tried just hand deburring. It was just an absolute nightmare because of the part size.” The solution was a Comco MicroBlaster®, which blasts with micro media and removes burrs in seconds. Not only does the solution reduce cycle time, it provides better quality assurance compared to manual deburring because the micro blasting scours the entire part.
Sending the Team
With the luxury of more space in their Wheeling location, SPM has already added seven more Star CNC automatic lathes, including three Star SW-20s. These lathes have 12 gang tools, four front drilling tools, eight rear tools and drilling/tapping capabilities that help SPM increase throughput.
Three Swiss machines might not sound like a lot, but that’s just a good start in Cassie’s eyes. To look for new equipment, SPM sent 25 to 30 people to IMTS. The engineering and management staff plans to attend the show for at least three days, while set-up people and operators will visit for one or two days. To plan for the show, each SPM person will individually go to IMTS.com and review exhibitors and the floor plan. The team then assembles and confirms their “must visit” exhibits.
“From a planning standpoint, we like the MyShow Planner app. It shows you the floor layout so you don’t end up running from hall to hall,” says Cassie.
Over the years, SPM has purchased equipment from many IMTS exhibitors, and they always like to meet with those companies to see what new technology they have developed since last show. Solutions sought at IMTS 2018 include EDM, laser marking, grinding, vision inspection, additive manufacturing, finishing equipment and software.
Cassie unequivocally believes that the “lost” production time of sending so many people is well worth the investment, as are associated travel expenses.
“Part of my job is helping the doers in our company accomplish their jobs more easily, so I challenge them to bring two new technologies from IMTS 2018,” she says. “For me personally, I’ll be walking the show and dreaming about what type of capabilities we can add to fill our new manufacturing space.”Read More Stories