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manufacturing adjusting to post covid reality

Manufacturing Adjusting to Post COVID Reality

While no one in manufacturing would say that workflows have “returned to normal” in the post-COVID world, many agree that a “new normal” has taken hold heading toward the end of 2022. At Cass Precision Machining we’ve settled into our new normal as far as our workflow and our customers go. Several changes have emerged post pandemic across manufacturing as the fog has lifted and the new normal takes hold. Here are some of the changes we are seeing at Cass.

Customers are very focused on managing performance of their partners by providing key metrics on scorecards.

At Cass we receive metrics on a monthly basis with two main categories – OTD (on-time delivery) and PPM (parts per million). Essentially, these metrics track quality measurements and delivery time over periods of time to highlight trends. These metrics are very important to Cass. Even though we have our own internal metrics on quality and delivery it is very important to align with our customers to ensure accuracy and highlight opportunities. Partnering on metrics helps both Cass and its customers find success.

Manufacturing Scorecards

Today, businesses measure their success based on several key performance indicators (KPIs). A scorecard is an enterprise tool for the evaluation and communication of strategic objectives and these KPIs. The Manufacturing Scorecard implements the SCOR (Supply Chain Operations Reference) model within the Scorecard framework, and enables you to effectively monitor, analyze, and respond to those measures that characterize your manufacturing supply chain performance.

Manufacturing Scorecard enables the alignment of day-to-day management decisions with the overall corporate strategy by combining best practice key performance indicators to monitor and respond to performance changes in real time. The manufacturing Scorecard comprises the following metrics – measures defined by SCOR, supplier metrics, and customer metrics.

During the pandemic many manufacturing businesses struggled to keep up with demand. This led to some suppliers being unable to meet deadlines, which can have a serious impact on production schedules. To help manage this problem, some companies are using scorecards to track supplier performance.

Scorecards can be used to track a variety of supplier performance metrics, but on-time delivery is one of the most important for manufacturers. This metric lets companies know if their suppliers are meeting deadlines and helps them identify any potential problems.

There are a few different ways to score on-time delivery. One common method is to give each supplier a score based on the percentage of orders that they deliver on time. Another option is to give suppliers a point for each order that they deliver on time and deduct points for each order that is late.

As the world enters a new era of global trade, post-COVID, manufacturers are looking for ways to secure their supply chains and ensure they are getting the best quality products possible. One way to do this is by score carding suppliers on their parts per million (PPM).

What is PPM?

Parts per million (PPM) is a unit of measurement that indicates how many defects there are in a given product or manufacturing process. It is typically used to compare the relative quality of different suppliers or vendors.

PPM is important because it can help identify potential problem areas in the manufacturing process and help improve quality control. Additionally, score carding suppliers on their PPM can help encourage them to continually improve their quality.

There are several benefits to providing metrics to suppliers on their PPM, including:

  • improved quality control
  • identification of potential problem areas
  • encouragement of supplier quality improvement
  • increased transparency in the supply chain
  • ability to compare different suppliers’ relative quality levels

Manufacturing scorecarding suppliers post COVID on parts per million is a great way to improve your manufacturing process and ensure you are getting the best quality products possible. Do not hesitate to implement this quality control measure in your own business.

Customers are looking at which vendors helped them with their manufacturing needs during COVID and are determining who they want to support in the future. While “normal” workflow has returned, you can be sure that companies have set mechanisms for future pandemic type situations. The last two years illustrated just how much disruption can happen to primary businesses, with the brunt of the impact felt by supply chain and logistics.

Supply Chain Disruption

The pandemic has also had a significant impact on manufacturing supply chains. In many cases, factories have had to find new suppliers or source materials from different parts of the world to keep production going. This has often meant making significant changes to the way that factories operate.

Anyone in manufacturing was forced to learn to have patience with the ongoing fluctuations in supply and demand. Companies learned how important it was to be agile in terms of production needs. Many businesses have adjusted by building a better onshore supply chain. Local sources are being added to the supply chain to supplement offshore production as a type of insurance policy against unexpected supply chain disruptions. The last two years have illustrated how much sense it makes to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on manufacturing supply chains. In many cases, factories have had to find new suppliers or source materials from different parts of the world in order to keep production going. This has often meant making significant changes to the way that factories operate.

While Cass has gotten back to business development, we are more aware than ever of the importance of employee safety and employee health. Many of our pandemic protocols are still in place, we keep our machines and equipment as clean as possible and hand-washing protocols remain.

The changing trade landscape necessitates a change in the approach to manufacturing in the future. Automation, skilled labor, local US manufacturing facilities, and a robust supply chain will form the bedrock for the future of manufacturing in the post-pandemic world.


Avoid Downtime on Your Production Line with Quality Parts

The hallmark of any machine shop is the quality of the parts they produce. While quality is supposed to be a given, the pandemic led to plant shutdowns and slowdowns, including difficulties for manufacturing shops to attract new employees even with competitive pay and benefits. COVID-19 brought on other challenges, including workforce vaccination, travel restrictions, social distancing needs, and rapid shifts in the market for certain goods because of the pandemic, which has strained the demand for the materials and components needed for those in-demand goods.

At Cass, we’ve developed a baseline quality assurance system that guarantees we will ship high-quality parts on every order. Everything we make passes several in-process checks and a final inspection or won’t go out the door. When your requirements dictate, we can customize our baseline system to your specifications, tailoring our quality assurance system to fit your business needs. We have 75 years of experience with quality assurance tools—SBP, PPAP Cpk, 1st Articles, and more—to help you get exactly the results you require in your precision machined parts.

Cass strategically invests in automated quality control and inspection equipment and strictly maintain and calibrate to NIST traceable standards all of our inspection equipment.

Material Requirements Planning (MRP) helps streamline the manufacturing process through production planning, scheduling, and inventory control. MRP systems allow manufacturers to plan and calculate material requirements, coordinate personnel and machine workloads, and optimally plan purchasing to meet customer demands. In short, MRP helps to determine what is needed, how much is needed and when it is needed.

At Cass we utilize MRP by taking inputs of material costs, material availability, expected demand, forecasting demand, staffing ability, and machinery capacity–all to ensure we can satisfy customers as well as our own production goals.

The main steps in the MRP process include a master production schedule that must account for resource, staffing, and inventory needs, purchasing planning, demand forecasting (a product’s lead time can be shortened and production downtime can be avoided), a bill of materials (includes raw materials, parts, and sub-assemblies needed to manufacture a part).

At Cass we rely on honest conversations with our customers concerning everything from raw material availability, production planning, and JIT order releases to resolve shortages. We use MRP via a clear and understood bill of materials process that helps eliminate waste in materials and to better coordinate machine usage and labor.

Customer satisfaction is always our number one goal – which is usually tied to product quality and on-time delivery. Quality is defined as providing parts that are free from defects, deficiencies, and significant variations. At Cass we excel at high-volume production – producing large numbers of an identical part or product in one run. The cost of poor quality parts can be severely damaging, from product recalls and defects to loss of customer loyalty and damage to brand reputation.


Manufacturing Looks Brighter in 2022, But Challenges Persist

Manufacturing Looks Brighter in 2022 But Challenges Persist. Volatile market conditions have created significant challenges for the manufacturing industry since the pandemic began. Manufacturers have been forced to reexamine nearly every step of their process and look for ways to improve efficiency with their data, resources, and workforce.

The last two years brought some unique challenges to manufacturers including rising costs, supply chain issues, and material shortages. Most manufacturers have been forced to implement changes in order to meet these challenges, including acquiring new talent, adding capabilities, and diversifying product portfolios to act as a foundation for growth.

Since the pandemic began, manufacturers have had to deal with the very real challenge of a lack of resources – both supplies and actual workforce. Cass Precision Machining has worked to remain agile and has taken action to be resilient in the short term to set up future success. Future success in manufacturing depends on deriving actionable insights from the last two years to improve decision making and to drive value.

Here is how Cass has responded to some of the questions brought on by the two-year pandemic.

What have been the biggest changes at Cass over the last year and a half, due to the pandemic and all of its ramifications?

Cass has always been known for its outstanding customer service.  For more than 75 years, serving our customers has been the fuel driving our company.  In the past 18 months, our customers have asked us to do even more on their behalf.  We have redoubled our efforts aimed at taking the best care possible of our entire customer base.  This has caused us to rethink old standards in how we do business.  We’ve implemented new tracking tools, become better at smaller lot sizes, and have enhanced how we work with our outside processing partners—all in the name of taking even better care of our customers.

As the country recovers from COVID-19, what new things will Cass implement to better support customers?

We are improving our internal systems to ensure responsiveness and drive the best possible value for our customers.  We are focused on reducing lead time, improving our quality management and execution systems, and ensuring we have the best-trained workforce in the industry.

There is a lot of talk of manufacturers needing to diversify their supply chain. What does that entail for Cass Precision Machining?

Cass’s broad range of capabilities and experience uniquely enables us to provide services nobody else can.  We can offer a variety of manufacturing solutions aimed at helping our customers reduce risk within their supply chains.  We can accommodate service or preproduction parts and can scale up volume better than anyone to provide the best total cost of ownership for our customers.  In terms of our own suppliers, we have expanded our supplier base and developed new partnerships aimed at reducing risk and opening more channels.

What changes have been implemented to ease disruptions to the supply chain? 

Cass has been working hard to procure material in advance of customer needs, enhance partnerships with leading suppliers, and partner with customers in long term agreements to ensure reliable supply.

Is localizing the supply chain a legitimate pursuit?

A localized supply chain has always been a good idea—there’s no better way to ensure timely delivery at the highest quality than dealing with local partners who truly care about your business.  The need for localization has only been emphasized in the past two years due to world events.

Is Cass continuing to digitize its supply chain? Will that make a big difference when further disruptions arise? 

Cass has fully implemented its ERP solution and is now looking forward to working with suppliers to fully integrate them into the system.  We will always strive for the human touch and meaningful relationships, and we believe a digital future supporting those values is key to success.

How long will it take for the supply chain to return to “normal”? Or will it ever?

We anticipate that shipping delays and supply shortages will begin to ease in late 2022 and into 2023, but underlying impacts mean the future will not look much like the past.  There will be more emphasis on transparency in the supply chain, reliable local supply, and long-term partnerships that will benefit everyone involved.

What’s next for Cass Precision Machining in 2022?

As we continue to grow and serve our customers better, we believe that we are in a unique position to attract more top-level talent.  We will also continue to make significant investment in automation and training to enable even more consistency and reliability.

The realities of the pandemic combined with existing trends in the manufacturing landscape means that companies must be more efficient and nimbler than ever in addressing the skills gap and labor shortages. With demand for manufactured goods always on the uptick, Cass continues a top-to-bottom evaluation of all processes, identifying ways to increase efficiency and to continue to support our customer base in any way we can.

global supply chain issues

Supply Crunch Continues to Push Prices Suppliers are Charging Businesses

As we wrote last year, the global supply chain crunch will continue to impact pricing, lead times and deliverables well into 2022 and beyond. Prices paid to U.S. producers posted a record annual increase of almost 10% in November, a surge that will sustain a pipeline of inflationary pressures well into 2022.

The producer price index for final demand increased 9.6% from a year earlier and 0.8% from the prior month, Labor Department data showed in December. Both advances topped economists’ forecasts.

Materials costs have risen rapidly this year amid transportation bottlenecks, robust demand, and labor constraints. Many businesses have successfully passed those added costs on to customers through higher prices, and the latest report suggests additional consumer price increases in the coming months.

Manufacturing companies have all had to adjust to the realities brought on by the global supply crunch, and here at Cass Precision Machining we are collaborating with our partners as much as possible, doing the best we can to alleviate costs and concerns for our customers. This partner collaboration includes daily logistics, tracking materials via spreadsheets, and shuffling and prioritizing schedules etc. and communicating as often as possible with our customers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the higher-than-expected producer-price numbers suggest that consumer inflation, which hit a nearly four-decade high of 6.8% in November, will stay elevated into 2022 as price pressures persist. The index, which generally reflects supply conditions in the economy, rose 0.8% from October, an acceleration from the 0.6% gain in each of the previous three months. Higher prices for energy, wholesale food, and transportation and warehousing contributed to the pickup in inflation.

“This is a testament to the fact that inflation continues to broaden out,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, in the WSJ article.

Persistently high prices in large part reflected clogged supply chains, as manufacturers scrambled to keep up with unusually strong consumer demand. The rise in prices of goods continued to outpace that for services, as consumer spending on goods remains elevated, while that on services is up just slightly from pre-pandemic levels.

Prices for good, excluding food and energy, climbed 0.8% in November from October, faster than the 0.6% increase the previous month. The service index advanced 0.7% on the month, up from 0.2% in October, driven in part by a pickup in hotel room rates and airfares.

According to Reuters, trillions of dollars in COVID-19 pandemic relief from governments across the globe fueled demand for goods, leaving supply chains overstretched. The normalization of economic activity has also juiced demand for services, with the delivery of some being hampered by worker shortages, driving up prices.

The easing of inflation for goods used to make other products, though still high, signaled that producer-price inflation is nearing its peak, said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC, in the Wall Street Journal. “PPI inflation will slow in 2022 as prices for energy and other raw materials decline thanks to greater production, weaker demand, and a gradual waning in supply chain problems,” said Faucher. “But PPI inflation will remain above its long-run levels due to continued strong demand for some goods and services and higher wages.”

At Cass Precision Machining we continue to partner closely with our customers to manage the challenges around material availability, material price, delivery needs and shipping.  We are committed to developing creative solutions to optimize customer success.

cass fitness

Cass Can Produce Parts for Exercise Equipment

The Cass Precision Machining website contains a page entitled “Industries Served.”  On the page, we talk about our continued investment in new technology that leads to the best products at the greatest value.  Our history dates all the way back to 1945, and over the years, we’ve worked hard to build a reputation as a parts manufacturer with experience, dedication, and passion for getting our customers the highest quality parts at the best price.  Those attributes combined with our proven speed and accuracy in delivery, as well as why we’ve developed a client base that spans various industries, including agriculture, construction, recreational equipment, and exercise equipment, among many others.

With a list of over 20 industries served, Cass is very proud of our ability to perform and work with such a wide variety of industries and sectors that give us such a great roster of clients served over the years.

—Sean Sorteberg, Lead Commodity Manager, Arctic Cat

“At Arctic Cat, we refer to Cass as our ‘rock-star’ supplier. We’ve worked with them for over 20 years, and they’re always really fast and helpful with great quality. I love their shop, it’s immaculate, and they have the benefit of actual machinists on staff, emphasizing the quality of product they deliver. If we are ever in a pinch, our first call is to Cass, and they came through for us like they always do. Our rolling 12-month PPM is eight—just outstanding. Cass is always on the ball and ahead of the curve.”


It’s in that vein that Cass is looking to expand our work in producing parts for exercise equipment.

At Cass, we made a concerted effort in 2020 to increase our ability to produce prototype parts. The result is our Cass-Rapid Proto Machining business unit that significantly ramps up our ability to serve customers. With prototypes as well as build-to-print contract machined parts services with accelerated delivery responsiveness. This unit sets us up well to be an ideal partner to produce parts for exercise equipment.

Cass works with fitness equipment manufacturers to produce precision-designed, durable metal assemblies, weldments, and metal stampings. Additionally, Cass produces other exercise equipment parts and components needed to make parts for exercise equipment.

As a manufacturer of parts for exercise equipment, Cass is able to manufacture bearings, bushings, and most all needed assemblies on exercise equipment.  From strength and weightlifting machines, as well as cardio equipment and more.

Cass Precision Machining serves our customers from a five-building campus—including over 125,000 square feet of production space. We’re experts in Swiss Machining, CNC Machining, Screw Machining, and Finish Grinding.  In addition we’ve worked with many materials over the years, including steel, aluminum, brass, bronze, tubing, and a wide variety of machinable plastics.  Our production floor contains advanced metal stamping, fabrication, weldment, and metal assembly to help manufacturing partners improve their quality and reduce lead times.

Reach out to Cass Precision Machining if you are looking for a reliable partner in producing parts for exercise equipment.