Market Leader of Automotive Maintenance Products Achieves 24/7 Machining with Nakamura-TomeRequest
The pace of BG Automation's growth could not be sustained with existing lathes. There was no time for slippage in machining quality, operator experience, or service experience. When the COVID pandemic struck, BG Automation sought a competitive edge that enabled them to scale production of their unique Universal Spray Applicator.
Working with Methods' dealer Maruka USA, BG Automation expanded its adoption of the Nakamura-Tome multitasking machine to improve productivity, precision, and quality of their product. This allowed BG Automation to run more production hours without any loss in quality, rigidity, or accuracy.
- Ran their Nakamura-Tome WT-300 successfully across all three shifts
- Achieved precision for a four-inch hole that other machines failed to reach.
- Reduced production costs
- Product quality exceeds industry regulatory standards
- Increased market share for the product (Universal Spray Applicator)
When 20+ years of commitment, sweat, and success elevates a company from the founder’s garage into a business with global reach, why would you settle for anything but superior results?
That was the question for the team at BG Automation, LLC based out of Derby, Kansas. What began in 1998 as Derby Machine—a machine shop and assembly team making tools and equipment, including for BG Products, Inc. (among other customers)—evolved into a full-service company providing machined products and automation integration.
After years of supplying BG Products (BG) with the metalworks canisters and containers needed for BG’s portfolio of specialty automotive lubricants, greases, chemical additives and cleaners, Derby Machine was wholly acquired by BG Products in 2016. The acquisition opened new pathways to growth—both internally and to the bottom line.
As the business continued to grow, there was no time for slippage in product quality or operator experience, However, as the product ramped up, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived forcing the BG Automation team to forge a unique path.
ENGINEERING A NEW PATH FORWARD
“Once the pandemic happened, there was a surge on aerosols for sanitizing and cleaning and everyone would run Lysol or some sort of branded or private label disinfectant. So our lead times for aerosol went to nearly a year out or more almost overnight,” said Nathan Ebert, general manager at BG Automation. “It caused our costs to go through the roof. We just we didn’t have any control.”
Needing a way to regain control of their aerosol portfolio of products, the BG team developed their newly competitive, patent-pending Universal Spray Applicator (USA Tool) as a strategic alternative to traditional aerosol cans.
Using one of BG’s traditional 325-milliliter cans to hold the bulk fluid formerly used in their aerosol products, BG Automation manufactures the entire USA tool to generate the pressure of traditional aerosol cans, using a quick one-second charge of shop air. Then using the USA Tool as a reusable spray gun, users can switch between all of BG’s aerosol formulation products used in this new aerosol delivery mechanism.
Beyond bypassing traditional aerosol, the unique canister more securely stores and releases the internal product, reducing concerns about flammability and pressurized fluids. That in turn, raised the product’s attractiveness.
“We machine the canister on the [Nakamura-Tome] WT-300 to be sold separately, but also drop our own (BG’s) chemistry in the container that now exceeds a lot of regulatory standards,” said Ebert.
“There’s a lot of things we do for the automotive HVAC system, such as antimicrobial cleaning and the cleaning of additional contaminants within the system that result in better HVAC performance as well as improving the air quality you breathe within the cabin of your vehicle.”
“We have another aerosol within our core product line-up called Enforce, which is a leading penetrating oil like no other,” Ebert continued. “We also have an incredible formula we use to clean a vehicle’s throttle body for better performance and restoring fuel efficiency. This new USA Tool has really expanded the reach and appeal of our former aerosol portfolio into a new, single-use package of bulk fluid that can be reloaded over and over again with a single quick charge of shop air per can of product.”
PRODUCTS AND SERVICE EXPERIENCE FUELS GROWTH
As the business growth accelerated, the reliability and longevity of the Nakamura-Tome WT-300 came to the forefront.
“We’ve always been really big into turning here. Lathe work is where our skill set is,” said Mike Turner, Business Development Manager at BG Automation. “Historically, we bought twin-turret, twin-spindle, 7- or 8-axis lathes. We’d been working with [a competitor], but over time, we saw the quality of their platforms and their electronics start to dip, and the service wasn’t as good. They just weren’t what they used to be in our opinion.”
“So when we had our newest applicator and canister come about, we needed a four-inch diameter through-hole.” said Turner. “We looked at the Nakamura-Tome WT-300, and the four-inch hole is a key differentiator for the Nakamura lathe.”
“Everybody else wanted to give me a three-inch hole, but the Nakamura could give me a 4-inch hole in a small footprint, and we can bar-feed to make this product. The way this product has taken off, we’re keeping our machines filled up.”
NAKAMURA QUALITY ENABLES 24/7 MACHINING
“The other equipment we had would break down when we ran it hard. When you’re out here and running production 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep up with demand, stability of the equipment is paramount. The build on the Nakamura is just better, and we’re working them hard. Long term, it shows. Over my 23+ years of machining, these Nakamuras are the best lathes I’ve ever had.”
On the heels of a 56,000-square foot facility expansion, and with a business model that enables BG Automation to navigate and grow through the ebbs and flows of the economy at large, the company is poised for more growth.
“When I started ten years ago with BG, I was employee number 166, and we’ve since grown up to 500 over ten years,” said Ebert. “The quality, effectiveness, and success of our products have opened up new markets and regions across the globe for us. We need the highest level of quality, effectiveness and support across our CNC equipment in order to deliver our value promise to our customers. The Nakamura lathes have helped us tremendously with our strategic implementation.”
The build on the Nakamura is just better and we’re working them hard. Long term, it shows. Over my 23+ years of machining these Nakamura’s are the best lathes I’ve ever had.