As globalization morphs the once intimate face of business, Mom and Pop shops are nostalgic memories and the concept of keeping production local wavers in the face of distant competition that can do it cheaper and faster — if not better.
But in contrast to those who, of seeming necessity, become part of the tide rather than fighting the ocean are small European companies that want to keep the work at home. These are companies that embrace change in order to remain afloat — to ride the wave of technological evolution that prevents them from being pulled under.
Unlike so many of its counterparts, Doeko hasn’t gone the way of overseas production. Instead, it has maintained its competitive edge and increased its knowledge while stoking its ambitions and its ability to adapt to technical advances.
How did Doeko pull it off? It’s a challenge to deliver a simple answer to a complex question, but, in a nutshell, the right software and machine tool match, combined with top-notch support, were factors that ensured Doeko would not be lost at sea.
SUB//becoming machining masterminds.
The mature machining virtuoso that Doeko would eventually grow into was born in 1964, when the company began producing molds and dies, but its repertoire quickly expanded beyond the conception and production of complete injection molds and precision mechanical parts. As the team and its equipment grew, it evolved into another entity entirely, and today it counts more than 10 CNC machine tools, including those made by Mori Seiki, Toyoda, Okuma, Fanuc, Nakamura and Sodick, among the machining muscle that makes the precision job shop tick.
Doeko serves multiple industries, among them the food and medical sectors, minting institutions and the semi-conductor industry. As such, we see a bit of “this and that,” like prototypes for lamps, tiny and complex medical parts, LED lights and automobile molds, on site at the bustling company.
Harry Hendriks, production manager, emphasizes that, at Doeko, “All of our parts are different, and we have to produce quickly.”
The primary goal is to deliver rapid-fire and excellent service to the company’s existing roster of customers while keeping an eye on exporting not only to Germany and France, but also to Brazil and Hong Kong.
“We have more than 100 customers, including Philips, NXP, KTM Motorcycles, Honeywell and RPC-Packaging, all who appreciate our quality work and the finishing of our parts,” said Serge Vijverberg, production assistant. “The huge quantities machined do not affect precision, though we complete some orders of 4,000 LED lights, or we produce 500 parts per month for air suspensions for vans. At the moment, we are finalizing a hinge for the semi-conductor industry. This component will be first created in a small quantity, and then, if results are good, we will make 300 or 400 items.”
Turning to ESPRIT
A typical day in the life for Doeko’s eight programmers includes working with Siemens Unigraphics computer-aided-design (CAD) software for part design and with ESPRIT® computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) for part programming.
In 1998, Doeko’s managers had to face the cold, hard reality of the ongoing globalization wave: To remain competitive and reap the benefits of the industrial evolution, the company had to adopt CAM software. After checking out all the CAM players on the field, the company chose ESPRIT for its ability to program parts for every industry and every machining discipline. This was essential because Doeko’s talent lies with its adaptability and knowledge in making several different types of complex parts.
“We are a very flexible company that must be able to quickly change from one application to another and, with ESPRIT, we can,” Hendriks said. “We don’t need to buy several types of software.”
When you’re on deadline and accurate CNC code is a must, there is no replacement for reliable, high-performance CAM. As Hendriks explains, ESPRIT is highly customizable for milling, turning, mill-turn, and wire EDM. Multi-tasking and high speed machining, as well as piloting B-axis machine tools, are easily manageable with the software and, with top-notch post processors, compatible with various machine tools right out of the box.
In order to achieve the best possible result the first time around, it’s also vital that ESPRIT be compatible Unigraphics. ESPRIT’s seamless CAD-to-CAM interface directly imports any native part model from any source, fully intact, with no need for programmers to edit or rebuild geometry. ESPRIT also directly machines from any combination of geometries — solids, surfaces, wireframe or STL files.
Installation of the new CAM technology was arranged by the ESPRIT reseller in the Netherlands, Greenock CAD Service, based in Ede. After their first training, Doeko’s programmers quickly became familiar with the software and, not long after, were able to work completely independently with ESPRIT.
Doeko credits the responsive team at Greenock CAD Service — customers such as LVD, Philips and Nedtrain, among others — for its rapid success with ESPRIT. A total of 70 customers in the Benelux region reap the benefits of ESPRIT as supported by Greenock. As a growing and ambitious company, Greenock CAD Service operates several offices in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, with 10 people dedicated to ESPRIT sales and support.
A New Era
Doeko was up and running in 1998 with four seats of ESPRIT for wire EDM and milling. Today, it has eight licenses with FreeForm and 4-5 axis milling, with which 75 percent of its parts are programmed.
Things have certainly changed since the early days. Vijverberg recalls a part that the company was tasked with programming before it acquired CAM software. The part, which would become part of a lawn mower, required a whole day of programming. “From my experience, we now need only one hour to launch the machining of this kind of mold thanks to the CAM system and the memory capacities of our machines.” When asked which parts they are able to produce today without ESPRIT, Hendriks and Vijverberg say, “None, in particular molds and dies.”
Doeko was counted its programming time in days. Today, it’s counted in hours and minutes.
Employees who have worked at Doeko for at least 10 years have seen its production increase by 40 or 50 percent. They worked hard to satisfy customers, faced the growing demand, reinforced their team and invested in new technologies.
“We have many more customers from new sectors, and they are more and more demanding,” Hendriks said. “They can easily compare and put us in competition with other companies, so we have to be the best. The products have changed, too, certainly due to the technical advances. They are more complex, as well as the machines, and our job now is to make everything work perfectly.”
Looking Straight Ahead
The current demand is of such importance that Doeko enlarged its shop floor in 2012, invested in four new multi-tasking machines and 5-axis machines, and is currently recruiting new engineers. Greenock will train them in the turning and mill-turn functionalities of ESPRIT and new post processors.
Since the beginning, they diversified and developed production. They are able to make hard decisions and take risks, invest in complex machines and software, learn on their own and take on new challenges.
In fact, this Dutch company is getting ready to face the future. Large automotive groups like Peugeot Citroen have delocalized their production by sending it to China or India, whereas Europe has everything it needs for its industries: quality and efficiency. l
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