MANTUA, Ohio—Mantaline Corp. has achieved a number of milestones in the last several months, not the least of which was consolidating two factories into one and establishing a large presence in Mexico.
It recently completed the merger of its Aurora, Ohio, operation into the firm's 55,000-sq.-ft. Mantua facility in a five-month span without a hitch, according to Diane Kruis, director of operations. “We had a well-laid-out plan, and the project manager along with our excellent maintenance team executed the plan effectively.”
The consolidation project—which included the addition of a leased 8,000-sq.-ft. building in Mantua that is being used as a distribution and warehouse center—began in August and was completed by the end of the year.
The contract manufacturer of seals, gaskets, sponges and dense parts made from a range of rubber materials has put the closed Aurora factory up for sale.
Mantaline, which currently has a work force of about 100, integrated the two locations to optimize production costs of its extrusion and molding operations, giving the firm an advantage in terms of process control and quality management, said Tom Mlinar, vice president of business development.
Platform for growth
During the last eight months, the consolidation of the two plants was one of several key initiatives the firm made. Others included introducing a solid core extrusion product line, adding several major customers and creating a platform for growth in Mexico.
It established a presence in Mexico through a relationship it developed with an established company in Monterrey, which is acting as a supplier to the Mantua-based extruder and molder by conducting secondary operations on its behalf, Mlinar said.
Mantaline extrudes products at its Mantua site, and the supplier handles various molding, trimming, taping, inspecting and packing operations. “They are executing Mantaline systems and procedures,” he said, noting that the workers have been trained by Mantaline personnel and operate under the company's guidelines.
Mlinar said that in the near future, the company will purchase extrusions from a second company, also based in Monterrey. That firm “has substantial capabilities that, with Mantaline's assistance, can develop into a very acceptable alternative for our company as we look to serve the Mexican marketplace more effectively,” he said.
“We are forging alliances that will, with nurture and care, blossom into credible ventures of which Mantaline is part owner.”
The Mexican marketplace is growing, Mlinar said, and a number of original equipment manufacturers “that we serve have found that assembly operations in Mexico serve North America more effectively than operations in Asia.
“To optimize the productivity and market responsiveness of those operations, they have 'encouraged' their suppliers—like us—to locate nearby. This 'near-shoring' of entire supply communities has led to resurgence in business for Mexico and in some measure for the U.S.A. as well.”
The two initiatives—consolidation and expansion into Mexico—puts Mantaline in a growth pattern, the officials said. The plant merger trims redundancy, capitalizes available capacity and leverages resources, they said.
The engineering department is now just a short walk away from a production line. So instead of getting a phone call, gathering papers and driving six miles to another plant, engineers can move quickly and a line doesn't have to be shut down while a problem is being resolved, Kruis said. “Our job is to eliminate constraints.”
But more than just communication has been improved because of the move, she said. “Since our consolidation, we are now better able to deploy our associates. We've cross-trained people so we can shift them around in the plant. This allows us more flexibility which results in better productivity.”
The plant merger also provided Mantaline with an opportunity to evaluate its equipment and the associated demand, Kruis said. “We moved all of the major pieces of equipment, but where we had duplicate auxiliary equipment and excess capacity, we chose to move the best onto the plant floor and move the remainder into storage.”
The entire process to combine two plants included building inventories, preparing equipment, moving machinery, requalifying equipment and products, and training and certifying personnel, Mlinar said. “Moving six miles or 600 miles, the process is the same and customer expectations are very high; they have been burnt too many times.”
Mantaline did trim its work force by an undisclosed amount, Kruis said, but that was caused by the economy, not the consolidation. However, “with some uptick in current business and a strong portfolio of new projects, we have fortunately called back a majority of our operators,” she said.