ANAHEIM, Calif.—Fresh off a strong 2017, Apple Rubber Inc. plans to keep up the momentum.
The firm added four pieces of equipment in response to growing business across its operations, namely on the automotive side. Apple also did an extensive upgrade to its information/technology systems and is in the process of installing a new quality management system.
Sales-wise, the firm gained 315 new customers, experienced an 8 percent increase in overall sales, established sales across all continents with a 10 percent increase internationally and saw its medical operations jump 50 percent in 2017. The firm sold more than 180 million O-rings in 2017.
Apple Materials Manager John Tranquilli said at MD&M West in Anaheim that the firm has two more pieces of equipment on order for 2018. Investment details for the previous additions were not disclosed.
"We've had projects go live now and enter full production," Tranquilli said. "It's been a long development process, but now we're starting to ramp up production."
The additions in 2017 included an Elmet TOP 3000 dosing system, reducing scrap of less than 1 percent waste and offering a better dosing precision of liquid silicone rubber materials. Tranquilli added that the machine improves quality and increases production with a lower energy consumption.
Its Grieve TBH-550 truck oven is used for post-curing of LSR silicone parts or fluoroelastomer rubber seals, improving microprocessor control temperature and increasing air circulation.
The firm's Arburg Allrounder 175 V125-70 lowers power consumption by 30 percent, and the Maplan MHF700/300editionS XL Cool Drive provides the firm with high-precision and efficiency in rubber injection.
"We've been getting more automotive contracts, second- and third-tier projects," Tranquilli said. "It's driving more efficiency and throughput to our plant. The rubber injections can run all day long and produce a lot more parts."
Apple upgraded its IT systems thanks to added business on the defense side. Tranquilli said this began with a security audit for all public-facing network environments and IT systems for potential compromises. The firm said no accounts were compromised.
It also achieved NIST SP 800-171 compliance for the Department of Defense, which is the new security and privacy standard the DOD imposes upon non-federal organizations seeking to contract with the U.S. Government.
"We've been doing more defense contracts," Tranquilli said. "There's a lot of concern over protecting your data, and making sure your customer's data is protected. We had an outside group come in and make sure our firewalls are up to par and ensure we don't have any viruses put on our systems. We want to prevent anything being leaked outside. That will help with more governmental contracts, but we're even seeing it flow down to normal contracts."
As for quality, the firm is in the process of creating its Apple Core Enterprise System, a web-based tool compliant to AS 9100 and ISO 9001 standards. The system will provide all employees with access to documents such as process maps, forms, procedures, databases and work instructions.
"Instead of having writeup procedures, we're doing more process maps," Tranquilli said. "It makes it easier for new employees to read and visualize the process. We're hoping that it really helps training new personnel coming in."
Apple Core hasn't been rolled out yet, but the maps are in the approval process. Tranquilli expects it to go live July 1.