SEYI Presses Video Case Studies - GOBAR Systems - Mexican Contract Stamper Successfully Shifts Manufacturing

Gobar Systems, Inc (Matamoros, Mexico)
Mexican Contract Stamper Successfully Shifts Manufacturing Strategy from Dedicated Automotive to Larger Market Mix with SEYI Straight and Gap Frame Presses


Twenty years ago, Mexican stampers had a fairly straightforward path to success—often tied to a stamped parts dedication for one or two different customers. For these same companies today, survival has led to market diversification, increased services provided, and often, new manufacturing methods to improve upon quality and/or production rates. One company found just across the border from Brownsville, Texas, Gobar Systems, Inc., has met the challenges of an ever-changing marketplace…and has done so with the help of SEYI Presses, Inc.
Defining Gobar’s Capabilities
The Gobar name was created as a family operation and is a derivative of two family names…Gonzalez and Barron. The company started out as an automotive stamper supplying interior part (especially dashboards) stampings to the likes of General Motors and Delphi. Then, a shift to supplying complete sub-assemblies that included a large amount of value-added operations (IE: welding, fastening, part insertion, etc.) to this same customer group grew their capabilities even more. Today, the company is viewed as a comprehensive contract manufacturer involved in the processing of metals, plastics, and electronic components/assemblies. Their 90,000 sq ft stamping facility has been in operation for more than 20 years and employs 75 associates. World class standards and lean manufacturing principles are practiced. A total of 25 stamping presses are in operation and tonnages range from 66 to 660 tons. A second state-of-the-art stamping facility was added in July of 1998. Both facilities produce a wide range of parts for numerous industries including automotive air bag components, car stereo chassis and dashboard components, home appliance parts/assemblies, fire and safety components for extinguishers and the like. They also operate a considerably-sized plastics division (87 associates, 7 injection molding machines from 55 to 165 tons). Key customers include Autoliv, General Motors, Delphi, Bosch Systems, Kidde Corporation, and others too numerous to include.
Evolving from “Delphi heavy” into Other Non-Automotive Opportunities
“We realized that our 100% automotive roots needed to be diversified when we had financial issues with a key customer a number of years back,” states Rolando Gonzalez Baron, Gobar President/CEO. “At one time in our early stages, we were about 90% dedicated to Delphi. Both we and the customer knew that this was unhealthy and the goal was to diversify to other markets and other types of manufacturing operations. While we still serve automotive customers with pride, our current customer base is about two-thirds non-automotive. Additionally, we’re not just a stamper…50% of our current business base is in metals processing, but our growth toward plastics and other advanced materials is also key to our success.” A key goal for Gobar is to target an equal amount of business from automotive, plastics processing customers, and all other contract manufacturing sectors such as telecommunications, medical and consumer goods.
While the company has shrunk in employee size from 600 to 250 total employees, their annual sales growth has gone from $20 million to nearly $45 million. Key to that was found in the market and operation diversification, but also through their growth in the automation of nearly every production operation, investments in capital equipment improvements, and always seeking out more value added purposes found throughout their manufacturing facilities. Part of that rationale includes their taking automotive work that offered much smaller lot size production than typical contract stamping operations (although they can perform lot size production in the tens of thousands, as well).
Tooling Up To Meet Future Challenges
“We were tooled up to do a lot of GM’s component/bracket work in the mid- to late-eighties,” stated Rolando. “Then, an influx of competition hit our area. We knew this would take a toll on our electronic component business. We went from no area competition in 1986 to four local competitors in 1992 to more than a dozen area companies vying for their type of business today. We knew that we had to change our lower tonnage, c-frame press stampings to produce larger and more sophisticated stampings and assemblies.” And that took both a broader vision and a new mix of presses.
“Our older, lower tech smaller presses weren’t going to allow us to meet our growth goals,” states Rolando. “We were using the used equipment from our German joint venture partner initially and struggled with maintenance issues. We then started investigating all of the press technologies out there…from C-frames to straightsides and even link motion presses. We liked what we saw in SEYI’s presses, both in technology offering and purchase price. And after twenty years of SEYI’s in operation here, we haven’t regretted the decision once.” A total of nearly two dozen SEYI presses have been installed over the last twenty years. Gap frame and straight side presses ranging from 66 to 660 ton models are used throughout the plant.
But it demanded more than just the need for higher tonnage presses for bigger part production. It required a much broader vision toward delivering the complete answer to the customer. And to maintain that competitive edge, Gobar invested in building their own dies, became much more involved in the design end of the process (overall part design and the manufacturability of the part’s production), improving production training and greater understanding of the manufacturing process for their associates, and driving the organization to become more value-added in their overall mindset. And a diversification into markets never served before, as well as increasing their overall capabilities to produce tougher jobs. “Today, we can produce both simple stampings and more complex parts/assemblies…our niche is making what others around us cannot do,” says Rolando.
This has really helped their profit margin growth. For example, their initial bracket production only netted 3-4% profit on average. But as they added more value-added work and contract manufacturing concepts, the margins grew in leaps and bounds.
Another manufacturing success key is found in the elimination of most manual secondary operation-heavy work. “It’s a very labor intensive operation and we can’t compete with those in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and other areas,” Rolando says. “They pay much lower salaries in these areas, but we also have more restrictions on environmental compliances, human rights issues, and other “democracy” factors…and all of these have a cost that they don’t have to consider.” Where possible, they help redirect the overall design and/or build their tooling to eliminate as many secondary operations as possible.
Link Motion Presses Key To Future Growth
Sometimes, using higher technology can allow you to make the part/assembly better and/or faster than traditional methods. Gobar sees SEYI Link Motion technology in that vein.
“We were easily sold on the fact that link motion could grow our productivity rates in very substantial amounts over traditional presses,” explains Rolando.
SEYI’s link motion design offers the following benefits:
  • increased approach and return slide speeds paired with appropriate pressworking speeds enable faster production rates (up to a 30% increase in many cases),
  • reduced material springback due to slide velocity slowdown,
  • extended die life performance due to decreased shock, noise, heat and vibration,
  • multiple functions in a single machine…draw work, forming, blanking, etc.
One would think that getting the customer to believe in a totally new process—moving from hydraulic pressworking to do the draw work in a progressive die mechanical pressworking operation—is the toughest part of the job. “Because we felt confident that we could switch the process over, we had their blessing to proceed with prototyping, and, with that success, on to prove all of the production tests for this part,” stated Rolando. “We said that we could increase production rates by two or three times over their older methods and so they came in and validated our processes. And it all worked out beautifully. But it takes a special kind of trust and respect between the customer and vendor to make something like this work out. The SEYI link motion presses were key to this success.”
“And in the end, most of our customers don't care exactly what type of process or what type of machinery you use,” adds Rolando. “What they are interested in is that you are stable on your quality and that you are competitive in price, and that you can deliver because you have the capacity to produce what they request. But I can tell you that we feel very comfortable that our SEYI presses are going to produce a stable part and that we are going to produce a stable part with processes that no one in the past thought could be done.”
A big part of these capabilities comes from a R&D Center that was introduced in 1999. The operation is focused in developing new tooling designs…engineering high tech automation and robotics technologies…utilizing the latest in CAD/CAM design…incorporating wire EDM for tooling production…and most important, ensuring Gobar’s total involvement of the manufacturing process—from the front end concepting and design throughout the entire tooling build and tryout. They have also integrated a strategy of utilizing press sensors to help with improving press operations and part inspection.
Pertaining to part quality, Gobar has met the challenges of tight tolerance stampings that both automotive and electronics markets are asking for. Dimensional tolerances can be as tight as one-tenth of a millimeter on some parts. “We have great presses to make this happen on a regular basis, but it takes all of the elements of the process…the die design, the precision of the feed equipment and all other elements are just as critical,” Rolando says.  “It’s important that you've got your coil payoff in line and you don't have issues such as camber. All of these factors and more are important to a good quality operation.”
The Importance of Reliability/Uptime to a Mexican Stamper
Gobar has been utilizing SEYI presses for more than twenty years and the reliability factor has been key to why they endorse their performance. And this is especially important when you’re talking about a region of the world in which next-door parts and service support isn’t readily available.
“They’ve really held up to the promises made from the early days,” states Rolando. “ Our press uptime has been great and whenever we’ve had some type of issue, they’ve been quick to respond to our needs. These presses have evolved from dry clutches to the use of more reliable wet clutch technology. And our uptime seems to be better with the link motion technology…not to mention it’s faster and delivers better quality parts. In our experience, SEYI just doesn't sell you and then abandon you. They’ve worked with us on as-needed repair issues promptly and they’ve set us up on a good preventive maintenance schedule.  They've been training us so well that our technicians are fairly self-sufficient for maintenance and repair work. As for the factors of investment price and overall quality and performance, we are more than satisfied with our SEYI presses.”
On Gobar’s Future…
Gobar views overall growth and improvements in two areas. The first one can be found in their training commitments. The company operates their own “corporate university”, a place in which their people (other local companies send key personnel there for training, too) are sent for various training disciplines.  Their overall purpose is to “enable our associate’s competencies to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization with a strong emphasis on a culture of discipline, quality, precision and teamwork.” A wide range of subjects are taught including CAD/CAM and other programming, mechanical engineering, management, quality control and others. It is a focused learning environment that they feel that no area training center can match to fulfill their needs.
Secondly, they see a growth in being able to do more sub-assembly work across a wide range of materials. “Our customers are continuing to reduce their supplier base, and for us to keep existing work and grow into new opportunities, we’re finding ways to process sub-assemblies with metals and plastics or composites or even the new higher strength steels or other metals,” adds Rolando. “Our goal is to be able to keep the customer happy with the increasing value-added services that they are looking for.”

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