Shop Profile: Atscott Mfg.

July 20, 2012 No Comments
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toc_features50pxErasing Setup Times with Agility Machine Tool, Inc.


Above: Atscott’s new AKARI-HS450i 6 PALLET HMC can set up as many as 35 different parts at one time, keep all the tools and fixtures it needs inside, and switch from one part to another by command.

One of the biggest challenges facing job shops like Atscott Mfg. is setting up repeat, short-run productions without losing time and money. More and more customers are demanding that their parts be shipped in small volumes, forcing shops to determine how many setups they can afford to perform versus how much inventory they can afford to store.

For Atscott Mfg., neither is a problem.

Based in Pine City, Minn., Atscott Mfg. specializes in high-tolerance machining, metal fabrication, stamping and assembly, and metal finishing (including paint and powder coat) for a variety of customers and industries, including 3M, Goodrich, Eaton Corporation and BAE Systems. As such, the company’s lot sizes vary widely. On any given day, Atscott might have a run of one part or of thousands of parts; however, most of its runs are under 50 parts.

Until recently, the company was scrambling to set up machines as fast as it could and find enough space to store extra inventory for a family of similar parts with short runs. But each setup took anywhere from 2 to 6 hours and shelf space was limited. Atscott Mfg. needed a different strategy for these short-run productions.

In 2010, Atscott Mfg. began looking at multi-pallet horizontal machining centers that would allow it to run multiple parts with virtually no setup time. Eventually, the company decided on the Akari Seiki HS 450i, a high-speed, 6-pallet horizontal machining center with a FANUC control that holds up to 220 tools.

“Space was an important factor for us,” said John Norris, president of Atscott Mfg. “We needed a 6-pallet machine that was real compact and the other machines we considered were too large for our facility. Another consideration was cost. We discovered that this machine had the capabilities of other systems that were twice the price. So, basically, it took up half the amount of space and was half the price of other competitive systems. These factors, combined with our experience working with Agility, made the choice pretty clear.”

Most of the parts Atscott Mfg. makes on the Akari Seiki HS 450i are made out of cast iron or ductile iron and are used in the heavy equipment industry. However, it can also handle plastic, aluminum steel, or stainless steel parts as well.

With the new machine, the company can set up as many as 35 different parts at one time, keep all the tools and fixtures it needs inside, and switch from one part to another by command. Because each part is programmed in advance, setup time has been slashed from hours to just minutes. Now the company is getting out more part numbers each day and turning over orders much more quickly.

“We can probably run the job out faster now than it took us to set it up before,” said Larry Soderbeck, manufacturing manager of Atscott Mfg. “Often we will call up a job in the morning and ship parts that afternoon.”

He went on to say that payback on the Akari Seiki HS 450i was less than 18 months.

The machine was recommended to Norris and Soderbeck by the folks at Agility Machine Tool, Inc., a machine tool distributor in Blaine and long-time supplier of Atscott Mfg. Though Agility sells to some OEMs, most of its customers are small- to medium-size job shops. The company prides itself on being a full-service distributor that is small enough to be adaptive and agile to its customers’ needs. Hence the name Agility.

Atscott Mfg. has been doing business with Brian Holcomb, president of Agility, for more than 20 years and has purchased at least a dozen machines from him over the years.

“Agility has some phenomenal products at good price points,” Norris said. “We’ve purchased a variety of vertical mills, lathes, and horizontals from them. All of them have been good quality products and supported by excellent customer service.”

About Atscott Mfg.

Atscott Mfg. is a privately-held manufacturer that has been growing steadily since 1963. It has a 65,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and 80 employees who run multiple shifts to bring turnkey manufacturing to customers across the United States. It also has a wood fabrication facility in Osceola, Wisconsin.

Most people are surprised to know that Atscott Mfg. also makes 80-foot, self-erecting towers for use by the military, border patrol, and homeland security. The towers can raise or lower 80 feet in less than 5 minutes. They are manufactured complete for Tower Solutions, which is also located in Pine City.

This year Atscott Mfg. is pursuing its AS9100 certification and is continuing to lean out its production in order to reduce waste and extra costs. It also plans to expand its rep network to Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin.

About Agility Machine Tool

Agility was founded 15 years ago by Brian Holcomb and his former business partner, Bob Lindberg. Today the company represents many of the high-end, top-performing machine tool makers in the world, such as YCM, Ares Seiki, Vision Wide, Honor Seiki, Nexturn, and Hwacheon, and has earned the trust of hundreds of job shops, mold builders and OEMs across the Midwest.

Agility installs, trains and repairs everything that it sells.

“A high percentage of our sales involve repeat customers,” Holcomb said. “We’ve built a reputation for providing reliable, accurate, high-quality machines. We’re also known for our quick response time and training. If a customer calls, we show up that day or the next day to get the problem solved, because our builders have a good supply of parts on hand. Another thing customers appreciate is that we do almost all training at their facilities.”

The quality of Agility’s machines combined with its high standards for customer service are what keep customers like Atscott Mfg. coming back every time they’re ready to make a new investment.

“The people at Agility are honest, hard working, provide great service and are competitive,” Norris said. “I can’t say enough good things about them. They’ve been great to work with over the years.” pm_endmarkblue-e1320337140493

 For more information about Agility Machine Tool, Inc., visit or contact Brian Holcomb at 612.720.7230 or

Copyright © 2012 Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. For permission to use or reprint this article please contact Amy Slettum, publications manager for Precision Manufacturing journal.



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