Case Studies: Machine Shop Gets ISO Help

Treblig Inc. (Greenville, SC) is a computer numeric control (CNC) precision machine shop that provides precision turning and milling services to companies like Michelin, Ross Controls, Stone Air, Lockheed and WABCO. Treblig was formed in 1983 and employs 13 people. With an eye to improving the long-term viability of the business, President and Co-Founder Estlean Cook felt the time had come to achieve ISO 9001: 2000 compliance.

Cook was concerned that Treblig's labor costs were topping 52% of production costs, compared to the national average of 32%. In addition, Cook wanted to increase sales by 25% annually by becoming a Tier Two supplier to the automotive industry. To compete with larger manufacturers, the company had to increase productivity and efficiency, while reducing labor costs, unnecessary inventory and scrap materials. Company management felt that in order to increase system-wide productivity, quality and efficiency, while reducing costs, the company must become ISO 9001 certified. Unfortunately, Treblig had a limited budget for achieving all ISO requirements in order to gain certification for its quality assurance program.

Cook contacted the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP) Manufacturing Specialist Larry Jolly for advice on pursuing ISO 9001 certification. SCMEP helped Treblig secure a nearly $20,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development Agency-Treblig paid only $5,000 out of pocket. By working with SCMEP, Treblig achieved ISO 9001 certification in less than six months.

In addition, SCMEP assisted Treblig with implementation of the quality-based Lean Manufacturing 5S system to improve shop floor organization and cleanliness, and installation of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Since becoming ISO 9001 certified and implementing the 5S and ERP systems, Treblig has maintained its current business in a relatively volatile manufacturing economy, and is in a stronger position to compete with other manufacturers targeting the automotive industry. In addition to the company's recent ISO certification, Treblig has invested $250,000 in new machines and increased standards within its production facility by investing thousands of dollars in software and educational and physical improvements in the past three years. By working with SCMEP and the local technical colleges, the company has installed DBA Manufacturing Resources Planning software to help track job times and predict delivery, downtime and costs for every component produced.

"Treblig is now doing all the right things to set itself apart from other small businesses, get to the next level and break out of the pack," says Cook.


• Labor costs were topping 52% of production costs, compared to the national average of 32%.

• The company wanted to increase sales by 25% annually by becoming a Tier Two supplier to the automotive industry.

• The SCMEP helped Treblig secure a nearly $20,000 federal grant and that helped the company achieve ISO 9001 certification in less than six months.

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