AUSTIN, TX – When a three-alarm blaze destroyed Carr Lane Drill Bushing Company's plant in Austin, TX earlier this year, Sunnen Products demonstrated that "above and beyond honing" is more than a tagline – it's a business practice. The fire struck overnight, and when the smoke had cleared, only the outer walls of the plant remained. Carr Lane had lost 33 honing machines in the disaster – machines critical to producing the precise bore size, surface finish and geometry required for the company's extensive line of drill bushings.
By chance, at the time of the fire,
representatives from Sunnen heard the news while attending a Houston trade
show. "When we found out what happened in Austin, I immediately called
(Carr Lane president) Earl Walker in St. Louis," said Tom Dustman,
international sales director for Sunnen. "I told him to let us know what
we could do to help, as any good neighbor would." Sunnen and Carr Lane are
both based in St. Louis, with their headquarters only a couple of miles apart.
Carr Lane's immediate need was to
fulfill existing orders for customers like Boeing, Remington and NASA. So,
Sunnen offered use of the machines in its tech center, along with operators to
hone the parts. Raw parts were delivered to the Sunnen tech center and finished
in a day, allowing Carr Lane to meet on-time deliveries. "We had orders,
but no way to produce our parts," said Carr Lane Plant Manager Mark
Badgley. "Without their help, we very well may have lost significant
After taking care of the near-term
need for parts production, Carr Lane's next order of business was getting
replacement honing machines to its more than 100 Austin employees at a
temporary location. Immediately upon receipt of a purchase order just 21 days
after the fire, Sunnen sent six MBB-1660 machines and an EC-3500. "Between
our tech center and our show display equipment, we had the machines Carr Lane
needed to get back on its feet, so we offered our own," said Dustman.
"This normally would have been at least a four- to six-week process."
we knew it, we had equipment and were ready to get back to work." said
Badgley. "It was a great feeling to see these nice, clean machines among
the soot-covered ruins of the old ones. It really helped our team's morale to
know that we were down, but we weren't out."
Despite the circumstances that
created the need for new machines Badgley is impressed with the new equipment.
"The eight EC-3500's we lost in the fire we're some of the first models
made," said Badgley. "There are significant improvements in the new
Badgley and his team have also come
to depend on the quality and reliability of the MBB-1660 series machines.
"We looked at the used market to replace the equipment we lost, but
couldn’t find anything that compared," said Badgley. "We just plug
them in and they're ready to go."
The MBB machine is a shop-standard
in many plants because of its ability to hone thin-wall, tight tolerance parts;
parts with keyways or splines; blind holes; or heavy odd-shaped parts.
Lane Drill Bushing Company is now in a temporary location in Round Rock, TX
while a new facility is rebuilt on the old site. Construction of the new plant
is expected to take about a year.
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