Allied Plastics specializes in the design and manufacture of custom plastic parts for a variety of OEMs. On every project, Allied works within the confines of its client’s specific needs. For example, sometimes an OEM has a mere idea, in which case Allied Plastics starts at the ground level with design concepts. Other times, the OEM knows exactly what it needs, and Allied simply designs the tooling and manufactures the part. In this case, Ohio-based Venture Products was somewhere in the middle.
Venture Products manufactures the Ventrac brand of all-wheel-drive compact tractors. The Ventrac brand also includes a broad assortment of more than 30 attachments to help maximize a tractor’s versatility. Those attachments include several winter-season tools such as snowplows and snowblowers.
Ventrac approached Allied Plastics when it needed a plastic cab roof for one of its snow removal tractors. The roof needed to be durable while also allowing for specific functionality within the fully enclosed, climate-controlled operator’s cab.
The final product consisted of two parts. The upper shell served as the roof cap on the outside of the tractor. The lower shell, referred to as the headliner, served as the roof on the inside of the tractor cab. That headliner portion required some intricate trimming to create openings for amenities such as radio speakers and HVAC controls.
“That headliner portion is where a lot of back and forth took place between Allied Plastics and Ventrac,” says Jon Larson, OEM Sales Manager at Allied Plastics.
3 characteristics of a successful custom project
1. Collaboration. With this project, the client created the original design. Allied Plastics then played a consultative role in the lead-up to production.
“Ventrac’s engineer knew the footprint and what they needed the part to do from a functional standpoint,” Larson says. “I would say that they had it about 75% designed. They even gave us a CAD drawing to get started with.”
That preliminary 3D model was presented to Allied Plastics at a project kickoff meeting at Allied’s facility. The meeting took place at Allied’s Idea Center, an open-floorplan workspace that is home to a cross-functional team of engineers, tooling experts, CNC programmers, quality control technicians, document specialists and project managers.
At that initial meeting, Ventrac explained what it was looking for. Allied Plastics listened, offering specific insights on how to optimize the manufacturability of the part, such as the size of the corner radiuses and draft angles to maximize strength.
2. Personalized service. Once Allied Plastics took on the project, specific personnel were assigned to it. This approach has become standard practice at Allied Plastics.
First, an account manager is responsible for general oversight of the project. The account manager also gathers all of the initial information from the client to get the project set up within Allied Plastics’ production system. Additionally, a design engineer is assigned to the project to work with both the account manager and client to come up with a manufacturable design.
“We have found that it’s very important to make sure our customer has a dedicated person to work through each phase of the process with,” Larson says.
3. Site visits enable powerful perspectives. In addition to the initial project kickoff meeting at the Idea Center, Ventrac personnel visited Allied Plastics to see the first prototypes come off of the production line.
“We strongly encourage both of those visits to our facility,” Larson says. Opening its doors to its clients not only helps build relationships, but also helps each client maintain visibility into its project and final product.
Site visits also open the door to innovative ideas and potential product improvements. During the first meeting at the Idea Center, for instance, the customer can also take the time to walk through Allied Plastics’ entire facility, including the production floor and showroom.
“When you see so many different examples of things that are possible, that can really get the gears turning,” Larson relates. “Sometimes an engineer sees something they never thought would even be possible. So this concept of coming out and seeing us is something we stress with every client on every project.”
7 years of success
Allied Plastics has been producing Ventrac’s plastic tractor cab roof for nearly 7 years now. It has been a highly successful project with volume increasing year after year. “We are having success because Ventrac is having success,” Larson says. “It’s a win-win.”
As mentioned earlier, the roof is produced in two pieces. Allied Plastics ships both pieces to Ventrac where they are joined together during Ventrac’s tractor assembly process.
Both Allied Plastics and its customers have been benefiting from Allied’s greatly expanded distribution center. With double the distribution footprint, distribution efficiency has increased significantly. Additionally, manufacturing productivity has increased due to the space freed up for production that was previously being used for storage.
A Ventrac design engineer remarked, “The aggressive timeline Allied promised to deliver was fully met. Production delivery has been on time and parts have arrived well-packaged and undamaged.”
Allied Plastics’ ability to meet aggressive timelines while maintaining high standards is the result of several strategic decisions over the past several years. The creation of the Idea Center and expansion of the distribution center are two of them.
“Additionally, we have our own in-house designers, sheet extrusion capabilities and manufacturing equipment to produce all of our prototype fixtures in-house,” Larson points out. “That helps us streamline the process tremendously.”
Allied Plastics is dedicated to manufacturing the highest quality products as quickly and economically as possible. Lean manufacturing and short lead times are part of the Allied Advantage for your project. CONTACT US TODAY!