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Hobson & Motzer: Investing in the Future

An Early Adopter

Innovation is in Connecticut-based Hobson & Motzer’s DNA. Throughout the precision metal manufacturer’s 110-year history, the ability to respond to changing demands and market conditions, and to leverage evolving technologies has set it apart in the manufacturing world.

“We were early adopters of jig boring, visual grinding, EDM, and wire” says company President Bruce Dworak. “I have a newspaper article from the mid-60s where they refer to Hobson & Motzer as an ‘old established company’ bringing on the cutting-edge EDM machine. The capabilities and scale of our company are always growing and evolving, but facets of the culture and business strategy have endured over generations of leadership.”

The company’s acute attention to detail—and a culture where a passion for excellence is embodied in its talented, dedicated workforce—has led to new and exciting opportunities, primarily within the med device sector.

To meet the accelerated demand for highly complex, precise components that are getting smaller and smaller, Hobson & Motzer continually improves upon its technology and capabilities and invests in its 400+ workforce. The company partners with expert equipment builders, works towards vertical integration, and ensures its R&D, engineering, and manufacturing teams are well versed in the latest techniques and materials. These competencies allow the company to bring in new processes to augment existing capabilities and reduce lead times and supply chain risk.

The company’s vertical integration strategy dovetails nicely with customers’ desire to streamline supplier networks. As a strategic partner to select med device industry leaders, Hobson & Motzer provides customers with a holistic, full-scope services approach. As medical devices advance, the company’s focus on next-generation solutions helps to meet the demand for more sophisticated components, often with very tight tolerances.

The company’s advanced CNC capabilities allow for complex components to be produced in a single operation with better precision and from more difficult materials. “We see more ‘lights out’ capability across technologies, whether that’s bar-fed CNC multi-tasking lathes, Swiss machines, or wire EDM,” says Dworak.

Advanced Equipment and Technology

Capital investment in new machinery and technologies is critical to meeting expanding capacity and supporting the technology needs of an innovative customer base. There has always been a reciprocal relationship between technology and innovation. The company has shied away from purchasing used equipment due to the increased downtime and potential limitations, given the capabilities of more advanced equipment. The one exception is in the stamping department where older presses can be refurbished and outfitted with new controls, electronics, and ancillary equipment, depending upon the application.

The company recently added ultra-precision five-axis machining, multitasking lathes with extensive milling capability and bar feeders, laser systems, CMMs and multi-sensor inspection systems on the metrology side. Metrology is an area that can sometimes be overlooked. “Efficient and repeatable measurement of precision complex components is a capability that is becoming increasingly important, so we’ve committed significant resources there,” says Dworak. “The next step is to capture and analyze data, so we look for connectivity and automation of the data processing to improve quality and optimize processes.”

Capitalizing upon the latest technology is critical to meeting quality and precision targets. The majority of the company’s production equipment is networked for automated data acquisition, with applications developed as needed to support specific data analysis requirements. Data on OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) and causes of downtime is gathered to optimize processes.

The company’s metrology platform enables inspection results to be uploaded to the company intranet for storage and analysis. The ability to report data supports the NPD process, which is generally an iterative process, and guides better decision making.

Managing the Learning Curve and Competing Demands

One of the challenges in leveraging new equipment or technology is managing the learning curve and competing demands. “The support team needs continuous evolution to keep up with the skills and capacity needed to smoothly ramp up production,” says Dworak. The length of the learning curve varies; it depends upon the type of technology. For example, developing the first piece of automation or a progressive die for a new application can take longer to achieve efficient production or meet process capability requirements. Through project planning, design review, and APQP teams, the company works to minimize the curve and mitigate risk.

The company builds in house wherever possible, whether it’s tooling, automation, or application engineering. The company’s highly skilled tool and die makers, who worked on the original builds, are always able to assist when needed. “Robust production support allows the advanced product teams to focus their attention on growth and development. Having an in-house tool and die shop is invaluable to our customers,” says Dworak.

In addition to the company’s investment in equipment, technology, and people, Hobson & Motzer is very active in metalworking trade associations. Groups such as Precision Metalforming Association and the National Tooling and Machining Association provide introductions to technology providers and, more importantly, opportunities to network with peers locally, as well as across the country. “We attend trade shows and do a lot of research on the optimal method to produce a part when a customer challenges us with a new application,” says Dworak.

Born to Excel

Hobson & Motzer’s ability to pivot and rapidly respond to exciting developments in the med device industry—delivering tighter tolerances, precision parts, and exceptional quality—is what makes the company tick. Dworak credits his dedicated team with the company’s decades of success. “This is what we were born to do. Just as innovation is in our DNA, the desire to excel and exceed expectations is in our blood. We love what we do, and knowing that—at the end of the day—the components we build improve the lives of surgeons and patients alike is enormously satisfying.”

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