P & J Machining Inc. was founded in the family’s garage by Paul Hogoboom Sr. in 1979. He was a machinist his whole life and was plant supervisor at Marine Iron Works in the port of Tacoma when he started working nights in his garage on an old Bridgeport type mill. “I started in the garage in 1979 with my dad at night” explains president/COO Paul Hogoboom Jr. “Before that I was building custom windows for Anderson Windows, but I’ve been with P & J ever since.”
P & J moved from the garage to their current location in Puyallup, WA in 1986. Since then they have expanded four different times and now have multiple buildings totaling 70,000 sq. ft. of aerospace manufacturing, offices, and support systems. Building #2 runs lights out for 14 hours a day thanks to cell technology and simulation software like VERICUT.P & J has come a long way from those days in the garage, but the motto of “Quality and Delivery Make the Difference” remains true as ever. In a 12 month time period P & J shipped 143,514 parts with only 167 rejects. This is considered by Boeing (their largest customer) a 99.9% acceptance rate. They accomplish this amazing feat by the utilization of leading edge technology for their manufacturing and support equipment. P & J continues to cut the per part cost by using technology and innovation to compete on a global economic level. Lean manufacturing practices are the name of the game, and P&J excel at it thanks in part to their Matsuura and Toyoda cell systems from Selway Machine Tool Company.
P & J is accredited AS9100 and is a 100% aerospace manufacturing company doing nothing other than parts for commercial aircraft. A considerable portion of their business comes from Boeing, but they have a diversified work load and a broad customer base including: GKN, Spirit, Sell GMB, AEROSUD, Arnprior and Fuji Heavy Industries, Inc. (Eclipse Air parts) just to name a few. They are a direct supplier for the 787 Dreamliner, manufacturing a large variety of parts ranging from seat supports to floor stanchions. Although they stock very few parts for customers, P&J Machining is fluent in the creation of shipping kits or groupings of parts to fit their customer’s needs for contract and sub-contracted machining. This process can be accomplished in several ways according to customer demands.
Paul Hogoboom Jr. is not a machinist, but does have some training thanks to his dad purchasing a CNC mill in 1987. “My dad walked up to me one day and said I just bought a CNC mill and you are going to program it,” explains Paul Jr. “I had to ask what that even was.” Paul then took a crash course in programming at Bates Technical College, and they were on their way in the CNC age. P & J originally started out with a Mori Seiki mill and expanded to an entire fleet of Mori Seikis before adding Haas, Matsuura, and Toyoda into the mix. “I first began investigating lights out technology in horizontal manufacturing during the late 90’s,” describes an excited Paul. “They were using it in the semiconductor industry. I took a few tours and picked a few brains before buying our first system in 1998 from Selway Machine Tool Company. That first cell system was a Matsuura 600 HG Horizontal 45 Taper Cell Center with 27 pallets. It was expanded a few years later after it had reached capacity to one additional machine and another 33 pallets. It currently runs unmanned for 18-20 hours a day, six days a week. It has the equivalent of 40 years of use on it in a standard one shift 5 days a week scenario. Soon a pair of Niigata HN63Ds were added to the mix, and eventually two Toyoda FH 550 50 Taper Horizontals with a 45 pallet system were added in 2007. Each Toyoda is equipped with a large ATC (Automatic Tool Changer) with 308 independent tools per attached mill, giving their programmers and machinists a large degree of flexibility to mix fast track jobs concurrently with their multi-year contracts and regularly scheduled part shipments.
P & J moved into the their new 47,000 sq. ft. building last year and immediately set up a Niigata 630 cell to specialize in hard metals. “We work a lot in titanium,” describes Paul. “Our plan is to take our lights out program in aluminum and apply that to hard metals. The most difficult part is tool management, but we have a great crew of experienced guys who are proofing it out on the 2 pallet system before getting it to run all night on the 6 pallet setup.” P & J doesn’t purchase a machine to do a specific part or job, but instead looks at their overall versatility and how it can apply to different applications. “The only way we can compete on the global scale is through technology.” explains Paul. “Thats why we focus so much on lights out operations, and why we put so much time and money into the software department, and the programers.” Through the use of VERICUT software P&J verifies programs in the office by running simulations before they get to the production floor. They are able to catch errors in the office instead of setting up the first part on the machine and finding out there is an issue.
“We have models of all the machines, and tools” clarifies Jerry Miller, lead programmer at P & J. “For example our Haas VF4 machine is modeled all the way down to the bolts and zerk fittings.” Fellow programmer Derek Jackson adds “The closer it is to the real thing the more accurate our simulations are compared to the real world machining.” VERICUT software by CGTech is used to simulate CNC machining in order to detect errors, potential collisions, or areas of inefficiency. VERICUT enables NC programmers to correct errors before the program is ever loaded on the CNC machine, thereby eliminating manual prove-outs. Together with the OptiPath module P & J has reduced run time by 15% and operates at the 99.9% acceptance rate. The programming department runs some pretty quick Windows 7 equipment with similar processor power to that of a gaming machine, but some of the real skill is from the programmers themselves. Jerry and his team are highly trained in MasterCam and VERICUT and utilize the software to the top end of its capabilities. Although Jerry hasn’t run a machine in twenty years, both he and Derek have real world experience as machinists. That insight adds another layer of know-how that translates directly back to the overall bottom line.
With Mount Rainier looming out the lobby window it is easy to see how the sky is the limit for P & J Machining Inc. Paul Hogoboom Jr. keeps the founder’s core values alive through technology and making sure that quality and delivery still make the difference.
Article published in CNC West, May 2013 [PDF]