Case Studies

Here are some examples of how PMT helped powder metal manufacturers solve technical and operations challenges, find new accounts, and grow their businesses, using its three-stage FLOW Strategic Sales System.

Client #1

Metal Injection Molding (MIM) Manufacturer

A MIM manufacturer was getting most of its business from the automotive industry and wanted to explore opportunities in other sectors.

Stage 1: Exploration

PMT looked through its extensive array of contacts and information and identified 20 to 30 applications and accounts that would be a good fit with the manufacturer’s capabilities. The opportunities were condensed into a living spreadsheet. PMT worked collaboratively with the manufacturer’s CEO to narrow the list to three strong-potential contacts that could be approached immediately.

Stage 2: Prospecting

PMT pursued all three accounts to gauge interest. One of the opportunities, involving an electro-mechanical device, became a priority because PMT was already familiar with the specs of the part and knew it would be a good fit for the manufacturer. In addition, a partnership with this account would add long-term value, since MIM had been tried for this part in the past unsuccessfully. PMT recognized the technical challenges and guided the manufacturer in addressing them. It also was able to approach the account with a plan in hand.

Stage 3: Mining

The project is still ongoing. Once the right partner is selected, PMT will get the purchasing, engineering, and quality departments aligned in favor of the manufacturer. This involves traveling to multiple customer locations. PMT will develop a prototype and part-qualification regimen and ensure that the manufacturer realizes the most advantageous part price possible.

Results

If qualification tests are successful, the manufacturer will have a new customer worth $600,000 in sales per year, boosting its turnover by 10%. There is the potential to secure additional business because the manufacturer has been audited, is an approved supplier, and is in line for new RFQs. Another benefit for both the manufacturer and the account: The challenges associated with making the part in MIM will be solved, which helps everyone.

Client #2

Account in the Electrification Business

This account had been producing a discrete part for more than a decade, scaling up over time from 20,000 to 30,000 units per year to current demand of 6 million annually. As quantities rose, it became necessary for the manufacturer to bring its product cost way down. Powder metal fit this scenario well.

Stage 1: Exploration

With its knowledge of both injection molding and die-compaction tool design, PMT was able to review the part drawing tolerances and model, deliberate over the options, and subsequently present a suitable powder metal process to cut costs dramatically.  

Stage 2: Prospecting

Once PMT identified the fabrication process, it proceeded to contact the manufacturer and lay the groundwork for cost-effective part routing. It coordinated with the manufacturer and the account to make sure the part could be capably produced and would meet the requirements of the application.

Stage 3: Mining

PMT knew there was a product pilot test coming up that the part should be in. The tests are done infrequently and are expensive. Because of this knowledge, the manufacturer expedited prototypes to ensure test parts were ready for the pilot builds.

Results

The part passed pilot testing and will go into serial production. This means the account will achieve a significant cost savings. Furthermore, it brings the manufacturer a nice piece of new business.

Client #3

Automotive Part Application

A powder metal manufacturer needed to fill capacity on an idle press. 

Stage 1: Exploration

PMT was working with an account as part of a separate project. During discussions with this account, PMT became privy to a collection of metal parts that, due to size and geometry, would fill idle press capacity at a client’s facility. It connected the powder metal manufacturer with the account and opened communication. The account ended up showing PMT and the manufacturer a whole range of parts that it wanted to cost-reduce. Many of the parts were potential fits for the idle press. 

Stage 2: Prospecting

PMT, working closely with the manufacturer, identified two specific parts, which interface in a small assembly, as being perfect fits.

Stage 3: Mining

PMT plotted out a path to serial production including part development, testing, and production tool orders.

Results

If the final round of testing produces the expected results, the manufacturer will go into serial production, leading to an increase in sales of $900,000 a year. Equally important, the manufacturer will be engaging a press at full capacity and producing a single part in high volume with full automation.

Client #4

Highly Engineered Powder Metal Custom Components

This manufacturer wanted to transition from a job shop (over 250 parts) to producing a select group of high-margin, high-volume, quality-critical custom-engineered components (30 to 50 parts). 

Stage 1: Exploration

PMT was meeting with an account on another matter when it was asked to look at some metal part drawings in the early design stage. The account wanted to know whether the parts could be made from powder metal. PMT said they could, gave a range of budgetary prices, and performed a rudimentary design for manufacture (DFM) on the spot.

Stage 2: Prospecting

At the same time, PMT knew one of its clients, a powder metal manufacturer, was looking to engineer custom parts for the PM process. PMT’s extensive networking and information-gathering often puts it in a position where it can match a manufacturer with an unexpected opportunity quickly, before either company is aware a business relationship makes sense.

Stage 3: Mining

PMT identified two parts that would be viable and helped select the material from MPIF Standard 35: Materials Standards for PM Structural Parts. It went back and forth between the two companies to finalize the design, develop a prototype, test with two different materials, and negotiate pricing that worked for both partners.

Results

At this writing, the manufacturer is at the cusp of serial production on the two parts, which would bring it additional business of $5 million per year. The length of program is anticipated at five years, translating to total program value of $25 million.

Client #5

Legacy Sintered Products Manufacturer

A manufacturer was looking to elevate the quality of its account/customer base.

Stage 1: Exploration

PMT analyzed the manufacturer’s operation, capability, and core competencies. It then identified target industries, customers, and primary end uses that would improve the manufacturer’s operational performance and top-line revenue.

Stage 2: Prospecting

Whenever PMT called on accounts, attended trade shows, or connected with industry experts, it would keep the manufacturer’s list of targeted opportunities on hand. A potential group of applications in the automotive industry was uncovered and PMT called a meeting with the OEM. PMT and the manufacturer ended up quoting 100 parts and getting none of the business. But, over time, a situation came up in which the target account designed a device that was far too expensive to produce. It needed to cost-reduce. A relationship had been established, so the account came to PMT and the manufacturer, knowing their capabilities, engineering expertise, and application knowledge would help solve its problem.

Stage 3: Mining

PMT and the manufacturer provided the account with significant engineering support. They spent two years helping the account develop highly engineered PM parts that pushed the limits of the technology. Automation and special equipment were required to produce the part in volume. PMT and the manufacturer worked closely with the account to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and finally a Long-Term Supply Agreement (LTA) of five to seven years.

Results

Two highly profitable parts are in serial production for an increase of $5 million to $10 million in sales per year for the manufacturer. The potential exists to expand the business, as the same part can be used in two other car models in addition to the one where it is being used now.

Client #6

Manufacturer of Highly Pure Metal Powder

A company had a proprietary metal powder production process that took decades to perfect. The metal particles were required for depositing protective coatings on substrates. This lucrative business was increasingly being impacted by low-cost producers in China. The company knew there was little future in this application. It wanted to replace the declining market with a new application or series of opportunities where it could leverage price and its ability to produce consistent quality powder in volume.

Stage 1: Exploration

PMT worked closely with the powder producer to identify several areas of opportunity and introduce its powders to unforeseen markets. Anticipating new and disruptive primary end uses was the core of the strategy. PMT discovered lucrative white spaces to pursue by compiling reliable and accurate market data, which is notoriously difficult to source through the big research companies. This gave the manufacturer the accurate information necessary for strategic planning and associated equipment buys.

Stage 2 and 3: Prospecting and Mining

In this case, the manufacturer specifically wanted PMT to explore the possibilities for introducing its powders to new markets. Once the Exploration stage was completed, the information was handed over to the company’s sales department in a detailed, action-oriented report. The sales department used the information to pursue new opportunities. 

Results

The manufacturer has been able to replace some of its wavering business with new accounts made possible through PMT’s legwork. It has begun making an extensive investment in expanding its production capacity to meet this new demand.