Signature Plant Tours

Signature Plant Tours

SME248 Signature Plant Tour - Spokesman-Review Newspaper Printing Operation

Published on Oct 5, 2012

Spokane's SME 248 held their latest Signature Plant Tour at the Inland Northwest's premier daily newspaper, The Spokesman-Review. (September, 2012).

Spokane SME248 Spokesman Review



Western States Operating Engineers Training Institute

Spangle, WA May 16, 2012

SME 248 recently visited Western States Operating Engineers Training Institute, outside of Spangle, WA, one of the country's best Apprentice Training programs for the operation of heavy equipment including training in excavation, dozing, backhoes, cranes, erection equipment, CDL training, grading, paving, GPS training and much more. Training Coordinator, Bryan Adams and Instructor Clay Simmons explain their operation and the need for valuable, quality trained operators.



SME 248: Western States Tour - Part 1

Bryan Adams, Training Coordinator at Western States, explains how their various programs are designed for Apprenticeship Training and Journeyman continuing education.

SME 248 - Western States Tour Part 2


Clay Simmons, an Instructor at Western States explains how GPS has become such a valued component in road construction today and how he goes about teaching his courses.


SME 248: Western States Tour Part 3



During a Question and Answer Session, Bryan Adams covers topics ranging from the need for Apprenticeship progams such as Western States, the lack of workers entering this field to wages, educational needs, and the options available to high school graduates.
Western States Operating Engineers Training Institute is an interstate licensed college as well as a non-profit organization and trust fund. They are licensed by the authority of the Private Vocational Schools Act, chapter 28C.10 RCW and WAC 490-105.
The school provides Apprenticeship training in the States of Washington and Idaho and has Standards of Apprenticeship approved by both the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council and the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training U.S. Department of Labor. Western States Operating Engineers Training Institute provides Apprenticeship opportunities for skilled Occupational Objectives of the Heavy Duty Mechanic Repairperson, Construction Equipment Operator, Technical Engineer and Hoisting Engineer for the Apprenticeship community.


THANK YOU Buck Knives!
SME Plant Tour
Post Falls, Idaho March 21st

Hoyt Buck started making knives back in 1902. The family tradition of quality,
innovative knives continues today in their new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Post Falls.

On Wednesday evening, March 21st, Buck Knives in Post Falls, opened their doors to 50 plus guests for SME 248's Signature Tour of their plant. While the large turnout challenged them, the guides, Steve Raley and Peter Whittaker did a tremendous job of taking everyone through the many areas of the plant.

Learning that the process of making one knife takes three weeks from start to finish, it became apparent that this was actually a very reasonable timeline considering the multitude of stages the product goes through in order to meet the rigid standards expected in a Buck Knife. The attention to detail was even more impressive when it was learned that people, not just machines, personally review and examine each knife in the process so the highest standards in customer satisfaction are meet on a daily basis. Last year, approximately 1.3 million knives were manufactured, meaning each and every knife was inspected and approved before it went out the door. That, in itself, reflects the commitment to pride, quality and craftsmanship that has made Buck Knives successful.

Through the implementation of world class manufacturing, particularly Lean
Manufacturing, the company has become more flexible and innovative to be able to produce the many product lines that they do, and still be able to mark them with the Made in the USA label.

BUCK KNIVES offers public tours three times a day, Monday through Friday. They are located at 660 S. Lochsa St. in Post Falls, Idaho (between Spokane and Coeur D’ Alene). Take I-90 to Exit 2 (Pleasant View Road), go south to Lochsa, turn right and follow Lochsa to the plant. Visitor parking is available. Call for reservations at 800-326-2825 x172.

REVIEW - LA Aluminum Casting Company - SME/ASM Plant Tour
February 15, 2012
W. 1905 Miles Avenue, Hayden, Idaho
Pride and passion can go a long way towards building a successful business. For LA Aluminum Casting in Hayden, this is the foundation that has helped this company face the recession, compete with offshoring and continue to grow its bottomline and reputation. On Wednesday, February 15th, the Spokane Chapter (#248) of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) hosted their latest Signature Plant Tour in conjunction with the local ASM at the Hayden facility with nearly 50 attendees. Michelle Richter, Sales and Marketing Manager for LA Aluminum, guided the group through all facets of their business.
Family owned since it's inception in 1947, LA Aluminum relocated to Hayden in 1972, taking advantage of the price of land and cost of living advantages in North Idaho. While maintaining diversity with its customer base between commercial and military, LA Aluminum has seen 25% growth in each of the past three years and is on target entering the early part of 2012. As a single source manufacturer, they make their own molds, pore their own aluminum, handle the heat treat process, maintain a full CNC machine shop and custom powder coating line. Core commercial products include dentist office fixtures such as the chairs, armatures and lights. Other industries they service include fuel, oil & gas, steel foundries, wind power and the nuclear industry.
One of their core business contracts is with the U.S. military. LA Aluminum makes the fittings for nearly every fuel and water tank that went to Iraq and Afghanistan. Their unique design, cast-in stainless steel inserts, sets them apart from competitors. Another related segment of their business is the aerospace industry where they make parts for fuel cells that go into nearly every airplane and helicopter flying today. "That business is going nuts, its the hot market right now", states Michelle. As evidence, one customer has already signed on with a 1.5 million dollar contract while a five-year 2.5 million dollar contracts for fuel tanks with another customer is in the works.
As U.S. manufacturing went overseas in the past decade, LA Aluminum was not immune to this issue. However, they have fought back...and succeeded. In recent years, through imporvements in efficiency and productivity, Michelle has brought back about 15 parts from China, touting low costs and quality they can offer in Idaho.
The highlight of the tour was in the foundry room where we were able to see the casting process and making of the molds. A most critical process, the mold coatings which determines the surface finish, was emphasized throughout. This section culminated with a demonstation of dry ice blasting, a unique and critical part of the casting process.
The commitment for doing the right thing was demonstrated and showcased throughout the tour. The high standards LA Aluminum sets for itself and staff shows up in each and every product they make, all the way down the line where quality, efficiency and attention to detail is evident.
The Spokane's SME 248 thanks Michelle Richter and LA Aluminum Casting for sharing their story and manufacturing philosophy through the Signature Tour. As another shining example in local manufacturing in the Greater Spokane-Coeur d'Alene region, LA Aluminum Casting celebrates their 65th year of family ownership knowing their success comes from where it all began, through pride and passion.

SME 248 Plant Tour - LA Aluminum Casting

Review: Haakon Industries - SME Chapter 248 Plant Tour

Held Wed, Jan. 18th, 2012
Cheney, WA

Haakon Industries, a Richmond, BC, Canada company hosted 20 plus SME248 attendees to the first Plant Tour of 2012 on Wednesday evening. While the region's first significant snowfall prevented many from making the trek to Cheney, those who did make it were treated to a 2-hour informative tour within the confines of a company that is bursting at the seams. Situated in a huge building just south of downtown Cheney, Haakon has approximately 180 employees working three shifts plus double-shifts on weekends. They also are leasing a 40,000 sf facility at the Spokane Business and Industrial Park in Spokane Valley where 30 employees are handling part of workload currently on the books.

Haakon Industries' core niche is their ability to design and manufacture custom HVAC systems for a diverse core of businesses. Customers range from schools and smaller industrial complexes to large international corporations all across the country. They take great pride in their ability to address each and every requirement, in particular, clean room applications, where products are designed to the strictest standards and quality control. Simply put, these systems aren't your every day home consumer models. As an example, they build heating and cooling systems with fan sizes ranging from 12 inches in diameter to 54 inches and the complete systems boxes can be just large enough to barely fit on a semi-truck (actually, they are wider than that and require special permits, pilot cars and have minimum limited height clearance requirements.)

Haakon management team members, Todd Schoeder and Matt Brewer (both graduates of Eastern Washington University) gave their time to conduct an in-depth tour of their plant. It was immediately apparent that every aspect of their operation was designed with purpose and intent to maximize their space, personnel and workload. The tour took us from the raw materials of sheet metal and various components to the engineering specs for each project and through the step-by-steps to a self-contained complete system, ready for shipment. Since every project is a custom order, the precise and specific requirements of each customer are checked and double-checked. We were guided through the process of building the fans and boxes; shearing, shaping, bending and forming of the panels, doors and walls; painting and coating along the way; and the assembly of the entire system with piping, coils, lighting, wiring, etc. Through the entire process, each stage has testing protocol in place to ensure all requirements have been met for that particular job.

SME248 thanks Haakon for sharing their knowledge and time with us. The tour showcased Haakon as another example of local manufacturing making a difference with its success here in the Inland Northwest.