Volume 13, Issue 2 - March 2012


Striving for Zero
Why Joseph Machine Co. is on a Quest to Reduce Scrap and Save Companies Money

by Tara Taffera

“The next ten years will be ours.”
It sounds like a statement made by the CEO of an up-and-coming start-up. Perhaps you envision it being said by a presidentwith a PhD who has the knowledge and the gusto to set the window industry on fire. It was, however, a phrase uttered two months ago by Joseph Pigliacampo, president of Joseph Machine Co. Pigliacampo started the company in his basement in Dillsburg, Pa., 25 years ago.

Pigliacampo is so proud of his machines, many of which are built by his own hands, and for his “zero-scrap philosophy,” that at age 64, he feels he is just getting started. This Italian-born father of two does neither has a doctorate nor even a college degree. What he does possess is an infectious enthusiasm for his machines and for the manufacturers who buy them.

He’s a humble man who tells you straight out he doesn’t have a formal education. Spend a few minutes with him and you’ll discover Pigliacampo possesses something more valuable—a keen engineering brain and a gift for seeing the future.

“My mind is 20 years ahead,” he says. “Sometimes that’s not good because you are too far ahead and your customers aren’t ready for it.”

"Before the profit was so good for manufacturers that they didn’t pay as much attention but now they know this is serious money. When you have a 100,000- to 200,000-square-foot area and a 10-hour shift, the number you can save is staggering."
—Joseph Pigliacampo, president, Joseph Machine Co.

He tells you, “This is commonsense. I don’t complicate, I simplify … Some people over-engineer.”

Pigliacampo is also a conundrum of sorts. He is very passionate about his quality products and is frustrated when sales go to European suppliers, but then oftentimes, back to Joseph. He proudly pronounces that his products are made in America (though 10 to 15 percent of the machines it sells are made in Europe), and says a European machine wrapped up in a sexy package with more curved lines doesn’t mean it’s better than a USA workhorse. This is all pretty funny when you consider that he’s a European himself. He came to the United States on a boat from Italy when he was 14 and didn’t know a word of English. His father made the journey five years earlier and was supposed to be on the Italian oceanliner, the Andrea Doria, but decided to wait for another ship.

“If my dad hadn’t changed his mind, he could have perished with the 46 people who died. You talk about fate,” he says.

Maybe it’s the smile of fate along with humble beginning that gives him such a love of life, his company, and the people with whom he works. Maybe that is why he now vows to preach his message of zero scrap. He’s always known that this philosophy would save door and window manufacturers gobs of money but he hasn’t spread the word—until now.
Zero Scrap—Fact or Fiction?

Pigliacampo is sure zero scrap is a reachable reality for most companies and he is placing a major emphasis on telling these companies how to get there.

Joseph’s Sanjay Parikh, general manager, explains that tooling issues, rework and human errors generate scrap. The company’s objective is to show window manufacturers how to increase savings by reducing material scrap. Joseph starts companies off in three steps: “Let’s get to 90, then 95, and then some more.”

Pigliacampo wants you to know that zero scrap is definitely a goal that can be achieved easily. By doing so, companies can save at least $800,000 per year (see inforamtion to right).

To get to 90 percent material yield two things are required: automated zero scrap saw and lineal optimization (and other scrap-saving enhancements). So what defines a zero scrap saw? Pigliacampo says it is a double-miter saw that possesses the following features: zero scrap with leading end cut, zero scrap with middle pie piece and zero scrap with trailing end cut. With each cut piece, there should be a loss of only one saw kerf.

The case study outlined on page 29 spells it out. If a company is at 70 percent yield, getting to 90 percent means a savings of about .32 x 20 percent yield improvement x 500 windows x 250 days, which translates into $800,000 savings per year. It’s not a one-time profit either—it’s every year.

“The drop in housing numbers has made people look at this,” says Parikh. “Until growth comes back you want to focus on saving money.”

“It’s good timing for us to be talking about this,” he adds. “Before the profit was so good for manufacturers that they didn’t pay as much attention but now they know this is serious money. When you have a 100,000- to 200,000-square-foot area and a 10-hour shift, the number you can save is staggering.”

According to Pigliacampo, reducing remakes—scrap—requires fail-safe automation and preventative maintenance. The first seems like a no-brainer, right? Surprisingly it is not.

“The industry still has a long way to go,” says Parikh. “Many manufacturers, including the large companies, still settle for manual or semi-automatic systems.”

Viwinco, in Morgantown, Pa., is one company that focuses on automated equipment and has Joseph equipment including welders, corners cleaners, and, of course, a zero-scrap saw.

“We have always gone the extra mile to strive for zero scrap,” says president David Barnes. “We put in zero-scrap machines because you save a lot of money on raw materials due to costs of vinyl and aluminum. When you make hundreds of thousands of windows it saves you a lot of money. It was a major investment originally but it was well worth it.”

Pigliacampo puts it simply. “Machines have to be fast, good Pigliacampo puts it simply. “Machines have to be fast, good and get a lot of numbers out.”

The typical Joseph customer makes $50 million to more than $1 billion in annual sales, but Pigliacampo says a zero-scrap saw can even help the $3 million customer.

So all Joseph customers have a 90 percent yield right? Unfortunately, no, because Pigliacampo himself will tell you the company hasn’t done the best job of publicizing how to do so.

But when Parikh gave a detailed presentation at the January 2012 meeting of the Northeast Window and Door Association regarding zero scrap, Joseph customers and prospects alike took notice, (see page 29).

“Many of our customers had never broken it down,” he says. “Some do implement these philosophies but they realized they can take it even farther.”

“We are getting a lot of inquires as a result of that meeting,” adds Parikh. “One Joseph customer in attendance came to the plant to learn more. He knew he had a problem but he didn’t have the time to focus on it and now he vows to make it a priority.”

The company is also working with a top-five window manufacturer to take its scrap from 90 to 95 percent.

Companies that utilize Joseph’s zero-scrap saw can cut two profiles at the same time.

“If you go from one-piece flow to two, you just doubled your production,” says Pigliacampo.

“This allows for a two-frame minimum or more or four sashes. So you just quadrupled on the sash and doubled the frame.”

When talking about zero scrap Pigliacampo gets very passionate and proclaims, “People talk about green this, hybrid that. This is green. There are millions of dollars we are throwing away on energy.”

Pigliacampo’s message seems to be resonating to others.

“I fully believe in what he has been preaching,” says Parikh.

“We like the whole idea of producing the least amount of scrap for environmental reasons and cost savings,” adds Barnes. “He is right and we should strive for these types of things.”

Joseph introduced the new version of zero scrap—its SFMC machine (step through fabrication and machining center) last September. Remember how Pigliacampo pointed out that two factors are necessary when striving for zero scrap? The new machine will alert an operator when maintenance is required as it’s all servo-driven putting preventative maintenance into practice.

Quanta Technologies, based in Lancaster, Pa., has purchased two SFMC machines, which were set to go online in February.

“This will give us the ability to produce in much larger volumes,” says Jay Reyher, one of the owners.

That’s what matters—companies taking ownership in reducing scrap. If you have a great saw but don’t aim to make zero scrap a priority it won’t happen. “Customers who take ownership have better yield,” says Parikh.

Marketing Weakness
While employees say Joseph’s products will help companies save money, they also possess the advantage of longevity.

“We have a customer who has some of our machines for 25 years and is replacing them now even though they are still working well,” says Pigliacampo. “But the customer thinks it’s time to upgrade.”

This example illustrates another advantage touted by the company—spare parts.

“We are selling very few parts,” says Pigliacampo. “What does that tell you? You break our machines down on spare parts and it’s just crazy. Your inventory just went way down.”

So with all the advantages, why isn’t the company the number-one machinery supplier?

“We have built relationships, but we haven’t maintained relationships,” says Parikh. “As a company, we have failed from the sales and marketing side.”

Parikh offered an example to illustrate the fact, and when he tells the story today he says it still makes him quiver.

“A former customer said to me at an industry event. ‘Do you guys still do vinyl? You only bring aluminum machines to shows. A Joseph representative hasn’t been to our plant in five years,’” he recalls.

Parikh pointed out that, yes, the company makes vinyl machines; in fact, it’s the company’s bread and butter. (Joseph also manufactures machines for aluminum and fiberglass).

“I wanted to kick myself,” he says. “Why are we just taking aluminum machines to many events and why aren’t we visiting existing customers to tell them what else we have to offer?”

“We haven’t done a good job making them aware of what’s available,” he adds. “We have the best saw but we aren’t marketing it … They have our machines and they are having trouble with another vendor but they didn’t that we can still help them.”

The company ended up getting business from this company once it was able to show them what they have to offer.

Swooping Up Business
Pigliacampo stresses that he uses top-quality components in his machines.

“With the top customers we don’t have to talk about the quality. They know it—it’s there,” he says. “But we’re letting someone else do a better job at marketing and advertising … and often times a company comes back to us and say they made a mistake.”

Parikh gives an example of another story that makes him cringe with regret. A customer withdrew an order from a European competitor and came back to Joseph, which it had considered in the first place. Success, right? Not in the least. “That is a failure on our part because he never should have left,” he says.

“I want to prove to people that you don’t have to go to Europe,” adds Pigliacampo.

He points out that the company is known for its machining centers, and in this area others “simply can’t compete.” “We shipped 52 of these in 2006,” he says, with another eight on the plant floor. “That year was the focus on the machining center. No other vendors can touch our machines when it comes to speed and cycle times.”

But 2006 is long gone and instead Joseph is left with a roominess in his plant that still haunts him.

“When we had 60 machines in here we were tripping over each other,” adds Pigliacampo. When I walk to the other part of our plant that is now fairly empty I get depressed,” he says.

His mood quickly lifts when he looks toward the future.

“This year will be the set-up year and then the economy will have a steady climb—but I hope it’s slow. If it’s slow it will be sustainable,” he says.

Whatever is in store for housing and the economy, Pigliacampo says his company is based on a firm foundation.

“We don’t spend what we don’t have,” he says. “I’ll be the last one to go. Period. You won’t find a company as solid as we are.”

“Growth is what we are after now—working harder up front,” says Pigliacampo.

This growth may include some risks but he seems to thrive on this—and he has the next ten years, and then some, to make that happen.


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