AccessOptics is a locally-owned, 20-year-old high-tech company that manufactures medical micro-optical devices. With about 30 employees at its Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, facility, AcessOptics investigates and develops advanced materials to produce breakthrough products including nano-based glass-to-metal seals and thousand-cycle autoclavable hermetic assemblies.
With deep technical knowledge and ability, owner Bob Hogrefe built a successful manufacturing business over the course of 20 years. When he had the opportunity to add a new medical micro-optic device to his product portfolio, he was unsure how the process would fit – both physically and logistically – into his existing manufacturing operations. For advice, Hogrefe turned to David Wheeler, a manufacturing extension agent with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, part of the MEP National Network. Hogrefe had worked with Wheeler on many projects and considered the extension agent a trusted advisor.
Bar none, the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance is one of the most supportive, instrumental, guiding elements with an ability to get us where we need to be as a world class, high-tech manufacturer.
Wheeler met with Hogrefe and other company leaders to determine the best ways to integrate a new product line into existing operations. There were several constraints. AccessOptics wanted to minimize the additional factory-space required. It also needed to ensure any new production met its rigorous quality standards and FDA regulations. Wheeler had worked for years to implement an overall Lean Manufacturing program. He would confirm the new processes bolstered those continuous improvement efforts.
Wheeler called on Rajesh Krishnamurthy, an applications engineer with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance. Krishnamurthy designed an expansion arrangement with appropriate equipment that minimized the amount of additional factory space necessary. Much of Krishnamurthy’s work was done virtually, allowing the leadership team to try various layouts without moving large pieces of equipment. The various schemes permitted Wheeler to optimize the new production flow, which seamlessly integrated into the company’s existing continuous improvement processes.