Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - 111

T&D Metal Products

rication of components. Dittrich says the company's
customer base ranges from small players to global organizations such as AT&T, Ford and Caterpillar.
"Our largest customer today is only 12 percent of our
total sales," Dittrich says. "We're very diversified in our
mix as far as our product offering and our customer
base, as well."

Better Than One
Although the company faces stiff competition in every
market segment it serves, Dittrich says T&D Metal
Products distinguishes itself through its willingness to
collaborate with customers beyond simply taking a
design and making a part. Although many manufacturers are content to simply take a customer's design and
put it into production, no questions asked, T&D Metal
Products takes a more hands-on approach that considers every aspect of the component.
"We really try to move from concept to completion
on any kind of part," Dittrich says. "We don't consider
customers customers - we consider them partners."
T&D Metal Products has the capability to perform a
lot of engineering work by collaborating with their customers, both small and large. By collaborating on the
front-end of a project using a "collaboration equals
innovation" approach it gives the customer the ability
to identify areas in which it could improve the design
and save time and money. For example, Dittrich says the
company regularly works with major customers such as
Caterpillar, John Deere, Komatsu and others. Recently,
they saved one of these large companies nearly $6 million a year on one set of parts by examining the production process on a series of components and identifying
ways to simplify its production. The company also collaborated with another large customer on a cab door
design that reduced the number of fabricated parts, the
amount of welding and grinding required, along with
improved logistics.

Midwest

ture of its operations and make it easier to update customers on the status of their projects, he adds.
Having that type of up-to-the-minute view of its
entire operations has become more important in recent
years, as more customers are trying to divest themselves of inventory. Dittrich says many customers are
attempting to convert their manufacturing to a just-intime model, which makes it easier for them but places
greater pressure on suppliers like T&D Metal Products.
"I think every company today is putting more pressure
on their suppliers to do more for less," he says. "In turn,
this often has the same effect on employees."
Despite the challenges that come with customers'
changing needs and the changing nature of manufacturing, Dittrich says T&D Metal Products anticipates a
great deal of growth in 2014 and beyond. The fact that
the company can work closely with customers in a variety of sectors with the same level of effectiveness
means there will be plenty of opportunities with its
core customers as well as with new ones. "I think we're
going to continue to diversify our customer base,"
Dittrich says. mt

Always Changing
Dittrich says keeping up with the ever-changing conditions of the manufacturing world is the biggest challenge for T&D Metal Products or any supplier. He says
part of his job as one of the company's leaders is making
sure the internal culture is one that is ready for change
and can accept it without resistance or hesitation.
One of the most prominent ways T&D Metal
Products is preparing itself for change is through technology. Dittrich says the company is in the process of
installing a new enterprise resource planning system,
which it expects to have up and running by mid-2014.
The new system should give the company a clearer picJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 manufacturing-today.com

111


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014

Table of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - 1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - 2
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - Table of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - 4
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