Ingadale Industries is a precision machine shop capable of working to tolerances of just 1/1,000th of an inch or less but also offers a diverse range of services including welding, spot-welding and assembly, as well as finishing services such as passivation and painting. It was founded 51 years ago by Bill Mosgol and Rudy Hoevelmann and employs about 80 people.

Michael Porter said that supply chain management strategy defines the connection and combination of activities and functions throughout the value chain in order to fulfill the business value proposal to customers in the marketplace. It could be argued that the most important elements of supply chain management relate to timing and cost. Ingadale Industries began to move towards control of these elements at a time when procurement was just beginning to evolve into supply chain management.

A few decades into Ingadale’s history the shop began to get jobs that were a little more complex such as those from Canadian Marconi that was doing some defence contracting. Co-Founder and General Manager, Rudy Hoevelmann began examining invoices looking for ways to cut costs to be more competitive. Some parts for orders had to be welded and so Hoevelmann sought certifications for steel and then aluminum welding rather than sending the work out. He also found work sent outside for painting and passivating was incurring additional costs and time. It meant that a job requiring these services took some weeks whereas if the they were done inhouse, the work could be completed in a couple of days.

More services began to be provided in-house so Ingadale was reducing lead time (time from order to delivery). They were also more competitive in quoting on jobs because of the cost savings afforded by doing more work in-house. A by-product of adding services was that down time in the new services of painting, passivating and chem film treatment could be reduced by offering these services to other shops. So, painting and passivating began to be done in-house.

Ingadale began to get more complex defence work such as antennas and military boxes. Parts for jobs that Ingadale was working on for Indal Technologies were being sent back to Indal and then out to other suppliers for more work and then back again to Ingadale. It was to both Indal and Ingadale’s advantage to cut down on this back-and-forth process and Ingadale stepped up to the plate. Over the last year Ingadale has added four new CNC machines capable of operations that previously would have had to be sent outside to complete.

Ingadale has multiple sources for the basic raw materials—steel and aluminum and almost all materials are procured domestically. Some services are not practical to bring in-house since they are very specialized. Plating and heat-treating is now only available from just handful of highly skilled providers. This can be a vulnerability in the supply chain not just for Ingadale but for other companies in need of this work. Both Bombardier and Boeing recently established manufacturing facilities in Mexico but had trouble sourcing heat treating and plating. In the end they had to send parts back across the border for these processes incurring more time than had been experienced when their facilities were located in Canada and the United States. Ingadale also has multiple suppliers of these services and they are all domestic.

One good example of the diversity of work Ingadale can do is the DLTV made for Indal. This is a simulated helicopter transport system for testing equipment used to move helicopters on board war ships. (Images here). This entire complex system was completed by Ingadale entirely in-house with the exception of the military spec tires (the same tires used by the helicopters) and the hydraulic components.

Ingadale General Manager, Greg Holdsworth said, “We didn’t think of what we were doing as supply chain management and we didn’t get there by formulating a policy. We did it by looking at separate elements of improving quality and cutting our costs and reducing time to completion.”

One aspect of the supply chain not often considered is the human resource and yet lack of skilled workers is probably the greatest vulnerability for any precision machine shop. Most of Ingadale’s work force is highly skilled and more than half have been with the organization for more than 25 years. Recruitment has been mainly word-of-mouth to date but a succession plan has been formulated for the most senior functions and a more organized approach to recruitment is in the works. Ingadale’s website went live just a little over a year ago and there is a careers section.

Indal Technologies is an internationally recognized supplier of engineered systems and products for advanced naval, marine and aerospace applications. They are one of Ingadale’s biggest customer and have been for some time. Indal has approximately 500 suppliers, a large number for a manufacturing facility of their size. This is because of the amount of custom work they do. Some of Ingadale’s work for Indal falls into the category of Critical Safety Items which have the most stringent requirements. Now with Ingadale adding services for some of these procedures there is less of a need to do this shortening time frames and reducing costs for both Ingadale and Indal. This has further cemented the relationship between the two companies. Indal’s, Jeff Mulligan, Manager Purchasing says that Ingadale is one of just a few top-level suppliers considered as partners. This means cultivating a long-term relationship and viewing Ingadale’s supply chain as a critical component of their supply chain.

Article published in September Issue of Canadian Metalworking.