VOL. 14 November ISSUE YEAR 2013
in Vol. 14 - November Issue - Year 2013
Business Built On The Foundation Of Passion, Innovation And Commitment
Mr. Branko Cvetkovic, owner of the Massfin.ca and Massfin Aerospace Company
MFN had the opportunity to interview Mr. Branko Cvetkovic, owner of the Massfin.ca and Massfin Aerospace Company.
(?) MFN: Mr. Branko, how do you consider innovation?
(!) B. C.: Massfin is focused on bringing full solutions to the industry. Therefore, the engineering purpose for Massfin is to combine innovations in equipment, media, process design and control that will allow our customers to bring added value to their own customers.
(?) MFN: From where do initiatives for innovation arise?
(!) B. C.: The best innovation comes when they start from the customer perspective. We put ourselves in the customer's shoes and have empathy for their situation and perspective. With acquired knowledge throughout the years in the automotive and aerospace industries, we initiate and offer new technology processes and ideas to our customers. Massfin is constantly conducting test trials in shot peening and vibratory finishing, and developing new processes for our customers.
(?) MFN: Could you disclose more?
(!) B. C.: Innovation is a hot topic in a highly competitive and globalized world. Most of the projects start from a basic question from an industrial company with roots into the end user's requirements that are the "engines" of industrial progress and have to go throughout the marketing, finance and many other filters before reaching industrial plants with rather high stakes. For instance, Massfin is working on the application of ceramic shot, using Gostol TST advanced wheel turbine equipment for critical engine and transmission components. In the relatively short term, this should lead to significant design improvement and cost reduction.
(?) MFN: There is an impressive list of Massfin references and partners. Have you started any new partnerships recently?
(!) B. C.: Yes, we have. Innovation from Massfin is based on real partnerships with leaders in their market on the customer's side as well as the supplier's side. In the previous example, the customer is a global leader as a tier one supplier for car manufacturers, and Frohn is the ceramic shot supplier cooperating with the world leader in Zirconium-based ceramics.
(?) MFN: What are the advantages with ceramic shot?
(!) B. C.: The main one is the possibility of doing what conventional types of shot cannot. For instance, avoiding post-cleaning or finishing operations, efficiently cleaning or descaling without deformation of the thin components, removing machine wear, creating specific surface topography for coating adhesion or dynamic contact properties improvement, bringing a high level of residual compressive stress at the surface and keeping the compressive depth without roughening the surface, and peening of hidden or difficult access surfaces...
(?) MFN: Are there some limitations with ceramic shot?
(!) B. C.: Since ceramic media are only 30 years old in the market, their properties and behavior do not belong to common knowledge. Ceramic media are also the most expensive in the market. Most of the limitations come from this. For instance, the third ceramic shot generation is much harder (1000 HV) and tougher than the previous ones, allowing heavy duty works with wheel turbine equipment and significant cost reduction despite its purchasing price.
(?) MFN: What is the payback for that kind of innovation?
(!) B. C.: Massfin has proven through its successful history in mass production environment, that when you bring less capex (equipment, tooling...), less opex (hand work, energy, spare parts, dead production time, scraps, maintenance costs...), less material for the same or better component performance, the payback for the customer is not a matter of years but months!
(?) MFN: What would you describe as Massfin specialty in the shot-peening process?
(!) B. C.: I can say freely that we are very good in solving the issues that forging or sinter-forge companies have in the shot-peening process. Any parts that are produced/forged in short cycle times and in millions of parts per year need special attention and approach with this process. This year, it is estimated that close to 60M connecting rods worldwide will be forged and shot-peened, regardless of the method of manufacturing. Gears are also in this category.
(?) MFN: What is the level of North American OEM and Tier 1 company's integrating shot peening in the early stage of the structural and mechanical parts design?
(!) B. C.: We do see spring and bar manufacturers taking further actions in using shot peening in early steps of designing new products. This allows them to produce lighter parts, use less material, and not compromising on quality and performance. I believe that the majority of our North American customers think of the shot-peening process as an additional security factor. It is our goal, through MFN teaching, that the engineering personnel have heightened awareness of the shot-peening process and potential. Cars could be lighter and use less gas. This also applies to all transportation means.
(?) MFN: Is Massfin bringing anything new in vibratory finishing technology?
(!) B. C.: We are fortunate that our main partner in Vibratory Finishing technology is Walther Trowal GmbH. Walther Trowal is an 81-year-old vibratory finishing company with a proven track record of providing a total solution in the automotive and aerospace industries. They recently developed a new type of vibratory machine with unique movement of media that surpasses any existing vibratory machine type in speed and even material removal. It has quite spectacular performance. Their location in Grand Rapids MI, and with one of the best test labs in the industry, allows us to process all test trials in record time and serve customers rapidly and efficiently. We are actively gaining knowledge and experience in the vibro-peening process, which will find applications in the aerospace industry.
(?) MFN: How would you describe the state of the aerospace industry in NA?
(!) B. C.: If we read Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, and the rest of the aircraft manufacturers forecasts, we can be assured of steady growth in the aerospace industry in the next 15 to 20 years. Their estimate is a total of 30.000 new aircraft needing to be delivered till 2031, with market value over 4 trillion dollars!
(?) MFN: This situation certainly creates the opportunity!
(!) B. C.: Yes, it does. We are witnessing aerospace manufacturers and airline companies worldwide dealing with complex dynamics on all aspects of manufacturing and maintenance of aircraft. During the last MRO show in Atlanta (the largest aerospace MRO show in NA), major talk was that MRO companies need to offer value and flexibility to balance the challenging environment. Innovation in processes, use of new technologies in surface finishing, and high quality of the equipment are a must today. We are very proud that with our partners, we can offer all of these to our customers.
(?) MFN: Do opportunities exist in the automotive industry?
(!) B. C.: Absolutely. This industry is on the path to recovery. It will take several years to reach levels of 2007/8 in car manufacturing production. More than ever, we see the need to work very closely with customers and deliver exactly what they need in terms of the process and machinery.
(?) MFN: Can you describe the general level of knowledge of your customers in the mass-finishing process/technology?
(!) B. C.: It is hard to point to a single customer and answer this question. Generally, after the crisis in automotive and aerospace industries in 2008, many people with very good knowledge in mass finishing lost their jobs. Today, we find an increased need to work with and educate the customer on mass finishing and provide them with solutions. Selling cycle times are longer, but it is rewarding because relationships are created and trust established. MFN plays a crucial role in mass-finishing education and I am proud to be an MFN trainer for Canada.
(?) MFN: What is the strength of the Massfin.ca and Massfin Aerospace?
(!) B. C.: Good question. I will try to explain it this way. First - while I was working for one global tier automotive parts manufacturer, I was a customer of the shot-peening/blasting equipment, vibratory finishing equipment and consumables and automation manufacturers. Second - I was directly involved in the manufacturing of highly sophisticated shot-blasting machines; third - when I lost my job, I worked for one of the world's largest mass-finishing manufacturer as sales manager for Canada. Now, Massfin is providing our customers with consulting, engineering, and sales and service of high quality mass-finishing machines and consumables. Our strength is the ability to clearly understand our customer and their customers' needs.
(?) MFN: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge in the relationship of suppliers and their customers?
(!) B. C.: What I found over the years is that most of the manufacturers' representatives and sales engineers do not listen well. The majority of the business models of mass-finishing companies today is built on the spare parts business model, and that creates challenges in customer relations. Past experience helps me a lot. Our business model is not built on the spare parts business model. Being a Maintenance Manager Professional helps me to understand the customer's needs and maintenance issues very well.
(?) MFN: How important are relations with business partners?
(!) B. C.: We carefully chose our business partners and machine suppliers. I have already mentioned Walther Trowal, Gostol TST, Frohn, United Surface Solution, Wet Technologies and Kromas. These are the company's with short reaction time and are very nimble due to their organizational skills, size and geographical location. We do have high mutual respect and excellent relations with our suppliers and these are reflected in our capability and ability to serve our customers on time and with the right solutions.
(?) MFN: Mr. Branko, thank you for your time, and we wish you and Massfinn great success in the future.