Taking Control of Barrel Blank Production | Case Study
Match Grade Machine, a specialty manufacturer of standard and custom single shot rifle and pistol barrels, stands out in their industry for their exceptional accuracy and attention to detail, complimented with a proven record for fast delivery to customers’ hands.
UNISIG Solution: Firearms Industry Production Cell
Match Grade Machine, a specialty manufacturer of standard and custom single shot rifle and pistol barrels, stands out in their industry for their exceptional accuracy and attention to detail, complimented with a proven record for fast delivery to customers’ hands. The reputation of their products, as well as their high level of customer service and responsiveness, is vital to their long standing success and brand integrity.
Dylan Sip, owner of Match Grade, is always conscious of opportunities to improve his company and advance their balance of brand and product values. Being able to offer top quality barrels, at a competitive price point, with the fastest lead times to market is what has earned them their place in the market.
As Match Grade grew as a company, the hurdle of barrel blank procurement became more and more apparent. Sip and his team were at the mercy of a large, outside supplier, forcing Match Grade to work with limited control of product and process, creating a challenge to sustain their top product values.
Working with a barrel supplier was the largest pain point of their entire operation. Because Match Grade produces lower volume, high-specialty rifles, they were buying a large variety of sizes, but at smaller quantities, excluding them from some volume price breaks. The nature of their supplier relationship also had them dealing with long lead times, limited availability, and low-priority customer service. Additionally, barrel blanks from their supplier were shipped at a different quality standard, so Match Grade’s team occasionally rejected products, creating additional operational frustration.
Using an outside barrel supplier was holding them back and using up valuable company resources. To meet their industry demands and uphold their manufacturing priorities, bringing machines in house was the only solution. Sip immediately began to evaluate options, and UNISIG’s gundrilling, reaming, and rifling machines quickly stood out to meet Match Grade’s needs. Choosing UNISIG, and justifying the capital investment, was obvious to Match Grade, once they considered all the factors.
“No other company offers the full service, from machine, to process collaboration, and thorough support. When we went to visit the facility, the choice was clear. I could actually see it when I went out there.”
Being a small company, an investment in capital equipment must be a carefully considered decision with strong risk justification. Match Grade reviewed their numbers, and the benefit was clear – they would be able to effectively finance the new machines, purchase their material and tooling, allocate operating resources to run production, and still save overall costs. The investment in UNISIG would enable them to not only meet, but exceed, their manufacturing goals, and, Sip estimates, double their net worth as a leading specialty firearms company.
Match Grade initially ordered two UNISIG firearms industry machines, which are installed and currently operating in their Utah facility. Bringing production and manufacturing control in house has eliminated both the lead time and quality issues brought on from using an outside supplier. They are achieving top quality barrels from the cell, while having both the capability for full production, and the flexibility to meet the specific demands of their customers. They are able to make what they need, when they need it, with confidence in top quality parts.
“I don’t have to change my tooling and process to accompany flaws or lower quality standards, because we’re not dependent on a barrel blank supplier, and whatever they ship us.” Sip comments.
By working with UNISIG on process collaboration, they have also experienced significant operational improvements. They are consistently holding better tolerances and minimizing wasted material, and have improved their cycle time. Sip also notes the intuitive operation of the machines, which allows a rapid learning curve and flexibility for operators, even when dealing with a varying range of calibers.
Match Grade’s experience with the UNISIG machines has been overwhelmingly positive. Sip adds that a standout feature is how easy operation is, allowing even brand new machinists to run the cell with confidence and achieve the superior accuracy that the machines are capable of. The machines relieve some of the effort of setup, programming, and troubleshooting, allowing the team to optimize their resources, including improving processes, developing new products, and getting finished product to market sooner.
Sip also added that maintenance was also impressively easy.
“Everything is thought through really well. UNISIG knows what they are doing. It’s clear that this wasn’t the first draft of these machines.
UNISIG really keeps us up and running. They stand behind the machines. They’ve proved that to me.”
The effect on Match Grade Machine’s overall manufacturing operations has been impressive, and their UNISIG machine cell is fueling growth of both their capacity and demand. Match Grade has since added a third UNISIG machine to their cell, improving their production throughput even further, and continuing to secure their place as a leader in their own industry.