50 Years of Change in the Spring Industry by John Higgins, Ace Wire Spring & Form Co., Inc. Springs Magazine - Fall 2012
We have seen a lot of changes in the spring manufacturing industry over the years. Leading this change has been innovation. Everything about springmaking comes down to one purpose, to help solve a problem and fill a need. The need can range from a tiny spring in a medical device to a huge spring used in the railroad industry. As much as you hear the saying, “a spring is a spring is a spring is a spring,” every need for a spring is unique, and the process of getting that need filled involves many different types of people, machinery, and technology. Years ago, this industry’s process was very different from today's.
We started in the industry with a small coiling machine making garter springs by hand. The owner, Joseph Vodvarka, was a machinist, working hands-on in the upstairs room of his house, which was converted into a small office / shop to produce the garter springs needed at the time.
Years later, with a little expansion and new building, we were able to make room for more advanced machines. Using the lathe machines, our efficiency improved greatly, allowing us to create more quality springs in a shorter period of time, and to deliver a product needed by the customer sooner. Also, with this advance in the use of technology, our skilled technicians who operated the equipment could use their training to further their expertise, allowing the quality of the product to continue to improve.
Recent innovations continue to impact the production of springs. CNC machines and computer technology have allowed us to continue to improve efficiency. Now machines can run up to 30 tasks at one time to help create the spring solution needed, while still keeping the high quality standards the end user expects. Job runs have shortened even further, helping to increase cost savings passed on to the customer. Our craftsmen continue their training, learning more about the machines and the computer technology that run them. The need for continual training, such as what goes into making a spring and the devices we can use to make them, has become a high priority. This is another advance not thought of in the past.
There have been advances in customer service, including design engineering assistance and more communication with the customer. Software designed specifically for engineering a spring is used to help our design engineers work with the customer to find the optimal spring product needed. With technology and exchanges of information, needs can be communicated instantaneously, giving us the ability to work with the customer to find the best design for their spring, and how it will help fill their need. Information resources readily available, such as Springs magazine, help us keep up on current industry trends and state-of-the-art pioneering techniques and assist us with solving our customers’ needs while moving forward with future improvement.
With all this incredible innovation, and all the technological advances we have had the privilege to see and experience, the goal of creating a spring for our customers’ needs has never changed. That passion of design, excitement of creation, and satisfaction of helping solve a customer’s problem and fill their need continues on today. It just moves a little faster, with more knowledge, more communication and more variety of production opportunities. We can only imagine what will happen in the next fifty years.