Ariel Manufactures 40,000th Compressor

  • About This Video:

    46 years after shipping its first compressor, Ariel is proudly celebrating the manufacturing and shipment of serial number 40,000.

    Running Time: 7:17

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    Karen Buchwald Wright, President and CEO: One of the things that we are here today kind of celebrating is that we are shipping number 40,000. Now, because of the fact that Ariel started in 1966 when I was 12, I do remember building Serial No. 1, and I’ve seen the company from the start.

    Jim Buchwald, Founder: 40,000 is absolutely outrageous. We could not have imagined that. I will tell you that the most satisfaction and the most fun was building number one. Those were the most difficult and impossible challenges. We— well, my partners especially—didn’t think we’d ever get there.

    KBW: The thing that is really fantastic as far as I’m concerned is that I’ve been able to watch this incredible evolution of this company from a basement operation which was very, very small and in which my dad and his partner Jim Doane had to figure out how to be machinists and foundry men and all of those things and teach themselves those skills to what we have today which is a state-of-the-art, incredible factory that really is second to none, certainly in the state of Ohio, and I would pit us against pretty much anyone in the United States as far as manufacturing goes.

    JB: Let me tell you where we were when we started. Our crank case, our crosshead guides, our cylinders guides were all machined—that’s bored, milled, even drilled and tapped—not tapped because we used to hand-tap—they were all done on a 1907 Lucas horizontal boring mill which wasn’t just old but it was completely worn out.  And it took a huge amount of care, because we actually had to make bearing bores pretty accurate—within a half a tolerance. Anything we’ve done since then has been a huge advance.”

    KBW: Part of our success really is related to our workforce because we have people here who take a lot of pride in what they do, who own the product that they make, and who take personal responsibility to have the kind of quality that we are known for, and it isn’t something that you can mandate. It isn’t something that you can pay people enough to do. It’s just something that they want to do and I think that that’s really the secret to our success in a lot of ways.

    Dan Nickells, Assembly Tech: It’s great working on the 40,000 compressor for Ariel. We take pride in each and every one of them, so it will be the same as it is tomorrow.

    JB: It’s a workforce that isn’t that far from the farm. Even though they might be generations away, there’s still that sense of coming to work in the morning, getting the job done, and doing it well. They have, with only a slight amount of encouragement and maybe a little bit of laxity on our part, have decided that they will produce the best quality product in the world, the best thing ever. Nobody has to tell them to do that anymore.

    KBW:The other thing is that we’re grounded in this community. It’s a small town. It’s rural America. As my dad mentioned, it’s also sort of that farming philosophy which is that you figure out how to make things work, and, if you don’t have something, you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy it. You figure out another way to get there. And I think that that has also lead to our sensibility as far as service and support goes, because we’re not making consumer goods. We’re making something that is supposed to last for 50 years. And so, one of the things that’s really important, if it says Ariel on the side, it doesn’t matter how long it’s been out there or who owns it, we will be there to fix it if there’s a problem, and that’s because we feel a real sense of ownership and responsibility, and we take a lot of pride in making sure that our equipment is the best always in the field and in any application.

    JB: The assembly people make sure that the machine that goes out the door is without flaw and it works well. That’s not industry practice—not even close to industry practice. The people themselves in the machine shop make sure that the quality of their product is something they can be proud of. We let that happen, but, mostly, they made that happen.

    Brian Smith, Assembly Tech: Quality and precision are a main part of building an Ariel compressor. If you don’t have precision, you don’t have quality. You are very precise on everything. The Ariel compressor is the number one compressor in the world, so that’s our quality.

    KBW: You know, today, we’re operating six shifts, so it’s 24/7 operation. And so the machine tools that we have today, they’re operating non-stop. They’re getting worn out faster, and so it becomes even more imperative that you really think about what’s the most efficient way to make things and how are you going to gradually replace those machine tools, how you’re going to upgrade that plant, and we have that going on all of the time, and it’s really amazing how the guys that work here figure out how to make that incredible constant evolution and process improvement.

    JB: You cannot help but be proud of what we’ve done—not just that we’ve commanded the market, but we’re doing it with a really well-done piece of machinery.

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