Tag Archives: Vasko Popovski

Applied Process’ Customers ARE our focus.

Yes, you’ve heard that Applied Process’ mission is to “grow the pie”, and that’s true.  You’ve heard that we’re “passionate people providing innovative Austempering solutions”, and that’s true.  You may have also heard that we provide the highest quality Austempering services available ANYWHERE, on time and at competitive prices.  These define WHAT we do and, perhaps, HOW we do it, but WHY do we do those things?  It is because we are passionate about seeing our customers succeed and our success grows from theirs.

 Applied Process recently invited 16 people representing 10 customers to a one-day “customer advisory board”.  Now we all think we know what our customers need and want, but how often do we REALLY ask them?  How many requests do you get for surveys?  How many to you either throw in the trash or click out of?  So when 16 people give up their valuable time to give us unvarnished feedback we listen. This blog is not the place to go through all of their affirmation and critique, but we thank the participating customers for their full and honest feedback.  Suffice it to say that we have a clear picture of what our customers want more of, and what they could use less of.  Now it is our job to act to become continually better at meeting their needs.  Why?  Because our business comes from THEM.  If our objectives/strategies align with theirs then we can all work together to grow the pie profitably.

 Our Technical Sales Group Leader, Vasko Popovski, and our Executive Administrative Assistant, Cindy Duman, did a masterful job of arranging and executing the “customer advisory board” event and we’re certain it won’t be our last.  Hats off also to Nedra Sadorf of Hunter Business ( www.hunterbusiness.com ) for her masterful facilitation of the meeting.

 Why do we do what we do?  Because what we do is help our customers create new opportunities to make things better, faster, cheaper and more sustainably.  And by making them successful, we become successful.  They want more of that….and we’re prepared to give it. 

Applied Process Inc. is Ringing in the New Year

Happy 2012!  Applied Process is ringing in the new year in a big way.  We raised our glasses and toasted a record 2011 and up and down the manufacturing landscape 2012 looks even better.  For all this we are very grateful…..but we’re not sitting still.  We’ve expanded capacity steadily over the last 18 months and are anxiously awaiting the commissioning of our Monster Parts™ Division.

The Monster Parts™ furnace equipment was arriving at Oshkosh this week and, lo and behold, the first truck led with a Hostile Duck hood ornament. Coincidence?  I think NOT!  After all, we are the HOME of Hostile Duck Iron™.

And what is that, literally, streaking across the Wisconsin sky?  It’s not a bird.  It’s not a plane.  It’s SUPER TANK capable of holding 200 tons of molten salt in a single charge!  (Soon you’ll be able to view the adventure of the Monster Parts™ line on YouTube…..stay tuned).  The Monster Parts™ furnace line will be commissioned in a few months and will be capable of running gross loads of up to 10 tons…..or skads of rangey parts up to 250 cubic feet per load.  When we say it’s a MONSTER, we mean it……and the MONSTER is coming soon.

We’re also pleased to announce (effective 31 December 2011) the sale of our AP Suzhou (China) facility to our minority partners David Chang and Andy Chen.  The Suzhou facility will be re-branded “Suzhou ADI” and, with its sister plant, Jilin ADI, will operate under technical license to Applied Process Inc..  We’re growing the pie east and west!

Dr. Kathy and the R&D crew, Vasko Popovski and the sales team and the Plant Manager Steves (Sumner, Metz and Gladieux) are working on lots of great new cost and energy saving conversions.  Since “lightweighting” is the new buzzword in the transportation industries we’re taking the lead, helping to develop cost effective, lightweight components in ADI, LADI,  Austempered and Carbo-Austempered™ steel.

We read the paper and listen to the talking heads on the news and we sometimes forget to look around us and see what’s really happening.  Some say “we don’t make anything here any more”.  They are misinformed.  We manufacture more stuff in the USA than any other country…….and it’s not even close.  Right now if you are in a US business involved in agriculture, mining/energy or manufacturing, times are pretty good……and getting better.  New, clever, equipment designs are increasing productivity on farms and in factories and making US made goods more competitive in foreign markets.  Those wealth-producing segments of the economy (ag, mining/energy and manufacturing) are the source of the nation’s wealth…….and they are rising even against strong tax and regulatory head winds.  What we do….Austempering…..is a process step in those segments.

Our mission is to “Grow the Pie”.  So the next time somebody asks me what I do for a living I could give them my elevator speech; “I’m in the heat treating business.  I specialize in the Austempering process.  I get paid to heat treat people’s parts.  But what I really do for a living is help customers convert components from one material process combination to a better, faster, cheaper one”.  Or it might just be easier to say; “I’m in manufacturing.  Creating wealth right here in the USA…..care to join me?”.  Now if the politicians would just get out of our way…..

Grab your torches and pitchforks! The MONSTER is coming!

We were working in the lab, late one night,

When our eyes beheld an AWESOME sight,

When the MONSTER we created began to rise,

Then suddenly to our surprise…….

There’s a Monster coming!  With Halloween just around the corner it seems fitting that I’d be talking about a MONSTER in this blog.  It’s not some gored zombie, or Sasquatch, or Frankenstein (although it’s big and has bolts in its neck).  It’s not even organic, although we’re breathing life into it now.  It’s the Monster Parts™ furnace that’s dwelling in Oshkosh……and it’s a MONSTER.  With a footprint that is 7ft x 8ft and the ability to swallow ten tons in one sitting it’s the largest integral quench atmosphere batch furnace in the world.  Oh, and did we tell you that it has a salt quench?

Long in the making, this MONSTER will allow us to Austemper steel and iron parts heretofore not possible.  The furnace design required extensive (and close) teamwork between the Applied Process companies (www.appliedprocess.com) and AFC-Holcroft (www.afc-holcroft.com).  As described by AFC-Holcroft’s Bill Disler, “This project was a collaborative effort between AFC-Holcroft’s engineering and production staff and the engineering and plant services staff at the Applied Process companies”.  And here’s the cool part.  The Monster Parts™ furnace will run all the stuff that our customers now have AND adds the capability for us to run large and heavy steel, iron and Austempered Ductile Iron (ADI) parts.

The Monster Parts™ furnace will be capable of heating the parts in a carburizing or neutral atmosphere.  The recovery rate and temperature uniformity will meet or exceed that of our existing lines…..in a big way.  Quite frankly, this furnace is awesome.  Our Technical Sales Group Leader, Vasko Popovski says that “the new furnace means the engineering community is now freed from the overwhelming reliance on large-scale steel components in favor of less costly and lighter ADI components”.  Think about it; weldments, stampings, forgings all machined and welded together to make a large, gangly component.  Replace that with a one-piece, elegant ADI casting.  Wow!  That being said, this line will also carburize and/or neutral harden big steel stuff too.

This furnace line will give Applied Process a unique opportunity to work with engineers, buyers and the management of manufacturers to develop new, cost-effective conversions of large parts….Monster Parts™…and will increase our capacity to process conventional Austempering work.  We’ve been anxiously awaiting this MONSTER…..and now it’s coming.  Trick or Treat

If we haven’t scared you away yet you can contact Vasko at vpopovski@appliedprocess.com and he’ll be glad to listen to your scary story.

Applied Process- Austempering Innovation with a Customer Value Orientation

The Applied Process family of companies just concluded a record fiscal year.  It didn’t happen by accident.  It took the focus, energy and commitment of our employees and licensees worldwide.  Excuse me for waxing sentimental, but I’m certain that we’ve got the best team ON THE PLANET.

Now, if you think I’m just blowing smoke, consider this.  During a recent in-person customer survey the quality executive at a major international axle and suspension company stated “it is clear from the efforts that the folks at AP have made that they are focused on being a value-minded supplier”.  You couldn’t phrase it any better.  The customer has high praise for our AP Livonia team and makes no bones about sharing it.  That is not just a satisfied customer.  That is a loyal customer, and AP works 24-7 to continually earn that loyalty.

Recently, Henry Frear, one of our Sales Engineers, teamed up with one of AP’s foundry customers and engaged a prospective component supplier.  They defined a serious life problem with the incumbent consumables used in certain large recycling machines.  Henry saw the opportunity to help this customer solve this problem and he ran with it.  He consulted with the customer on the part design and the target material/process combinations.  Henry returned to his alma mater, University of Wisconsin- Platteville, and with the help of students Joe Gray and Philip Aliota, they modeled, machined and finished a multiple cavity pattern and produced 200lb chemically bonded sand molds.  With the assistance of the AP Tech R&D crew, the molds were poured in alloyed ductile iron at the Joyworks studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The parts were then cut off, cleaned and sent to Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Faced with a testing deadline, the AP Westshore team got the numerous iterations of parts Austempered and shipped to the test site on the west coast

As I write this blog the parts are on test.  The customer explained to us that the regular life of those parts is 3 days.  The parts currently on test will soon enter their third week of testing.  The customer also indicated that the superiority of this new Austempered product could have them (happily) increasing their production plan by over 10 times……so much so that he questions if the casting supplier will be able to manage the volumes.  (That’s the kind of problem that particular foundry would LOVE to manage).  AP’s Technical Sales Group Leader, Vasko Popovski described this as “a total team effort”.

Each of these stories is unique, but together they form the character of Applied Process.  We are passionate people providing innovative Austempering solutions…….and, BOY, am I proud of our team.