by Mary Scianna
Diversify into more complex machining work
Purchase high end five axis machining centre
Alberta machine shop readies itself to break into complex aerospace, oil and gas markets with new simultaneous five axis machining centre
When Luke Nguyen makes up his mind to do something, there’s no turning back. So when Nguyen decided to form his own machine shop, HQ Industries, Edmonton, AB, in 2006, he decided to purchase equipment and then go after business.
“You need to have the equipment to get the work; you just can’t do it the other way around.”
Lucky for him, his decision has paid off. Within six months of forming the business, he had purchased six CNC machines.
“The demand was there for more machines and my strategy has always been that when I commit to something I strive to do it right and make the best product possible. I had a customer in the oil and gas industry, a manufacturer of down hole tools, and he needed work and we wanted to ensure we supplied him with the quality parts he needed.”
His strategy to make customers happy is a simple, but effective one that has carved a path to success. When HQ Industries began machining parts for the downhole tool manufacturer, it was one of 30 suppliers.
“Within a few months we had climbed up to the top 15 suppliers. With a quality management system in place and a good quality policy, today we rank fifth globally with this customer. Our non-conformance rate is a consistent 0.01 per cent,” says Nguyen.
Today, HQ Industries is a busy, 22,000 sq ft machine shop. Forty people work in the machine shop operating the 20 CNCs, including three vertical machining centres. The most recent investment is the Matsuura MX-520 simultaneous five axis machining centre.
True to form, Nguyen purchased the five axis machine not because he had to meet customer demands, but because he wanted to diversify into markets requiring more complex work. “With the purchase of the Matsuura MX-250, we will be working with complex machining. This will give us the cutting edge in manufacturing and new technology, which will widen our scope and customer base.”
Nguyen says five axis machining is better designed for complex work for aerospace and oil and gas. “We currently machine to complex specifications, which require three to four operations and fixtures on the vertical machining centre. The Matsuura five axis capabilities will eliminate use of fixtures and decrease operations to one.”
When Nguyen formed HQ Industries back in 2006, he did the programming for lathes and mills. Today, “our highly skilled foremen currently do the programming, which allows me to focus on other areas of the business.”
Nguyen credits his success to his ability to work hard and his financially conservative nature. He began working in machine shops in 1993 sweeping floors, “and I worked my way up. I managed a machine shop, comparable to the size of HQ Industries; there was a lot of pressure. I thought if I went out on my own I could take it easy,” he says with a laugh, noting the irony of thinking he would be “taking it easy” operating his own business.
He began business in a 2,300 sq ft shop and within five years was operating out of a 12,000 sq ft facility. In September 2012, he moved to the existing 22,000 sq ft facility.
When Nguyen decided to invest in five axis machining he had many expensive options. He wanted a high end machine but didn’t want to invest millions of dollars in the technology, “so I chose the Matsuura, which is a high end machine, however I selected the smaller model. I use caution when purchasing new equipment. If the equipment proves its investment, I can acquire more.” SMT