See how this cold-formed components manufacturer has become a leader in the industry in just a decade.
The idiom “nuts and bolts” refers to the basics of something—so let’s get down to the nuts and bolts about nuts and bolts. They’re the pieces of many products and literally hold our lives together. Once you strip away everything else and are left only with the nuts and bolts, there’s one company that comes to mind.
Acument Global Technologies is a Fontana-family company that designs and manufactures screws, nuts, bolts, and other cold-formed components. With customers in 35 countries worldwide and 11 distribution and manufacturing facilities spanning North America, the company and its approximately 2,000 employees make sure they are positioned to meet all of their client bases’ wants and needs.
Customers count on Acument to help their designers and engineers create best in class products. The company is also well known for some of the longest-standing and most trusted brand names in the industry, including the trademarked Camcar®, Ring Screw, TORX®, STRUX®, and Mag-Form®.
But don’t pigeon-hole Acument as just a manufacturer.
“We don’t consider ourselves just a maker of products,” shared the company’s Vice President of Quality, North American Operations, Rocky Pinheiro. “We’re problem solvers. Acument’s goal is to seek out and talk to customers in the product development stages to help them solve their problems for a better quality performance on their end. We don’t want to just have our customers come to us, we want to anticipate their needs. And I think Acument does a good job of that.”
Acument, previously known as Textron Fastening Systems, was re-branded in 2006 and has been operating under the Acument moniker since. The company has persevered through one of the most difficult economic downturns in recent history.
“The strategy that has driven Acument’s success over the past decade has been diversification, both with our product line and our people in terms of the skills they bring to the table,” Pinheiro said. “We have employees with diverse backgrounds and skillsets, which have been immensely beneficial to the business.
“After the manufacturing downturn of 2008/2009, we had to become all things to everyone in the industry to survive. But we learned through this that we are good at it—Acument has thrived by offering a wide range of products.”
The last 10 years have been about diversification, but the goal for the future is increased productivity throughout the business. With a continuing practice of integrating lean manufacturing, great suppliers and a strategy of technology investments from top floor to shop floor, Acument is well on its way to meet this goal.
Acument has been committed to lean strategies throughout its processes since 2008. The strategy is so engrained in the company’s goals that Pinheiro shared it wasn’t just a strategy, but the biggest driver of Acument’s company culture.
“Lean practices are a constant balancing act of strategic thinking and tactical thinking,” he said. “By applying lean practices to everything from the day-to-day aspects of running the business to decisions made at a high level, it gives the employees a good sense of security in the business’s ability to perform even in the toughest of times.
“Because of the recession there has been uncertainty in the world of manufacturing. But we’re here to stay.”
This long-term plan for lean implementation is headed off by Tim McNelis, Acument Global Technologies’ Director of Lean Manufacturing. He is currently focused on implementing a thorough lean manufacturing system. Through quality data collection and problem-solving, McNelis sees quality trends in performance and is able to make decisions based off of the collected information.
“We’ve been driving down the never-ending lean road for over eight years,” McNelis shared. “I think one of our biggest lessons learned is that a lean culture is driven from the top down by leaders who consistently lead by example.”
In the past decade, Acument’s leadership has proven its obligation towards lean manufacturing. The company’s CEO for the last five years, Patrick Paige, is a huge proponent of incorporating its lean plan into the company culture.
Acument works with Harris Lean System’s Rick Harris to continue to learn and apply lean thinking to all of the business’s decisions. On top of that, Acument’s version of Hoshin Kanri, its CREW Process, tri-annual lean conferences, and a strong six-member Lean Team help drive deployment, sustainment, and improvement of the company’s lean operating systems.
"Our CEO has ensured that his staff and our operations team fully embrace and utilize lean thinking and continuous improvement,” shared McNelis. “From the start, all team members come to realize quickly that you must be on the bus or the bus will leave without you.”
This is especially true in Acument Global Technologies’ hiring process, where the HR department filters all candidates through a lean lens.
The company has seen tremendous results from its adoption of lean practices, including close to double-digit improvements in day’s inventory on hand (DIOH), earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), and sales.
These successes are part of the reason the company’s owners from Italy, Fontana Gruppo, chose to invest in Acument.
“Fontana Gruppo was also going down the lean road and saw some things we were doing better than they were,” McNelis shared. “After being purchased, we also saw many things they were doing better than we were. So for the last two years, we’ve been sharing and sharing and sharing, which has made the team as a whole stronger.”
Lean manufacturing doesn’t hold all of the answers for Acument Global Technologies, nor for any company that uses this strategy. Sustainability, improving lean processes, and having enough mentors and highly developed (PDCA) resources to address the problems lean systems highlight will always pose challenges. But Acument wouldn’t be so committed to this way of business if the benefits didn’t overshadow the challenges.
“More and more of our associates are involved and have developed in improving our business results,” he shared. “We’ve done this through workshops, lean training, lean conferences, and things like our Pit Crew Team Process.”
Acument Global Technologies recognizes that investment in current and upcoming technology will continue to set the company apart from others in the industry. Currently, Acument is investing in tech to measure the output of its systems.
The company employs a system called Laser Lab in its plants which utilize coordinate measuring machine (CMM) technology to measure its parts in every machine every hour. From hand tools to calipers to laser technology, Acument is able to understand how efficiently it is manufacturing a product.
Other technological goals including working towards paperless reporting on the shop floor in the next three years. Equipment upgrades, which will allow Acument to run tighter tolerances and higher rates of speed (an asset to any manufacturing company), are also in the future for the company.
Each person interviewed from Acument Global Technologies spoke of the company’s new owner, Fontana Gruppo, with nothing but pride and respect. The umbrella company is family owned and operated, and is a supportive owner of Acument.
“They really have a long-range vision for what this company can accomplish,” shared Pinheiro. “There’s no way the family will let the business become complacent.”
There’s a lot on the horizon for the Fontana family and Acument: new products will be rolled out, as will new applications for projects. The company is currently vetting several major opportunities, the details of which will be shared by the company in the future.
“The key to our business has been data collection and measuring our results,” Pinheiro stated. “We measure every aspect of the company daily, weekly, and monthly to make sure our quality is high and that we are hitting the markets we want for delivery, cost performance, and lean manufacturing.
“We’re a very hard-charging, driven organization, something we get from our CEO. Our goal at Acument is to constantly challenge ourselves to do the best we can in this industry.”
As the world’s most innovative manufacturer of value-added screws, bolts, nuts and cold formed components, Acument Global Technologies is known for some of the longest-standing and most trusted brand names in our industry including TORX® Drive, TORX PLUS® Drive, STRUX® Fasteners, Mag-Form® Fasteners, Z-Form®, and Taptite® Fasteners.
Acument Global Technologies