Firelake Manufacturing

Mate’s SnapLock™ Inspires Efficiency at Firelake Manufacturing


It’s no secret that eliminating secondary operations improves throughput and reduces costs—positive additions that every manufacturing company likes to see. That’s why Firelake Manufacturing in Dassel, Minnesota utilized Mate Precision Tooling’s SnapLock to increase throughput 85% and reduce costs by 20% in the production of electrical boxes.

Eliminating Secondary Operations

Firelake Manufacturing produces electrical boxes seasonally, typically in orders of 100-150 a week in two sizes that need to be fulfilled in a short period of time. The boxes require multiple fabrication operations prior to being shipped out for painting and welding, before being returned to Firelake Manufacturing’s plant for the finishing touches. This was problematic because customers needed quick turnaround time, and the extra transit step only added time and expense to the process.

Mate Precision Tooling knows that when it comes to manufacturing, eliminating secondary operations where possible is always a positive. Many manufactured goods require joining, but that doesn’t necessarily need to involve a secondary operation like drilling or welding. Firelake Manufacturing shared Mate’s passion for efficiency. Their electrical boxes were a perfect candidate for SnapLock™, which eliminates the need for external welding.

SnapLock™ Brings Operations In-House

SnapLock is a lance and form tool which produces self-locking, spring loaded tabs that snap securely into pre-punched holes. A mechanical lock is formed, eliminating the need to utilize other fasteners or welding. After evaluating SnapLock, Firelake determined that it could reduce the number of components from 3 to 1 to make the finished assembly, and utilize pre-coated material to eliminate painting and spot-welding.  SnapLock combined with pre-coated sheet material completely eliminated the need for the electrical boxes to go off-site before their completion!

As Firelake Manufacturing’s Plant Supervisor Chad Fredricks put it, “Sending the parts out for painting was a headache as was spot welding the coated material which posed clean air issues. All of this went away with the use of the SnapLock tool. Plus the electrical boxes look nicer.” Fredricks also added that the bottom showed definite improvements, “The SnapLock tool paid for itself in less than six months.”

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