As millions of people around the world go to work or return home each day, they usually are unaware that they are walking past devices made by GAL Manufacturing Corp., without which they could not exit the thousands of elevators on which they rely every day.
GAL Manufacturing Corp. makes elevator controllers, door operators that open and close the elevators doors and the pushbutton control panels passengers punch to register their destination floor.
Many of these components are private-labeled for GAL’s customers. The actual door panels, the walls of the elevators and their cabs – the structure that is pulled up and lowered down the elevator shafts – are made by other companies.
GAL’s sister company, Hollister-Whitney, manufactures the traction machines and lifting equipment, the platform and sling that holds the cab and the cables, the safety devices that prevent accidents and the counterweights that enable elevators to speed effortlessly to dizzying heights.
If Hollister-Whitney’s products are the brawn that lifts the elevators, GAL’s products are the brains behind the beauty of the doors and walls. They operate seamlessly behind the scenes to give passengers a smooth, comfortable and accurate ride. Passengers may see the name of the elevator contractor that supplies the elevators and maintains them on the control panel around the pushbuttons that GAL manufactures, but rarely the GAL Manufacturing name.
GAL designs and manufactures its own electronic control boards for its elevator controllers. It produces circuit boards that are surface mount, through-hole and a hybrid of the two. “We are one of the few controller manufacturers out there that are really producing controllers from scratch,” Vice President of Operations Paul Seifried emphasizes. “We control the scheduling, we control the quality level – we have control of our own destiny. Quality is very important to us, so we want to retain that in-house. We have outside suppliers that do certain things for us, but anything we can do in-house, we do.”
GAL’s in-house manufacturing capabilities include injection molding of the pushbuttons themselves, insert-molding as a metal cap and plastic insert and stamping the electrical contacts. “We send them out for silver plating – we don’t do any plating in-house,” Seifried says.
The button panels that GAL manufactures are designed to fit in cutouts in the elevator cab’s walls. GAL laser-cuts those.
“Any flat material we’re cutting with a laser,” Seifried says. “We have various machine tools, and we’ve got more than our share of CNC punch presses, some standard 200-ton, 110-ton punch presses. We’ve got press brakes. We manufacture the track that doors hang from as well as the rollers that are at the top of the track. We buy the track as a roll-formed piece. We punch and basically emboss and extrude mounting pads for that track in-house. The automated track line uses punch presses and a unit that actually is an exact position device, which will draw the tracks for the punch presses and stamp the various forms, and punch and tap the track for our use. After that, the great majority is an assembly process.”
The panels receive corrosion protection at GAL, but powder coating and aesthetic finishing are applied elsewhere.
GAL has been streamlining its three production lines over the last five to six years thanks to the efforts of Longin Kutas, the plant manager who was a lean manufacturing consultant before joining GAL. “He’s been relentless in improving operations,” Seifried notes. “Our manufacturing floor over the last five years has been completely relaid out with changes taking place on a weekly basis for process improvement.
“The whole concept of continuous improvement is happening all the time,” he continues. “On a weekly basis, we’re reassessing where we can make small improvements, and if that means relaying out a section of the floor or relaying out a process or rethinking a process, that’s what we’re doing to achieve as high a process flow as we can.”
Manufacturing door opening equipment used to take three to four weeks’ lead time, but now it takes less than a week. Its approximately 120,000-square-foot plant in the Bronx has had a reduction in manufacturing floor space of 35 to 40 percent. “As we make floor space available through streamlining a process, it’s being eaten up by new products and expansion of our elevator controllers,” Seifried says.
GAL’s latest equipment purchase approximately one year ago was a 30-ton turret press. During the last three to five years, the company has acquired a turning center, an automatic steel bar feeder and a laser CNC cutting machine.
The family owned and managed company has a single shift and a five-day work week. It has benefited from its long-term employees, some of whom have been with the company for 20 to 30 years, and one who has been employed at GAL for 50 years.
“Our employees are very loyal to us, and we’re very loyal to them,” Seifried emphasizes.