Issue Jul Aug 15
Last year was a major year for Iowa-based Blackhawk Engineering. Not only did the precision CNC machining specialist mark its 40th anniversary, but the company also completed a 40,000-square-foot expansion of its main facility. The company says this expansion is significant because it demonstrates the growth and evolution of the company since its inception as well as its commitment to serving its customers.
“Blackhawk Engineering was founded in 1974 to design and build tooling, dies, and special machines,” the company says. “Over the next 40 years, our company has expanded and diversified to provide customers with the best precision CNC machining services available.”
Based in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Blackhawk Engineering specializes in high-quality precision CNC machining and production manufacturing services for a broad customer base. The company’s customers include some of the largest manufacturers in the agriculture, construction, energy, military, railroad and wind energy sectors. Wherever the company applies its expertise, Blackhawk Energy says, it delivers the same high-quality services with a focus on delivering true solutions for its customers.
“For more than 30 years, Blackhawk Engineering has provided support to OEM manufacturers in a variety of industries,” the company says. “These industries include those that work above and below ground to provide energy, industries that work the ground to feed nations and industries that defend the ground from our enemies.”
With the expertise and capabilities Blackhawk Engineering brings to the marketplace, the company has carved out a highly successful niche for itself in the industry. These strengths combined with the company’s willingness to invest in its people, equipment and facilities are the reasons why Blackhawk Engineering plans to continue being a strong presence in the CNC machining arena.
Blackhawk Engineering says its specialty is in the machining of large parts, many of which tip the scales at more than 800 pounds and some weighing more than 7,000 pounds. Although it is a much smaller aspect of the company’s business, Blackhawk Engineering also has dedicated equipment for the machining of smaller parts of less than 50 pounds.
“Blackhawk Engineering has the experience and expertise in machining parts of various materials weighing from several pounds to several thousand pounds,” the company says. “With our extensive list of large horizontal machining centers, horizontal lathes, large vertical lathes, and other support equipment, we are able to machine parts from the prototype phase to full-production volumes.”
Blackhawk Engineering provides its customers with more than simply the capabilities to machine parts, and the company says its value-added capabilities help to further distinguish itself from its competitors. For example, the company’s engineering capabilities give it the ability to work with a customer’s internal development team to develop products within a specific launch schedule and utilizing lean manufacturing techniques.
The company also points to its prototyping services as evidence of the added value it brings to its customers. “Blackhawk Engineering offers concurrent prototype and pre-production development services,” the company says. “By using the best machining practices, material selection, process development and documentation, Blackhawk Engineering can offer optimal solutions to manufacture [the customer’s] part to meet [their] quality, cost and delivery specifications.”
Blackhawk Engineering says its processes are geared toward producing the highest-quality components it can possibly offer, and it can guarantee that for a number of reasons. Perhaps first and foremost is the system through which the company organizes all of its work. “Blackhawk Engineering uses the QOS Quality Operating System to define process measurables and customer-focused indicators that drive organization-wide improvement,” the company says. “Monthly meetings are held to monitor the status of action plans and problem-solving activities by department champions. The key measurable components are then displayed to all in the organization.”
For certain customers, Blackhawk Engineering tailors its processes to meet their industries’ particular standards and processes. “Blackhawk Engineering uses Advanced Product Quality Planning [APQP], a framework of procedures and techniques used to develop products in industry, particularly the automotive sector,” the company says. “We align our internal processes with customer-specified APQP process for both new and existing parts to continually drive efficiencies.”
Within those frameworks, Blackhawk Engineering strives to work under the safest conditions in the industry. “At Blackhawk Engineering, we strive to make safety an integral part of our company culture,” the company says. “Our first consideration is to manufacture a product safely for the protection of everyone involved in the process – from the receiving of raw material to the use of the final product.
“Every employee has the authority to identify and stop any unsafe situation on the premises,” the company adds. “In addition, monthly audits are conducted by groups on a rotating schedule that consist of plant floor, office, quality, human resources, maintenance and management personnel identifying and eliminating potential risks.”