Expansion Creates Manufacturing Opportunities
PBC Linear was founded on innovation, built on hard work, and will continue to be an American manufacturing company. We are headquartered just west of Chicago within the Rockford area’s rejuvenated manufacturing community, and were recently featured on IEN’s “Made in America” series. We design and manufacture many of our linear motion products at this facility, while providing an economic engine to the region. In fact, according to Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Schroeder, this family-owned business has been consistent in its “commitment to keeping manufacturing jobs local.”
New building and new machines
The hustle and bustle of familiar faces matched with new and updated machinery has become the standard within our new, state-of-the-art building. With over 66 thousand square feet of space, PBC Linear has been able to stretch out, add new technologies, and create a more efficient workflow that ultimately benefits the company, its employees, and its customers.
“[This expansion] is helping us secure our company’s future by helping retain our more than 220 employees,” says Tom Schroeder. In spring of 2018 during the initial groundbreaking ceremony, Chairman Frank Haney thanked the Schroeder family for their investment and loyalty to families within the community saying, “If we’re going to be where we want to be in the future, we need to retain talented folks. To do that we need our employers in a position to be growing and attracting this talent back to our community.”
Today, our new facility includes an optimized manufacturing floor, supporting offices and mezzanine, and a cafeteria. The expenditures for the new construction were roughly $6.25 million, with additional overall investments in updated machines and new equipment spanning two years, and totaling $3.75 million. Manufacturing upgrades are highlighted by our new Galdabini shaft straightening machine.
This sophisticated straightening system allows operators to load multiple bars into the machine, and then step back and allow it to automatically feed, straighten, quality check, and ultimately pass or reject them if they are not within tolerance. Tom Schroeder explains that with the old system, a worker had to manually do all of this by hand. Now, he says, “The machine has freed up that person to do other things for the business.”
These huge investments were predicated on the 2018 corporate tax rates and rules that were part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Tom Schroeder points out, “We were running out of space because the company has been growing year after year. With the changes in the tax laws, it made it economical to invest.” Jonathon Schroeder added, “In getting the support, it just shows that the government at all levels is really tied to manufacturing in America.”
To see more about our original groundbreaking ceremony, download our Groundbreaking Press Release.
The increased efficiency and productivity resulting from these investments will help PBC Linear to further meet growing industry demands and remain a strong manufacturing presence in America’s heartland for years to come.
Four decades of manufacturing growth
Previous to the construction of the new facility, PBC Linear had been steadily adding new machining centers and expert mechanical personnel. Together with the new upgrades, the entire facility continues to offer an array of specialty machine tool equipment and services, featuring:
- Over 30 modern vertical/horizontal CNC milling and turning machines.
- In house ID, OD and center-less grinding.
- In house heat treating for up to RC70 hardness.
- 3 huge Hitachi FMS machining centers that can run 24/7 with minimal manual effort.
- 5-axis mills and water-jet cutters.
- Patented Simultaneous Integral Milling Operation (SIMO®) aluminum extrusion process.
PBC Linear has been a strong proponent of lean manufacturing practices that aim to optimize the factory floor. For example, the FMS machining process is designed for a quick change-over period of fifteen minutes or less, eliminating machine-tool set-ups and drastically reducing lead time! Another example is our patented SIMO extrusion process, which uses synchronized cutters to precisely machine all critical edges of an aluminum extrusion in one pass. While traditional aluminum extrusion machining requires hours of labor, the SIMO process is much quicker, while also creating tighter tolerances, truer straightness, and a stronger overall design.
Download the PBC Linear Fact Sheet to learn more about the company and its capabilities.
Employing a mix of great people and processes
PBC Linear also continues to invest resources in its employees to not only keep their skillsets up to date, but also retain their skilled labor force. Tom Schroeder explains, “We keep investing in tradesmen and growing them so that they become an integral part of our business, and are less likely to go next door.”
PBC Linear blends a midwestern work ethic with skilled technicians, knowledgeable service personnel, and a multi-disciplined group of trained engineers – not to mention a dog-friendly office. This mingling of minds and degrees of expertise allows us to specialize in several key industries. Our roots in aerospace, commercial, medical, hydraulic, and paper industries provide customers with a multi-dimensional approach to every type of project. The following is a typical timeline of the design process:
- Customers can download CAD files directly from our online configurator. This ensures that the best-fitting product is selected for the job.
- Engineers spec out the proposed application using SolidWorks® to create a 3D representation of the application.
- Finite Element Analysis software further refines the design, experimenting with speed and load capacities, impact analysis and tolerances, helping to eliminate problems before the first prototype is even built.
- A working prototype is quickly produced using one of our tooling rooms in less than a day!
- End-product is created, subjected to in-depth performance and metallurgical analysis, and certified in-house by PBC Linear technicians.
Through these effective design practices, we have brought products to the market that reduce downtime, cut costly alignment processes, and work within harsh environments. Our location here in the Midwest allows us to react quickly to customer demands, and truly exemplifies the value of the phrase, “Made in Americal.” As Tom Schroeder states, “It’s important for us to prove that America can be competitive in manufacturing.” He goes on to explain, “You can’t have something made tomorrow if its shipping from China or Europe.”
Discover your ideal linear motion solution: