Cutting time sliced in half, sale doubled

C 400 | C 650 | Arbor Gage & Tooling | Fixture and gauge construction

Time is money. And not every investment really saves time. That is a lesson Joanna Heerema, Managing Director of Arbor Gage & Tooling, learned. Quality, precision and fast processes were the goals they first reached through a circuitous route with Hermle: With the C 400 and C 650 5-axis milling centres, Hermle meets the high requirements of device construction with significantly shorter machining times.

Arbor Gage & Tooling is a family business with 50 employees in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1978 by Ed Heerema, the company grew from simple model making to become a sought-after service provider for device, gage and prototype construction. Today it is led by Joanna Heerema.

While analysing the machining department, she was struck by the lengthy machining processes and control measurements. "We had to rework up to 40 percent of the parts because they didn't meet requirements", adds Joanna Heerema. A 5-axis machining centre was supposed to optimise the process.

The machine was in use for two years before the old processes became established again in manufacturing. That was the moment when Arbor Gage & Tooling contacted Hermle USA, the North American branch of Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG and after extensive consulting invested in a C 400. Company management had great hopes given the promised machining speed, reliability and precision as well as high surface quality.

  • Mike Veurink, CNC-Programmierer Arbor Gage & Tooling wirft einen prüfenden Blick in die C 400
    Mike Veurink, CNC programmer at Arbor Gage & Tooling, takes a close look at the C 400.
  • Blick in das Bearbeitungszentrum einer Hermle-Maschine, in welcher gerade etwas gefräst wird
    The result is impressive: According to Arbor Gage & Tooling, the accuracy and surface quality of the parts exceed the requirements of quality control.


They were not disappointed: "In addition to reliability, we are impressed by the accuracy and the narrow tolerances of the Hermle machine", explains Jason Heerema, responsible for marketing and special projects at Arbor Gage & Tooling. Another important aspect for the device manufacturer is service. "When I contact Hermle I not only know that I will get an answer quickly, but also that I will be working together with someone who knows these machines inside and out. So the problem will be solved as quickly as possible", says Project Manager Jacob Verduin.


With the Hermle machine, Arbor Gage & Tooling was able to shorten its lead time from as much as twelve weeks to only eight weeks, thereby expanding its manufacturing capacities. "We are also equipped for any order: We know that the C 400 will master any challenge for quality, precision and execution", adds Joanna Heerema.

It was quickly clear to all those involved that the next 5-axis milling machine would also be a Hermle, and one year later a C 650 was ordered. "We were the first company in North America to own this new model of the Performance line", Heerema points out. "Hermle exceeded our expectations", says Joanna Heerema.

"Cutting times have been reduced by 50 percent and the accuracy and surface quality of the parts significantly exceed the requirements of quality control. In this way we were able to double the sales of the company in the past two years."

Arbor Gage & Tooling is sticking firmly to its growth plans. "With Hermle we have found the right partner. With them we will be able to maintain the high level in gage and device construction and develop it further", stresses Joanna Heerema. She is eyeing the next step now, the automation of metal cutting production.

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