After spending a dozen years as a manufacturing engineer in the screw machine industry, Jarvis founded Northern Precision in 1999 with veteran mill operator Dane Kerby. The company began with one Swiss machine – and no customers.
“That’s the interesting part,” Jarvis laughed. “We bought a machine and did not have an order for any parts. It was scary. We started on a shoestring.”
After Northern Precision found its first customer, word of mouth drew more. The shop now has 25 to 30 steady clients, including makers of fiber-optic, medical and automotive products. “As a matter of fact,” Jarvis added, “a lot of our customers are regular screw machine houses, and some of them even have Swiss machines. They give us the tough stuff.”
Northern Precision’s customers may be steady, but the lot sizes are not. “One job we’ll run 160,000 pieces,” said Jarvis, “and one we’ll run five.” Most orders are for 1,000 to 10,000 parts.
The company plans to grow–and stick with Swiss machines. It would like to acquire machines capable of handling larger parts. “We could use two more machines right now,” said Jarvis.
To boost productivity, Northern Precision fitted its machines with bar loaders from LNS America that suspend the bar stock in oil. This helps control whipping when stock is rotating at up to 10,000 rpm. The machines also are equipped with CoolBlaster 2,000psi coolant systems. They are particularly useful for clearing chips during deep hole drilling, which eliminates pecking.
Both the loaders and coolant systems allow operations to be run at higher speeds, added Jarvis.