Powill Manufacturing Thrives on Jobs the Competition Won’t Touch

A multi-faceted, veteran-owned family business based in Phoenix, Arizona, Powill Manufacturing and Engineering (owned and operated by the Buchanan family) has been delivering precision military, commercial and aerospace components since 1959. Their portfolio ranges from parts produced for the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Apache Longbow helicopter and Virginia class submarines to multiple projects for Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell and Parker Hannifin.

This is all accomplished with over 40 CNC machines in a 43,000 square foot facility and approximately 80 employees. The company can do turning, milling, gun-drilling, grinding and EDM, all under one roof. They are ITAR, AS9100D, ISO9001 certified and have a 95% on-time delivery record.

We talked with Kevin Wolfe, who has been General Manager at Powill for over 16 years, about how DN Solutions equipment has become a crucial element of the company’s success.

Pushing the Envelope

Powill operates in a high-mix, environment. “The components we machine are mainly made of exotic materials such as titanium, high nickel content alloys, Rene 41, etc.,” Kevin said. “We are quite comfortable taking on the crazy jobs that other people don’t want to touch.”

While quality parts were going out the door, Kevin noticed that there were a lot of unconventional practices in use on the shop floor to get the job done. “We were handling work that was outside normal machine parameters by using oversized faceplates, welding tools on backwards, etc.”

The company had also reached a ceiling in the size of the parts it could machine, which was the 25” diameter limit on its horizontal turning centers. “Lots of aerospace engine components are bigger than that and we wanted to go after that work,” Kevin said. “To move forward, we had to find a better way.”

Enter DN Solutions

At a previous job, Kevin had purchased two DN VTL machines (right- and left-hand versions), so he was familiar with the DN Solutions name and quality.

“We bought a PUMA VT1100M for components larger than 25” in diameter,” Kevin said. “Within a year we were putting enough work on it to justify the purchase of a second unit.” Since the company doesn’t have a mill big enough to take parts from the VTL machines for secondary operations, both machines have live tooling capabilities.

Kevin says the two machines are solid and have performed very well. “The 75 horsepower geared head spindle turns 850 r/min and outputs a truly massive 4,710 ft- lbs. of torque,” he said. “That spindle is just not going to stall out.”

The addition of the DN VTLs has given the company a great advantage in the marketplace. “There are not a lot of shops that have VTLs this size, especially with live tooling,” Kevin said. “So, we are competitive in a limited market of being able to do larger diameter work.”

Adams Machinery

Kevin consulted with James Buchanan III (VP of Operations) and he purchased the two PUMA VT1100M machines from local distributor Adams Machinery. His contact, Sales Manager Paul Czaplicki, has been with the company since 2007.

“You might find other brands that can do the job, but local service is critical,” Kevin said. “It’s important to think about because there are a lot of hidden costs like travel and hotel expenses involved in bringing someone out of the region to service your equipment. Not to mention a slower response time. It would change the dynamics of our operations if we couldn’t call Paul and get fast service.”

What the future holds

Kevin enjoys working with the Powill family and thinks they are taking all the rights steps for the company to prosper. “Ensuring the organization is financially stable with lots of room for growth is a top priority for them,” he said. Current goals include expanding both the facility and equipment mix and continually adding to the company’s core competencies. “I’m sure DN Solutions and Adams Machinery will play a key role in those plans,” Kevin said.

How can DN Solutions help your company live up to its potential? Talk to us today about your machining needs and your vision.

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