VOL. 6 November ISSUE YEAR 2005
in Vol. 6 - November Issue - Year 2005
Blast Cleaning And Washing Excellence
Deron Lock, President, Viking Blast and Wash Systems
Deron Lock (center) with Ryan Sneath, Sales/Engineering (right)and Georges Hebert of Aerosphere (left) in front of the MR 7224 airless shotblaster used for peening aluminum parts.
Viking Blast and Wash Systems headquarters located in Wichita, KS
Viking Blast and Wash Systems has manufactured blast cleaning and parts washing equipment for nearly 30 years. In addition to offering one of the broadest ranges of batch and pass through conveyance styles, Viking also specializes in custom-engineered equipment. MFN interviewed its President, Deron Lock.
(?) MFN: What is the history of Viking Blast and Wash Systems?
(!) D.L.: Viking’s current name comes from its adoption in 1978 after evolving from some smaller companies that were building cleaning equipment for automotive rebuilding. At that time, washers, vibratory shakers, shot blasters and brake shoe deliners were the bulk of the line. Automotive rebuilders dominated the company’s emphasis until the late eighties when it evolved into a more industrial manufacturer. Although it was a heavy duty manufacturer in the type of equipment it produced, the equipment did not have the heavy duty structure and reliability necessary for broad appeal to foundry and major manufacturers until the mid to late 90’s. Introduction of the currently named VC-1 bi-directional blast wheel in the early 90’s was a big step. Recent refinements to the blade casting, machined parts and bushing have further improved its durability, balance and ease of maintenance.
(?) MFN: What makes Viking unique?
(!) D.L.: Because Viking is a smaller, less bureaucratic style of company, we are more flexible and quick to react to customer wants and needs. This has helped us to grow over the past 5 years, a rarity in this industry. Our mix of products has changed significantly and custom products now dominate our product line. Customization is our strong suit. Since we are a very lean organization, engineering changes make it to the floor immediately after approval by three groups; management, engineering and production. There are no paper work bottlenecks or countless engineering change forms. Customization is not difficult. It may be changing a 3 cubic ft tumble blast to a 3.5 or stretching an 8 wheel monorail to tailor fit the parts window of downstream equipment. A recent pass-through for a bearing manufacturer is designed to blast bearings one at a time on special conveyance with a 3HP blast wheel.
Another machine was designed in cooperation with one of your advertiser’s, Aerosphere, is an 8 wheel x 30 horsepower configuration, wing peen forming machine for Anodizing and Paint TNM, in St. Laurent, Quebec, Canada. Aerosphere worked with us to determine shot flows, wheel locations, conveyance, programming and data collection. Our lean manufacturing techniques lend well to customization as only products pulled into production by customer orders get worked on. No standard weldments are left stranded when a custom order is placed.
(?) MFN: Is custom manufacturing the future for Viking?
(!) D.L.: We don’t know. Customers tell us what to do. Our business plan tells us that we will spend our marketing and sales efforts where our core competencies lie and our competitive advantages are greatest. In addition to others, customization is one area of growth.
(?) MFN: What makes Viking products different?
(!) D.L.: Simplicity of maintenance. We use heavy-duty components to reduce the frequency of maintenance and also put access doors in major maintenance areas both for inspection and for access to the internal parts. We avoid adding things to machines that customers do not want, just because it is a standard design. Although, we do make sure they get features that make maintenance easy or potentially prevent future maintenance costs. The aftermarket parts stream associated with some brands does not drive our manufacturing process. We believe that customers place value on long-term durability at the time they buy a new piece of equipment.
(?) MFN: How does Viking sell its products?
(!) D.L.: One to three trade shows per year and print advertising. Historically 60% of our business is repeat business, so word of mouth and taking care of customers tends to be our greatest sales generation. In our current growth phase, repeat business is less than 60%. Unlike other major blast machine manufacturers, we do not survive on replacement parts. High quality replacement parts and consumables are a good thing for customers, but not so great for us, the manufacturer. We drive our business with new equipment sales and let the parts business grow as new equipment sales dictate.
(?) MFN: What new businesses has Viking entered in the last few years?
(!) D.L.: Viking answered the call of its customers back in 2001 when some of our competitors were having trouble delivering parts and some were just very high in price. We started supplying parts for some of our competitor's products especially in the area of cast, machined and heat treated parts. We have excellent vendors for these items that give us a real competitive advantage from a cost and delivery point of view. The other significant area that spans nearly all market segments is custom engineered and manufactured solutions, which is generally a blast machine and material handling project but can also be non-blast related.
Earlier this year a tool manufacturer came to us with a specific requirement for conveying and tumbling a very high number of parts on a continuous basis. Together we designed three systems, each incorporating an incline conveyor with an accumulating conveyor and a tumbling barrel as well the associated PLC’s and programming. This was a big project and completely non-blast related.
(?) MFN: What brought you to this business?
(!) D.L.: I came here in the beginning of 1999 from the second largest privately held company in the USA, Koch Industries. I worked in various locations, including Europe, in trading and management. Viking was a small business with good people and good products, but after years of growth had stagnated. It was my job to invigorate it and get it growing.
(?) MFN: What has changed?
A. Product development. We introduce 3 or 4 new products every year and are constantly improving our existing product line. We now have an evolving, living vision, mission and business plan that guides our use of resources. We made an acquisition last year of Peterson Machine Tool through our parent company, IVI. The Peterson acquisition gave us another product distribution channel as well as access to CNC punch press equipment and a fully equipped CNC machine shop. The larger size also gained us economies of scale advantages in our administrative functions and improved buying power for our purchasing departments.
(?) MFN: What is the business of Peterson Machine Tool?
(!) D.L.: Peterson is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of engine rebuilding and cleaning equipment in North America including not only washers and blasters, but also crankshaft and camshaft grinders, cylinder boring and cylinder head surfacing machines, flywheel grinders and many other engine rebuilding related products. Peterson maintains a very broad range of inventory of high quality imported machining equipment from Berco SpA of Copparo, Italy. Berco is a subsidiary of Thyssen/Krupp and has been making these high quality machines for more than 80 years. Our machined parts and imported products come from our machine shop and warehouse in Kansas City, and our manufactured products come from our manufacturing plant in Council Grove, Kansas. It has been a very nice cooperation between Viking and Peterson, whereby both companies reduce their costs and get increased market exposure.
(?) MFN: You mentioned washers and vibratory machines earlier, is that still part of Viking?
(!) D.L.: Absolutely. The acquisition of Peterson Machine Tool allows us to sell their very high quality line of rotary and standard washers while we concentrate on pass-through and custom washers. Peterson’s cabinet washers are heavily insulated with higher horsepower pumps and have a powder coated finish. They have an excellent cost structure due to the high volume nature of that market. The vibratory equipment was specifically suited to the needs of the automotive rebuilder and Viking does an excellent job with small tub style equipment.
(?) MFN: Will the peening market be an area of importance for Viking in the future?
(!) D.L.: A. We have been making peening machines for only 5 years, so we rely on our customers and experts like Aerosphere to tell us what is needed. Since it has been a success for us, we will continue to be open to it and will pursue it when it fits our capabilities.
(?) MFN: Does Viking sell products internationally?
(!) D.L.: Yes, but we are very much a North American company at the moment. 22% of our products went to Canada and Mexico while only 5% or products went outside
of North America. We have begun marketing our blast machines for foundry and industry in Europe and are in process of getting our most common products CE marked for easy distribution. The Euro/USD exchange rate has given us a real advantage over Euro costed products and we intend to extend that benefit to potential customers in Europe. Most of our products are similar in function and operating procedures so growing our export business should be a viable opportunity for us. European foundry plants tend to be larger and more automated and we have proven success with robotic integration and continuous blast processes for high volume in addition to our smaller batch style systems.
We at MFN would like to thank Deron Lock for this interview.
Viking Blast and Wash Systems 3810 N. Toben, Wichita, KS 67226, USA Tel. +.1.800.835.1096, Ext 16 E-Mail: email@example.com, www.vikingcorporation.co