Hosokawa Micron Powder Systems Return to Manufacturing

HAAS VF-4 CNC machine

Manufacturing in the US is a vital sector, and the US remains the second largest manufacturing country in the world. With “America First” movements becoming critical to the economy, US companies are looking to source more goods manufactured in the United States. With the growth that Hosokawa Micron Powder Systems has continued to demonstrate in recent years, we have taken the initial steps to begin more in house manufacturing. This initiative will result in better quality control and lower costs over time. To appreciate how we have come full circle in the US, let me walk you through the history of in-house manufacturing in the US. It was a robust operation with several hundred skilled craftsmen at one time.

When Hosokawa acquired US Filter Systems in 1986, Summit, NJ was the center of manufacturing for both size reduction and dust collection equipment. Eventually, the manufacturing of the dust collection equipment was outsourced. In 1991, Hosokawa acquired the Bepex Group which included a manufacturing facility in Santa Rosa, Ca. In 1996, Corporate Management made the decision to consolidate all manufacturing operations in the Santa Rosa, California facility, in which significant investment had been made. At that time, manufacturing operations were discontinued in NJ and the space was repurposed for NJ’s custom processing operations. In the year 2000, Hosokawa sold its MikroPul product recovery business.

Shortly thereafter, the financial and economic landscape in the US was uncertain as the country was reeling from the devastating effects of the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. The Bepex manufacturing facility ceased operations and the Santa Rosa property was sold in 2002. Subsequently, the Bepex Minneapolis operation was sold in 2004. These decisions left Summit without either the finances or real estate to return to a robust manufacturing center. Consequently, manufacturing for US Hosokawa product lines were strategically outsourced to third part manufacturers. It was done in such a manner, that no one vendor had access to multiple parts which prohibited the possibility of a vendor starting a competitive business. This was very carefully managed by our operations Department.

Due to physical space constraints, only the critical proprietary manufacture of hammers, liners, and screens for Mikro products were transferred to the production facility at Polymer Systems in Berlin, Connecticut. The only machinery production related functions that returned to Summit were inspection, final assembly, painting, and packing.

Over the last two years we have experienced issues related to late deliveries and quality with vendors supplying certain components and parts. Returning in house manufacturing in the US is a key initiative for Hosokawa Micron Powder Systems.

The Hosokawa Polymer Systems business changed over the years. When the company was initially acquired, most of its sales were small scale granulators. Through the years, the product line has expanded, and its offerings now include larger systems. The business now requires additional engineering and project management support. It was decided that the current business could be better supported by an expanded engineering group in Summit. The Berlin, CT. operations are systematically transitioning to the Summit location. April of 2022, the operations moved to Summit and the Berlin facility closed. The brand name of Hosokawa Polymer Systems has strong brand recognition and will be retained.

In FY 2022, we increased our production capabilities in Summit. In addition to the transfer of the manufacturing equipment from Connecticut, we made significant investments in machinery to increase our manufacturing capabilities. In the second quarter of 2022, a new 3 Axis CNC machine was installed to produce hammers and liners for the Mikro Product line. A new Hofmann Balancing machine will also be procured to balance in house all rotating components such as classifier wheels, rotor assemblies and rotor discs. Doug Ort was appointed Director of Manufacturing and has been instrumental in the planning and execution of the move. He brings a tremendous amount of experience with a keen eye to detail to his new role.

In Summit, an additional 16,000 SF of space will become available by the end of FY 2022, allowing for the further expansion of manufacturing. This area will be repurposed for both fabrication and assembly. This space has a significantly higher overhead which will provide for the assembly of larger machines. Two (2) 5-ton overhead cranes already exist in this area to handle assembly requirements. The remaining area will be dedicated to fabrication bays for the manufacture of structural bases and other fabricated components. This additional space will allow for the addition of at least two more CNC machines in FY 2023 to machine larger mill bodies and covers and shafts for bearing housing assemblies.

These initial investments will allow us to better control our fabrication schedules and quality output which will help to improve customer satisfaction and insure the long-term sustainability of the business. We will continue to expand our capabilities as we work towards the continued growth of the US operations.