Forging Ahead: Lofthouse Manufacturing invests in technology

Lofthouse Press Set Up Technician is all smiles

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Precise adjustments to forged parts are now done with the touch of a button, thanks to the new Praber press. Photo courtesy: Wendy Stroud, Lofthouse

Lofthouse Manufacturing, located in Burk’s Falls, manufactures forged and machined brass and aluminum parts. The largest employer in the region bounded by North Bay to the north and Huntsville to the south, Lofthouse is committed to reinvesting its profits into new technology to remain globally competitive.

With the help of a FedNor loan in 2014, the company purchased an automatic forging press to assist with its business growth objectives. The new, larger machine, which is computer numerically controlled, has allowed the company to enhance the accuracy of its product and address capacity issues.

“We can now forge multiple parts per cycle, doubling our output and increasing our competitiveness in the marketplace,” shared Darwin Dunn, General Manager of Lofthouse Manufacturing. “Since the advent of the equipment, our sales have increased five percent and staffing levels have risen from 150 to 165.”

Dunn says the key to the company’s long-term viability is innovation. In 2018, Lofthouse Manufacturing again turned to FedNor for a loan when it wanted to buy more state-of-the-art equipment to enable the company to keep pace with change.

Investing in Tomorrow

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Weighing in at 550 tons, the Praber automatic forging press is helping Lofthouse Manufacturing speed up set-up time, forge both horizontal and vertical cores, eliminate waste material, reduce costs and increase productivity. Photo courtesy: Wendy Stroud, Lofthouse

“The days of a machine dedicated to the production of a sole product are long gone,” explained Dunn. “It is not feasible to buy expensive equipment and not use it to produce multiple products. Rather than try to exploit cheap labour, we prefer to invest in technology and compete in our very competitive marketplace.”

FedNor’s latest repayable contribution has helped create a standardized tooling and staging area that minimizes productivity down time and tracks inventory. Other funds have been invested in innovative equipment helping Lofthouse to develop new products.

“The new equipment has flexibility, giving us speed to market,” stated Dunn. “When someone comes to market with a new design, we can react quickly to any opportunity that presents itself. It also serves as backup for our existing product line. Should the dedicated machine break down, we can easily shift production to another machine, protecting our existing product line and customer’s shipment. These days, customers are looking for quality, price and delivery and there’s no forgiveness if we can’t meet all of those expectations.”

Lofthouse is owned by Brawo Brassworking Ltd. of Italy which has manufacturing facilities in Italy, the United States, as well as its only Canadian operation in Burk’s Falls. Dunn says FedNor’s investments have given the owners more reason to invest in the Canadian facility. Without FedNor’s support, he says the owner could have chosen to invest elsewhere.

This project is but one example of the types of initiatives funded by FedNor that support the federal Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario (PGSNO). Learn more about PGSNO

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