Since it was founded more than 50 years ago, Dayton Machine Tool—located in the Ohio city from which it takes its name—has steadily grown into one of the premier machine tool modernization companies in the country. Its physical footprint alone makes a powerful statement, according to Rich Alden, the company’s COO.
"We have nearly 45,000 square feet of space in total, including the shop area and administrative offices,” he says, “and four bays that are each large enough for a semi to enter. And two of those bays are equipped with 20-ton cranes, which can be ganged up to lift parts and machinery as heavy as 40 tons, so we’ve yet to run into anything too big for us to handle.”
From this site Dayton Machine Tool—widely known as DMT—ships to locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, in addition to customers as far away as England, France, and Turkey. While the majority of those shipments involve the company’s “modernized” equipment—namely those that have been remanufactured, rebuilt, retrofitted, and/or repaired—some are new machines, such as DMT’s 1200 Series Gantry CenterTM and Multi-Axis Heads, which can be equipped with as many as three heads. It has also built seven blade-tip grinding machines for the power generation industry.
Employing some 25 individuals, who represent decades of experience rebuilding machine tools, DMT specializes in working with Fortune 500 companies, upgrading equipment that’s currently in service to the customer’s exact specifications. While this sometimes involves taking the machine out of service, completing the rebuild, and then returning it to productivity, the company often utilizes creative means of keeping its clients working.
“Quite often we’ll purchase a used machine that replicates the one our customer has in their plant and wants us to upgrade, but can’t do without,” according to Tom Forsyth, general manager. “We’ll get a purchase order from them in advance, and then we’ll go ahead and remanufacture it, do a runoff, and then deliver it. On selective machines we’ll even take their old machine on trade, especially when it’s a high-production machine like a centerless grinder, a multi-spindle machine, boring mills, and some gear-cutting equipment.”
He describes a current project in which a customer has five gear-generating machines on its floor. DMT purchased a used machine on the open market, completed its modernization, and then took the first of the client’s five machines offline, replacing it with the newly refurbished unit. “That way they will experience no downtime whatsoever,” Forsyth says. “We’ll continue working our way through their equipment, and at the end of the project we will have a carcass left to either rebuild or break down for parts.”
Known for its reliability, DMT sometimes finds itself helping a customer recover from a bad purchase made elsewhere. “For instance, we’re working on a machine right now that a customer had bought from someone else, thinking it was in working condition,” Alden says. “Well, not only had it been left out in the weather, but parts had been removed. We took it down to bare castings and we’re building it back up with a brand-new CNC system and attachments that he wants, like a grinding wheel balancer. So we’re adding significant functionality to the machine at the same time we’re rebuilding it for him. The price was a great deal higher than he’d originally expected to pay, of course—although it was still less than half the cost of a new machine—but once he realized the added value we could provide he said ‘I’ve got to have the machine, and you’re the right outfit to do it, so let’s go to work.’”
This willingness to go the extra mile cements DMT’s relationship with its customers, as do services including mobile metrology. “We have a fellow who’s a 30-year expert in the field of in-plant laser inspection,” Alden says, “and he’s often called out by some very large manufacturers such as aerospace companies to calibrate or verify the alignment of their grinders and machining centers. We’ve invested heavily in laser equipment, in fact, and we’ve just purchased a $45,000 attachment that allows us to conduct the full range of rotary and linear checks.”
And he doesn’t just do a check and run a graph, Forsyth adds. “He’ll actually point out the source of any problem he detects, with suggestions as to how it can be corrected easily.”
Looking to the future, Dayton Machine Tool is considering quite a number of new initiatives, including buying and remanufacturing machine tools on spec and perhaps representing OEMs that complement its business model. It’s primary concern, however, involves continuing to burnish the reputation for quality it has worked to achieve over the past half century.
“I’ve been with this company for two decades, and as far as I can recall we’ve never delivered a project that wasn’t satisfactory to our customer,” Forsyth says. “And we frequently get calls from people who’ve had a machine running on their floor for the past 15 or 20 years that they’re ready to upgrade. They’ll see the DMT nameplate on the side of the machine, and that’s all they need to know.”