Dave Trinkley, President
For over five decades, the electrical discharge machining (EDM) industry has undergone a drastic makeover with regards to technologies and processes. In this ever-changing landscape, there’s been one constant—the exceptional solutions offered by Graphel. A leader in graphite machining innovation and technology since 1965, Graphel has made considerable strides as a trusted manufacturing partner for several Fortune 500 companies in the aerospace industry. With over 350 years of combined proficiency in aerospace, there hasn’t been a situation, highly-regulated environment, or machining complexity that Team Graphel—represented by 200 employees across three production facilities—hasn’t witnessed and solved. Refusing to rest on its laurels, Graphel has expanded both its equipment and personnel for a third consecutive year and remains prepared for the impact of Industry 4.0 on the innovations in aerospace manufacturing.
“The aerospace community is very busy right now with the need for faster solutions. By forging excellent ties with reliable vendors, sourcing only the highest grade of raw materials, and working closely with our customers to improve process efficiencies, we can meet our customer’s needs,” says Dave Trinkley, president of Graphel. Trinkley was previously a client of Graphel during his time as director of operations at GrafTech International. In 2015, he assumed leadership of Graphel after the retirement of the incumbent president. “When I took over, Graphel was already a leader in the manufacturing of electrodes in the EDM industry. However, my focus was, and remains, to grow & improve the operational efficiency of the business,” adds Trinkley.
Graphel kick-started its Continuous Improvement/Lean Initiative in 2015 and has since racked up two Six Sigma black belts, one Six Sigma green belt, and a host of awards and certifications.
We have had to conduct years of internal training—from advanced blueprint reading, CNC training, and advanced quality system training—to reach such a level
In 2017, Graphel launched the company’s new Research & Development team which focuses on productivity improvements (both internal & external), machining techniques, process stabilization and designing innovative methods to improve a client’s Process Capability Index (Cpk). Since every employee—from operator to C-Suite—is involved in the company’s internal quality system, the aerospace manufacturing solution provider is bound to maintain a stupendous 4.2 Sigma Level. “We have had to conduct years of internal training—from advanced blueprint reading, CNC training, and advanced quality system training—to reach such a level,” says Trinkley, before revealing that Graphel aims to reach a world-class Six Sigma Level of 5.2.
With quality as the primary focus, Graphel doesn’t leave a stone unturned while deploying its solutions. Rather than taking a larger business-like approach, Graphel assigns customer service managers to each client, with the intention to create long-lasting partnerships. A perfect example of the effectiveness of this approach involves one of Graphel’s biggest customers who strove to reduce 100 percent inspection of complex parts entering their facility down to <50%.
To achieve the target, Graphel conducted several studies to define the client’s requirements before designing a curtailed sampling plan. “We identified the Cpk’s critical to them and changed our processes to fit their particular application. Our customer is now inspecting <5% of the incoming parts and have improved the operational efficiency of their business,” explains Trinkley.
The road ahead for Graphel is paved with unlimited potential. After a record-setting 2018, Graphel is expanding its product portfolio. The latest offering is precision brass tubes designed specifically for the aerospace industry. “We are the only company in the U.S. to offer this variant of tubes, all of which are 100% flow tested to guarantee customer performance. We are very excited about what our future holds at Graphel Corporation,” concludes Trinkley.