Menomonee Falls-based gun barrel manufacturer Vortakt Barrel Works is nearing the end of a $1.5 million improvement project at its Shawn Circle facility.
Vortakt’s facility improvement plan includes a revised shop layout that reorganized several CNC machining cells, the addition of a crane system designed to support large-volume government barrel contracts, a new 50-ton air conditioning system, the creation of a 5,000-square-foot warehouse space designed to accommodate Vortakt’s new inventory fulfillment program, and the addition of a new break and recreation space.
Chad Weister, managing director of Vortakt Barrel Works, explained the revamped shop layout and increased automation will free up employees to tackle more specialized processes.
“In the past, those processes (making gun barrels) would be done on multiple machines. We’re doing that on one single cell and instead of having an operator load those cells manually, we use a robot to load each one of those,” said Weister.
The company has taken machine operator positions and now has those employees completing more skilled tasks as opposed to just loading machines. Some of these more advanced processes might include using a lathe machine to manufacture higher-end gun barrels.
Vortakt has added one to two employees to each of its three shifts over the last six months to operate its new machinery.
[caption id="attachment_560001" align="alignleft" width="300"] Vortakt's new warehouse space.[/caption]
Vortakt manufactures 500 to 1,000 gun barrels a day at the Menomonee Falls facility. Despite lingering supply chain issues, Weister says the company has not had any issues securing the metal it needs to manufacture its products. He attributes the company’s success in gaining materials to how Vortakt emphasizes treating suppliers the same way a customer would be treated. The company did not diversify its group of suppliers but instead focused on working things out with the ones it already had.
“To make that many barrels a day, you need a lot of steel. We kind of doubled down on the suppliers that we did have. When it was hard to get stuff, our suppliers kept us at the top of the list,” said Weister. “Our main suppliers of metal and tooling… we didn’t really have an issue with.”
Vortakt shares the building with UNISIG, another division under the umbrella of parent company Entrust Manufacturing Technologies. UNISIG manufactures deep hole drilling machines. Vortak currently occupies 16,500 square feet of space within the Menomonee Falls facility, not including the new 5,000-square-foot warehouse.
“Because of our relationship with UNISIG, we’ve have the most advanced and most automated processes maybe in the world for this particular product line,” said Weister.