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Published: Monday, 8/22/2005

Machinery s the specialty

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Building machinery to test auto batteries is nothing new for Radco Industries Inc.

But today s battery-testing machines are far more advanced than those built by Radco when Doug Michael started working at the Toledo company more than 20 years ago. Strides with automation and computerization have improved battery-testing and other machines, he said, translating into better quality for products made with them.

The batteries are really tested so much more accurately than they were before, said Mr. Michael, Radco s general manager and engineering supervisor. That s how all the auto companies are improving. It starts here.

Radco has built specialty machinery used in a variety of industries in the last 43 years. For the past few years, encouraging customers to use robots, cameras, and other technology to improve manufacturing efficiency has become a focus for the company, said Thomas Wiggins, sales manager.

Cameras, for example, can make sure parts being manufactured are of the proper dimensions, while robots can move them into place on an assembly line. With such automation, companies can continue to competitively operate in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, making quality parts at lower costs and with fewer workers, Mr. Wiggins said.

Still, he said, having fewer workers in a local plant is better than the alternative some companies choose of moving work overseas.

Such an option can pose problems. They forget about transportation costs, Mr. Wiggins said. What about quality? What about reliability?

These days, probably 80 percent of the jobs Radco gives price quotes for use robots, cameras, or both, the sales manager said.

One recently added customer had Radco incorporate robots into machinery is Autocam Corp. of Kentwood, Mich., which primarily makes high-precision parts for airbags, anti-lock brakes, and other auto components. Radco made three machines for Autocam and is making a fourth to make anti-lock brake valves as well as filling machinery orders for other engineers.

They did a good job on the [order], and everyone noticed it, Greg Shaw, Autocam manufacturing engineer. They did an excellent job all the way around.

Radco, which estimates this year s revenues at $2 million, was sold this year by the founder s son, James Paul, and Mr. Michael s father, John Michael, to a group of investors led by Mike Fischer, owner of Fischer Tool & Die in Bedford Township. The previous owners are advisers.

Of Radco s 14 employees, five are engineers who, along with the company s tool makers, machinists, and fabrication specialists, build machinery or alter existing equipment.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com or 419-724-6087.

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, P.O. Box 921, Toledo, Ohio 43697-0921.



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