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February 2024

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K&B Turns to Starrag for Advanced Manufacturing Cell

Founded in 1974, K&B Industries was set up by Kenneth Wood Sr. with a simple yet effective motto `Help customers to be successful, and you'll be successful too'. Almost 50 years later and the company has expanded across four sites with approximately 650 employees, making it an outright industry leader in the Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) market. Continually investing in technology, staff and its customers, the next step for the Schriever, LA-headquartered business is an investment in machine tools from Starrag.

With an addition of three facilities, located in Houma, LA, and Houston, TX, the second-generation family business has taken its expertise in the OCTG industry and diversified into the aerospace, space exploration and semiconductor segments. In 2015, the statement of intent for these sectors was marked with K&B launching its Advanced Manufacturing Group. This has seen the company acquire a 10-acre site at 139 Equity Blvd. in Houma with a 118,000 sq. ft. facility. Current plans for this facility is to house dedicated machine tools to support all of K&B's advanced machining initiatives and a precision chemical cleaning and coating line. An 8,000 sq. ft. ISO Class 6 cleanroom for assembly and testing of ultra-high vacuum (UHV) semiconductor components is also near completion.

As the Advanced Manufacturing Division of the business has grown, so has the need for automated machine tool solutions to maximize efficiency. To deliver maximum productivity, efficiency and component quality, the company has invested in two Heckert HEC 800 X5 5-axis machine tools from Starrag.

The Heckert HEC 800 X5 5-axis machining center is an agile high-speed 5-axis production center with a robust HSK-T100 spindle that accommodates a maximum tool diameter of 340 mm. The machine is capable of traversing around the spacious X-, Y- and Z-axis work envelope of 1,450 mm x 1,100 mm x 1,300 mm at rapid rates of 65 m/min. Capable of accommodating 1,200 kg components on its 800 by 800 mm pallet, the Heckert HEC 800 X5 offers a 500 RPM rapid traversing/rotating table for turning that combines with highly accurate table swiveling axes of +91° to -45° and a rotary axis of 0° to 360°. It is this flexibility and the high level of service and support that Starrag provides that led K&B to purchase two Heckert HEC 800 X5 machines.

According to Benny Boudreaux, the Vice President of Advanced Manufacturing at K&B Industries: "A few years ago, we were invited to visit another manufacturing facility that Starrag had partnered with. Our biggest takeaway from this visit was how well Starrag's application team worked with the customer. There was a high level of commitment and involvement on Starrag's part. We opted to invest in Starrag machines as we felt that the high-end equipment, along with the Starrag applications team, will help us to achieve faster cycle times on our parts while enhancing the quality requirements for the parts. This will greatly expand our overall capacity."

The two Heckert HEC 800 X5 mill/turn centers will be dedicated to machining aluminum UHV components for wafer fabrication equipment in the semiconductor industry. Initially, K&B will be running four different part numbers through the machines every week with typical batch sizes ranging from seven to 16 pieces. The company will then ramp up this four-part number portfolio soon after the initial implementation stage.

K&B undertook feasibility studies while reviewing the market. According to Boudreaux: "During our market evaluation, the Starrag applications team presented us with comprehensive cycle time analysis, uptime reports and reliability expectations. These were critically important criteria when selecting the Starrag machines. As a business, we do not have a specific list of machine specifications. What we look for is a machine that is built using high-quality components with a high level of accuracy and repeatability that can meet our `up-time' goals year after year-production reliability is a key component to meeting our delivery commitments to our customers."

For more information contact:

K&B Industries

139 Equity Blvd

Houma, LA 70360


Starrag USA Inc.

Skyport Business Park

2379 Progress Drive

Hebron, KY 41048


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