Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about the new Swiss screw machine shop at Swissturn/USA on Dana Road in Oxford, Massachusetts.
OXFORD — Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about the new Swiss screw machine shop at Swissturn/USA on Dana Road in Oxford.
Its machines are from Japan, not Switzerland. It makes fine-precision metal and plastic components, not screws. And don’t expect to see an oily, dirty machine shop with hundreds of low-income workers repetitively turning lathes.
“It’s a clean workplace,” said company president Kenneth J. Mandile. “It’s very comfortable out there.”
The 45 employees at Swissturn/USA — almost of all of them full-time — are high-technology workers. Over the past 15 years, the company has changed over completely to computer-controlled machines. They even run overnight, after the second shift clocks out.
“Nobody has to be here,” Mr. Mandile said. “If it makes bad parts, we throw them away; the parts we make are small, so it’s worth the extra hours” to risk wasting a small amount of raw material.
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce President Timothy P. Murray, who joined several local officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 4 at Swissturn/USA, said the clean, automated, high-tech machine shop is the future of Central Massachusetts manufacturing.
“Manufacturing is a major cluster in Central Massachusetts,” Mr. Murray said. “We’ve got to change the public’s impression of what manufacturing is. Manufacturing presents real career opportunities.”
Mr. Mandile’s father, John B. Mandile, started the company in 1969 in the Boston area. It moved to Whitinsville in 1987 and then to Oxford, where Mr. Mandile set up a 19,000-square-foot shop on Hawksley Road in 2003. Last month, the company moved to a former warehouse on Dana Road with 6,000 more square feet, air conditioning throughout and — importantly — a town water connection to meet fire codes.
“A lot of the growth will come from improved efficiency,” Mr. Mandile said. In the old location, “it was just so crowded and cluttered.”
He said the new location can accommodate up to 80 workers, although he has no immediate plans to grow.
Swissturn/USA operates a few conventional computer-controlled lathes and 29 Swiss screw machines; the machines are called “Swiss” because the way the workpiece is mounted — an arrangement especially useful for delicate, precision parts such as watch components — was pioneered in Switzerland. Mr. Mandile said he prefers to focus on the high-precision Swiss machines, which can machine a part with accuracy to the two-ten-thousandths of an inch — about 20 times finer than the width of a human hair.
“Part of our success is that we stick to one technology; we don’t try to do things we’re not good at,” Mr. Mandile explained.
Some 40 percent of the components that Swissturn/USA makes supply the medical industry, with another 10 percent to 15 percent going to firearms and a similar percentage to lasers. The company turns out some 16,000 parts a week, producing between 5,000 and 100,000 specimens of each. Swissturn/USA’s clients are spread out across the country.
By Michael J. Ballway CORRESPONDENT, telegram.com