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Ontario Chamber Tours Harbec, Inc.

Ontario, April 27, 2018.  Members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce gathered at Harbec, Inc., 358 Timothy Lane, Ontario, for a guided tour of their facility.  The tour was presented by Bob Bechtold, President, and was part of the recognition planned by the chamber for National Small Business Week, April 29 – May 2, 2018.

Harbec has been in existence for 52 years and began operations producing custom parts for industrial customers.  Through the years production has expanded and processes updated/added with a constant emphasis on dimensional precision and material composition.  Harbec designs and builds a variety of custom tooling producing prototype models in addition to mostly low volume production.  Secondary value added operations such as product assembly is also offered to customers.

In a quest to offer customers cost effective hard tooling (for high production rates) alternatives, Harbechas been on the leading edge of technologies used to fabricate “bridge” tooling (also known as soft or short run tooling.) Lower tooling costs and shorter development times have led to a wider customer base.

Other operational improvements through the years including the consolidation of molding and model shop, tool room and CAD (Computer Aided Design) center enhances the exchange of internal information and the flow of ideas to improve quality, lower cost and speed up the business development cycle.

The chamber also learned about subtractive manufacturing where parts are fabricated from material stock using tools such as traditional or CNC (computer controlled) milling machines, lathes, grinders, etc. and additive manufacturing techniques where parts are “grown,” layer by layer, from a liquid, powder or plastic filament.  Bob said Harbec has been growing parts for the last 20 years. He noted it began by winning a NYSERDA grant for making a mold using biomimicry.

While touring the injection molding area, where resins are melted at between 350 to 500 degrees, Bob remarked that Harbec does not utilize hydraulic machines anymore.  Since the year 2000 all their molding machines are electric, which consumes 50% less energy, plus all the molding machines are vented externally to the atmosphere.  Also in 2000 a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) compliant energy efficient addition was built with 17,000 feet of tubing for radiant floor heating, skylights for natural lighting, and structural insulated panels for the walls with twice the code required R-value.

Entering the energy room on the northern end of the factory, you hear the quiet hum of micronatural gas turbines.  Harbec uses 3 million KWH (kilowatts per hour) of electricity per year with 80% of it derived from “green” power. Bob noted that the wind turbines now stand for “a company that cares.”   In 2013 Harbec was declared a carbon neutral company, which helps improve the bottom line by reducing operational costs.  Bob emphasized the main reason behind the energy efficient improvements are economics.  After the initial cost of the investment is paid for, instead of writing a check to the utility company; it now goes in the bank.

Future expansions include an addition of 20,000 sq. feet that will also be LEED compliant.  In the meantime, Harbec plans to utilize a 9,400 sq. ft.  space that was previously used by Northern Biodiesel (the former 84 Lumber site).  Under a National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) requirement for a new project, the square footage needs to be separate from other manufacturing.  A new clean room is also under construction to comply with a new government medical contract recently received. Bob noted that the use of the 9,400 sq. ft. space bought them some time before adding on, but he did not know for how long.  Harbec is continually growing and maintains a thirst for new technology, automation, quality, efficiency, and process improvements. They are always looking for good employees with a strong, dedicated work ethic.

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