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Lyall's Lean, Mean Custom Machines: 1973 to Today [Photos]

By Admin

Back in 1973, the Oakland A’s won the World Series, the Dolphins won Super Bowl VII and Jim Croce’s song “Time In A Bottle” hit number one on the Billboard Charts. That same year, Don Hill kicked off the spirit of innovation that has characterized R.W. Lyall for the past 40 years with the invention of the pipe-cutting contraption that would mark the beginning of our long history of lean, mean custom machines. And when we say “lean,” we’re speaking literally. The lean principle of Right Sized Equipment is the inspiration behind our innovations, because right sized machines have smaller footprints, which allow them to better integrate into the production flow within a cell, and generally perform one task, eliminating wasted processes.

Though we still haven’t figured out how to save our time in bottles, we have managed to capture bits and pieces of Lyall’s company history in photographs along the way. Below are a few of those images featuring our early pipe cutting/fitting process, Don’s innovative (and super cool!) machine and a set of custom torque machines built by our team of extraordinary geniuses just recently.

The First of Our Custom Machines

In the ‘70s, steel pipe was still being delivered to us coated with a layer of tar covered by another layer of polyethylene. The following photos illustrate the process of preparing this pipe for joining.

Lyall first custom machine 1.jpg

In the picture above, you can see the pipe on its first stop in the process. If you look very closely, you’ll see not only the pipe being cut to length, but also the very groovy ‘70s haircuts of the two Lyall workers on the floor.

Lyall first custom machine 2.jpg

Next, the cut pipe would hit its second stop in the journey, where Don’s custom machine (pictured above) would be used to strip the outside coating from the pipe and expose the bare steel.

Lyall first custom machine 3.jpg

The last stop in the process is pictured in this image, where you can see a technician running the pipe through a lathe where the I.D. was machined to a mirror finish, thereby making the pipe ready for joining.

Our Most Recent Custom Machines

With the help of his team, our machine-builder extraordinaire, Pedro Manjarrez and his team recently built from scratch, a magnificent set of eight new torque machines, pictured below.

lyall latest custom machines.jpg

The machines are used in the riser assembly line when a valve is integrated into the configuration of a riser. They include programmable features and LED displays, which reduce the number of manual settings and allow for more efficient operation.

lyall machine building team.jpg

The minds behind the machines are pictured above from left to right: Machinist Andrew Vu, CNC Machinist Salvador Sanchez, Machinist Antonio Escobedo, CNC Machinist Adam Sinkewicz, Fabricator Luis Gavinio, Machinist Mauricio Diaz, Fabricator Odilon Arroyo and Team Leader Pedro Manjarrez.

Five of the custom machines are being kept quite busy in our Wisconsin factory while three are buzzing away in our Corona, California facility.

"This project is another example of how continuous improvement is a collaborative process that involves both shop floor personnel and operations. It is what sets us apart and gives us a competitive advantage," said Robert Kling, Director of Operations for Lyall’s Corona facility.

Over the years, our machining processes have become a bit more high tech (and our haircuts a bit shorter and less groovy). But we’re happy to say that the spirit of innovation born four decades ago in a small plant in South El Monte, California, is still alive and well at R.W. Lyall.

Like to learn more about R.W. Lyall's company history? Visit our Company Page.

Learn more about lean manufacturing! Check out these related blog posts:

SoCal Lean Manufacturing Tour to Stop by Lyall!

Lean Production Brings Profits & Hope To African SMEs

Shattering the Myths of Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing Basics—Lean Lingo Explained