Osborn - Reshoring the Right Way to Lower Costs, Improve Quality and Keep U.S. Jobs

Mon August 9, 2021

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Brian Keiser
Vice President, Industrial Tools - Osborn

Reshoring for the right reasons can shorten your supply chain, improve product quality and speed up lead times.

Reshoring production from China to our facility in Richmond, Indiana, means we can offer customers an unmatched portfolio of finishing and industrial brush products for years to come. And, we can focus our renewed capabilities on helping each of our customers grow. That’s reshoring for the right reasons.

What’s more, bringing jobs back to the United States goes a long way to improving your company’s reputation and relationships with the communities where you operate and with employees. When you’re headquartered in America’s industrial heartland like we are at Osborn, that’s a big deal.

In the past 18 months, we invested $2.2 million in manufacturing automation and other equipment and systems that enhance performance, capacity and quality.

The investment by Osborn is unique and will enable us to remain the world’s largest surface treatment and finishing provider.

Automation Increases Efficiency

Much of our investment went toward an automated, high-volume twist knot (TK) machine. The TK machine enhances production of twist knot Powerbrushes including our stringer beads with Osborn’s Staggered and Offset Trim patented technology, which efficiently balances cutting performance and long wire life -- something the market has never seen. With our new patented technology our stringer beads last twice as long and remove 60 percent more material than other competitor brushes in the market.

We wouldn’t be able to make the brushes efficiently without the automated system. The innovative, automated technology Osborn developed enables us to rapidly assemble wire sections and base components and press them together. That’s one of the successes of our reshoring effort. Another is how investment in the TK auto machine has made it possible for Osborn to reduce costs by as much as 50 percent.

Improving Safety and Quality

Returning twisted wire brush manufacturing to the United States also makes it possible for Osborn to enhance the safety of our products.

The automated TK machine accurately detects potential defects during or after assembly. The benefit is huge. Our brushes are used at high rates of speed. A brush component failure would be hazardous to our customers’ equipment, products and their employees. We’re better able to minimize the risks due to the advanced monitoring system integrated into the TK machine. One improvement through the advanced monitoring process is that the pressing of components is better controlled. The new TK machine generates a measured and repeatable force during final assembly. That enables consistent quality over thousands of brushes produced.

With our advanced automated assembly process and monitoring system, our internal defect rate is much lower and the final product is much safer for the end user. 

And to provide customization options and shorten lead times, the automated TK machine replaces stamping of product information with laser engraving. Now, branding, safety information and directions in multiple languages can all be quickly added and changed when ever needed. Previously, updating stamping tooling at Chinese suppliers could take months.

Realizing Our Return on Investment

Reshoring is right for Osborn, because we can deliver twist knot brushes to our customers in North America faster than we could by manufacturing the products in China. Many customers value the shorter lead time; many also believe that only an American-made product can deliver the highest quality at the right price for their needs.

We agree. That’s why we brought production back to the United States. Reshoring enables Osborn to significantly reduce our cost profile. Customers benefit because we’ve enhanced quality and accelerated delivery — and can offer twisted wire brushes made in the U.S.A. at market-competitive prices.

Adding the new automated TK machine did not eliminate any jobs as often happens when other manufacturers automate workflow. In fact, with our expanded manufacturing capabilities, Osborn is winning new business. As we have added new business, we have hired more employees at our Richmond, Indiana facility.

To gain corporate approval for the automated TK machine, we had to build a business case that would realize a return on investment by winning new business. We more than exceeded the initial payback. Just as important to us at Osborn, however, is that we completed automation and reshoring of wire brush production the right way. To us, that means adding jobs in our hometown. We’re well on our way to accomplishing that, too.