Case Study: Exploding Drives
One day, a VIP from one of the largest manufacturers in the world of hard-disk drives visited Colorado Micro Precision. His company had a serious problem. An entire line of its hard-drives was failing. The drives were literally exploding inside their housings. One of the parts was defectively machined, causing it to touch another part enough to cause disaster inside the drive housing.
Customers were returning the drives. The entire manufacturing line was shut down. The number of drives produced by the manufacturing line totalled 22 million per quarter.
The VIP asked Colorado Micro Precision to study the exploding-drive problem and determine whether or not something could be done about it. The company had alaready contacted machining shops around the world to re-manufacture the defective part “to print.”
But all the shops failed. The drives continued to explode.
CMP’s Dave Kollar tackled the challenge head on. It wasn’t easy, but Dave’s first and second tries were closer than anyone else’s. Dave knew the essential problem: understand and anticipate how the metal in the part was going to bend.
To solve the problem, though, he had to rely upon his experience, not just the printed specification. So he built a part to compensate for what he knew—given his experience—would happen. He adjusted the part to within .0005 an inch, while adjusting it to bend only so much, and no more.
It worked. In the words of Shirin Kollar: “We gave our customer a part that couldn’t be built, and then we built a whole lot of them!” The exploding drives stopped exploding.
Dave and Shirin saw the mysterious VIP on a major TV news network one night, a few weeks later. He turned out to be the CEO of his company. The company went on to great success.