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Loos Machine expands, invests in technologies to serve its customers



Photo courtesy of Loos Machine & Automation

AUTOMATED SOLUTIONS — Loos Machine & Automation’s increased investment in automated solutions helps manufacturers address ongoing labor shortages and helps customers optimize their daily operations. “The industry needs help maximizing existing labor and systems, and manufacturers
also are experiencing a lot of growth — and with that comes the opportunity for automation and robotics,” says Troy Kilty, sales manager for Loos Machine.


Photo courtesy of Loos Machine & Automation
PLANT 2— When Loos Machine & Automation purchased a former Packaging Corp. of America plant in Colby, Wisconsin, pictured above, it allowed the company to expand its capacity and manufacturing operations by investing in state-of-the-art equipment and technologies that improve production
efficiency and enhance product quality.

By Alyssa Mitchell

COLBY, Wis. — With a focus on service and an eye toward the future, Loos Machine & Automation has expanded its footprint and invested in new technologies to bring customers innovative equipment and solutions for dairy packaging.

Based in Colby, Wisconsin, Loos Machine began in 1902 as a small maintenance and repair shop for local farmers. Over the years, it has transitioned into a thriving business that provides cutting-edge technology for the food processing industry. In 2006, Loos Machine Shop added an automation division and became known as Loos Machine & Automation. Providing automation, engineering, machining, fabrication, process and installation to cheese and dairy manufacturers — as well as other industries in the food sector — Loos Machine’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility utilizes modern techniques and machines, providing a one-stop shop for domestic and global companies.

• Steady growth

Troy Kilty, sales manager for Loos Machine & Automation, came to the company about five years ago when it began to outgrow its existing space.

“We call it ‘Plant 1, Plant 2 and Plant 3,’” Kilty says, noting the company first purchased a former bank building in Colby, about four blocks from its main office and manufacturing facility.

“The purchase of the First Street building (the old Nicolet Bank location) allowed us to expand our rapidly growing engineering team due to market demands, technological advancements and the need to develop new products and services,” Kilty says. “Expanding the department allowed for the acquisition of new skills and knowledge within the team.

We needed immediate space, and this building allowed for that.”

The company then purchased a former Packaging Corp. of America (PCA) plant, also in Colby.

“The purchase of the PCA site, ‘Plant 2,’ allowed us to expand our capacity and manufacturing operations by investing in state-of-the-art equipment and technologies that improve production efficiency and enhance product quality,” Kilty says, noting fabricating, laser cutting, parts prep and forming are housed inside this location, which allows Loos Machine to produce and deliver products more efficiently.

“Plant 2 pretty much doubled our manufacturing space, allowing us to provide further capital projects and invest in new equipment and R&D. We also can run tests for customers in that facility,” he says.

Plant 2 also houses the company’s shipping and receiving department.

“With the restructuring of production flow, we were able to expand our machining and robotics departments in Plant 1, allowing us to invest in advanced manufacturing technologies, Kilty adds.

Finally, earlier this year, Loos Machine acquired a third facility, “Plant 3,” in Bruce, Wisconsin, which expanded the company’s labor force, giving it the opportunity to add a dozen or so more employees, Kilty says.

“This acquisition allowed Loos to allocate resources and production capacity to new products, supporting diversification and strengthening our portfolio by expanding our presence in the fruit/vegetable markets,” he says. “By expanding operations and adding additional fabrication, machining and waterjet cutting capabilities, we can now put additional focus in capturing new market segments while penetrating a new labor market.” Kilty notes the recent expansions reflect Loos Machine’s customer-centric mindset.

“These expansions are a way for us to further our quality and add R&D testing, innovative equipment and improve overall throughput,” he says.

He adds Loos Machine also does a lot of custom work so its customers can continue to evaluate return on investment efforts and innovate.

“At the end of the day, those custom projects pay dividends for the customer from a lot of different angles,” Kilty says.

• Investing in automation

Loos Machine & Automation has many offerings for cheese processing and packaging, Kilty notes. The company’s increased investment in automated solutions helps manufacturers address ongoing labor shortages and helps customers optimize their daily operations.

“It all comes back to increased throughputs and safety,” he says. “Our Automation Team has continued to grow year over year. One of the focal points has been on the robotics side to address challenges in the workforce today. The industry needs help maximizing existing labor and systems, and manufacturers also are experiencing a lot of growth — and with that comes the opportunity for automation and robotics.”

From design through fabrication and installation, Loos Machine provides its customers with an innovative, high-quality, reliable and economical solution, Kilty adds.

Each design, system and/or piece of equipment is custom and therefore can include, but is not limited to, the services listed below:

• Electrical panel design and fabrication
• SolidWorks drawings/field installation diagrams
• Programmable logic controller/human machine interface (PLC/HMI) programming
• 100% Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) performed prior to customer installation
• Startup and training
• Operation manuals
• Service agreements
• 24-hour live/local/remote support

Along with its custom designs, Loos Machine makes integration easy by offering customer-specified hardware, software and communication requirements, Kilty notes. The company also can integrate with existing or third-party equipment, and can maintain customers’ existing procedures and methodology. It also offers conduit installation prior to shipment, providing more of a skid design, which reduces installation/setup periods.

Smart manufacturing goes hand in hand with automation, and Loos

Machine can offer customers traceability services and other tracking technologies, Kilty adds.

• Company culture

Kilty notes that Loos Machine continues to instill its vision of being a team-driven company delivering high-quality custom solutions using an innovative approach. The company puts a high value on supporting its employees to engage their skills throughout all facets of the business, allowing Loos Machine to build strong relationships with its customers.

“Employees are a vital asset to any organization, and their contributions can significantly impact the success and growth of the company in various ways. Our employees bring their expertise, skills and knowledge to the organization. Their specialized knowledge and abilities are essential for executing tasks, solving problems and driving innovation within their respective roles and departments,” Kilty says.

He adds that employees who work well together can achieve greater results, generate new ideas and drive the company forward.

“The collective skills of our employees contribute to our overall success. Without them, Loos would not be where we are today,” he says.

Kilty notes that a positive and inclusive company culture attracts and retains talented individuals, fostering a productive and engaged workforce.

“We feel our culture allows local talent to thrive in our environment. Employee engagement in continuous learning and development initiatives also fuels the growth and success of our company. We fully support those individuals starting in high school, throughout their continued education, and continued tenure here at Loos,” he says.

He adds that the communities in which Loos Machine is located also are important to the company. Whether it’s supporting the next generation through helping out at local schools or supporting the cheese industry at contest auctions, the company prides itself on its involvement and investment in the communities and industries in which it works.

“Anything that we can do to give back and support those around our communities only further aides in securing our employee base and their families,” Kilty says.

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