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Belletech’s seamless adaptation led to supplier award

Parts buyers for Honda Manufacturing of Indiana Inc. ran into a bind in 2012 as the automaker was ramping up production after 2011’s setbacks from natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.

A Pittsburgh autoglass supplier was having trouble meeting the increased demand, so plans were made to ship glass panes from Japan to Belletech Corp., 700 W. Lake Ave.

Belletech Corp. celebrated Tuesday a recent supplier award from Honda. The Challenge Spirit award came from its 2012 efforts to handle more than 50,000 panes of glass shipped from Japan in wooden crates. It added steps to the plant’s daily production, yet Belletech met its customer’s deadlines and quality expectations. EXAMINER PHOTO | JOEL E. MAST

With less than six weeks to plan, the Bellefontaine plant’s 204 associates had to come up with a plan to adapt to the Japanese shipments.

Their efforts led to a Challenging Spirit supplier award from Honda, the first such supplier award in a long time for Belletech.

“It’s been a long dry spell,” Vice President Mark McIntyre said Tuesday. “That’s why we’re tickled to death to receive this honor.

“We believe our people do a great job year in and year out, but there can be little nuances that keep you from receiving an award,” he said, noting the competition for such recognition has greatly increased since Belletech started 30 years ago.

Belletech hosted a reception Tuesday to mark the occasion and invited the HMI team which nominated Belletech for the award.

HMI’s Reed Jones said Belletech had to deviate from its normal processes to meet production needs at HMI and in Canada.

He explained the change in suppliers required Belletech to add a handling process into its production day.

Normally, the Pittsburgh supplier would ship the glass panes in metal racks. These racks can be brought in by tractor-trailers, unloaded and wheeled straight into the assembly line.

Robots then pick up and place the panes onto the line.

The Japanese shipment came in wooden crates and were separated by small polystyrene foam blocks.

“So they had to uncrate the panes, pick off all the foam, clean the glass and then place the panes into the metal rack,” Mr. Jones said. “I figured up they handled 50,000 panes, 2,000 crates and thousands of foam blocks.”

Mr. McIntyre said Belletech usually has 1 1/2 years to plan for new production, but the staff stepped up when given just weeks.

“We all sat down and talked about what would happen,” he said. “Once we understood the needs of the customer, we were able to put together a plan.

“In the end, it came down to us delivering the right part to the right place at the right time.”

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