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Burloak Tool and Die : Vero International

Burlington, Ontario-based Burloak Tool and Die Limited offers a wide range of services including special and custom built fabrications, press tooling, jogs and fixtures, precision custom machining and stamping - including CNC, wire EDM, and assembly for industrial and commercial applications. The 25 year-old company primarily serves the automotive industry. It employs 54 people working two shifts five days per week.

Burloak's departments include machining, tooling, quality control, engineering, and press production. Project engineers use VISI Series software, a CAD/CAM package from Vero International (, for many activities related to designing tools and dies, upfront engineering, and quoting new jobs.

For a recent project involving a skit plate that rests under an automotive engine, Burloak designers used VISI to determine the final shape of the product. According to Randy Barber, Burloak's technical sales representative, "The skit plate properties are such that there is tremendous bounce-back one the aluminum form is pressed into the die. We used VISI early in the design process to research the best methods to design the part so that it would fit the customer's tolerances. The early, up-front processes made all the difference in generating a part that successfully met all job specifications."

For appliance tooling, most Burloak customers want their strip layouts in 3D format. "In today's fiercely competitive manufacturing environment," Barber adds, "you must be working in 3D. Two-dimensional work just doesn't cut it anymore. Without 3D capabilities, companies will ultimately fail."

Prior to implementing VISI series one year ago, Burloak designers and engineers used CADkey and MasterCAM products. Brian Gooding, Burloak's tool room supervisor and die designer, says working in 3D has tremendous advantages. "In terms of machining, there are fewer chances of error," Gooding says. In terms of design, using VISI allows users to manipulate parts very easily. "We can achieve desired designs on time and it helps shop floor technicians understand what the end-product will look like. As a result, they are more confident approaching new jobs because they have the knowledge about best machining practices ahead of the game. A 2D drawing provides part dimensions, but doesn't show the whole picture - no where near what a 3D solid model can show."

In addition, using VISI Series eliminates data conversion. The automatic 3D downloads eliminate guesswork in CNC machining. "Today, it's a rare occasion that a mechanic experiences problems. There are no interferences on the shop floor as a result of the up-front engineering using VISI."

While all five VISI users at Burloak are extremely satisfied with the product now, they admit that it was difficult to transition from 2D to 3D. "I was probably the most skeptical," says Gooding. "I initially thought that moving from 2D to 3D would be expensive and difficult to change mindsets. However, the transition was actually quite easy once we obtained training and we spent time becoming proficient. Today, I wouldn't have it any other way."

From a sales position, Barber says that he uses VISI files to help sell products and services. "VISI images help customers visualize exactly what a tool or die will look like in a much more understandable way than with a 2D representation. The VISI models leave nothing to the imagination." He maintains an Excel spreadsheet with VISI screen shots that include parts, dies, and analysis reports that define job materials, costs, schedules, etc. He also maintains a library of parts with associated quotes. "Using this strategy," Barber notes, "I don't have to go through the whole quoting process from scratch every time I need to bid on a job. It's a very effective tool that considerably speeds up the process."

He also says that prior to using this methodology, quoting jobs was more time consuming and a bit of guesswork. "Looking at a blueprint, it was hard to describe how a tool or die would look like or what it would cost without going through a lot of hoops," Barber explains. Les Rackham, Burloak's president is committed to high technology and opted to implement VISI Series software because it is the only CAD/CAM software package that offers specific modules for tool and die design. "Prior to purchasing VISI, our designers and engineers were quite proficient using 2D software, however, it was a disparate product. We wanted an integrated solution that addressed design conceptualization, tool building, modifications, and manufacturing processes, says Rackham.

"In addition," he notes, "our philosophy at Burloak Tool and Die is to be as competitivie as possible with the most up-to-date technologies and systems such as ISO 9001 Quality System and the continuing implementation of lean manufacturing. We encourage employees to upgrade their skills in new technologies that are available to remain competitively locally as well as in the global market. With the emergence of China and South Korea as the new frontier for doing business, it is imperative to increase our competitiveness and find alternatives and opportunities to transform our business to lessen the impact of changes in the global economy. This will be accomplished by developing long term, solid plans to implement systems to reduce costs and fully monitor all aspects of job flow, quality, and delivery."

For more information about Burloak Tool and Die, visit Click on for more information about Vero International. To contact the writer, email

Author: Laura Carrabine

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Page last modified on January 16, 2006
Copyright 2006 by John Stark