The Kaishan USA manufacturing and engineering center in Loxley, Alabama.
When deciding how best to deliver high-quality rotary screw air compressors and components to companies throughout the Americas and beyond, Kaishan decided to go all in.
And go all in it did with the creation of Kaishan USA, which today operates its global manufacturing and engineering center in Loxley, Alabama. The goal of the company, said compressed air industry veteran and Kaishan USA CEO Keith Schumacher, was to put the right pieces in place from the very beginning.
“To that end, we’ve invested $20 million in our facility and created a team allowing us to develop technologies and manufacture products not only for the Americas, but also for export globally,” Schumacher said.
Operations in Full Swing
Opened in 2019, the 65,000-square-foot plant in Loxley serves as Kaishan USA headquarters, as well as its manufacturing operation and engineering and design center. The operation now in full swing boasts an experienced and skilled workforce dedicated to the design and complete manufacture, assembly, modification, and testing of single- and two-stage rotary screw air compressors from five to 500 horsepower.
Schumacher said Kaishan USA’s goal is to do much more than ensure products get from Point A to Point B. Its commitment to designing, engineering, and manufacturing highly efficient air compressors is a prime example, he said.
“We spent $3 million alone in research and development within the first couple of years,” Schumacher said, noting how forty percent (40%) of salaried employees at the company work in engineering positions. What’s more, he said, team leaders of every area of the company have a minimum of 25 years of experience in rotary screw air compressor manufacturing.
The Kaishan USA engineering team reviews the latest design of an oil-free rotary screw air compressor airend.
In addition to a heavy engineering focus and experienced leadership, Kaishan USA is fully committed to state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies and the implementation of streamlined processes to efficiently produce air compressors and components that exceed customers’ expectations. The commitment is seen throughout all areas of the operation such as in the precision manufacturing of airends by highly skilled CNC machine operators.
“The investment in technology and equipment we’ve made to produce rotors (airends) is upwards of $8 million,” Schumacher said.
State-of-the-art machining systems, such as a Kapp Niles rotor grinding machine, are used in the production of precision components including the air compressor rotors. A flexible machining center with an automated pallet system allowing for operation 24 hours per day, seven days a week by one operator is also used. These precision components all pass under a Zeiss coordinate measuring machine, measuring the components for accuracy within .0012 mm. The entire facility itself is also air conditioned as an added measure of manufacturing excellence.
“When you’re talking about the kind of tolerances involved, ambient temperature will have an effect on it,” Schumacher said.
Equally crucial as R&D and manufacturing, Schumacher said, is the need to ensure products shipped meet stringent quality standards, which explains the company’s significant investment in automated testing equipment. As an example, he points to technology used to measure tolerances of rotors to within eight microns.
“The measuring capability of the technology is one-50th of the thickness of a piece of paper,” he said. In addition to extensive internal testing and quality control measures, he said the company also participates in the Compressed Air & Gas Institute’s Performance Verification Program. The long-standing CAGI program validates manufacturers' claims of rotary air compressor performance. Every machine is tested prior to shipment to ensure they comply to the stated CAGI performance sheet.
Kaishan USA engineers check bearing journals on a coordinate measuring machine.
Seamless and Efficient Online Experience
Kaishan USA also places significant emphasis on creating a seamless experience for those who quote, purchase, install, and maintain its air compressors and components that make up a complete solution.
As an example, Kaishan USA Customer Experience Manager Henry Phillips references the company’s online system featuring a host of tools designed to make doing business easy and efficient. The system allows users to select a product based on specific requirements and determine whether the product is in stock, as well as its purchase price and delivery date. Users can also easily track shipments and be automatically notified in advance of any delays, eliminating guesswork, Phillips said.
“Even though these purchases are typically large capital investments, we still provide an experience that is as close as possible to that of any leading e-commerce company,” Phillips said. “When you make it easy for distributors, they can confidently say, ‘I’ll buy the product from Kaishan USA because they’ll deliver.’ ”
The system also tracks every nuance associated with an order, such as the pressure requirements for a given application and the air compressor settings to meet it.
“We want to know exact pressure requirements because we’re going to make sure that modulation valve is set just perfectly. We’ll then test it at that pressure before it’s shipped,” Phillips said. “We capture all data like that and put into to a ‘digital birth certificate’ to track the critical information about our units, including service history and fluid samples, in case it's ever needed in the field.”
Maintaining and servicing equipment long after the sale is also a major advantage of the system, as is the team effort behind customer support, Phillips said.
“The system provides visibility into all of our equipment in the field. It really makes aftermarket administration extremely efficient,” he said, noting the value of starting a company with a fresh perspective. “We decided early on we wanted an operation that would be lean and mean.”
Focused on Customer Satisfaction
A number of other initiatives also contribute to a high level of customer satisfaction.
Among them is Kaishan USA’s commitment to the availability of all products – even if the product isn’t a top seller, Schumacher said.
“We have over $7.5 million worth of products in our inventory,” he said. “This includes not only our finished units, but all of the aftermarket components as well. Honestly, we know some of the products might not be needed anytime soon, but we still have them in stock.”
Schumacher said the company’s manufacturing processes are 85% vertically integrated, which contributes to readily available products in addition to manufacturing agility and quality assurances. He said an emphasis on vertical integration, combined with advanced manufacturing capabilities, also elevates the breadth of unique products available. It includes the production of airends unique to each single-stage air compressor.
A Kaishan USA KRSP-75 fixed-speed air compressor in the process of assembly.
Adding to customer satisfaction is Kaishan USA’s philosophy of employee engagement at every level of the company, Schumacher said.
“We want to make sure we’re creating a good working environment and a motivated workforce,” he said. “One of the things we do to be an employer of choice is to offer a gain-sharing program where 30% of company profits are shared with employees. Our belief is that the business will prosper if you reward people for doing the right thing as stakeholders.”
The approach impacts everyday decisions in all areas, said Phillips, pointing to the on-time delivery of products as an example of numerous metrics closely tracked by team members since it impacts profitability.
“The team understands that going above and beyond to achieve delivery dates is what it takes to win over customers,” he said. “That’s something that happens everywhere whether it’s manufacturing, quality control and testing, shipping, or aftermarket support.”
Both Schumacher and Phillips said the gain-sharing program is one of many examples of how Kaishan USA’s goal is to attract and retain quality employees. Those interested in joining the company are invited to learn more at https://kaishanusa.com/careers/.
Helping Those Most in Need
But for Kaishan USA, being a people-focused company extends beyond its operation. This core belief drives a passion for giving back to the community, which is seen in its partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation, whose mission is to serve the nation by honoring its defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those most in need.
A topline corporate sponsor, Kaishan USA supports the foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, which enables the country’s most severely wounded heroes to receive 100% mortgage-free, specifically adapted smart homes. Support for the program also extends to the foundation’s Relief & Resiliency program, which aims to ensure defenders and their families stay strong through hardships by offering complete support in times of need.
In addition to its role as a major sponsor, Kaishan USA has recently introduced a program that gives distributor partners ample opportunity to contribute to the foundation. For more, visit https://donate.garysinisefoundation.org/campaign/kaishan-cares/c404132.
“We are an American manufacturer with military veterans comprising more than 20% of our staff,” Schumacher said. “All of us are very proud to support this important organization.”
Doors Continue to Open
Proud also defines how Schumacher feels about the progress Kaishan USA has made in the relatively short time since it formally started business as a U.S. manufacturer.
Since 2018, sales at the company have grown 100 percent year over year with significant gains in market share. Schumacher said things have changed considerably since the early goings when the leadership team sat on folding chairs in a small facility to map out the company’s future.
“We’re getting a lot of knocks on our door these days,” he said. “That’s a lot different than the days when we did most of the knocking.”
For more information about Kaishan USA, visit https://kaishanusa.com/.
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