Custom-Built Solutions

Products Manufacturing at Moog

Moog has been a leader in precision motion control products for over 50 years and a player in global manufacturing and supply chain management since the 1960s. We have continued to evolve our systems and processes over time to specialize in both hydraulic and electric products and to meet customer expectations for best-in-class product design. Our organization is focused now on effectively delivering customized products so that each becomes the exact solution that a customer needs to improve a machine’s performance or solve a system problem.

This article describes Moog’s new strategy for working with customers to build custom products to exacting specifications and how we work to continually improve our capabilities and service. We will use Servovalves and Servo-Proportional valves as examples but the concepts apply to all of Moog’s core product lines. Many people in the industry think of valves as standard products and are surprised to find that nearly every product made by Moog today is custom-designed and built for an exact machine and application. Our operations today and in the future will focus on meeting our customers’ needs for performance-based customized motion control solutions.

Moog's Strategic Plan

Moog’s Industrial Organization has recently completed a new business strategy based on the needs and concerns of our customers. Our objective is to be a Global Organization that supplies and services customized motion control solutions to Global and Regional Markets. Think of this as an agile single virtual company with the benefits of local representation. To implement this focus our operations are now designated as either supply-side or demand-side to enable faster and better delivery of custom products. This will allow us to better serve our customer by focusing on some core competencies:

  • Customer intimacy – Understanding customer needs and providing unique solutions.
  • Ability to customize our core product and platforms close to the customer interface.
  • Global Core Product Organization to leverage broad resources and concentrate on delivering best-in-class products, processes and service.

Customer Intimacy: Understanding Customer Needs

Customer intimacy has been the key to effective product development and application for the entire history of Moog. Our operations are organized as Centers of Excellence that specialize in the design and manufacture of products. 

For example, all of Moog’s electrical feedback Servo-Proportional Valves for industrial applications are centralized in Europe. These valves are then sold and supported in over 20 locations around the world, where the customer can communicate with our engineering staff in his or her local language. Many of our locations have operations that provide testing, and customization on-site to provide the maximum flexibility in providing solutions. Consequently, Moog also maintains a sophisticated global supply chain including purchasing, manufacturing, and distribution in the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific.

Moog uses regular customer satisfaction research to understand what is fundamental to our customers’ success and to ensure our operations meet current and future needs. In the hydraulics arena, new technologies such as microprocessor-based digital products offer not only additional features but also more software-based customization. The trend of transitioning machines from electro-hydraulic to electro-mechanical and hybrid control means that Moog’s approach of providing “technology neutral solutions,” will take on greater and greater importance. Moog is truly committed to providing customized solutions and working with customers to continually improve operations and the ability to act more quickly on needs.

Ability to Customize Our Core Product and Platforms

Some machine builders think of a servovalve, that has been around for 50 years, as a standard product that can be purchased off-the-shelf. Yet, Moog’s value to our customer is to provide the optimum motion control solutions to improve machine performance. For many machine builders, servovalves and Servo-Proportional Valves are the key to making their machine the fastest, most accurate, safest, and most energy efficient in the marketplace. Moog ensures that the latest design changes and improvements are incorporated into all new products rather than selling a component off-the-shelf and making it fit. Thus, Moog can serve customers better as a solution provider rather than a standard component manufacturer.

As you would expect, Moog uses the latest manufacturing techniques from Point of Use Inventory to Lean Manufacturing to Value Stream Mapping in order to ensure the quality of product and timeliness of delivery. Most of our operations use cell or team manufacturing to ensure that decision-making and quality stays with each technician. While empowerment is a buzzword for many businesses today, it is actually core to Moog’s corporate culture and has been in practice since its inception in 1951. Moog’s culture is stated succinctly as “promoting a workplace with mutual trust and individual responsibility.” This philosophy is one of the reasons why the people of Moog have made it the quality leader in the industry.

Another important element of customization is competency in precision manufacturing. For example, the fit and overlap of valve bodies and bushings and spools are manufactured to tolerances of microns (0.000050 – 0.000150 inches) using some of the most sophisticated honing, grinding, lapping and EDM machinery in the market. Even more important than machining is using state-of-the-art techniques to measure very small dimensions accurately and quickly. Moog developed this measuring technology in-house as the key to reliable and consistent machining processes.

In addition to precision machining, the ability to assemble a large variety of customized products in small batches is a critical competency of Moog operations. This encompasses not only the supply chain management of over 100,000 different parts, but also documentation of assembly processes and testing. To meet our customer expectations of consistent quality and short delivery times, Moog must be able to assemble and adjust valves to customer specifications. The complexity of customizing all of our 35,000 models of servo and proportional valves is enormous, but products must also be offered at reasonable cost and delivery times, even for one-piece lot sizes. The answer for Moog is to employ effective global sourcing systems and partnerships with long term suppliers.

Global Core Product Organization

The role of designing and building products at Moog is just one part of a wider Supply Chain Management process. With respect to core products and platforms, we manufacture or procure parts/materials from the most effective source, and consolidate like items to leverage volume and make best use of resources. Common processes are used around the Moog globe, which will enable rapid redeployment of tasks and resources on an “as required” basis.

One important new service that is being developed by Moog experts to complement our future strategy is the ability to quickly provide custom working models of products for our customer’s prototype machines. This is increasingly critical to our customers as their new generation machine development time becomes compressed. Hence a rapid prototyping facility will be a collective cell of manufacturing, assembly, and testing capabilities supported by dedicated functions, that will enable the speedy transition from first design concept to first working model. Such an initiative will inevitably require streamlined processes to enable the vision to be realized.

Due to Moog’s 50 years of experience, an important aspect of our global supply chain and customization competency is the ability to store and retrieve specification data on the 35,000+ models manufactured at sites all round the world. When a customer needs a replacement of Moog product they can be assured of the same performance as well as product upgrades and design improvements. This requires a sophisticated manufacturing and assembly process that is tied to an effective specification system to manage this complexity.

Future Success:

Moog’s new strategy builds on the success of 50 years to help us continue to design and build products that are not only best-in-class but a unique solution for the customer. While this article used valves as an example, the concept also applies to our servomotor and drives, pumps, and controllers as well as innovative sub-systems that combine multiple products. Clearly, Moog will continue to invest in our core capabilities in product design, manufacturing and service. This requires continual investment in machining, assembly, and testing of products including acquisition of new machines and control systems to further reduce set-up and cycle times. This also requires an emphasis on lean processes and efficient supply chains as well as a highly flexible organization. Of course, the people who work at Moog remain the most important element and the real secret behind our innovation and excellence. Today, more than ever, Moog is a partner in providing one of the most important key differentiators for our customers, a unique motion control solution made specifically for their machine.

Appendix A: Valve Customization

In the example of servovalves and Servo-Proportional Valves, the amount and level of customization available is surprising to customers. To illustrate the level of customization Moog can provide in this example a list of some of the valve components that can be customized is listed below

  • Torque Motors/Spool Actuators (Linear Motor, Solenoid, Pilot Valve)
  • Valve Size/Rated and Maximum Flows
  • Operating Pressure
  • Valve Function (Q, P, Pq Control,.....)
  • Nozzle size
  • Coil assembly
  • Feedback wire spring rate
  • Hydraulic amplifier set up
  • Spool-in-Body/Bushing and Spool Assembly
  • Null cuts (see the attached article Did You Know)
  • Fail-safe options (Electric/Hydraulic)

Author

Colin Lewis was appointed as the Head of Global Core Products, Moog International in April 2004. His career started with Moog Controls Limited (MCL) in the United Kingdom as Director of Programs on Aerospace. He was subsequently named General Manger Aerospace. Prior to his most recent position, Colin jointly held the positions of Managing Director, MCL, and General Manager, Electric Products.

Special thanks to Gunter Kilgus, Dave Stocking, and Kim Marie McKernan who made significant contributions to this article.