High Precision, High Performance

Engineered Machined Products
Written by Ryan Cartner

Engineered Machined Products (EMP) is a leading manufacturer of high-precision machined and electric components for a wide range of industrial applications such as water and oil pumps, fans, motor housings, thermal management systems, and more. Headquartered in Escanaba, Michigan, EMP products are used by customers worldwide.

During the 1980s, EMP was owned by a German manufacturer of rubber sealing components called Freudenberg and Company. At this time, EMP was focused on the manufacture of oil and water pump equipment. Freudenberg was primarily a manufacturer of rubber components for noise and vibration dampening applications, so EMP’s machined products never truly fit with the company’s core offering and as a result its growth was stalled. In 1990, when Freudenberg merged with a competing company to form Freudenberg-NOK, leadership decided to streamline the business and began seeking a buyer for the EMP division.

In 1991, a group of local investors led by EMP’s current CEO/Owner Brian Larche looked at EMP and saw potential in the company despite its languishing growth stats. They wanted to keep the company alive in order to keep the jobs in Escanaba, and they realized that EMP had expertise that they could develop into something valuable. They purchased the company assets from Freudenberg-NOK and began to rebuild.

Under Larche’s leadership, the company focused the majority of its efforts on supporting one major customer, a publicly traded fortune 500 company and a global leader in automotive products called Navistar International. The team developed new expertise and began implementing digital design tools and CNC machining equipment to improve the speed and quality of production. By 1994, the company had doubled its revenue to 14.5 million dollars and by 1998 it had increased to 45 million.

As a result of this success, the company began to invest in facility expansions and product development. First, it moved its headquarters location into a 150,000 square foot facility in Escanaba and soon after expanded that facility by adding a manufacturing area, tool and dye equipment, and eventually a second location dedicated to engine thermal management research and development and a third for assembly purposes in Greenfield, Indiana. The company began to expand its product offering by taking on government and military contracts and by the year 2002 it was earning 145 million dollars in revenue.

The company had grown its customer base significantly but it was still centrally focused on a key base of major OEM diesel engine manufacturers. In 2003 it began to diversify its offering to include products designed to meet the needs of customers in other market sectors.

Today, nearly three decades after Brian Larche took over the leadership of EMP, the company is a leader in its field. A team of nearly 400 employees operating across three locations work together to design and build products for a wide range of applications. These include on-highway commercial transport vehicles and off-highway machinery such as equipment for the agricultural, construction, oil and gas, forestry, and mining industries. This includes thermal management and cooling systems for luxury travel buses and motor coaches, municipal transit buses and refuse vehicles, and industrial applications such as thermal management solutions for power generation plants and various oil and gas industry applications.

EMP’s experience and well-honed expertise has enabled it to build a diverse base of customers with widely varied needs. “EMP is largely considered the Pioneer of Vehicle Electrification,” Marketing Analyst Danielle Carlson. “We are a proud UP (Upper Peninsula) based company that is ‘small but mighty,’ serving customers both nationally and internationally. The quality of our staff and technology are rarely matched in the industry, and we pride ourselves on maintaining that reputation through hard work and constant innovation.”

A core component of EMP’s offering is its focus on automated high-precision machining. The company employs state-of-the-art automation techniques to drive high-tolerance, high-volume production. More than 200 CNC machines span its 250,000 square foot manufacturing facility. As a result of the company’s continual investment in its facilities, it’s been able to develop innovative automated manufacturing techniques resulting in the lowest lead times in the industry. EMP provides its customers with the highest precision high-volume production available.

Beyond its manufacturing capabilities, EMP is also an engineering company with a substantial research and development operation focused on designing state-of-the-art thermal and oil management technologies. Since the early 1990s, EMP has made engineering a central component of its business model and as a result, the company holds numerous patents. Government departments including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency have all worked with EMP on the development of sustainable technologies that reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

EMP’s portfolio of capabilities consists of a broad range of machined and electric components and assemblies. The electric products range includes everything from simple electric fans to more complex assemblies such as air conditioning and thermal cooling systems. Its machined components consist of singular pieces such as engine parts or fuel pump components alongside more complex complete water and oil pump systems. EMP has the capacity to produce everything from individual high-precision parts to advanced assemblies, providing customers with a full range of solutions and possibilities.

EMP is an ISO/TS 16949 company, which certifies its commitment to quality control and continual improvement in its manufacturing processes specifically for the automotive industry. Having achieved this certification sets EMP apart from many competing companies and enables it to supply products to clients whose need for quality and precision are absolutely critical.

As a result of EMP’s commitment to quality, it has won numerous industry awards. “EMP was named Michigan’s Manufacturer of the Year in 2001,” explains Carlson. “Other industry awards of note include the Design News Magazine “Best Product of the Year” Award for the years 2001, 2003 and 2005, and the prestigious Clean Air Excellence Award from the Environmental Protection Agency. EMP was also named a Finalist for its Mini-Hybrid Thermal System in 2007, and was named to the INC. Magazine list of 5,000 fastest growing privately held companies. EMP is also IATF 16949:2016 and ISO 9001:2015 certified. In 2018 and 2019 we were awarded Platinum Supplier by CAT, which only happens to less than one percent of their total suppliers.”

As global markets become more competitive, EMP is helping its customers stay ahead of the curve by continuing to improve its processes and develop new, innovative technologies to deliver the highest possible quality while minimizing costs. The company’s team of automation engineers are focused on the development of automation processes that enable high-volume, low-cost production and the company’s capacity to deliver parts to exact specifications – even when the tolerances are razor-thin – has enabled it to rise well above the competition.

One of the most important process innovations developed by the automation engineering team has been the segmentation of the manufacturing floor into twenty automation cells, each capable of producing between 60,000 and 700,000 units per year. Each cell is designed to perform a series of specific automated processes such as washing, deburring, leak testing, and automated assembly of parts. These automation cells have resulted in significant efficiency increases and reductions in cost that the company passes on to its customers, enabling them to remain competitive in their markets.

In 2007, as the country fell into economic recession, EMP struggled to maintain its rising trajectory. It had been developing an innovative cooling solution for the transit bus market that it called the Mini-Hybrid Electric Cooling System. That year, it brought the product to market, and it was picked up by more than 150 transit companies throughout the United States, which enabled EMP to survive the downturn. By 2014, it was being used by nearly every transit company in North America, South America, and Europe.

Since the initial roll-out of the Mini-Hybrid, the product has gone through four generations, each improving upon the last. It is still one of the most widely used bus cooling systems on the market, and is a flagship product for EMP.

After nearly thirty years in business, EMP continues to offer the highest precision manufacturing at the most competitive cost to the industries it serves. EMP’s advanced engineering expertise and high-precision manufacturing capabilities enable the company to design, build, and deliver products with unrivaled efficiency. This breadth of expertise is made possible by the company’s people. As Carlson says, “The biggest advantage that EMP has is the dedication and ingenuity of our employees. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to create and maintain the highest degree of excellence that we are known for. It’s a small-town work ethic that we apply to the global market, and that has absolutely set us apart from the competition.”



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