MEET JAMI MILLER, YAMAHA MARINE’S FIRST FEMALE MASTER TECH
09 September, 2021 YamahaExplore
The new Yamaha Marine Precision Propeller (YPPI) facility in Greenfield, Ind. reached full production capacity this July. The advanced casting facility and foundry uses state-of-the-art robotics to significantly reduce lead times and increase production by more than 67 percent. This allows YPPI to deliver more than 100,000 propellers to customers annually.
Yamaha acquired Precision Propellers, Inc. in 2008. The group is the sole manufacturer of stainless-steel propellers for Yamaha outboards in the U.S. The Greenfield YPPI facility now houses the entire propeller casting operation while the YPPI location in Ritter, Indiana will serve as the manufacturer’s post casting and finishing facility. YPPI is one of only two marine propeller foundries in the U.S. and one of the largest stainlesssteel investment casting foundries in the world.
“It’s great to finally be firing on all cylinders in the Greenfield facility,” said Batuhan Ak, Plant Manager of YPPI Greenfield. “Propellers are part of the integrated systems that boats need today, and the new facility gives us the opportunity to leverage more efficient manufacturing technologies that increase quality while decreasing manufacturing costs.”
As a captive foundry (owned by the company that makes the product), YPPI is in a unique position to meet market demand quickly. While other manufacturers who rely on external sources are currently suffering from lead times that have doubled and tripled, YPPI’s investment in the Greenfield facility helped the company meet demand in a more timely manner.
“Yamaha built the Greenfield facility with additional capacity in mind – not only to meet today’s demand, but tomorrow’s as well,” said Ak. “As key customers of many vendors that supply U.S.-sourced products, we’ve been at the forefront of receiving the raw materials we needed to keep up the pace.”
To achieve greater levels of efficiency and increased production, the YPPI team brought in several new equipment advancements including a firstof- its-kind pouring system in addition to higher levels of space-efficient automation, i.e. robotic processing. The robotics created the need for new technical roles to support the equipment and technology.
“Many jump to the conclusion that introducing robotics into the manufacturing process eliminates jobs; that’s the opposite of what we’ve experienced with our expansion,” said Ak. “Not only did we retain all our employees, we added new positions for highly-skilled technicians – and we’ve grown and trained these professionals from our in-house team. Our overall headcount for the new facility increased, rather than decreased, with the introduction of new efficiencies. Our employees are now earning more while our company increases efficiency and production – it’s a win-win.”
YPPI employees have the advantage of on-the-job foundry training and expert skill development that is directly transferrable to other manufacturing industries. This is in addition to world-class benefits and competitive salaries that start well above minimum wage, giving employees comfortable lifestyle options within the cost-of-living factor in Greenfield.
YPPI plans to hire more than 30 new employees through the end of 2021 for a total just over 200 employees between the two facilities.
“The strongest and most valuable component of a career with YPPI is our culture,” Ak continued. “We are not your traditional manufacturer. We care for our employees. We are Yamaha with a ‘Mom and Pop’ feel. We invest in our people, giving them opportunities to grow and learn along the way.”
The group broke ground on the 55,000 square foot building on five of 28 acres in July of 2019. Yamaha plans to further expand the YPPI campus in the future.
“The new foundry is phase one of a multi-part development in Greenfield,” said Ak. “Each phase will further support the Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit mission to be a leader in boat component and system integrations that allow customers to enjoy easier, more satisfying boating experiences.”
Much of the foundry equipment found in YPPI’s new Greenfield facility came from VA Technology and LBCC, two key supply companies located in Sheffield, England, the foundry capital of the world. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the YPPI team navigated shutdowns and delays during the final equipment implantation phase of the new foundry. Realizing they could not open the doors in Greenfield on time without getting these vendors to the U.S. to install the new equipment, the broader U.S. Yamaha team stepped in to help.
“John O’Keefe on the Yamaha Marine Government Relations team worked with federal officials to help get the work visas secured to allow the teams for VA Technology and LBCC to travel to the U.S. to install the new foundry equipment,” said Batuhan Ak, Plant Manager of YPPI Greenfield.
“His great efforts kept us on track to open in July and underscored the ‘One Yamaha’ approach to business. The overall Yamaha team has a true work together/get-it-done mentality. We are a global company with vast resources and team members willing to go above and beyond to help – even when the task falls outside of their daily job descriptions.
“In my opinion, this approach to teamwork is one of the greatest values of a partnership with Yamaha and YPPI. Dealers and builders who work with Yamaha experience all the pros of working with a big, global company while also reaping the benefits of a ‘roll-up-your-sleeves/Mom and Pop’ approach to business relationships. To put it simply, Yamaha cultivates a culture of great collaboration in the name of delivering premium products.”