The 1990s garage story that you’ve never heard. A prominent name in dust collection, Oneida Air Systems, details the story of how they came to be, their mantra of innovation, and their relationship and affinity for Tigerstop metal fabrication tools.
In the early 1990s a man worked in his garage to solve a major problem. No, this isn’t the story of Google, Amazon or Apple, but one with similar strokes of ingenuity and necessity. While working as a mechanical engineer, Robert Witter observed a significant void in small to medium sized woodworking shops. There weren't any condensed dust collection solutions available for this segment. Industrial companies were making large systems, but the everyday woodworker was left to push dust around with a broom. Robert Witter knew that smaller sized shops desperately needed a solution to keep up with the cumbersome amounts of dust created from large power tools. The market potential was tremendous.
In a garage located in Upstate New York, Witter began researching and developing the foundations for the award-winning dust collection systems that people have come to know and love today.
ONEIDA AIR SYSTEMS
After tinkering with designs for some time, Witter decided to open an all-in-one shop for the manufacture and design of dust collection systems. In 1993, Robert and Rebecca Witter officially founded Oneida Air Systems and almost immediately, they received a flurry of inquiries for their proprietary small shop solution.
Fast forward almost a quarter of a century later, and Oneida Air Systems has grown to almost 50 employees with a complete line of industry leading dust collection systems and components. Per Witter, most of the Oneida product line is made in Syracuse, NY and almost all parts are sourced in the USA. While they still serve the small shop woodworkers, they have grown to serve a variety of different clientele from medium to large with various dust collection solutions.
Culture of Innovation
Oneida Air has continued to innovate. In recent years the have introduced the Mini Gorilla, a portable dust collector, perfect for any small shop and SMART systems, which can automatically sense and adjust the fan’s RPM to create the right balance of CFM and suction, along with several other industry leading products. Most of the Oneida Air System's HVAC solutions come with industry leading G.E. certified hospital-grade HEPA filtration. According to Witter: “We’re innovators who make products based on need. We’re a company that believes in Lean Manufacturing, and we make incremental improvements. It’s helped us weather the recent economic downturn very well, and I want it to continue to be our formula for the future.”
ONEIDA AIR AND TIGERSTOP
Part of that lean manufacturing initiative is what led Robert Witter to turn to TigerStop metal fabrication tools to help reduce waste in the Oneida Air Systems HVAC manufacturing process.
Witter recognized the cost savings associated with fully utilizing Oneida's steel material. Incorrectly cut parts due to tape measure inaccuracies led to expensive material being discarded as scrap. "The cost savings from reduced waste have been well worth the TigerStop investment," explains Witter.
"Our shop is pretty small and incredibly lean. Each person is trained to perform multiple tasks. For example, an operator may run all of the cutoff on the TigerStop for the metal components of our Dust Deputy, but then might switch to another machine or start packaging. The TigerStop allows us to work at a faster pace and keep our cutting accurate. In the end, we want to have the best product for our customers and in order to do that, the product needs to be to precise," says Christian Cobb of Oneida Air Systems.
Currently, Oneida Air uses a couple of TigerStop units to help keep them cut down on waste and continue to manufacture high quality products. Ken Banker, Fabricator and Assembler at Oneida Air Systems details, “The TigerStop units make my life a lot easier by cutting down on the time required to measure and re-measure each cut.”
"Our TigerStop machine is more than "nice to have," it is imperative to our workflow here at Oneida Air Systems. It helps us to cut down waste, speed up tasks, and be more conscientious of our workflow. It's safe to say that TigerStop helps us to keep up with the rising costs of high quality material in the US by being much more efficient," explains Christian.
By: Christian Cobb, Oneida Air Systems
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