PennTAP helps metal manufacturer increase production by 30-35%

PennTAP’s support and assistance with this project were top notch. I want to thank PennTAP for all the collaboration on these projects and all we do in the future.

Chuck Williams, General Manager, Custom Container Solutions

The Need

Custom Container Solutions (CCS) manufactures quality and custom steel containers that are used in the construction, energy, recycling, and waste disposal industries. Its products include roll-off, hook lift, front and rear load steel containers.

CCS General Manager Chuck Williams was looking to increase production while decreasing energy consumption, pollution, and waste and learned about PennTAP through the Innovative Manufacturers’ Center (IMC), which helped the company with other production improvements. The IMC suggested CCS reach out to PennTAP to complete an Economy, Energy, and Environment (E3) assessment.

The Projects

PennTAP advisor Jenn Jones performed an E3 assessment, funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), and made recommendations at the CCS Milton facility.

During the assessment, a value stream map, or a visual guide of each step in the small can line process was created to assess how reduction in use could be achieved. Through the mapping exercise, one process improvement that was identified was that CCS needed to align the production schedules of fabrication with the weld line to ensure the correct types and quantity of parts were being produced. In addition, the E3 team determined there was an opportunity to reduce forklift use on the small can line.

During the E3 assessment, it was also identified that the exhaust hood system needed improvement. During the spring 2022 semester, PennTAP facilitated a connection between CCS and the Penn State Learning Factory, which provides a university-industry partnership where student design projects benefit clients, to support this need. As a result, a Learning Factory student team created a preventative maintenance plan for air filters in the existing CCS dust collection system and designed a hood system to better collect dust particles.

A few months after the initial E3 assessment, Jones also connected CCS to Penn State researchers for a project on Smart Manufacturing that was funded by the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII). During the assessment, the CEMSII team identified a need for better weld defect detection and weld operating training at CCS. This project was spearheaded by Drs. Soundar Kumara, Saurabh Basu, the Penn State Center for the Applications of AI & ML (AIMI) and the Center for Immersive Experience (CIE), all of which worked with CCS to obtain a grant through the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program to use virtual reality and defect analysis to build a quality control and workforce training system for weld operators and to create an integrated system for better defection detection, which is still in the works.

Outcomes and Benefits

The various projects had specific outcomes and benefits for CCS:

  • The E3 assessment report detailed conservation opportunities and recommendations which were estimated to save the company $4,883 annually, equivalent to 44,961 kWh and 328 gallons of propane (8% reduction in propane costs). The outcome of the project resulted in 13% propane consumption reduction (double the estimated amount) and greenhouse gas emission reduction by 3.1 metric tons. Overall, the E3 assessment allowed them to increase production by 30-35%.
  • The Learning Factory student team’s preventative maintenance plan was implemented by CCS, and it reported improved air quality within its plant.

Throughout each project with PennTAP, CCS learned about process efficiency solutions and has applied those learnings to other needs within its facility. Additionally, CCS plans to continue working with PennTAP on other projects moving forward. For example, PennTAP is currently assisting in the manufacturer’s application for a 2023 Small Business Advantage Grant to help offset costs for two robotic weld units.

PennTAP is committed to helping achieve nine of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Of those nine goals, this project aligned with:  

About the Client

Custom Container Solutions, LLC

201 N Industrial Park Road

Milton, PA 17847

Phone: (570) 524-7835


County: Northumberland

Industry: Metals and Metal Fabrication