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Outsourcing Metal Fabrication for Safer Flights

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Xwind LLC, a relatively small, Indiana-based design and development company, brings high-quality flight simulators to the people who need them most.

Designed to help pilots hone their skills safely and effectively, Xwind’s flight simulators are obviously no replacement for actual flight, but they are the next best thing to train pilots to handle dangerous crosswinds and gusts. Wind disruptions like gusts and crosswinds during flights are the leading cause of accidents every year.

The flight simulators developed by Xwind are sold through Redbird, a well-respected, successful flight simulator company whose goal is to make flight simulation more accessible to the general aviation industry. Flight simulators are high-tech, detailed pieces of equipment, and without the consistently accurate components and parts, the simulators would be impossible to produce. Xwind spends a great deal of time and effort ensuring they produce some of the highest quality flight simulators in the industry.

Xwind’s Problem

Xwind’s flight simulators rely on many different delicate parts. These parts work together to create a machine that simulates flight as close to real life as possible. Xwind needed parts fabricated for the rudder, yoke, throttle, and motion platform system of the simulators. But the small company did not have the means or expertise to create many of the parts for the simulators on their own. They were, however, sure the parts could be made; the challenge came with manufacturing many of the same high-quality parts over and over to their high standards. So they had to find the right manufacturing company for their needs.

Because Xwind is a small company, they didn’t want to hire a large company without any personal connection. Brad Whitsitt of Xwind said he wanted to be able to know what was happening and how everything was coming together. “I wanted a company that was nearby so that I could visit them and understand better what they needed so that I could communicate effectively. I knew what I wanted but didn’t know how to best design it so it could be manufactured.”

Solution – Enter Mainstay

After an extensive local search, Whitsitt found Mainstay. At first Xwind only had a portion of their parts sourced from Mainstay, but eventually decided to work exclusively with them. Whitsitt is impressed with Mainstay’s offerings and capabilities. He said their web advertising was the first thing that drew him to the company, but the way they handle projects convinced him that they were the right company to work with.

Mainstay is able to provide Xwind with all the parts and support they need. Mainstay receives the designs provided by Xwind and makes them come to life, cutting and bending steel and aluminum as needed to get everything just right and to match the specifications. Mainstay’s commitment to Xwind didn’t end there. Whitsitt said that Mainstay even caught a few design mistakes early on, before they caused major problems. Mainstay was also happy to meet with Xwind and review the progress on the projects to make sure the parts they produced were functioning as needed.

President and CEO of Mainstay, Jason Greeson, said that during the development phases of projects the teams at Mainstay and Xwind would meet about every two weeks. “After that, once they have part numbers, it’s all about providing them with their order,” said Greeson.

Outcome

Whitsitt says that he is very happy Xwind is working with Mainstay. “Last year, we assembled 853 assemblies. Almost every assembly was touched by Mainstay. We could not do that without reliable, repeatable hardware from Mainstay. They’re very key to our success.” Greeson is also happy to be working with Xwind: “They’re a growing company and we’ve been happy to work with them for the better part of six years now.”

Greeson also said that they are now working on their third new project this year. “Xwind has brought several new products to the market, including a helicopter simulator.” Over the years Mainstay has become Xwind’s one-stop shop for production and support.

David Colley, who’s in charge of engineering and quality at Mainstay, said that not all of the new projects have been easy. “The size of the helicopter project made it difficult to complete, and we had to break it up into modules.” Colley said that although they have run into problems with projects before, they have always been able to work with Xwind to get a finished product. “They’ve always provided a lot of good feedback.”

Whitsitt said that Mainstay is genuinely interested in how the final product turns out. “That means a great deal.”