Most of us working in manufacturing, particularly here in the U.S., have a lot to be thankful for this year. Here is a list of five things that quickly jump to mind for which I’m thankful in my professional life.
A Strong 2014
Most people in the industry believe that it’s been a good year, and momentum should carry us well into 2015. A very successful IMTS acts as a good indication. In one of many industry wrap-ups, Steve Kline, Jr., director of market intelligence for Gardner Research, states that surveys of metalworking equipment buyers indicate that spending may jump 37 percent next year to the highest level in 7 years.
Smart Young Shop Personnel
For a while now the skills gap has been a concern in manufacturing. We’ve often discussed the need to promote increased awareness of industry jobs and the transfer of knowledge from an aging workforce to the next generation. I get excited when I see progress in this regard. “A Swiss Shop’s Next Generation” examines a shop that is meeting the challenge with internal training. “Grooming Young Leaders” takes a quick look at a couple of rising stars who are making their mark on the shop floor.
Shops That Place High Value in Sharing Their Stories
There are so many interesting stories to tell about shops that are using creative approaches in applying technology for better production. But one of the more challenging parts of my job is finding such shops that are willing to share what they’ve learned. Often, proprietary information prevents them from opening their doors to our readers. It’s cool, though, when a shop gets genuinely excited to tell its story. Here’s an example of one such shop that Chris Koepfer writes about in our December issue.
I’m not sure where I’d be if not for the guidance of PM’s editor-in-chief, Chris Koepfer, who probably has forgotten more about metalworking than I’ll ever know, and our managing editor, Lori Beckman, who keeps us in line and handles the details of pulling each issue together. But I’m also so thankful for all the other people in this company, each of whom plays some role, directly or indirectly, in the success of our magazine. I’ve never before worked at a company that didn’t have at least one employee who was difficult to work with. But Gardner somehow manages to find Grade-A employees every time.
Titled “More High Schools Teach Manufacturing Skills,” the article confirms that ”U.S. high schools that have launched or revived manufacturing programs in recent years to guide students toward good-paying jobs and help fill a critical shortage of skilled machinists, welders and maintenance technicians.”
Here are a couple of points the article makes that are worth sharing:
There is a glaring imbalance in the labor market. Despite high unemployment since the recession, manufacturers still struggle to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings.
Manufacturing is dogged by an outdated image
Because you’re working with computers and robots that are doing what you used to do by hand, it requires a skill set (in math and science) above what was required a generation ago.
Community colleges also are turning out more prospective employees, but not keeping up with demand. Nationwide, community colleges awarded 1,557 associate degrees or certificates in manufacturing last year, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. That’s up from 616 in 2005, but below the almost 1,600 doled out in 2000.
In addition, the "USA Today" piece has some informative graphics and video clips.
But the best takeaway from this piece is a quote from a student whose engagement with the manufacturing class has improved his grade performance and motivation:“With this class, I have the motivation … It’s a way out, I don’t want to be working at McDonald’s.”
Deburring is one of the most critical post-machining operation for ensuring the functionality of the machined part, as well as the safe handling of the part. Although traditionally a manual process, various technologies exist for reliably automating deburring. Find a wealth of information on this process at PM's’s Deburring Zone. Here you’ll find links to PM articles, case histories, and products related to this topic. Visitors can also view a video on deburring and find deburring suppliers. After browsing through the Deburring Zone, feel free to visit any of PM’s other zones by clicking here.
A trip to Okuma headquarters in Charlotte, depending on where you live, might be a respite come December 9-10 when the company hosts its technology showcase. It is also an excellent chance to see demonstrations of technology upgrades to make CNC machines and their operators more productive, and thus your company more profitable.
Demos include two- and four-axes lathes cutting side by side to show advantages of four-axis turning for the right applications. Also being shown are comparison applications between HMC and VMC machining centers.
The event includes a facility tour and an opportunity to interact with Okuma’s Partners in Thinc, who represent tooling, gaging, workholding and automation, as well as ways to integrate these peripherals. Click here to learn more.
The article provides clear illustrations and details for optimal strategies in skiving.
Although recognized as one of the oldest and most efficient methods for producing long and slender parts, those with close diameter tolerances and finishes, and those requiring truly spherical radii, skiving is still often avoided because many layout and setup personnel and operators lack sufficient knowledge to successfully apply the process.
Several years ago, Somma Tool Company provided a closer look at the process in the article, “The Forgotten Art of Skiving.” Providing a solid definition of skiving, details of its advantages, and clear illustrations of required cutting angles, this article continues to get a lot of traffic on the Production Machining website. It’s worth a read if you think skiving might be right for your operations.