Posted by: Chris Koepfer (editor) 30. January 2015

United Grinding’s Lean ‘Puls’ Program Creates Efficiency


We recently received a release from the headquarters of United Grinding (UG) in Switzerland announcing its formalization of a corporate-wide lean program it calls Puls. Instituted in 2013, it has been systematically applied to the company’s manufacturing facilities across Europe (  

Waiting times, surpluses and unnecessary movement of materials are classic examples of inefficient production, which adds costs that are not necessary. The industry is very competitive, and any savings in production can result in savings for the customer.

With a mix of measures individually developed for the group, which comprise of process optimization and quality management concepts, UG aims to avoid waste, thereby increasing overall efficiency. Within the Puls program, all employees of the various company brands have received training in the principles of the program.

The resulting focus of the Puls program ranges from optimizing measures that can extend from a complete production flow process reorganization to restructuring an individual’s workspace. Large and small, efficiencies add up to a better product and better production. 

Posted by: Chris Felix 28. January 2015

A Flight around the World


Solar Impulse, an organization based in Switzerland, is planning a flight around the world with its entirely solar powered plane. ABB and Solar Impulse have formed an innovation and technology alliance ahead of the plane’s journey to advance a shared vision of reducing resource consumption and increase the use of renewable energy.

“Solar Impulse will inspire a new generation to embrace innovation and technology to solve the planet’s biggest challenges,” says ABB Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Spiesshofer. “ABB will be with the Solar Impulse team every mile of its journey.”

Three ABB engineers have joined the Solar Impulse team. Their work includes improving control systems for ground operations, enhancing the charging electronics for the plane’s battery systems, and resolving obstacles that emerge along the route.

The flight is scheduled to begin in late February or early march in Abu Dhabi. On the plane’s 40,000-kilometer route, pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg will share duties as the aircraft stops in cities including Muscat, Oman; Varanasi and Ahmedabad in India; Chongqing and Nanjing in China; and Phoenix, Arizona in the U.S. It will also stop in Europe or North Africa.

Among challenges before the mission concludes in Abu Dhabi in mid-2015 will be a non-stop flight of five days and nights from China to Hawaii. The plane, powered by 17,248 solar cells, will soar higher than Mount Everest each day, while fully charging its batteries to stay aloft during the night.

Mr. Piccard says the addition of ABB, with its technologies that enable energy generation from renewable projects as well as boost efficiency, to Solar Impulse’s team have reinforced the endeavor’s ability to demonstrate the power of innovation and clean technology.

“This is what the world needs,” says Mr. Piccard, the Swiss aviation pioneer who was part of the first team to circle the earth in a balloon in 1999. “Otherwise, we’re going to waste all our natural resources.”

Since 2010, Mr. Piccard, the project’s chairman, and Mr. Borschberg, its chief executive officer, have combined to set eight international aviation records including those for duration, altitude and distance flown as they crossed Europe, North Africa and the United States in a prototype plane powered only by the sun.

ABB salutes and shares this vision as the journey’s next step kindles new interest in aeronautics, clean technology and renewable energy. “Together, we need to run the world without consuming the earth,” ABB’s Mr. Spiesshofer said. “In very simple terms, that’s what we stand for.”

Posted by: Chris Felix 27. January 2015

Carbide Recycling Program Expands


Seco Tools, LLC collected 15 percent more used carbide in 2014 than in the previous year for its North American carbide recycling program. The company received 350 returns during the year and processed a total of 144,877 pounds (65,715 kg) of used carbide tools. Since the recycling program began in 2011, Seco Tools globally has received more than a half million pounds (226,796 kg) of carbide returned as grade powder.

“We are deeply committed to sustainability and being a leader in environmental initiatives,” explains Robert Keenan, president of Seco Tools, LLC. “It’s an important part of our corporate culture that is integrated throughout everything we do. Plus, our customers appreciate the opportunity this program provides to them to contribute to a cleaner, safer environment.”

Seco provides participating manufacturers with small, medium or large storage containers to place in their facilities. Small 1-pint containers hold approximately 11 pounds (5 kg) of carbide, medium 1-gallon containers hold approximately 50 pounds (23 kg), and the large 30-gallon drums accommodate approximately 2,000 pounds (910 kg). Any carbide products can be placed in the containers, including carbide inserts, solid drills, solid end mills, wear parts and PCD/PCBN-tipped inserts. Seco periodically collects the containers and pays manufacturers at the market rate for the carbide that is returned.

In addition to the environmental benefits of recycling, Seco’s carbide recycling program helps to address the growing global demand for tungsten, which comprises 75 percent of cemented carbide tools. Up to 95 percent of the material in a typical carbide insert can be reclaimed, helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of the metal cutting industry. Seco says recycling reduces related energy consumption by 35 percent and cuts CO2 emissions by 40 percent.

Manufacturers interested in participating in the program can visit for more information, or contact Vic Bruni at

Posted by: Lori Beckman 26. January 2015

HaasTec Open House Includes Machine Demos and Factory Tours


If you will be in SoCal in mid-March, make it a point to visit Haas Automation Inc.’s headquarters and manufacturing facility in Oxnard for the large, 4-day open house.

HaasTec 2015, scheduled for March 17 through 20, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, will include machine demos, factory tours, a catered lunch, and more. The previous HaasTec in 2013 drew almost 3,000 attendees from 44 countries, and this year’s event promises to be even bigger.

Visitors to HaasTec 2015 will see the latest Haas CNC technology up close, with 20 machines on display. There also will be extensive tours of Haas Automation’s 1 million square-foot facility, both above and on the production floor to see how Haas machines are built. Also, more than 30 exhibitors from major tooling, workholding and CAD/CAM manufacturers will be on hand to share their insight and show their products.

Click here to register for this free event.

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 23. January 2015

60 Years and Still Moving Forward

This view of Vanamatic’s shop floor shows its aerospace manufacturing cell.


After 60 years in business, many shops have a “been there, done that” attitude. This is not the case for Vanamatic Company that has morphed from a multi-spindle screw machine shop into a flexible, precision machined parts manufacturer that handles the variety of long, short and complex runs that comprise today’s metalworking market.

The company serves the automotive, fluid power, refrigeration and general fittings industries along with its own line of low pressure push-on barb fittings. Using lean, self-directed manufacturing cells across CNC multi-spindle, CNC single-spindle and multi-spindle screw machines, the shop continues to innovate its approach to the art and science of metalworking manufacturing.

Through the years, we have written extensively about this long-time PMPA member because it continues to find new and better ways to make parts. An example is Vanamatic’s early use of PI (Predictive Index) to select and assign employees to tasks and teams that best suit the people. Read "How the PI Helps Vanamatic Develop and Retain the Best Employees."

Setup reduction has also been a passion for this shop as high-mix and low-volume jobs have redefined the traditional screw machine shop. It’s a second-generation family business that tries to stay ahead of the curve by pushing the innovation envelope. Click here to visit Vanamatic's new website. To read some of the stories we have published about this shop, click here. 


The owners of Vanamatic, left to right: Patricia Morris, James Wiltsie Jr., Jeff Wiltsie and Perry Wiltsie.  

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