Where do you find the latest rotary transfer technology and mill-turn centers as well as German food, beer, live music from a German heritage band under one roof? At the biennial Hydromat Oktoberfest open house event. This year, the event was held on Oct. 21-23 at the company’s St. Louis headquarters.
As guests viewed the machines while they were being built, Hydromat associates continued to work on projects in various stages of completion, giving attendees a glimpse of the assembly process up close, and an opportunity to interact with both technicians and sales personnel.
The open house highlighted the company’s Epic Gen II, the new variation of the Epic R/T platform that was first introduced at Hydromat’s open house in 2003.
Also, the ICON 6-250 was well represented with three machines on the assembly floor, one in its final stages of the build process, and two more in the first stages of construction that will be delivered next year.
Derek Korn, senior editor at Modern Machine Shop, PM’s sister publication, attended the Hydromat Oktoberfest this year. Read what he learned about Hydromat’s technology at the event here.
A major part of my week-long tour of England included a stop in Sheffield. Here, I attended TRAM, which is an acronym for Trends in Advanced Machining, Manufacturing and Materials.
This was its fourth edition, and the second TRAM held in the U.K. Over 2 days, 24 world-class presentations rolled across the stage. Sessions were grouped into topics that included manufacturing in the future, assembly and metrology, materials, additive manufacturing and reconfigurable flexible manufacturing. I've attended few technical conferences that have been as comprehensive. While the main focus was on aerospace, many of the topics are germane to all aspects of the manufacturing sector.
At the heart of this industry-sponsored conference is AMRC, an acronym for Advanced Manufacturing Research Center. With Boeing, AMRC specializes in helping manufacturers of all sizes become more competitive by introducing advanced techniques, technologies and processes.
While in England for TRAM, I toured the AMRC campus, which was established in 2002 as effort among the University of Sheffield, industry sponsors and the government. It is currently composed of seven centers, each specializing in an aspect of advanced manufacturing. There is also a training center that is exposing the next generation of manufacturers to potential careers in manufacturing.
With its 80-plus industrial partners, AMRC has become a global source for solutions to manufacturing challenges. They are problem solvers.
The next edition of TRAM will be held during IMTS 2016 on Sept. 14-15. Consider attending during your visit to Chicago for the show.
Production Machining’sNovember Digital Edition is now available. This issue features emphasis topics of CNC Single-Spindle and Materials. This month’s cover story provides a look into an Indiana shop that made the leap from manual machining and basic CNC technology to a sophisticated turning cell. For our other feature we present the views of a few industry leaders regarding important considerations when transitioning to unleaded brass.
Turn to our Tech Brief section to learn about the challenges involved in re-turning train wheels and strategies, including effective cutting inserts, that make the job a little easier. Our Case in Point goes into a shop near Pittsburgh that made the move to multitasking turn-mill centers for increased productivity and throughput.
According to a Wall Street Journal article published last week, federal penalties for workplace safety violations were increased for the first time since 1990, thanks to a provision of the budget bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.
In the article, “OSHA Fines to Rise for First Time Since 1990,” the new mandate caught workplace safety experts by surprise. They say the new mandates “will likely increase maximum fines for the most severe citations to $125,000 from $70,000 and for other serious violations to $12,500 from $7,000.”
According to PMPA’s retained labor law firm, Fisher Phillips, “That’s when we learned that the Federal Budget Agreement, which was quickly worked out behind closed doors and signed the day before, includes surprise provisions authorizing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to increase penalties. To the surprise of almost all observers, the amount of the increase could be as much as 82 percent.”
The initial penalty increases must become effective by August 1 next year. The Federal Office of Management and Budget will issue guidance on implementing the bill’s provisions by Jan. 31. Raising the maximum fines in line with the CPI for the catch-up boost requires OSHA to publish an interim final rule by July 1, allowing the adjustment to take effect by August 31.
As manufacturers, we can expect to receive the full attention of OSHA with our processes’ need for proper machine guarding, hazardous energy control and lockout-tagout.
If creating a safety compliance culture has not been one of your top priorities, perhaps OSHA’s 82-percent higher fine and penalty structure will help you move safety up on your list.
With a reading of 40.8, the Gardner Business Index showed that the production machining industry contracted for the seventh month in a row and at its fastest rate since the index began in December 2011. Other than a sharp upward spike in the first quarter this year, the index has generally trended down since January last year.
New orders have contracted 7 consecutive months, although the rate of contraction has slowed the past couple months. Production contracted for the fifth straight month. It was at its lowest level since December 2012. Generally, the new orders index has been lower than the production index for the previous 19 months. Therefore, the backlog index contracted for the 14th month in a row. It took a particularly sharp plunge this month, falling to its lowest level since December 2012. Employment contracted for the third consecutive month. This was easily the lowest reading for the employment index since the survey began in December 2011. Because of the strong dollar, the export index has contracted since March last year. Supplier deliveries shortened for the second month in a row, however, the rate of shortening was less this month. The trend in supplier deliveries indicated slack within the supply chain since suppliers were more able to meet customers’ needs.
The material prices index contracted for fourth month in a row. The rate of price decreases was slightly slower in October than the previous month. But, the index has steadily fallen since its all-time peak in June last year. The trend in the material prices index mirrors what is happening to commodity prices generally because of the weak global economy. Prices received at machine shops decreased for the third time in 5 months. The prices received index had been improving since April, but that trend appeared to be broken in October. Future business expectations have fallen significantly since July. In October, they were at their lowest level since November 2012.
Facilities with more than 250 employees expanded for the first time since May. Plants with 100-249 employees contracted at a significantly accelerating rate for the second month in a row. Companies with 50-99 employees contracted at a rate similar to the previous month. Shops with 20-49 employees had an index below 40 for the first time since December 2012. Shops with fewer than 20 employees contracted the fastest rate since August 2013.
The West and Southeast expanded the previous month, but contracted in October. Therefore, all six regions contracted in October. The Northeast and North Central-West regions had indices significantly below 40. The South Central saw its index move above 40 for the first time since May.
Future capital spending plans remained well below average. Compared with 1 year ago, they have contracted more than 40 percent in 5 of the previous 7 months.