Miles Free

As Director of Technology and Industry Research for PMPA, Miles brings 38 years of hands-on experience in areas of manufacturing, quality and steelmaking. He helps answer "HOW?","WITH WHAT?" and "REALLY?"

Posted by: Miles Free 21. September 2015

PMPA Appoints New Executive Director

Bernie Nagle (left) is welcomed to PMPA headquarters by PMPA President Tom Bernstein.

The Precision Machined Products Association has appointed Bernie Nagle to be the organization’s new executive director. Mr. Nagle, co-author of the book, “Leveraging People & Profit- The Hard Work of Soft Management,” has spent much of his career in a variety of executive and leadership roles with Fortune 500 manufacturing companies and as senior consultant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

“After a very thorough and comprehensive search process, PMPA is pleased to have found the best individual to assume the executive director role for PMPA,” says Tom Bernstein, president of PMPA. “Bernie will bring the benefit of his years of experience in manufacturing and process improvement, as well as his strategic focus to his leadership role with PMPA.”

“I’m honored and very excited to assume the role of executive director for PMPA," Mr. Nagle says. "I have been a passionate advocate for manufacturing throughout my career, and I am eager to help PMPA provide the information, resources, advocacy and networking opportunities to help the manufacturing companies in PMPA to become more productive and profitable. I see the executive director role at PMPA as requiring a number of hats; first, to listen and develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and the challenges facing the industry. Second, third, and fourth, I see my role as serving staff by providing purpose, focus and constructive guidance. Together with staff and members, I am convinced we can make a difference, adding value and growing membership and influence to the PMPA. I am anxious to meet as many members as possible at the October Annual Meeting and in my travels in the weeks and months ahead.”

Mr. Nagle holds a bachelor’s in chemistry from Gannon University, where he was named Distinguished Alumnus. He earned a management certificate from Northeastern University Graduate School of Business and a certificate in Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence from CWRU Weatherhead School. He has a number of publications and has been an active volunteer and passionate advocate for a number of social causes. He is the principal at

Originally posted on blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 14. September 2015

An Update to OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations

OSHA updates NEP for amputations.

OSHA recently issued an updated National Emphasis Program (NEP) on amputations. The NEP has been in existence since 2006 and is targeted to industries with high numbers and rates of amputations.

“The intent of this NEP is to target workplaces with machinery and equipment that cause (or are capable of causing) amputations, while maximizing the agency’s inspection resources.”

In this latest update, NAICS code 332710 machine shops and most other 332 NAICS code categories are listed as targets. See Appendix C here

What else we noted when we looked at this:

  • They will be asking for your DUNS number.
  • They will be checking compliance on the new requirements for reporting work-related fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye.

Click here to read about the change to reporting requirements that went into effect January 1.  

 Originally posted on blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 7. September 2015

Process Owner Day Instead of Labor Day

Process owners are who I celebrate.

Labor doesn’t add much value. In my experience, it only moved stuff around. The labor jobs went away. Today, I celebrate the process owners, such as the machinists, that can tear down and set up a multi-spindle cam machine in less than 2 hours. They own their process and own their craft.

Today, as PMPA’s director of industry research and technology, I compile a survey and report on the wages for the member companies of the PMPA. It covers almost 6 percent of the industry’s employment, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. I recently reviewed our latest report, and we don’t even have a job title for “laborer.”

The day of laboring for a living is done. In my career, it was gone by the 1980s. In our industry, the last labor jobs left during the 2009 recession. Today, our shops rely on process owners to operate, set up our equipment, produce parts and inspect them to the highest standards. Today, our shops’ process owners are the go-to men and women that we turn to for understanding when making control plans and corrective action plans, as well as matching machine and process capability to the new jobs we quote.

Here’s what I see when I walk into a PMPA member shop:

  • I see esprit de corps every day observing the handoff between purchasing, planning, operations, quality control, shipping and the customer.
  • I see our team achieve just-in-time, zero PPM routinely.
  • I see our folks are using, viewing, studying, programming and coding using computerized technology and often doing so in more than three axes.
  • I see the pride in our craftsmen and craftswomen when they gage the part, look at the reading, dial an offset into the control, hit start and the next part measures exactly what was required. I share their joy when the parts come back with a green tag and not a red tag.
  • I see when they look at the part magnified 50 times or 100 times and the geometric form matches the template perfectly, that tiny smile shows they love their craft and their accomplishments with the technology they use.
  • I see our people adding value by assembling components, packaging them securely and getting the correct information in and out of the computer and onto the shipping documents, labeled, then loaded on the correct truck.

The people of the precision machining industry don’t “labor,” they own processes. They master their processes. They are process experts. They use their talent, insight and craft to add value. So automobiles go and stop. So planes fly and land. So people can be healed and reassembled.

I am not celebrating Labor Day this year. However, I am celebrating Process Owners Day; you can bet that I am appreciative of the craftsmen and women who make our modern lives possible because they own and have mastered their craft.

Happy Process Owner Day!

Originally posted on blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 31. August 2015

Popular Heat Treat Colors for Steel Chart is Back

Heat treat colors for steel by temperature.

My “Temper Colors for Steel Chart” post remains very popular, so I thought I'd repost the chart illustrating the heat treat colors for steel.

These days, pyrometers are affordable. But it is the mark of a craftsman to be able to tell temperature by eye, if only to validate the instrumentation (or suspect it).

These colors were obtained from a 0.40 wt. percent carbon, alloy steel, as seen through a furnace peep hole during average daylight conditions.


Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 24. August 2015

Causes of Part Length Variation on Screw Machine Parts

Photo Credit: "Acme Gridley Multiple Spindle Bar Machine Manual," First Edition 1961 page C11.

There are many different ways part length can vary when using a cut-off tool on multi- spindle automatic screw machines. Here are some of the major ones grouped into a rough classification by where the cause exists.

The cut-off tool itself:

  • Tool is dull
  • Tool is improperly ground (point angle too large)
  • Tool loose/improperly inserted into holder
  • Tool blade is too thin
  • Cut-off tool is hitting while in high speed
  • Cut-off tool being hit by die head or chasers

Cut-off toolholder:

  • Toolholder itself is loose
  • Toolholder is hitting work spindle
  • Toolholder is hitting tool post
  • Toolholder is warped or bent
  • Toolholder is worn

The work spindle:

  • Spindle has end play
  • Spindle has worn bearings
  • Spindle carrier has end play
  • Index lock pin spring is broken
  • Finger holder not adjusted properly
  • Broken pins or fingers in finger holder
  • Feed tubes bent or beat up
  • Wrong stock feed cam—overfeeding stock will cause bounceback from stock stop resulting in short part
  • Incorrect collet tension

The cross slide:

  • Cross-slide play
  • Cross-slide loose
  • Cam is loose
  • Cut-off cam is too large and causes too much feed
  • Cam drum is loose

Other tools:

  • Stock pushed back into collet by drill (dull drill pushing stock rather than cutting chip)
  • Stock pushed back into collet by reamer
  • Face-off tool is loose
  • Face-off tool is dull
  • Face-off toolholder is loose
  • Die head pulling stock out of collet, making part long

Part length can occasionally go awry when using cut-off tools on automatic screw machines.

This post lists more than 30 reasons that I can think of. What did I miss?


Originally posted on blog. 

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