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 1. December 2015

The Good Word on NIMS from the Gene Haas Foundation


Kathy Looman from the Gene Haas Foundation made the following remarks at the ribbon cutting at the new Gene Haas Education Center at NIMS, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

I have over 30 years in machine tool industry, and yet I felt most days like I belonged to a secret society. When I told people what I did for a living in manufacturing, they would ask me “what’s that?” They had no idea about metalworking, machine tools, or manufacturing. They had no idea what I, as a woman, could possibly be doing in this business.

I think that this unfamiliarity with manufacturing, with metalworking, with where stuff comes from, this is one of the reasons that the skills gap has occurred and why it is a major problem for us today. No one was telling the young people that manufacturing was a viable career opportunity because no one knew it themselves. And so the perceptions we all know—manufacturing is like that grainy black and white Charlie Chaplin movie— these perceptions are what is in the mind’s eye of students, their parents, and even the unemployed that could find a great career in manufacturing, if only they knew.

But this isn’t a sad story. Exciting things are happening these days. The past few years, I have been able to take my manufacturing experience and put it to work promoting manufacturing education- the growth and passion I have seen in a short time has been amazing. We at the Gene Haas Foundation believe that NIMS, The National Institute for Metalworking Skills, is the glue that is connecting education, industry and workers. By providing a foundation for manufacturing education based on nationally recognized skills credentials, NIMS is also a catalyst that provides assurance to employers, candidates and skilled workers that the skills that we need in today’s high- tech manufacturing jobs are there in the credentialed employee.

To read a continuation of Ms. Looman’s comments, click here


Originally posted on blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 10. November 2015

OSHA Fines will Increase 80%


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.


Originally posted on blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 27. October 2015

Congressman Visits PMPA Member Company

From left, Congressman David Joyce; Miles Free- PMPA; Roger Sustar, AWT; and John Stoneback, JM Performance Products Inc.

Congressman David Joyce toured PMPA member company JM Performance Products Inc. to see how district manufacturing jobs create value for the entire country and how important STEM is to manufacturing.

The high torque toolholder retention knob produced by the team at JM Performance Inc. can help companies that do CNC milling save on energy, tooling expense, downtime for setups and troubleshooting, and also significantly improve product finish.

Congressman Joyce discussed the importance of innovations like this to help keep American companies competitive in manufacturing.

With all the bad news out of Washington these days, it was my pleasure to see Congressman Joyce reach out to the team at JM Performance Products to get a sense of how manufacturing creates value and jobs and helps other companies save time, money and energy.

Does your congressman understand the value of manufacturing? Why don’t you invite them to visit your shop to see for themselves the value and jobs that you and your team create? 


Originally posted on blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 19. October 2015

4 Keys to Long-Term Sustainability


Many people, particularly in purchasing and accounting departments, see buying at the lowest cost as being a key to sustaining their business.

Here are four keys that will unlock long-term sustainability for your precision machining shop.

  1. Solve problems first.
  2. Solve the problem for good.
  3. Understand that lowest cost over the long term is not the lowest price over the short term.
  4. Spend less time and money on maintenance by actually planning it.

Solve problems first. Solving problems is the most efficient use of your company’s talent and knowledge. The effort spent on solving the problem stops the deviation from normal in your immediate operations and reduces the potential expenditures on inspection, remediation and over-processing. Do you have a culture of problem solving?

Solve the problem for good. It does no good to solve a problem today only to see it return later. That is not problem solving. It is critical to identify the root cause, and then take permanent corrective actions to prevent that root cause from ever appearing again. What problems has your team made go away forever in your shop? Can you name one, two, or more?

Understand that lowest cost over the long term is not the lowest price over the short term. Yes, you can buy cheaper tooling from a jobber. Many purchasing departments are incorrectly focused on cost per tool, cost per pound of raw material or cost per gallon of metal removal fluid. Cheap drills are no bargain if they only last for 60 to 70 holes instead of 400 to 500 per drill. To be sustainable, the company needs to have the lowest cost to produce a compliant part, not only the cheapest materials to make it. Does your shop reward the purchase of the cheapest inputs for the job or attaining the lowest cost for production of compliant parts?

Spend less time and money on maintenance by planning it. Our industry is focused on reducing cycle time and setup time, as it should.  Without exception, every shop owner or operations manager is focused on these. But if everyone is focused on these, how does that help you? For your shop to be uniquely sustainable, why not focus on eliminating unplanned downtime and lost production time because of unexpected breakdowns? It is a truism that we get what we measure. Today, most shops have rigorous systems for ERP and operations planning, but does your shop have any process at all for proactive machine maintenance?

Today, customers expect zero defects and 100-percent on time from every supplier. Why not make your shop sustainable by having a four-point process to get there by solving problems first, solving them for good, getting to lowest cost per compliant part produced and eliminating unplanned downtime by planning for it?

For more details, read “Business Success: Sustainability, Not Lowest Price.”


Originally posted on blog.



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.

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