Bringing Cutting Technology To The Frontline

Today, precision, productivity and production capability are the driving forces in North American manufacturing. As tolerances get tighter and cycle times become the difference between profit and loss, tool users need higher skills, equipment and solutions to be successful. The cutting tool industry is responding with new tools of its own: advanced technology, education and collaboration.

 

Today, precision, productivity and production capability are the driving forces in North American manufacturing. As tolerances get tighter and cycle times become the difference between profit and loss, tool users need higher skills, equipment and solutions to be successful. The cutting tool industry is responding with new tools of its own: advanced technology, education and collaboration.

During the past decade, North American machine shops have been through a competitive gauntlet involving too little business to go around and relentless pressure from imports. Survival demanded exponentially more productivity, an improvement only available with advanced tooling. In these plants, fewer operators ran more machines, leaving no time to nurse inferior tools through a day’s work. To survive, American industry had to concentrate on decreasing and/or eliminating machining operations and cycle times. The firms that have made improvements are now positioned to take advantage of economic changes that are creating new opportunities.

For example, offshore outsourcing, one of the manufacturing trends throughout the past decade, is losing much of its luster as costs and complications reduce its appeal. The demands of growing Asian domestic economies have not only created competing demands for shipping, but resulted in rising costs for materials and energy and rising labor costs for contract manufacturers. Language barriers and the difficulties of implementing in-process changes have taken their toll in production and delivery losses.

Two-month surface shipping cycles and the complexities of the import/export process have frustrated both manufacturers and customers alike. When the Chinese inevitably revalue the Yuan, the true cost of offshore outsourcing will reveal how competitive North American manufacturers are.

European manufacturers have continued to invest in technology and are successfully adapting to competitive pressures from across the world. North America has the technology available to compete with Asian and European competition, but needs better access to technology and educational support. There is a disparity in the knowledge pool because mechanical engineers and machinists have not always had the resources at their disposal to keep up with new technologies in machining and cutting tools. However, this is changing rapidly with the advent of new technology centers and closer working relationships between manufacturers and toolmakers.

We can, and should, be making machined products in this country, and we should be continuously investing in the technologies required to make them more efficiently and of higher quality. Sometimes new technology is expensive, but it allows us to do things faster and more precisely. In the past 5 years, there has been a revolution in American manufacturing based on the ability to make things quicker and more cost effectively. We are poised for a similar revolution in machining. This is why education in the latest advances in tooling, materials, parts design and CNC machining is vital to our industry.

Recognizing the importance of demonstrating the value of advanced tooling and machining methods, cutting tool manufacturers are reaching out to the users of their products, inviting them to make their requirements known and collaborating with them on creating solutions and demonstrating the value of new technologies and methods.

Emuge is focusing on the issues and challenges cutting tool users face every day, from tapping, thread milling, and end milling to clamping and workholding methods. Customers can bring us a part, and our engineers will evaluate methods and processes that solve problems and improve machining operations. In essence, we can help make ideas reality.