Miscellany

I found that no one topic seemed to jump out at me. I think my muse is on vacation in Greece. So instead, I’ve chosen to cover several things churning in my mind from the first half of the year to help clear my cerebral deck.

With this issue of Production Machining, we come to the mid-point of 2007. As an optimist, I see the year as half full. Reflecting on what I should write for this month’s Turning Point, I found that no one topic seemed to jump out at me. I think my muse is on vacation in Greece. So instead, I’ve chosen to cover several things churning in my mind from the first half of the year to help clear my cerebral deck.

Going Global

One of the goals that we set out to accomplish with the establishment of Production Machining back in 2001 was to go where we need to go to present our readers with technology and best practices regardless of where they are located. The idea is that ideas know no boundaries.

In pursuit of that end, I traveled to Taipei, Taiwan, in March to visit the area’s national machine tool show called Timtos. This was my second visit with 4 years in between. Four years ago, I didn’t see a “home-grown” Swiss-type machine on display. This time there were at least half a dozen builders showing sliding headstock technology.

The other big change I observed is the application of automation to capital equipment of all stripes. Taiwan’s machine tool builders are moving up the technological and quality ladder very quickly. At this time, much of their export capacity is focused on mainland China for obvious reasons. However, I was told in no uncertain terms by companies active in the U.S. market that that activity will continue unabated and without delivery issues.

Adapting

 A theme that we’ve tried to cover extensively in this magazine is the inevitability of change. Finding the technologies that can help shops bridge change and covering shops that have successfully transitioned their business in response to change are stories that we feel cannot be told too often.

This month’s content reflects this theme. Our cover feature looks at multitasking technology as a technological advance that may have application in your shop. The article (page 36) details the operation of this relatively new class of technology and describes some of the considerations a shop might make in evaluating it.

Our second feature (page 42) looks at a production shop that has carved out a niche within its changed industry by applying appropriate technology to help it maintain a competitive edge. When much of its business went west (read: far east) this shop reevaluated its process and production methodology with results that not only stabilized the outflow, but have allowed it to regain much of the loss by out-competing the competition.

Two-For

On a personal note, please join me in congratulating my twin daughters who graduated from Xavier University this year. And to each of you with a 2007 graduate please accept my congratulations. It’s like getting a raise, but much better.

An Industry Icon

In April, we were informed of the sudden passing of Larry Rhoades. Much too extensive to publish here, Larry’s resume is about as impressive as one can get. If you’re interested, it is posted at www.productionmachining.com/columns/0607tp.html.

At his death, Larry was president and CEO of The ExOne Company and for 35 years held the same position at Extrude Hone. Larry was a futurist. He saw manufacturing as an economic key, and in recent years focused his energy looking in detail at just how that future may unfold. He was a board member of this magazine’s parent company, Gardner Publications, and will be sorely missed by us and the entire manufacturing industry.