PM Blog

One of my duties at my previous gig with sister publication Modern Machine Shop was serving as the technical director of its Top Shops benchmarking program (now in its 10th year). The core of this program is a survey that reveals how leading U.S. machine shops (a.k.a. “Top Shops”) stand apart from others not only in terms of the practices they carry out on the shop floor, but also in the front office.

For example, per the latter, the annual survey has consistently asked about shops’ marketing efforts. And, consistently, a higher percentage of leading shops compared to less successful operations say they hold open houses as a way to demonstrate their capabilities to customers as well as promote themselves as a viable career option to potential new hires. This is often above and beyond just opening their doors on Manufacturing Day, which is held each year in early October.

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Fast Fixturing for Inspection and Laser Marking

Not all shops can boast that they have developed several products to sell for one industry that have stemmed from each other, helping their own production problem-solving, while also helping their colleagues become more efficient along the way. But Phillips Precision Inc. (Boylston, Massachusetts) can.

This company is more than a machine shop housing CNC vertical and horizontal mills and lathes to manufacture parts. Phillips Precision got its start nearly 25 years ago machining complex prototypes and has since shifted to light to mid-range production for many industries. Recalling its roots, Phillips refers to itself as a “manufacturing laboratory” that offers its own product lines, which its owners have developed in-house. Two of these  products are modular, interlocking workholding fixture plate systems known as the Inspection Arsenal and Laser Arsenal Loc-N-Load quick-swap fixture system.

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Chip-Collection Problem Solver Becomes Product Line

Over the years, I’ve highlighted a number of examples of shops parlaying a solution to a problem they were experiencing in house into a product they could market to others. That’s the case with Wisconsin Metal Parts in Waukesha.

This contract manufacturer and assembler serves a variety of industries, including military, medical, food service and heat transfer, producing individual components, subassemblies or even full assemblies. In the past, its machining department dealt with chip collection in much the same way as other shops: having a couple people empty a trash bin used to collect chips from a machine tool. Recently, though, it developed a compact hopper that takes up minimal floor space and enables one person and a forklift (or hand truck) to empty. The company has since turned this into a product it calls the Mini Hopper that it is now marketing to other shops.

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The “Spark” Starts Now

Today, IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show, launches IMTS spark, a digital platform presented in conjunction with Gardner Business Media, developed to help businesses optimize their manufacturing processes for speed, precision and performance.

The scope of offerings currently includes 2,036 IMTS spark exhibitor showrooms, 31 live machine demos, 240 manufacturing technology sessions, 145 speakers, live interviews, daily updates, hosted shows and Q&A interactions with some of manufacturing’s biggest business, technology and thought leaders. IMTS spark runs from September 21 through March 15, 2021.

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Spotlight Your Company Digitally on National MFG Day 2020

Companies can show how manufacturing keeps America moving during National Manufacturing Day 2020 on Oct. 2 and throughout the month-long celebration. With social distancing guidelines in place throughout much of the country, manufacturers can rely on a variety of virtual programming options to help show the reality of modern manufacturing careers.

Held annually on the first Friday in October with events that continue throughout the month, MFG Day — Manufacturing Day encourages thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders. As manufacturers seek to fill 4.6 million high-skill, high-tech and high-paying jobs over the next decade, MFG Day empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.

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