PM Blog

The Precision Machining Index fell modestly from the prior month, registering 46.5 for August. Readings above 50 indicate expanding activity and values below 50 indicate contracting activity. The further away a reading is from 50 the greater the size of the change in activity. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying components of the Index found that both exports and total new orders registered higher readings during the month despite both measures posting readings below 50. This indicates that both foreign and domestic new orders contracted in August, but at a lesser rate than in July. Should these readings continue to close in on the 50 mark in the coming months, it will indicate a stabilization in the demand for production machined goods. For the month, production activity registered as “unchanged,” while supplier deliveries posted another month of slowing activity growth. Conversely, employment moved 10 points lower from the prior month, registering its lowest reading since the first half of 2016.

Weakness in both domestic and foreign demand resulted in many Production Machining survey participants relying on their backlogs to keep their shops active. This caused reported backlog activity to contract at its fastest rate in almost three years. August marked the third consecutive month of contracting backlogs.

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By: Jack Burley 9/17/2019

Setup Options for Swiss Automatic Lathes

It’s rare that a technology or process first developed in the 19th century experiences breakthroughs in the 21st. But what Swiss turning has experienced during the last couple of years, specifically relating to the all-important and time-consuming setup, may qualify. But why is a Big Kaiser engineer discussing Swiss turning? It’s true that we’ve built our name on tooling for work commonly done with milling machines, but we also need to have deep lathe expertise in our ranks because we rely heavily on them to prototype and produce our tools and holders.

On many occasions we’ve had to develop our own solutions to tricky problems, and some of these have been so impactful it made sense to take them to market. We consider two of these solutions as breakthroughs as they offer new advances in tooling and setup that can dramatically enhance production on these specialized machines.

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Many challenges and options exist for threading holes. The importance of paying close attention and examining your application’s needs, and then taking the time to get advice from the cutting tool experts is vital for success. In the end, thorough analysis before selecting and committing to your tooling will produce quality holemaking in the most efficient and cost-effective way. The following methods/examples may provide some assistance in determining the best solution for the threading process.

For many applications, taps may prove to be most effective. Taps have the ability to produce threaded holes with short cycle times, uniform quality and longer tool life.

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Earlier this year I volunteered to go to prison for a weekend with other CEOs. I flew from Michigan to California and stepped into the potentially uncomfortable surroundings of a maximum-security prison.

I did this based upon one question and one data point, along with the belief that everyone deserves a second chance. The question was, “What if you were only known for the rest of your life for the worst thing you have ever done?” This question was asked to me by author and founder of Hustle 2.0, Catherine Hoke. My critical inner voice was running amuck with all the mistakes I had made over the years, while at the same time, I was remembering all the help and second chances I had received. In that moment I was grateful that my worst decisions had not derailed my life.

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Emerging Leader Steve Yingst Leads with Lean Manufacturing

As an engineer and lean expert, Steve Yingst applies the highest level of creativity to find new solutions to overcome issues that have historically plagued business performance and employee engagement at his company. He has a passion for safety and continuous improvement, making his plant the “shining star” of the Flinchbaugh facilities, according to his nominator, Thomas Frauman, business development manager at Flichbaugh.

Steve, who is also an excellent profit and loss manager, opened his own plant within three months, which is the largest project his company has embraced in the last decade. This finished goods warehouse was transformed into a fourth fully functional manufacturing facility, climate controlled, with 21 CNC machines, and a workforce of 18 machinists. Building 4 is a better version of the larger Flinchbaugh Engineering as a result of these efforts and the fact that Steve will do what it takes to earn a customer’s business, Mr. Frauman says.

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