PM Blog

Growth Strategies for Success

Ever wonder why some machining companies keep growing regardless of the economy? They land new business, hire more people and upgrade their technology. To understand how they do this, think about the process used to machine a new part out in the shop.

As a machining professional, you would never attempt to machine a precision component without a plan and proven process. Guesswork and flying by the seat of your pants would never cross your mind. Yet, that’s exactly how many small to mid-sized machining companies approach business development—no plan, no process. The result is their companies end up “bobbing in the water.” That’s when a company’s sales are up a little one year, down the next, back and forth, year after year. Five years later, sales are about the same as they were five years earlier. It happens too often in the machining business, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a plan, a process and lots of hard work, you, too, can have a business development program that delivers a steady stream of new revenue year after year.

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Coronavirus Survey Results Show Impacts of Global Supply Chains

On March 11, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) revealed the first-round results of a survey focused on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) business and supply chain impacts.

Notably, almost 75% of companies report supply chain disruptions in some capacity because of coronavirus-related transportation restrictions, and more than 80 percent believe that their organization will experience some impact because of COVID-19 disruptions. Of those, one in six (16%) companies report adjusting revenue targets downward an average of 5.6 percent because of the coronavirus.

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Aldo Albieri, operations manager at Thyssenkrupp Bilstein, doesn’t hesitate to call it a “revolution” when he describes the fast rollout of Universal Robots’ collaborative robot arms throughout the company’s Hamilton, Ohio, plant, which manufactures high-tech suspension solutions for the automotive industry. “I felt we were in the right time with the right opportunity to be part of it. We started seeing collaborative robots being used in a completely different way than we traditionally see six-axis robots running,” he says, describing visits to small family-owned machine shops where manufacturers with little or no robotics experience were automating even complex tasks with cobots. “They didn’t use safety caging, and the cobots were placed on wheels and moved between tasks. That was when things really clicked,” says Mr. Albieri, who since this discovery has overseen the implementation of a new cobot at Bilstein’s Hamilton location every other month for almost two years.

“It happened at an incredibly fast pace with us evolving rapidly from trial-and-error in the beginning, using vendors to do the machine integration,” Mr. Albieri says. He soon realized that in-sourcing the cobot deployments was the way to go. His Industry 4.0 team that managed the cobot applications investigated other options, but he says, “We decided to partner with one type of cobot—and that’s when we picked our first cobot with Universal Robots. We realized that UR had the most advanced solution for more precise pick-and-place. The cobot is easy to maintain and program, and it presents the best ratio of speed and repetition.”

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Preparing Tool Grinding Machines for IoT


One concern that manufacturers have about moving toward a smart factory is whether or not it means scrapping existing CNC machines, including grinding machines, and investing in a whole new set of machinery. This isn’t the case. However, it does mean that manufacturers will have to upgrade some technology and change the way they think about how they operate.

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Now that we’re a few months in to 2020, Gardner Intelligence is looking back at data from the 2019 Gardner Business Index (GBI) to review how the year went for manufacturers and explain how businesses can apply it to their plans for 2020.

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