PM Blog

From March 25 to March 29, Index Group welcomed a large assembly of existing and potential customers to its Open House 2019 event at the company’s plant in Reichenbach, Germany. Among the range of products and technologies featured were more than 20 turning machines and the company’s latest developments in its cloud-based iXworld platform. About 30 partner companies were also on hand to feature some of their latest innovations. Technical presentations also covered such topics as high-speed whirling, gearing technologies, in-process grinding and polygon turning. Check out the slideshow above for a look at some of the action from the Open House!

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Digital data management is increasingly driving manufacturing strategy, operations, and asset allocation in contemporary manufacturing companies, however, collecting and comparing machining data in a uniform way can be a challenge for shops with a mix of new technology and legacy equipment. Dan Villemaire is owner and president of C&M Machine Products. Founded by his grandfather and father as a Brown & Sharpe screw machine shop in Hudson, New Hampshire, 40 years ago, the business has grown to house about 100 machines including more than 73 CNC Swiss-type lathes and 19 larger CNC turning centers. C&M serves industries ranging from aerospace and defense to copper consumables, fluid handling, medical, robotics and optics with production runs of precision machined products up to 1,000,000 pieces or more.

Mr. Villemaire perceived that detailed manufacturing data management and analysis would help facilitate growth into new markets through more efficient scheduling and use of manufacturing resources. “One of the things that we consistently strive to do is drive decisions with data,” he says. But because the shop’s machines are of widely differing age and operation, it was difficult to collect accurate, consistent and comparable data. “We wanted to have a better understanding of what our machines were doing. We knew that some of our machines had the capability to talk to us and give us information in a dashboard type of format, but not in a uniform way.”

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With 100 years of experience, Studer is a well-known brand in precision cylindrical grinding. The company has also carved a reputation for choosing the most distinctive locations to introduce the latest developments in cylindrical grinding technology. This year’s location was no exception—the Hagerbach Test Gallery, an R&D facility for underground mining tunnel construction located in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland, played host to the Studer Press Event 2019. This event was attended by more than 60 trade journalists from around the globe.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the S33 and S31 universal cylindrical grinding machines, which are available in the states from United Grinding. The machines feature an extended range of distances between centers, more than 20 wheelhead configurations, a new B-axis concept and much more. A dark atmosphere, loud music and participants in glowing yellow safety helmets underpinned the underground atmosphere during the unveiling ceremony, which was followed by presentations highlighting the machine series’ new features.

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We confound the designs by believing that a finely detailed 3D CAD model is the replica of an actual manufactured product when it gets annotated with product modification instructions. But that’s not true. And we have known it all along. It’s been 60 years since the introduction of CAD, and yet, we, the people of the manufacturing industry, haven’t been able to deploy its correct usage.

Had we done it correctly, the industry would see fewer requests for information (RFIs), design reworking hours, and wastage in resources. Now, being in the industry for years, do we have a solution to end these diversions?

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The Precision Machining Industry and the PMPA

In 1865, Joseph R. Brown received patent number 46,521 for the first automatic screw-threading machine. That first automatic screw machine introduced the revolutionary ideas of mass production, along with form and dimensional repeatability to the manufacturing world. Today, as our world is on the brink of autonomous vehicles, we take for granted automatic heating and cooling systems where we live, as well as autopilot and cruise control in our aircrafts and vehicles. In our shops today, we use both cam-driven and CNC automatic machines to produce an endless variety of high precision, custom engineered component parts. Parts with extremely complex geometries are produced to tolerances of ten-thousandths (0.0001") or even millionths of a meter (1 micron). These parts are crucial to all of today’s technologies, especially those involved with electronics, transportation, mobility and those critical to human safety.

Our industry has grown, from the model of small family ownership to support the founding craftsman’s talents, to almost 4,000 establishments, many still closely held, generating more than $18 billion in annual production. NAICS 332721 (Precision Turned Products Manufacturing) is characterized by the production of parts on a custom order/contract order basis. According to the U.S. Census, we employ more than 100,000 people.

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