CR4® - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®



Speaking of Precision

Speaking of Precision is a knowledge preservation and thought leadership blog covering the precision machining industry, its materials and services. With over 36 years of hands on experience in steelmaking, manufacturing, quality, and management, Miles Free (Milo) Director of Industry Research and Technology at PMPA helps answer "How?" "With what?" and occasionally "Really?"

5 Bullish Facts About Manufacturing Employment -and Your Career!

Posted October 04, 2017 9:55 AM by Milo
Pathfinder Tags: employment manufacturing

Here are 5 facts to convince you that prospects for employment in Manufacturing are strongly bullish and worthy of consideration for your own career or the career of someone that you love.

Career prospects are looking UP in Manufacturing!

Facts courtesy of BLS:

  1. The 36,000 jobs manufacturers added in August 2017 were the fastest monthly gain in five years;
  2. The number also increased for the third consecutive month;
  3. June and July hires were revised upwards by 19,000 jobs from original estimates;
  4. Manufacturing employment has risen by 155,000 over the last 9 months- 17,000 average;
  5. Total manufacturing employment rose to 12.48 million, up 1.03 million since the Great Recession;
  6. Bonus! Total manufacturing employment is highest it has been since January 2009;

Our PMPA Business Trends Report continues to show strongly positive Employment sentiment- 90% (or more) of shops expecting employment prospects for the next three months to remain the same or increase- since last November. Last month it was 96%.

Manufacturing employment is on the increase. Great careers, not “labor jobs.” Interesting work. Our precision machining companies are looking for people to bring their talents.

And that’s no bull!

Well, it is a bull for manufacturing employment, and that’s no bull!

Now is the perfect time to consider a Game Changing Career in Precision Manufacturing.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chart and Analysis Courtesy Chad Moutray at NAM.


Editor's note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing his blog, which can also be read here.


Technology- Profit Differentiator or Limiter?

Posted September 27, 2017 11:30 AM by Milo

I have had some interesting conversations with a couple of shop owners after they read our article Technology or People in the July issue of Production Machining.

The point that I had hoped to convey was that while the contributions of technology to our shops’ bottom lines is undeniable, it is up to us to get our people in position to take maximum advantage of the technology- to lead the technology.

Technology As Enabler

One correspondent pointed out that they purchased technology so that they could still get production with the available manpower in their area. They thought that getting people who could use the technology that they had was chore enough. They were buying technology with canned cycles so that they could produce with out a lot of engineering and programming, which was not a strength of theirs based on their workforce.

Technology As Equalizer

Another person called to discuss the article and said that to them, they thought that technology was in fact a “great equalizer” or “homogenizer.” That shops with the same technologies would likely quote similar parts to similar times and costs based on using the technology in similar ways based on how it was equipped from the factory. So they saw technology not as a way to differentiate shops, as much as a way for multiple shops to get to a common and competitive level of performance.

Technology as Empowerment

The third caller raised the point that I had tried to make, but in much richer detail. “If you use the machine just out of the box, you’re no different from anyone else. If you use the machine’s built in roughing cycles, for example, you’ll get the exact same result as everyone else with that same machine. The profits are made when you go out past the “built in” capability and create greater value by customizing your process. On a complicated part, using the machine “normally” might require you to use 12 tools, and require a very expensive machine because of the relationship of certain features to each other. But what if I build several of those interdependent features into a special tool, whether OD form, or ID step drill, for example? Now I don’t need so many consecutive tool’s stacked up to do the cutting and adding up time for each part. Because the features are built into the tool, I don’t need so much precision out of my machine. And now I don’t need all of those expensive stations… ”

They had quite a bit more to say about how the canned cycles are conservative and wasteful and in some cases a compromise that might not be best for the particular job. But when I thought about what he had said, it raised a question in my mind- “Since we don’t need so many tools and so much precision because of the “novel way” that was determined that would work- “Doesn’t that mean we don’t need that original expensive high tech machine tool?”

Not So Fast, Vigo!

The third caller shared how they were able to make parts using a sub $100,000 mill in their shop- while their Customer could not get the parts correct on their million dollar plus technology.

Was he saying that the little guy and the cheap equipment will always beat the big guy and their expensive technology? Not at all.

What he was saying is that it is up to all of us to assure that our people and our technology are operating at their highest and best use. Not just their nameplate or nominal capacity.

He was saying that technology is the tool that can best help us achieve our vision and fully realize our abilities. Technology is the best means available to us to deliver the best that we can think of. It is our thinking therefore, that leads our technology.

Final Questions

What is the purpose of technology in our shops?

Is it to substitute for knowledgeable people and still get acceptable parts to ship?

Is it to ensure that our shops are competitive in the market?

Is technology merely a means to an end, and best driven by deliberate intention to give the engineer the ability to make the parts the best way that they know how? Without the need for an unnecessary investment?

Or is technology the tool that empowers our people to deliver the best that that they can imagine?

What Is The Purpose of Technology In YOUR Shop?

Thanks to the folks that gave me a shout to discuss the article. We learn so much from our conversations.


Editor's note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing his blog, which can also be read here.

1 comments; last comment on 09/29/2017
View comments

Overall Equipment Efficiency and Your Precision Machining Shop

Posted September 20, 2017 10:45 AM by Milo

Overall Equipment Efficiency

“What are you going to work on in your shop today?”

Busy machines and production lines are good, but even better are busy machines and production lines that are making the right product- and the product right. This is one perspective on OEE- Overall Equipment Efficiency.

What is OEE?

Availability, Performance, and Quality. As a percentage of your equipment’s ideal values, each of these factors plays a role in determining your shop’s OEE. When I looked at OEE for my plant, I found that we were definitely not getting the productivity that our equipment was capable of achieving. Here are three equations to help you determine your OEE:

Availability

Availability in my shop had two components: Running time (time the machines were actually producing product) and Scheduled Time. Availability (A) is the ratio of Running Time to Scheduled Time.

A= RT/ST

Compare this availability factor to total operating time, and identify the differences- idle time due to operator coffee, smoke, and meal breaks; Setups and changeovers; Breakdowns and mechanical issues; Delays waiting for first piece approval, gaging setups, or crane availability. Once these are identified, prioritize them for improvement. (Some practitioners simplify this to Scheduled time divided by the product of 365 days times 24 hours per day; while this is strictly speaking correct, it typically does not reflect the real world utilization for small contract manufacturing shops like ours.)

Break times affect Availability

Performance

Performance is the ratio of the time the machine is actually running and the theoretical time. The difference between theoretical and actual is the time lost due to tool changes, raking out chip bird’s nests, emptying the chips, loading new barstock, or slowing the machine down due to perceived technical issues. Performance is the ratio of Output Achieved divided by the Theoretical Output (TO).

P=OA/TO

This is often a factor that is more often identified when comparing two shifts or operators on the same process. Also can be affected by changes in tooling or methods from the initial quote. (Sometimes it is easier to figure this using parts produced (OA) versus Theoretical parts produced using the quoted cycle time (TO))

Process performance affects output…and actual uptime.

Quality

Production foremen might think that machining is about making the production numbers, but shops that remain in business know that it is making parts with the quality needed that keeps the parts shipped and the invoices paid. Quality was simply the ratio of Good Parts (GP) divided by the Total Parts (TP) produced.

Q=GP/TP

These are also a factor in your shop’s OEE.

Overall Equipment Efficiency

OEE is now determined by multiplying A, our availability term; P, our productivity term; and Q, our quality term. What if you are at 90% for each of these terms?

OEE= 0.90 X 0.90 X 0.90 = 0.729 or 73%

What does a 1% improvement in each of these do for you?

OEE= 0.91 X 0.91 X 0.91 = .754 or 75.4 %

What does 100% Quality (Zero defects) get you with the other two factors at 0.90?

OEE= 0.90 X 0.90 X 1.00 = 0.81 or 81%

So what are you going to work on today in your shop?

Accountant photo: accountant.

Break photo courtesy Wikipedia commons

Reject tag photo courtesy Linton Labels


Editor's note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing his blog, which can also be read here.

1 comments; last comment on 09/20/2017
View comments

Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

Posted September 13, 2017 10:15 AM by Milo

I’ll admit it, I’ve been a bit of a curmudgeon regarding Additive Technology in manufacturing. While everyone in the trade press seems to be gushing breathlessly about additive technology like a bunch of tweens waiting for their first One Direction concert, I’ve stayed away.

I’ve stayed away, because until now, most things that I saw were mere novelty applications. Distractions, or lets face it, quite impractical. Who needs a 3-d printed plastic wrench?

A very nice project but not really a useable tool in most situations.

What have been some of my objections?

  • No practical mechanical properties. Or else requiring a very expensive thermal treatment to develop mechanical properties that are still below those of traditionally wrought products.
  • Low density. Or higher density achieved by absorbing a molten metal at high temperatures like a wick.
  • Cycle time. building a part a thousandth of an inch or so per pass takes a long time. Even watching the laser pulses as it builds up features, layer by layer gets old after a few passes.
  • Tolerances. Newer technologies are getting more precise, but the tolerances claimed haven’t exactly been “hold my beer watch this!” impressive.

So what has changed my thinking about Additive in our Subtractive precision machining world?

NanoSteel BLDR Metal for Powderjet Fusion

  • Mechanical properties objection- With case-hardening steel powder that provides high hardness and ductility (case hardness >70HRC, 10%+ core elongation) that objection is gone.
  • Low density objection- If it is dense enough to perform as roll threading dies, that objection is also moot.
  • Cycle time. Well, the video doesn’t say how long it took to fabricate these thread roll dies, but my guess is it probably took less time than the time to find, purchase, ship and deliver the tool steel needed to fabricate new ones by traditional machining methods.
  • Tolerances. Now, they don’t share the tolerances achieved in this video, but it seems pretty clear that their claim of making tooling capable of fabricating the bolt shown is credible.

So there you have it. A credible role for Additive in our Subtractive precision machining shops.

I’m impressed. So impressed, I wrote this post.

Now where do I find tickets for One Direction???

NanoSteel.

Excitement Photo Courtesy Mama Bird Diaries.

Instructables Plastic Wrench 3-d Printing

7 comments; last comment on 09/23/2017
View comments

Thank You to My Readers

Posted June 26, 2017 9:00 AM by Milo
Pathfinder Tags: appreciation milestone Thanks

Actually, a million thank yous! Thanks to readers like you, SPEAKINGOFPRECISIONBLOG has over 1,000,000 views.

1,000,000 views!

Our first post was from June 30, 2009 and remains as relevant to day as it did then: 5 Reasons to choose a Career in Precision Machining

We’ve come quite a way since that very first post!

What do you like?

Our post on The Difference Between Accuracy and Precision Measurement in Your Machine Shop is our most popular with 44,445 views.

Hardness vs. Hardenability- There is a Difference is our second most popular post at 35,780 views.

5 Facts About Manganese in Steel, 7 Causes for Quench Cracking of Steel, and Why Manufacturing is the Right Career Choice- DATA! all came in between 21,000 and 30,000 views each.

Average number of times a post gets seen on PMPASPEAKINGOFPRECISIONBLOG: 1048 times.

1,000,000 is an aspirational number. How many of us get to measure anything that we do in quantities of millions? (Actually, all of our shops do, they call it “normal production!”)

But as an individual, as someone sharing knowledge and experience- 1,000,000 views; 1,000,000 shares of information; 1,000,000 human to human connections- that is an unexpected and very satisfying validation.

Thank you for spending a small part of your day with me here at my blog.

Together, we’ll continue to make sense of the the issues that make a difference to all of us in North American Manufacturing.

Especially Precision Machining.

1,000,000 views!

Do I believe in the power of social media to help us connect and share?

You bet I do! 1,000,000 times YES!

Tooting Own Horn photo credit.


Editor's note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing his blog, which can also be read here.

4 comments; last comment on 06/26/2017
View comments


Previous in Blog: OSHA Mandatory Electronic Injury and Illness Reporting Delayed  
Show all Blog Entries in this Blog

Advertisement