Posted by: Mark Albert 24. November 2015

Data-Driven Manufacturing Enabled with Tool Lifecycle Management

This video presents a lively and easy-to-follow scenario of how information about cutting tool availability links design, planning and production. Although TDM's tool lifecycle management software is brought into focus at relevant spots in this video, the larger message that "tool data management will be the control room of digitally controlled production" is sound and compelling.

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 23. November 2015

Grob Holds In-House Exhibition

Grob’s in-house exhibition was well attended and included tours of the company’s sprawling Mindelheim, Germany, manufacturing headquarters. 

Recently, I attended an open house in Mindelheim, Germany, the headquarters of machine tool builder Grob. In attendance were customers, representatives from the company’s global distribution network and suppliers from tooling, software and workholding companies. It was actually a mini trade show.

Grob is a family business that began in 1926 in Munich. It moved to its current location in Mindelheim in 1968, building a manufacturing campus that continues to grow. I was told they are the second largest builder in Europe and that the concentration of manufacturing facilities at the headquarters represents the largest concentration of machine tool building in Europe.

The company also manufactures in Bluffton, Ohio, Brazil, and China. Part of the company’s manufacturing strategy is to make these three satellite plants capable of making the same product lines as the German headquarters. They do this by pursuing vertical integration.

Highlighted at the open house was the line of universal machining centers built around the company’s G series of HMCs with multitasking capability. These machines are modular in design and can be customized with workholding, palletization, extended tool storage and myriad of other modules to customize the base model to a given application.

The other side of the company’s business involves machining systems that serve the automotive industry, in which Grob holds a significant market share.

Another highlight of the visit is called Grob-Net 4 Industry. According to Christian Grob, this connectivity package was implemented and tested in the Grob factories and is now being offered to its customers. We’re seeing this trend from other machine tool builders as Industry 4.0 and what we call the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) gains momentum.

It was an interesting and enlightening visit. 

Posted by: Matthew Danford 20. November 2015

A Manufacturer’s Most Valuable Resource

Mark Kite (left) and Frank Bock (right), co-owners of Dura Mold, say adopting a more collaborative approach to manufacturing has improved efficiency by better leveraging employees’ skills, improving communication and flexibility, and instilling a sense of teamwork that keeps everyone on-track and focused on the big picture.

A few weeks back, MMS Senior Editor Peter Zelinksi blogged about the importance of a positive shop culture and asked readers if they knew of any manufacturers that made this a priority. I know of quite a few, and they all have one thing in common: They’re all plastic injection mold makers.

That makes sense, given that I’ve only recently come aboard MMS after a 2-year stint at our sister publication, MoldMaking Technology. Still, it’s interesting that no matter what moldmaking topic I was writing about, the vast majority of shop leaders touched on the importance of people in some way, shape or form.

In fact, I cited a few examples in a recent blog post, including a shop that’s invested $1 million in workout rooms, break rooms and other such upgrades, as well as a shop with an interesting approach to showing employees they’re appreciated. However, that post left out something that’s just as critical as instituting a comfortable work environment and making people feel valued. The moldmakers I know—including the ones mentioned above—also emphasize the importance of giving employees a real say in the operation, a chance to potentially shape their own activities and those of the broader company.

One of the first articles I wrote for MMT focused exclusively on this subject. At Dura Mold, moving from a top-down management structure to a more collaborative approach has led to better use of human resources, improved communication and teamwork, a more flexible process and greater accountability. Learn more.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 19. November 2015

Five-Axis Machining for Multi-Part Processing

In a post on Hurco’s CNC machining blog, company applications engineer Mike Cope describes how the fixture shown above was implemented to allow a five-axis machining center to achieve not just five-sided machining for one part, but five-sided machining for all of the workpieces shown here with a single cycle.

Programming the four different pieces at these four different orientations would seem complicated, but Mr. Cope explains that it can actually be accomplished using straightforward control features. A “transform plane” function is used to relocate the program origin from the center of the workpiece to the peak at the center of the fixture, and also to tip the coordinate field to match each part’s 20-degree angle. Then, a “toolchange optimization” feature is used to allow each tool to make the relevant cuts on each of the parts before the tool is changed out. The result is five-sided machining gracefully expanded into multiple-workpiece machining.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 18. November 2015

Hot Chips in Ohio

Metal chips fly off a workpiece at Karlstadt Machining, while cow chips enrich the surrounding fields at the family farm in Bryan, Ohio.

While raising cattle and running a machine shop may seem to have little in common at first glance, a closer look reveals certain similarities. Both are hands-on occupations, requiring careful tending, and the quality of the end product dictates whether or not the operation is successful. Oh, and they both produce a ton of chips.

That’s what Dave Karlstadt has found since launching Karlstadt Machining on the same property as his family’s longtime beef cattle ranch in Bryan, Ohio, about six years ago. Having grown up working on the farm, he found that he was drawn to working with machinery and spent nearly two decades after graduating from high school in manufacturing. His last position was as manager of a production machine shop that primarily ran Okuma machine tools. Impressed by their strength and reliability, he purchased remanufactured Okumas when he opened his own machine shop—for cash. Once the business was established, he was able to begin investing in new machine tools, most recently an Okuma Genos M560-V vertical machining center purchased from Gosiger.

Read about Karlstadt Machining here, and watch the brief video below about the company’s founding, growth and capabilities. 

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