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Continuous improvement should be a goal for any machining business, but “unless you know what you’re shooting against, unless you have some frame of reference, it’s hard to do that,” says Doug Woods, president of AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology. That’s why shops need benchmarks, standards by which to measure not just one company’s progress, but its progress compared to other shops.

How can you get that information? Participating in Modern Machine Shop’s Top Shops program is one way. For the past six years, this anonymous survey has provided a means for participating shops to gage their own operations in comparison to their peers’. As Mr. Woods explains in the video embedded in this post, the data collected also helps advance the manufacturing industry at large by providing insight into how the best-in-class shops nationwide are using technology.

Manufacturing News of Note: July 2017

GKN Aerospace and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have signed a five-year research agreement focused on additive manufacturing. Utilizing the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, this $17.8 million cooperative research and development agreement will focus on additive manufacturing processes, supporting progress toward their use in the manufacture of major, structural components for aircraft.

The first focus of the agreement will be to develop the laser metal deposition process with wire (LMD-w). LMD-w is an additive manufacturing technique that builds metal structures by using a laser to melt metal wire into beads onto a substrate layer by layer. The partnership aims to create a prototype machine that will manufacture complex medium- and large-scale aircraft structures in titanium. The second focus will develop the electron beam melting (EBM) process for producing precise, complex, small- to medium-size components. In EBM, metal powder is melted with an electron beam, again building up the component layer by layer. The partnership will support work already in progress, aiming to make this process ready for introduction into full-scale, high-volume aerospace production.

Cycle Starting a New Career: July 2017 Digital Edition

What if you could find a way to hire pre-screened, skilled employees while helping your local community? July’s cover story explores this topic as it describes a poverty-fighting nonprofit, the Jane Addams Resource Corp. (JARC), that serves regional manufacturers as both a pipeline of fresh recruits and an incubator of existing talent. In the end, JARC provides a simulated work environment, project-based instruction, the use of industry credentials, training by industry professionals, and sensitivity toward the need for bundled services and bridge programming.

Also in this issue of Modern Machine Shop:

Submerged in Robotics

Denso’s first robot was a three-axis pick-and-place device developed in 1967, says Robotic Sales Department Manager Peter Cavallo. Since then, he says the company’s Denso Robotics group has begotten nine generations of robots. Some of the newest examples of Denso robotics technology, including a waterproof, submersible model, were on display at the company’s Robotics Sales, Application and Training Center in West Chester, Ohio, a northern suburb of Cincinnati about halfway to Dayton on Interstate 75.

A recent open house at this facility also celebrated the company’s half-century milestone as a developer of robotic technology. In marking this achievement, Mr. Cavallo explained that Denso Corp., headquartered in Kariya, Japan, is one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers, becoming a long-time pioneer and technology leader in the design and manufacture of small industrial robots, especially for assembly. These robots and related technology are globally available through the firm’s Denso Robotics unit. However, Mr. Cavallo noted that Denso is the world’s largest user of its own robot products, with more than 18,000 units installed in the company’s manufacturing facilities around the world.

Catch Up on PMTS 2017’s Live Demonstrations with This Video Playlist

Along with reading print magazines like Modern Machine Shop and Production Machining, trade shows provide ample opportunities for job shops to learn about and appraise new developments in machining technology. Think about it: Sometimes, you have to see things yourself, hold them in your hands, and talk to the engineers and product experts who know the most about whatever workholding system, hybrid machining concept or rotary transfer platform is making waves at any given time.

So, it’s no surprise that Gardner Business Media’s 2017 Media Usage in Manufacturing survey confirms that the majority (65 percent) of equipment acquisition influencers and approvers see trade shows as the most useful way to learn about new technologies, with print magazines coming in second. While Google search or trade websites are useful for finding information about specific technologies you already know about, trade shows are one way to expose you to new things. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

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