Posted by: Mark Albert 11. April 2014

Clemson U. Grad Student Wins MTConnect Challenge

Valerie Pezzullo explains her prize-winning application to MMS Editor-in-Chief Mark Albert at this week’s [MC2] Conference in Orlando Florida.

Winning $100,000 in a national engineering contest is a remarkable feat, especially for a 24-year-old graduate student like Valerie Pezzullo, who is completing her master’s in mechanical engineering at Clemson University. Her application, Machining Process Monitoring to Aid in Chatter Identification, was voted the top entry in the MTConnect Challenge 2 contest this week at the [MC2] 2014 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Attendees at the conference voted on the five finalists to choose the top three winners. In addition to the $100,000 first prize, a $75,000 second prize and a 50,000 third prize were also awarded. All of the finalists demonstrated the value of the MTConnect standard as a key enabler of creative, yet practical, applications that promised to have far-reaching benefits for manufacturers in the United States.

After the results were announced and the cash prizes awarded, I had a chance to find out a little more about Valerie’s interest in engineering, and discovered what I think is important clue in her background that might account for her unique ability to develop a winning entry. She told me that before she settled on engineering as her college program, she was drawn to creative pursuits such as music and theater. Her natural interest in and talent for math and the sciences, however, proved a stronger attraction.

Valerie explained that one of her first engineering courses included an introduction to CNC machining. That really got her hooked on the engineering aspects of manufacturing. Noting her earlier artistic interests, I ask Valerie if she found an outlet for that inclination in engineering. She agreed that there were many opportunities to be creative and inventive in her chosen path. Conceiving, designing and constructing the test equipment and related experiments proved this many times, she said.

It would be great if she can carry that message to other young women and men who might be considering careers and engineering, science or manufacturing. She can show them that these are fields in which the creative spark can certainly catch fire.

For more details about the MTConnect Challenge 2 and information about the finalists, click here.

Posted by: Derek Korn 10. April 2014

Video: Cap Screws Not Required

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With conventional vises, vise jaws attach to the face of master jaws via cap screws. Conversely, the Carvesmart system from Bellatex Industries uses master jaws with a female dovetail profile that accept vise jaws with a male dovetail profile. With this system, the jaws can be front-loaded or slid into the side of the master jaws, and are secured via clamping elements accessible at the top of the master jaws that provide downward pressure to keep the jaws in place. Learn more in this article.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 9. April 2014

Experiences with ERP

Ergoseal’s production manager, George Lang, helped oversee the company’s ERP implementation. He says getting the entire staff into the habit of using the system took time, but it was worth it. Read more about Ergoseal by finding this company’s link in the list below.

Of all of the changes that Ergoseal put in place to prepare for its business to grow, implementing ERP was the most difficult. Badge-wearing, barcode-scanning, and interacting with a systemized approach to logging and accessing data became a part of the daily life of every employee.

But this change was arguably also the most necessary. The company had long since outgrown the point in which one company leader could keep tabs on all of the information vital to the shop’s daily efficiency. The company also recognized the risk of redundancy, error or lost time on the shop floor because of an employee not having easy access to needed information.

Job shops reach a point in their growth when they need to seriously consider ERP, says Dennis Gilhooley of Ultra Consultants. He wrote an article outlining what job shops should think about when evaluating these systems.

To get a glimpse of what other shops have done, see the list below. Each company name is a link to an article about that shop’s experience with ERP:

Posted by: Emily Probst 8. April 2014

Modern Machine Shop’s April Digital Edition Is Now Available

The results are in. Modern Machine Shop’s April issue features results from the 2014 World Machine Tool Output and Consumption Survey, showing how the U.S. machine tool market has outpaced the test of the world. This issue also features technical articles about data-driven manufacturing and a million-dollar, large-part job.

Other topics include a roundup of workholding articles, case studies about introducing automation into production and an equipment spotlight on turning. Read the digital April issue here.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 7. April 2014

Searching for Skilled Workers? Here’s Part of the Solution

In recent years, manufacturers have found it increasingly difficult to find trained, skilled employees, especially in the metalworking industry. While there is no one answer to this dilemma, the solution may be found in a multi-pronged approach. One is to make students aware that their perception of manufacturing as a dirty and dangerous industry is outdated, and that a well-run job shop is a clean environment filled with high-tech equipment. Another solution is to provide individuals with disabilities with the tools they’ll need to enter the industrial workforce. In that same vein, employers must be informed that any preconceived notions they may have of massive difficulties associated with accommodating individuals with disabilities in the workplace are behind the times, as well.

My visit to Skills Inc.’s manufacturing/training facility in Auburn—one of four campuses in Washington State—was a revelation on many levels. First, I learned that the company is a not-for-profit entity that was established with the support of Boeing in the late ‘60s. The company now generates nearly 100 percent of its operating revenue, including purchasing its own equipment with little assistance from state and federal grants. In addition, its range of services is impressive. The company manufactures aerospace parts and provides chemical surface finishing. It also offers employee training, certification and job placement, and even technical and business consulting services. Central to both manufacturing and training is staying abreast of the latest technologies, such as Vericut CNC simulation software provided by CGTech. Vericut helps to avoid collisions and correct toolpath errors before programs are even loaded into the machine, the company says, eliminating the need for manual prove-outs and increasing overall process efficiency.

That same sense of efficiency permeates the operation. Based on their strengths, and taking their particular challenge into account, trainees and employees are guided toward positions in which they can succeed. An employee with a physical disability, for instance, may be drawn to positions requiring programming or CNC machine operations. And ergonomics dictate the arrangement of each workstation to suit that person’s particular needs, with all the tools and devices they require carefully arranged and within easy reach.

Every tool that an employee might conceivably require is carefully arranged at each workstation.

Dan Olson, plant manager, has witnessed many success stories. “Nicholas Podszus joined our Aerospace Internship Program (AIP) in September of 2010. When the idea of the program was presented to him by his teacher, he was relieved to hear there was an alternative to the traditional school setting that would still allow him to complete his high school education. Nicholas has always worked well with his hands and didn’t enjoy the long days spent in a classroom environment. As an alternative, he was able to hop on a school bus and spend half of his day at Skills Inc. where he gained exposure to areas in manufacturing such as milling, CNC, and shearing, finish—takedown, packaging, and receiving, etc.—and in an office setting.”

Mr. Podszus graduated from high school and the AIP in June of 2011, and he was one of two students to get a full-time permanent job offer. He has worked as a manual machinist for three years, and he has been promoted to a Level 2 machinist.

HarleyFay Johnson entered the AIP in her senior year of high school. She was able to gain exposure to many areas of the business including aerospace manufacturing, aerospace finish, and even some administrative functions throughout the duration of her time in the program. As a result, she regained control of her education and successfully graduated from high school.

“She was offered a three-month paid internship, where she communicated her desire and aspirations to become a machinist,” Mr. Olson says. “She began her summer by working primarily in the manual machine area, where she excelled. At the conclusion of her internship, she was offered a full-time permanent position as a manual machinist. Today, HarleyFay is also gaining experience and developing her skills in the CNC machine area. She is an example of an ambitious and motivated woman, and we are excited to see her continued growth,” he says.

“You would be hard-pressed to find more dedicated, hardworking individuals than those we train and employ here,” Mr. Olson says. “We take great pride in every single aspect of our operation, from the appearance of our facilities to the quality of our products.”

A clean, uncluttered shop floor denotes employee pride, impresses visiting customers, and makes moving machines and materials easier.  

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