Posted by: Peter Zelinski 28. September 2015

Talent Shortage: Advice from a Human Resources Expert

Luke Niels (left) is plant manager at Progressive Turnings, an example of a shop in which learning and knowledge sharing are valued. Learn more about this shop.

Ben Dollar, a principal with Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice, recently wrote an article for the firm’s human resources blog about the various factors contributing to the shortage of talented employee prospects in manufacturing. He also described how manufacturing employers should respond to the serious challenge this shortage presents. Here is a summary of his advice to manufacturers:

1. Manage the talent pipeline like a supply chain, he says. Too many companies react to personnel needs by scrambling to fill holes as they appear. Take a predictive approach to identify coming workforce needs and take action to fill them far in advance.

2. Foster long-term career development and employee growth. Create a culture in which learning, improvement and knowledge sharing are highly valued.

3. Employers should challenge themselves, he says, to recruit employees from sources other than those from which employees have routinely come in the past. Seek a fresh perspective on the skills needed and the type of candidate who will ultimately be successful.

4. Think about recruiting and employment from a marketing perspective. Pay attention to the company’s “employment brand” as closely as the commercial brand. In fact, this might be the key role social media plays for manufacturing. While social media’s effectiveness is questionable at directly connecting buyers and sellers of manufacturing services, social media provides transparency into a company’s culture, significantly affecting the perception of the company’s employment brand.

5. Look closely at who does the shop’s recruitment and how this person carries out the work. Obviously, it all starts here. Manufacturers should “redesign and reskill the human resources function to address what is becoming one of the most significant challenges manufacturing companies have faced in decades,” Mr. Dollar says.

For related advice from another HR expert, read about my conversation with the hiring consultant used by New York job shop Staub Machine.

Posted by: Stephanie Hendrixson 25. September 2015

Additive Manufacturing Conference Speaker: Nikki Kaufman

Nikki Kaufman of Normal models a pair of her company’s custom earphones, produced via FDM.

Nikki Kaufman, the founder and CEO of Normal, will speak about her company’s use of 3D printing to mass produce a personalized product at the 2015 Additive Manufacturing Conference (AMC) scheduled for October 20-21. Kaufman’s company was started as a result of her quest for earphones that would be comfortable to wear for extended periods. Normal provides fully customized earphones—buyers take photos of their ears using an app to provide a model—that are produced via fused-deposition modeling (FDM) on the company’s Fortus 250mc machines from Stratasys. Read more about the company’s individualized approach to manufacturing here.

Normal will also be 3D printing custom earphones for a number of registrants randomly selected throughout the conference. There’s still time to register for the conference—click here for details.  

And speaking of additive … have you seen the new Additive Manufacturing website? We have been posting new content here daily. The increased attention to AM extends to social media,too. Join us as one of the earliest followers of Additive Manufacturing on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. Also during October, AM subscribers will receive the first issue of the new, full-size Additive Manufacturing magazine. Begin a subscription here.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 23. September 2015

Removing Burrs Can Be a Blast

An oxidized part immediately after undergoing TEM deburring. The residue will be removed during post-washing in a neutral solution.

Lubos Hanulik, product line manager at Danfoss Power Solutions in Ames, Iowa, is an experienced engineer. But he’s also a pretty good teacher. I discovered this while visiting with him to learn—and write an article—about a highly automated cell he helped develop using the Thermal Energy Method (TEM) to burn away burrs in the internal chambers of two components of a hydrostatic transmission. I found this to be a fascinating experience because, not only did I get to learn about TEM deburring, which ignites an oxygen/methane mix that removes burrs via oxidation, but also about the thought process behind creating a machining cell from scratch.

In short, the cell incorporates Mazak HCN 6000 horizontal milling machines, FANUC robots and a custom-designed washer and a P400 five-station TEM machine from Kennametal Extrude Hone to carry castings all the way from initial machining to the finished product. The parts—an end cap and a connector—are then ready for final assembly about 50 yards away. The entire operation is overseen by a single operator.

Although you may have a completely different application, much can be learned from Mr. Hanulik’s approach to developing this cell. Also take a few minutes to watch this video on TEM deburring

Posted by: Derek Korn 22. September 2015

Lessons in Grinding

This photo taken of the Blohm Profimat MT608 creep-feed grinding machine at the event seems dark, but that was appropriate ambiance giving the “universe of grinding” theme. In fact, the event featured a speech from Story Musgrave, NASA astronaut that was part of the team that repaired the Hubble telescope in 1993, who noted how the strategies and solutions required to carry out such a repair mirror those needed by today’s advanced manufacturers.

Last week, I attended the United Grinding Universe event at the company’s headquarters in Miamisburg, Ohio, where 400+ attendees were presented with new technologies and strategies for challenging ID/OD, match, centerless, radius, universal and creep-feed grinding applications. The event featured 11 machine demonstrations/presentations on the company’s showroom for its Studer, Blohm, Walter and Ewag brands and additional presentations in its training rooms.

One of the showroom presentations featured the new Studer S151 universal internal cylindrical grinding machine for large-diameter components. This machine line offers a swing above table of 21.6 inches and is available in versions that can accept part lengths of 27.5 inches or 51.1 inches. It features the company’s StuderGuide technology that has a hybrid guideway design incorporating the advantages of both hydrostatic and hydrodynamic guides. When combined with precision drives, 0.1-micron resolution accuracy is possible.

Another demonstrated the advantages of continuous-dress, creep-feed grinding for difficult new materials using the Blohm Profimat MT608. Compared to typical reciprocal grinding operations that take light, fast cuts, creep-feed grinding takes deeper cuts with a slow feed motion. Benefits include increased accuracy and form holding capability, less thermal damage, higher material removal rates, burr reduction and ability to machine heat-treated alloys. Constant in-feed of the diamond dressing roll into the wheel enables the wheel to maintain its form and sharpness throughout the operation.

Still another highlighted the advantages of gaging for match-grinding components such as plungers. This station featured a Studer S110 internal grinding machine with programmable B axis and compact Studer S11cylindrical grinding machine with integrated automation. (The latter, which I saw unveiled last year, is highlighted in this blog post.) Combining machines and measurement feedback in such a way offers a more productive, automated alternative to conventional match grinding approach that typically called for ID grinding of one of the components, inspection and sorting, OD grinding of the mating components, and then size adjustment to match or pair with ID-ground parts. 

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 21. September 2015

The Importance of Positive Culture

Photo taken at 3V Precision, Tacoma, Washington. This shop’s attention to employees includes daily shared breakfasts. Read more here.

One of subtlest but most significant developments I am seeing in manufacturing is a change in the culture of manufacturing businesses. A different understanding of, and appreciation for, the personal worth and individuality of production team members is something I’ve encountered in interactions with Baklund R&D and Staub Machine, as well as companies such as Defy that have come to manufacturing only recently and brought an outside culture with them.

If you are a shop owner or leader who thinks about company culture and how to shape it, please take some time to read one of my more recent articles about an example I found of a deliberately positive manufacturing environment. I went to 3V Precision to talk about Inconel, but it soon became clear that the mettle of this shop is as interesting as the metal.

The article makes the point that people are part of the process. Let me know what you think, and let me know if this article reminds you of any shops you know.

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