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 One is to make students aware that their perception of manufacturing as a dirty and dangerous industry is outdated, and that a well-run job shop is a clean environment filled with high-tech equipment.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.  

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 4. April 2014

RedEye to Join with Other Additive Manufacturing Companies

Stratasys, the supplier of additive manufacturing technology and also owner of additive manufacturing service provider RedEye, announced this week that it intends to acquire two other AM service providers: Solid Concepts and Harvest Technologies. The companies will be joined with RedEye to form a single business unit, Stratasys says. The result will be “one of the largest independent additive manufacturing parts providers in North America,” said Harvest president David K. Leigh in a letter to customers. (The photo above shows RedEye’s production floor.)

All three companies have seen additive processes move from prototyping into production of functional parts. Harvest calls this direct digital manufacturing; its additive manufacturing capabilities are qualified to produce flight-certified parts for both manned and unmanned aircraft, the company says. Solid Concepts recently demonstrated additive manufacturing’s effectiveness at making production-quality parts by growing the components of a working 3D-printed handgun. Meanwhile, Redeye has been thinking about the next step after 3D printing. To expand the range of potential production applications for its 3D printing capabilities, the company has been exploring finishing options.

For more detail about the acquisitions, read Stratasys’s announcement. For a clue to what this might mean, see this article quoting RedEye (long before the acquisitions) about the implications of a company being able to offer a large amount of additive production capacity.

Posted by: Mark Albert 3. April 2014

It’s Big! It’s Exciting! It Sends a Message

The IMTS balloon made a recent appearance during The MFG Meeting
at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.


These assertions apply equally well to the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) and the IMTS hot air balloon, which serves to promote this important industry event and this important message: Manufacturing is clearly on the rise in the Americas.

IMTS show management has announced that the IMTS balloon will appear at festivals across the country leading up to its appearance at IMTS, which takes place Sept. 8 to 13 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“The IMTS balloon is an important visual object that supports our brand, big enough to be seen from a distance, and interesting enough to draw people closer,” says Peter R. Eelman, vice president – exhibition and communications at AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology. “As long-time IMTS visitors arrive at the South Building and see the balloon outside Chicago’s McCormick Place they break into smiles and say, ‘It's IMTS time!’ For new visitors it’s a visually striking and unexpected image.”

The balloon can be seen at:

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