MMS Blog

During opening remarks at IMTS 2016, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was quick to acknowledge the headwinds facing manufacturers during the past couple of years. However, she couldn't have picked a better venue to point out that there's still plenty of reason for optimism.

This year's show is 6.5 percent larger in scale than the 2014 iteration, pointed out Doug Woods, president of show organizer AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology, and that growth mirrors what's been happening in the broader industry. As attendees filed in, Pritzker outlined the factors behind the U.S. market's strength and how the Commerce Department has supported and will continue to support that growth.

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Posted by: Tom Beard 29. September 2016

FFG’s Jimmy Chu Comments on Acquisitions Strategy

On September 12, we sat down with Jimmy Chu, chairman and founder of Fair Friend Group (FFG). While some North Americans may be unfamiliar with the company, Chu has acquired his way to building FFG into one of the world’s leading machine tool concerns. With last year’s acquisition of MAG IAS (Germany), the Taiwan-based FFG now ranks third globally, Chu says, and he’s by no means done yet.

Among FFG’s portfolio are well-known brands such as Germany’s Huller Hille, Hessap and VDF Boehringer; Ikegai (Japan); Jobs and Rambaudi (Italy); as well as Fair Friend and Feeler (Taiwan). Chu says, in total, FFG holds 19 companies, 39 brands and 58 factories located across 10 countries. Industry insiders will recall FFG negotiating to buy Doosan Infracore (Korea) last year, a deal ultimately scuttled by the Korean government, Chu says. He currently is working on the acquisition of a well-known Japanese builder but cannot yet disclose the name.

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The Reshoring Initiative has released an infographic titled “New Dawn for Manufacturing Careers in America” in time for Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) 2016, which is scheduled for October 7.

The infographic seems intended for manufacturing decision-makers, arguing that “manufacturing is once again a great choice for career stability and growth.” Two key parts of this argument are 1) that net annual job loss to offshoring is said to have dropped to zero in 2015, and 2) that labor costs have risen in countries historically looked to for offshoring, particularly China. Additionally, the initiative argues that in terms of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), lean product design, automation and shorter lead times can often make it more profitable to manufacture domestically.

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Collaborative robots vary in design, but they all feature some combination of sensor technologies that enable them to function safely alongside humans in a shared area, unlike conventional industrial robots that operate autonomously inside a safeguarded cell. The common application for these in a shop is loading/unloading parts from machine tools.

However, this device from Perceptron is said to be the first programmable laser scanning system to enable automated 3D scanning, dimensional measurement and dimensional gaging leveraging a collaborative robot platform. Its scanning sensor is mounted to the arm of a six-axis collaborative robot, which uses built-in force-sensing technology that causes it to stop its movement if it makes contact with a person.

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The TV program “Titans of CNC”—formerly “Titan: American Built”—posted the promo above of its upcoming third season. Titan Gilroy, the show’s star and creator, has obtained permission to establish a modern CNC machining program within San Quentin State Prison and film there. This video shows the new San Quentin machine shop taking shape, as Mr. Gilroy (himself a former prison inmate) works alongside inmates to renovate and equip the space, and prepare the new CNC shop for the instruction of students.

In a Facebook post, Mr. Gilroy says he designed the curriculum for the prison machining program himself and will personally teach the inmate students to “machine aggressively so they can really secure jobs and solve employer and customer problems.” His instruction of inmates will be a recurring part of the show, and he intends for his show to be more directly focused on machining instruction going forward. The show’s name change reflects this change in direction. Machining professionals, students and maker enthusiasts will all be able to benefit from the teaching he gives as part of the show, he says, and this will be supplemented by complementary videos related to machining practice on the show’s website.

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