MMS Blog

The benefits of digitalization are clear, but the process of moving in that direction can be overwhelming. So many parts and pieces, from components of machine tools to management software, can be individually digitalized that planning a transition to Industry 4.0 can be difficult.

Through R&D and acquisitions, Siemens has been building an integrated portfolio of end-to-end solutions to enable both product manufacturers and machine tool builders to become truly digital enterprises. These solutions will be the focus of the company’s 2017 EMO exhibit, which it previewed at a press event at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago.

Whether they were transporting parts, building complex assemblies or serving iced cream, the robotic displays on the floor at Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) during the recent amtExpo made automation look easy. However, anyone with first-hand process-automation experience can attest that integrating robots can be anything but. Hosted August 9-10 in Orion Township, Michigan, the automation engineering specialists’ event provided opportunities to network with 400 people and 60 different companies to learn about what it takes to successfully automate. 

One of the more complex tasks that’s both common to machine shops and highly beneficial to automate is deburring. While application displays left little doubt about the possibility of automating this process, attendees who had the opportunity to attend a complementary event down the street learned that technology isn’t necessarily the biggest hurdle to doing so.  

This week, DMG MORI officially opened a new tech center and showroom in the Cincinnati area. The ribbon cutting at the new West Chester, Ohio, location was yesterday.

The primary purpose of the 15,000-square-foot facility is for customer support and training. DMG MORI USA CEO Thorsten Schmidt noted that the majority of the staff at the new site are service personnel and applications engineering specialists.

You could characterize Milltronics as a niche supplier of machine tools, but that might be misleading. The company provides machining centers and turning centers that cover a broad range, from toolroom and startup shop models to four-axis CNC mills and CNC slantbed lathes. Roughly, these machines can be grouped as "value" models (which the company would describe as affordable, yet capable) or "performance" models (which the company would describe as bigger, heavier, stronger models that are still competitively priced).

So what makes Milltronics a niche supplier? My impression from a visit to a recent open house at the company's headquarters in Waconia, Minnesota, is that Milltronics is devoted to a customer base that isn't looking for a supplier trying to be "all things to all shops." Rather, the customer base is looking for machines that fit the need, are supported by thorough service and sales engineering support, and offer a growth path. By growth path, I mean that customers can easily move up in machine type, size and capability within the Milltronics product range.

Joe Braun, the marketing manager who oversees Milltronics' sales strategy and brand positioning, explained that by knowing this customer base well, the company is able to better match it with the most attractive mix of machine features, workpiece capacity and control unit style—plus competitive pricing. As a result, Milltronics has a strong following among toolroom customers, start-up shops, job shops that want to grow by adding more machines, or shops moving up in CNC capability.

The photos above are a sample of machines on display at the company's open house and customer event, which followed a national dealer and distributor meeting at the Waconia headquarters at the end of July.

The presidents of three Top Shop manufacturing companies explain why benchmarking their businesses is important. Herb Homeyer of Homeyer Precision Manufacturing says benchmarking is an important tool that "shows how well or how bad you are doing." Matt Wardle of JD Machine says it pinpoints what to work on in order to emulate other top shops. Mark Vaughn of Vaughn Manufacturing says it helps him look across the landscape of his business to find metrics for evaluating his operations in comparison to those of his peers.

The Top Shops conference, which runs September 5-7 in Indianapolis, will present ideas and technologies that have put shops similar to yours at the top. Attendees will learn not only how their operations measure up, but also how to make their operations measure up with those at the top. Learn more about the event and its speakers, and be sure to register for the Top Shops Conference. For more Top Shops information, visit our Top Shops Zone.

RSS RSS  |  Atom Atom