Derek Korn joined Modern Machine Shop in 2004, but has been writing about manufacturing since 1997. His mechanical engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Applied Science provides a solid foundation for understanding and explaining how innovative shops apply advanced machining technologies. As you might gather from this photo, he’s the car guy of the MMS bunch. But his ’55 Chevy isn’t as nice as the hotrod he’s standing next to. In fact, his car needs a right-front fender spear if you know anybody willing to part with one.
In “Working Toward Lights-Out Inspection,” I explain how contract shop PDQ Corp. had been developing a process to enable its new CMM to inspect multiple parts unattended. A key element of this strategy is a modular, quick-change CMM fixture system developed by Phillips Precision called Inspection Arsenal. This system uses standard plates that magnetically interlock like puzzle pieces to enable parts fixtured on the plates to be easily removed and replaced to speed change-overs for new inspection jobs.
Recently, air-assist fixture plates have been developed for this system to enable a CMM operator to easily maneuver heavy workpieces across the CMM table as necessary. The plate glides over the CMM bed with minimal effort even for workpieces weighing as much as an anvil. See how in the video above.
Ogden, Utah’s LeanWerks practices open-book management (OBM), a management style in which a business’ financial information is regularly shared with all employees. In fact, Reid Leland, who started the company in 2003, says it represents the cornerstone of his company’s culture.
OBM as it is applied at LeanWerks has three primary elements: financial training, feedback and profit sharing. That said, Reid says this management style is not a panacea. Learn more.
Reid Leland’s LeanWerks offers financial training to new employees as part of its OBM approach, covering topics such as the gross profit to operating expenses (GPOE) ratio. GPOE is calculated each day and presented to employees on a large monitor inside the entrance to the shop area. This simple metric shows if the shop is profitable on any given day. Simply put, the company makes money on days in which the ratio is higher than 1, loses money when the ratio is less than 1, and breaks even when the ratio is precisely 1. Profits are shared with employees when total GPOE for a month is 1.2 or higher.
Flat-bottom drills are nifty tools. Those that have true 180-degree flat cutting edges can create holes on inclined or curved surfaces without a preliminary center drilling operation to create a start hole. And unlike conventional drills, flat-bottom drills tend to shear material as it exists the back side of a workpiece instead of pushing through, leaving behind a minimal burr.
The video above demonstrates this. Produced by Nachi, it shows a slow-motion comparison of a conventional drill and the company’s Aqua Drill Ex Flat completing a through-hole. You can see the tip of the conventional drill pushing through the material, whereas the flat-bottom drill performs more of a shearing operation. The video also shows the flat-bottom drill creating holes in inclined and contoured surfaces without requiring a starter hole.
On-machine probing offers a number of advantages. Probing routines using a touch-trigger probe installed in a machine’s spindle can speed setups by establishing the exact location of a workpiece fixtured on a machine so the part program can be aligned to it. This type of probing can also be applied in a more sophisticated manner for process control, using part measurement data to automatically apply cutter compensations.
We’ve written a number of articles on the topic, and I’ve linked to a few of them below. None of them address the types of workpieces being probed in the video above, however. (Thanks for letting me know about this Production Machining.)
This article highlights a few reasons why owners and managers of job or contract shops—companies that often don’t have their own product lines—should be mindful of patents. The registered patent attorney who provided the information in that article says it is important for shops to:
Think processes, not just products.
Clarify employee assignments.
Know what a patent grants and doesn’t grant.
Know when you might be liable for patent infringement.