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.
Total energy consumption in the U.S. manufacturing sector decreased by 17 percent from 2002 to 2010, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Manufacturing gross output decreased by only 3 percent over the same period. Taken together, these data indicate a significant decline in the amount of energy used per unit of gross manufacturing output. The significant decline in energy intensity reflects both improvements in energy efficiency and changes in the manufacturing output mix. Consumption of every fuel used for manufacturing declined over this period.
The broad U.S. manufacturing sector comprised over 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. It includes energy-intensive industries (those that use relatively large amounts of energy) such as petroleum refining, chemicals, aluminum, iron and steel, paper, wood products, and food, as well as less energy-intensive industries such as textiles, leather, apparel, furniture, machinery and electrical equipment.
Energy for manufacturing can be consumed in two ways: as a fuel or as a feedstock (material input to a final product). Energy consumed as a fuel includes all energy used for heat and power. Energy used as feedstock is the use of energy sources for raw material input or for any purpose other than the production of heat or power.
U.S. manufacturing used over 14 quadrillion BTU of energy as a fuel in 2010, a decrease of 13 percent from the 2002 level. Fuel consumption in the five most energy-intensive subsectors accounted for 81 percent of fuel use in manufacturing. Two energy-intensive subsectors (petroleum and coal products and food) showed 3.5 percent increases in their fuel consumption from 2002 to 2010.
Feedstock energy use in U.S. manufacturing accounts for more than 6 percent of all energy consumed in the country. Although nearly all manufacturers use energy as a fuel, 99 percent of feedstock energy use occurs in only three manufacturing subsectors: primary metals, chemicals, and petroleum and coal products.
Some companies are taking the healthcare of their employees into their own hands. One is Bremen Castings, a foundry and machine shop in northern Indiana that I plan to visit next week and profile in an article for our May issue.
Company president JB Brown explains that his company opened an on-site wellness center for employees so they will always have access to affordable healthcare. “At a time when more businesses than ever before are looking for ways to cut back on healthcare services to control costs, we have decided to put that service at the forefront for our employees,” he says. “In addition, our facility is cash-free, meaning that employees and dependents can receive free generic prescriptions and care.” (What’s also noteworthy is that the company reached a huge safety milestone this month by going over 1 million man hours without a lost-time accident.)
Similarly, Sunnen, manufacturer of precision honing equipment, established an on-site facility in 2006 as highlighted in this recent St. Louis Today article. According to the company, in addition to its other wellness programs, this has been a factor in keeping costs level and allowing the company to decrease the employee share of co-pays for specialist visits and urgent care.
Email me if this is something you’ve considered for your business.
Our Top Shops benchmarking surveys ask about the amount of formal training shops offer employees each year. Data from the 2012 survey revealed that 45 percent of shops provided less than eight hours of training per employee, 33 percent provided eight to 20 hours, 13 percent provided 21 to 40 hours, and only 9 percent provided more than 40 hours.
These numbers pale in comparison to a manufacturer in Minneapolis that requires that all employees—from president to new hire—complete at least 100 hours of job-related training per year. Learn why.
Big Kaiser says it has produced the industry’s smallest finish boring head. Its EWN 04-7 series is designed for use on micro-milling machines with high speed spindles such as HSK-E25, E32 and E40 models.
This boring head has a diameter range of 0.016" to 0.276". It features a high-precision adjustment accuracy of 0.0005"/diameter or 0.0001"/diameter with the use of a Vernier scale. The head is available with the Kaiser KA1 modular connection or with a 10-mm-diameter straight shank, and can accept boring bars with 4-mm-diameter shanks. Maximum through-tool coolant pressure is 300 psi. High rigidity and secure clamping of the boring bar makes it well-suited for many micromachining applications including those that require small-diameter boring deep inside cavities.