Mark Albert

Mark Albert is editor-in-chief of Modern Machine Shop Magazine, a position he has held since July 2000. He was associate editor and then executive editor of the magazine in prior years. Mark has been writing about metalworking for more than 30 years. Currently, his favorite topics are lean manufacturing and global competitiveness. Mark’s editorial activities have taken him to numerous countries in Europe and Asia as well as across the United States many times. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).

Posted by: Mark Albert 27. May 2016

More Shop Dogs

A few weeks ago, I introduced Bandit, a border collie who runs a continuous mood improvement program at a CNC Swiss shop in North Carolina.

This is Bentley. Bentley is the official greeter at MRS Machining in Wisconsin.

In response to that post, Matt Guse, president and owner of MRS Machining, sent me a picture of Bentley, who is the official greeter and top dog at this shop in Augusta, Wisconsin. Matt says that “Bentley loves to greet folks from time to time when they come and visit. Having a shop in a rural area, we don’t get many visitors, so he is always excited to see folks when they show up. My wife even brought him some shop shoes so he doesn’t get chips in his paws when walking through the shop, but like most dogs he doesn’t really care for them.”

Al Popovich, the owner of Accurate Design & Fabrication in Custer Park, Illinois, sent this picture of the shop dogs at his company (apparently after they had had a long day of strenuous morale building).

Al appreciated our spotlight on shops dogs and said it was “a nice change from trying to keep up with all the automation and technology. A good dog often puts things in perspective.” He also added that these shop dogs are “all members of Fabricators Union Local K9.”

Preben Hansen with Nelly and Cooper.

Preben Hansen, president of Heimatec Inc.. in Prospect Heights, Illinois, sent this picture of him with Nelly (on the left) and Cooper. I am told that these fine dogs are a big part of the company family and roam freely throughout the office, always lifting everyone's spirits. 

My sincere thanks to Matt, Al and Preben for sharing these photos.

Posted by: Mark Albert 13. May 2016

Meet Bandit, This Shop’s CMO

Making people smile is one of the chief duties of any shop dog. Bandit is good at this job, as proven by this shot of Gary Bruner and his CMO.   

CMO—that’s “Chief Morale Officer.” Bandit is a border collie whose main occupation is keeping attitudes well-adjusted at Carolina Precision Manufacturing in Mooresville, North Carolina. I visited this shop recently to see its newly installed machine monitoring system. Company President Gary Bruner introduced me to Bandit, who tagged along for my tour of this prosperous and forward-thinking CNC Swiss shop. Bandit’s positive influence was evident at every stop on the tour.

Of course, Bandit didn’t distract me from getting a good look at how the new machine monitoring system is helping CPM improve machine uptime and hit critical production targets. I’m planning to report on this shop’s experience in an upcoming feature article. How the monitoring system and the upbeat shop culture there were mutually beneficial will be part of this story.

Having a friendly dog or other pet around the shop can be part of a company’s unique culture. To see more about why I like “shop dogs,” click here. Have a picture or story about your shop dog? Send it me at

Posted by: Mark Albert 29. April 2016

Metalworking in the Age of Connectivity

A white paper from Walter Surface Technologies shows how its new Wi-Fi-enabled passivation tester is a striking example of innovative sensor technology, web-enabled networking, cloud-based platforms and mobile apps coming together to support the metalworking industry in the digital age. It’s a compelling case study of data-driven manufacturing in action on the shop floor.

Many metalworking companies apply processes and treatments to workpieces in the course of producing them for customers. One example is passivation, a process to make stainless steel corrosion resistant. Testing passivated workpieces to be sure the process was complete and effective can be a challenge. However, any company concerned about quality control and inspection will be interested in this discussion of how a handheld wireless diagnostic tool, Walter Surface Technologies’ Surfox Smart Passivation Tester, is an example of the Industrial Internet of Things at work. The device measures the chromium oxide layer found on the surface of stainless steel. This layer protects the metal from corrosion and rust. Within seconds, the tester syncs a numeric value of the quality of the passive layer to a smart phone and uploads the test results to the cloud.

The device integrates both the physical and digital worlds and provides real-time data that can be shared with customers. Using this device as an example, the white paper puts the development and implementation of web-enabled technology into a real-world context.

As a plus, the paper includes a primer defining many of the most popular buzzwords related to the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 and Big Data is also handy and informative.

Fill out the form and download the white paper here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 15. April 2016

"Machinery’s Handbook" in Large-Print Edition

Machinery’s Handbook” is a classic reference volume that first appeared more than 100 years ago. The 30th edition, published by Industrial Press, is now out and is available for the first time in a large-print version. For those of us who have aging eyesight (like me) the 2,896 pages in this latest edition are more readable, but as useful as ever.

The new edition contains major revisions of existing content, plus a lot of new material. The new stuff includes an expanded metrology section including v-blocks and micrometers, vernier and dial calipers; a powder metallurgy section including additive manufacturing; information on sheet metal, presses and press working; and many new specs on drilling, reamers, grit sizes and more.

In addition, the metric content has been expanded throughout the book. Metric units are shown adjacent to the U.S. customary units in the text. Many formulas are now given with equivalent metric expressions, and metric examples have been added.

The large-print edition measures 7 by 10 inches. It weighs close to 6 pounds.

Posted by: Mark Albert 8. April 2016

Video: Scannable Code Promotes Sharing of Cutting Tool Information in a Data-Driven Manufacturing Environment

In a visually compelling demonstration, this 3-minute video shows how a dot matrix code on the body of a toolholder enables critical information about the cutting tool to be captured, moved about the factory safely and updated promptly on a central database. Although the video focuses on secure data exchange among a FANUC CNC machine, a Zoller tool presenter/measuring machine and a tool storage unit via a scannable dot matrix code on a Schunk toolholder, the video retains its clear instructional value.

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