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).
The MTConnect Challenge, a U.S. Department of Defense—Defense-Wide Manufacturing Science and Technology (DMS&T) ManTech sponsored competition, is designed to promote U.S. manufacturing companies in the defense industry. The goal is to spur the development of tools and applications using the shopfloor data unleashed by MTConnect. MTConnect is an open-source, royalty-free communications standard intended to foster greater communication and connectivity between manufacturing equipment and devices.
The Challenge has two parts. Challenge 1, which runs from April 12 to May 31, 2013, simply asks for imaginative ideas for “manufacturing intelligence applications” using MTConnect. Students, professionals, scientists, laypersons, and organizations of all kinds—including manufacturers—are encouraged to participate. Get the details here. Prizes include $5,000 cash each for the five best ideas. Hint: DoD is especially interested in concepts that will help lower-tier producers and job shops supporting the defense supply chain.
Challenge 2, which runs from July 1, 2013 to January 17, 2014, is looking for development of software applications that address the objectives of this challenge and fulfill the winning ideas. The top prize in this part of the competition is $100,000.
One of the highlights of this week’s MC2 Conference was the introduction of this video, which features Joel Neidig, technology manager at ITAMCO. He talks about how machine monitoring and other MTConnect-enabled technologies have benefited this north central Indiana job shop.
For related articles on MTConnect, scroll through our Editor’s Picks on the right-hand side of this page.
GF AgieCharmilles hosted its International Technology Show at its main building in Losone, near Locarno on Lake Maggiore in Switzerland
EDM (electrical discharge machining) got its start in 1952 when the Russian scientists, Boris and Natalya Lazarenko, first used electrical energy emitted by an energized electrode to remove metal in a controllable fashion. Two years later, a Swiss company introduced the earliest commercial machine tool using this metal removal process. Six decades later, GF AgieCharmilles (today’s corporate entity rooted in the original Swiss company) is still building die sinking, wire and hole-drilling EDM machines in Switzerland.
In addition to EDM, GF AgieCharmilles provides high-speed/high-efficiency milling and laser texturing technologies, as well as related customer services and support for these technologies. This range of technology is important, because the current state of EDM is best understood in a context where these technology components are combined in an automated, integrated manufacturing solution.
GF AgieCharmilles’ recent International Technology Show in Losone, Switzerland, commemorated the 60-year history and evolution of EDM, from its inception to its culmination as the critical process in advanced mold, die, toolmaking and high precision production. View this slide show to see what this event was all about.
From left to right, John Walker, chairman, Oxford Economics; Johan Israelsson, president of Sandvik Coromant; and Ken Mayland, president, Clearview Economics answer questions during a Q&A session at the recent MFG meeting.
The recent Manufacturing for Growth (MFG) Meeting in Waikaloa, Hawaii, brought together more than 600 representatives of three key manufacturing industry groups. The joining of AMT -The Association For Manufacturing Technology, National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA) and Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) for The MFG Meeting links the entire manufacturing chain, from OEMs to distribution to end-user shops and factories.
Overall, the mood among attendees was buoyant, although nagging uncertainty about health care costs, irksome budget wrangling in Washington and a persistent skills shortage are creating significant headwinds for economic recovery. The educational conference sessions were solid and insightful.
The parts of the conference I enjoyed the most were the precision machining breakout session and the leadership pep rally on the last day led by Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman. The breakout session was particularly lively. About two dozen job shops (mostly in aerospace) zeroed in topics related to either maintaining profit margins in the face of rising costs or acting on opportunities. These topics included:
Customer price reductions
Cost of technology
New network security rules
Advice on how to handle persistent mandates from aerospace contractors for price reductions included some options such as firm, disciplined resistance (just say NO) and negotiated give-backs such as commitments to contract extensions or prepayment of material costs. Several shops shared their positive experiences with wellness programs that have proven to be effective at holding down healthcare costs. The general advice on additive manufacturing was to take this technology seriously, but recognize that it is still in its infancy. Overall, the strong consensus arising from this session is that this is a good time to invest boldly in new manufacturing technology.
Rob Waldman’s session, “Never Fly Solo! The Power of Partnership to Reach New Heights in Business,” was intense, emotional and engaging. I’m usually left a bit unmoved by “motivational” speakers, but found him to be rather compelling. What made this speaker memorable for me was encountering him in the hotel lobby a few days later. Rob and I chatted for over an hour. His account of how diligently and thoroughly he prepares for each presentation thoroughly impressed me. He tailors his remarks to connect with each audience’s special interests, based on his insights into the current challenges they face. He studies the conference program, meets the other speakers and gets to know a cross-section of attendees. Commitment to excellence and being mission-ready are two the tenets of success in battle that Rob emphasizes. Clearly, he applies them to his own goal to be a top-flight speaker.