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 Kaiser Tool Company is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Thinbit grooving tools line in 2014. Though the company was founded in 1964 by William and Hazel Kaiser, Mr. Kaiser began developing the small grooving tools in the couple’s garage and attic in the 1950s. Such tools were not widely available at the time, and ordering custom grooving tools was expensive and time-consuming. The Thinbit line was created as a result, offering a selection of tools ranging from 0.010" to 0.050" in 0.001" increments.
Today, Kaiser Tool employs more than 40 people and produces nine different lines of cutting tools, including the Thinbit, Microbit and Littlebit lines. Its products are sold in the United States and 20 other countries worldwide. The company moved to its current industrial facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1994 and is still family-owned and operated. Lenore Perry, daughter of William and Hazel, has been company president since 1982.
Most important, Kaiser Tool Company continues to help manufacturing companies with successful solutions for demanding grooving applications. A good example is Mack Tool and Engineering, a contract shop in South Bend, Indiana, that is using Thinbit Groove ‘N Turn tools for tight-tolerance, application-critical operations such as cutting microgrooves on aluminum aerospace workpieces.
In the Mack Tool and Engineering example mentioned above, Joel Christensen uses Thinbit Groove ' N Turn inserts ranging in width from 0.0195 to0.065 inch with sharp and full-radius tips. He regularly achieves surface finishes of 16 to 32 Ra.
Last week, Methods Machine Tools Inc. hosted Metal Storm 2014, its annual open house and mini machine tool show at the company's headquarters in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Methods uses this popular customer event to showcase new machine concepts and designs from the numerous machine tool builders it represents in the United States. A line-up of informational seminars and tabletop exhibits rounded out this year's presentation. More than 1,500 attendees from 450 companies visited over its three-day run.
Highlights of the machine models and metalworking processes introduced or featured at the show are compiled in this slideshow.
For a video clip roaming the aisles of Methods’ showroom during the event, click here.
I’ve known Tony Staub for a long time. He is the president of Staub Inc, which was called Staub Machine Company when I first got to know Tony. Back then, Tony’s contract production shop in Hamburg, New York, had a reputation for adopting new machining processes and investing in up-to-date, automated machine tools. MMS has featured his shop in several articles over the years. Its machining operations are still remarkable.
So I was pleased to get an email report of Staub Inc.’s findings at the recent RAPID show in Detroit, Michigan. In fact, the report arrived a day after the show closed (talk about rapid)!
It quickly occurred to me that there were many lessons to be learned from this report. Here are four I jotted down:
This shop has aggressively moved into additive manufacturing and has launched this added business as a division called Staub Additive. The efforts to get this news out are energetic, too.
The company is using today’s media well and wisely. The email message is timely, readable and informative. It’s interesting to see this shop’s take on the technology innovations unveiled at the show.
The company clearly understands the importance of “building brand” and marketing its capabilities. Adding links to the message gets you to complementary content easily, too.
Linking to the company’s website shows how well Staub is using the Internet, too. One thing that comes across there is the focus on skilled people as a key asset in addition to technical capabilities.
In general, the manufacturing industry needs to “build its brand” in the national consciousness. Manufacturing companies that are savvy about their own brand building help this cause, too.
Implementing a manufacturing execution system to monitor machine performance helped Magellan Aerospace improve OEE on critical production cell. Image courtesy of the company.
The experiences of these three machining companies document the value of implementing a manufacturing execution system for machine monitoring. In each case, MERLIN (Manufacturing Enterprise Real-time Lean Information Network) hardware and software modules from Memex Automation led to productivity gains and improved overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
Rose Integration of Carlton Place, Ontario, was able to make fact-based improvements to shopfloor systems and reorganize workflows and resources to generate an increase in OEE of 105 percent in one year.
Magellan Aerospace of Kitchener, Ontario, went from a 36.9 percent OEE rating to a 85 percent OEE rating, and determined that a cell of three machines need not be expanded to a fourth machine.
Major U.S. industries such automotive will face shortages of parts and the production tooling to make them unless American suppliers step up to increase capacity. Frank Russo, CEO and co-founder of Fabricating.com, a cloud-based sourcing marketplace, reviews the key strategies suggested for meeting this shortfall. His article looks at these strategies:
Focus on total cost, not price
Management of the value stream
Mr. Russo adds that online sourcing technology can be a vital enabler in all three of these strategies.