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 Precision Machining Technology Show (PMTS) is like a great photograph. It is sharply focused, but has great depth of field. The focus in on precision turned parts, but the technology that surrounds and supports such part production is also highly visible at the event. If you want a clear and comprehensive picture of what precision machining looks like today, the exhibition and technical sessions at PMTS are in the “must-see” category.
From around the world, PMTS brings together manufacturers, suppliers and end users of products and services related to the production of precision machined products and turned parts, yet it is right around the corner at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Dates are April 16-18, 2013. Exhibitors will be displaying everything from bar feeders and multi-spindle machines to software and cleaning solutions.
Kurt Nordlund, president of Seco Tools NAFTA, welcomed attendees at the beginning of the event.
Networking is an activity that is hard to define. It’s more purposeful than hobnobbing; more sincere than schmoozing. Meeting new people who can do things with you or for you to mutually benefit from, is networking at its best. Doing this kind of networking is one of the reasons why I attended “Making Manufacturing a Priority,” this year’s inaugural event for the committee that directs “Automation Alley,” a long-standing government/industry initiative, which seeks to boost manufacturing in southeastern Michigan.
Hosted by Seco Tools at its North American headquarters and technical Center in Troy, Michigan, this event drew more than 100 attendees representing a variety of manufacturing companies from the region. Speakers, roundtable discussions, several tabletop exhibits and machine tools running in the showroom comprised the “program” for this late afternoon-early evening event and gave it just enough structure for lively yet focused participation. There was also plenty of time for networking, which, according to Seco, provides a commercial-free forum for manufacturers and their suppliers to meet and discuss topics important to them.
Click here for details about some of the people I met and the things we talked about.
Energy usage is becoming a more important factor in determining the overall efficiency of automation systems, including CNC machine tools. Conserving energy cuts costs and protects the environment. An article by Paul Webster, engineering manager at FANUC FA America, explores the topic and focuses on the value of modern electrical motor design for CNC machine tools, injection machines and other automated production equipment. “Energy Saving Designs in Factory Automation Equipment” also introduces a number of key concepts in energy consumption and efficiency strategies.
In its broadest sense, “fabricating” means making and putting stuff together to create products. And that’s the broad meaning it has in Fabricating.com, a new request-for-quote marketplace. According to its developers, the site is intended for all suppliers and buyers of manufactured parts, generally components that are made to order. The Web-based service supports more than 250 manufacturing processes, including most types of machining and, yes, sheet metal fabricating.
“Request-for-quote” also needs clarification in this context. The site is based on what it calls its SourceNow platform, a set of interactive, online tools that solicit and organize thorough details and digital information about the buyer’s part. This data is automatically analyzed to locate contract manufacturers with the expertise and the machining assets needed for the job. To participate, qualifying manufacturers have to be carefully surveyed and screened, developers say. Once in, participating manufacturers use the same streamlined, paperless system to quote for business as a supplier.
Finally, the online marketplace is restricted to U.S. buyers and suppliers. One of the stated goals for the site is to build effective networks of American enterprises as part of the growing trend to reshoring of manufacturing jobs. “In order to revitalize the nation’s manufacturing base, we have to encourage the cooperation and coordination of U.S. buyers and U.S. suppliers engaged in the request-for-quote process,” says Frank Russo, Fabricating.com CEO.
Metalworking companies need to pay attention to signals about the trends influencing their customers and the buying patterns of their competitors. This information will help them make better decisions about what kind of equipment to buy. My monthly column in the December issue explains why. It also explains why, in future issues, Modern Machine Shop will be offering more of the kind of information provided by Steven Kline’s review of Gardner Business Media’s most recent annual Capital Spending Survey and Tooling & Workholding Survey.