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).
Although the outcome is uncertain, it’s our right as Americans to take a chance at achieving success, fulfilling our dreams and finding what makes us happy. Mark Albert comments on this freedom in his July column, "The Freedom to Fail," in which he discussses what it means in commerce and in life.
Frank Russo is chief executive officer of fabricating.com, an online marketplace designed to facilitate transactions among U.S. metalworking suppliers and their American customers by providing advanced Web-based sourcing tools. He considers the RFQ (request for quote) a fundamental building block for establishing profitable partnerships between a contract manufacturer or job shop and a product developer. To him, the RFQ represents the primary means of communication that enables two parties to set and meet expectations in a fair and open manner.
In his article, “Creating an RFQ that Gets Results,” Mr. Russo explains the guiding principles for creating an effective RFQ, details the necessary elements and offers tips on optimizing results. Although Mr. Russo only briefly touches on fabricating.com and its benefits, he makes the point that a well-crafted RFQ is so important that this online marketplace includes a depth of software tools for creating near-perfect RFQs. In fact, learning how the system encourages sound RFQ practices may justify a closer look at this online marketplace.
Travis Egan (far left), publisher of Modern Machine Shop, and Rick Kline (far right), president and CEO of Gardner Business Media, flank students and Tech Ed Instructor Craig Cegielski.
One of the exhibitors at the recent Amerimold trade show in Rosemont, Illinois, was rather unusual. Nestled among a diverse group of influential exhibitors that represent the lifecycle of plastic injection mold processes—Dassualt (design), Absolute Machine Tools (mold machining), One Source (mold maintenance and repair) and several mold builders—was Cardinal Manufacturing’s 10 by 10 booth. What makes Cardinal Manufacturing different is that it is a student-run machine shop and a training program an Eleva-Strum Central High School in west central Wisconsin. This innovative program seeks to impart valuable machining and welding experience, along with the skills it takes to run a business.
So, like any job shop, Cardinal Manufacturing must promote its capabilities to attract work it can do for paying customers. Revenue from these jobs supports the school shop. A percentage of the profit is also paid to the students. Cardinal Manufacturing’s exhibit at Amerimold included some of the many jobs it has completed. These workpieces demonstrated the level of skills applied by the students, who work with a variety of manual and CNC machines. The shop is looking for small runs of simple to moderately complex workpieces that other companies have reasons to farm out.
Displays also included information about the program, which is being studied as a model for other schools and training institutes around the country. Four students currently enrolled in the program were there to answer questions, describe the work projects and visit other exhibitors at the show to learn about new products and processes.
Exhibiting at events such as Amerimold to build awareness of the program serves another purpose. It attracts donors. The school relies on generous donations of new and used equipment, tooling, supplies, consulting and financial support. Gardner Business Media, publishers of Modern Machine Shop and sponsor of Amerimold, helps promote the program in several ways. In fact, it used this occasion to present students enrolled in the program with fleece pullovers decorated with the new MMS logo, as a gesture of approval and support.
It is always interesting to visit a machine tool builder on its home turf. Last month, I had this opportunity when I made a trip to South Korea (my first to this country) to see Hyundai Wia’s machine tool factory in Changwon. The occasion was the company’s own mini-trade show, HINEX (Hyundai Wia International Machine Tool Exhibition) 2013. This show is presented in expanded showroom space in the company’s newest factory building at its machine tool manufacturing campus in the outlying region near Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula.
With more than 35 machines on display, HINEX includes models that represent the entire product line from this builder. Many of these machines have never been shown before, although not all models will be available in the United States for a while. (Hyundai Wia is approaching the U.S. market aggressively, but is being careful not to rush products to market before its dealers and end users can fully support these new entries.) A survey of the machines on display was followed by tours of the company’s machine tool production and assembly facilities.
For comments about what I observed and learned during this event, along with a link to short slide show of the attractions at HINEX, click here.
A few remarks about my impression of South Korea, a country for which I have renewed respect and admiration, are included in a “tourist’s postcard” report. Click here for the report.
The MTConnect Institute has released a white paper, “Getting Started with MTConnect—Shop Floor Monitoring, What’s in it for You?” It demonstrates the benefits of monitoring a manufacturing plant using MTConnect to collect data and information from the shop floor. MTConnect is a set of open, royalty-free standards intended to foster greater interoperability between manufacturing controls, devices and software applications by publishing data over networks using the Internet Protocol.
The white paper discusses the almost limitless ways companies can use data obtained in the MTConnect format to improve operations, track production and justify decisions that affect plant operations. Topics covered in the paper include many of the common uses for shop floor data, such as:
Displaying a production dashboard
Monitoring alerts, equipment availability and usage
Measuring overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)
Achieving mobile, “anywhere, anytime” access to plant floor information
Applying statistical process control for quality assurance
Maintaining part genealogy and traceability
Improving data security
This white paper is a companion document to the MTConnect Institute’s “Connectivity Guide” white paper. Whereas the “Connectivity Guide” provides the ‘how,’ “Monitoring Your Shop Floor” provides the ‘why.’ Together, these documents present a comprehensive explanation of the benefits of using MTConnect to facilitate monitoring of a shop or plant.