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Nick Bloom

Nick is the founder and owner of Techspex, billed as “THE machine tool database” and found at www.techspex.com. Since graduating from SMU in Dallas in 1973, he has worked in sales and management at various levels of the machine tool industry, including working for two builders, a national importer and a local distributor. Techspex is an online database of machine tools that helps visitors quickly find the machine tool model(s) they need. People often ask Nick how the idea of Techspex came about. “Figuring out which builders make machines that can best handle a job was time-consuming and hit-or-miss,” he says. Seeing the potential early on for the Internet to help solve this problem, he launched Techspex in 1996.

Posted by: Nick Bloom 27. September 2010

Faster, Ever Faster…

 

If your shop bought faster machine tools recently, there is good news. According to North American metalworkers responding to the 5th annual Metalworking Operational Trends Survey, “purchasing equipment that runs faster than current process” was the number one change they made with the most important impact on their business. And not just last year—upgrading existing processes with faster equipment has been the number one process change shops have made for five consecutive years, survey respondents say.
 
When I stopped selling machine tools 15 years ago, machining centers with 15,000 rpm spindles and turning centers with servo-driven turrets were helping shops cut cycle times. Since then, the “faster machine” trend has continued relentlessly, with faster tool change and reduction of other non-cutting machine time, including faster loading and unloading. Enhanced computing power to maintain optimal cutting rates in complex 3D parts has played a big role in cycle time reduction. And though it’s not new, simultaneous cutting with more than one tool has spread far beyond the screw machine shop to reduce cycle times.

In 1995, I wondered when machine tools would hit their speed limit. Back then, I was stuck in linear thinking in an analog world. But the “digital revolution” has changed the way I think, showing how far technology can advance beyond our expectations. In 1995, not many imagined we’d have unlimited access to information through the Internet. Almost overnight, thousands of digital devices have made their way to market. From entertainment to education, and from science to warfare, these devices have removed limits and altered our reality. 

I don’t know where or how the next breakthrough in machine tool speed will happen, but as sure as Steve Jobs is working on Apple’s next big digital thing, a breakthrough in machine speed will happen and eventually give way to something faster yet. About this, I am sure. If we’re still polling manufacturers 20 years from now, I’ll bet they’ll say that “purchasing equipment that runs faster than our current process” was the most important change made.

Techspex and the Research Division of LoSasso Advertising Inc. conducted the 5th annual Metalworking Operational Trends Survey in August and September 2010. A link to the full survey report will be included in my next post here in about a week.

Posted by: Nick Bloom 20. September 2010

For the Strongest Manufacturing Companies, the Only Constant is Change

Perhaps more than at any previous IMTS, the strongest growing metalworking companies that attended this year’s show were looking for change. That is, they were more likely than in years past to be looking at and evaluating solutions that are new, different or more advanced from the processes and practices already in place in their shops. That is one conclusion that emerges from the Metalworking Operational Trends survey—a study annually conducted by Techspex and the research division of LoSasso Advertising Inc. to find out where the metalworking industry is headed and learn what steps companies are taking to succeed.
 
We are still analyzing the latest data, but a preliminary peek shows this: The pace of change at American manufacturing companies has accelerated to its highest rate since the survey began asking the question five years ago. Isaac Asimov may have coined the expression “the only constant is change,” but that phrase aptly describes American manufacturers right now. A deeper look reveals that companies that report “business trending up” are seven times more likely to be making significant changes this year than few or no changes. Companies forecasting “strong growth” are 18 times more likely to be making significant changes. In other words, while all change isn’t necessarily good, nor will all change ensure growth, it is clear that the stronger the company forecast, the more likely that significant change is taking place.

Check back here for more insights from the latest Metalworking Operational Trends survey in the upcoming weeks.

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