Peter Zelinski has been a writer and editor for Modern Machine Shop for more than a decade. One of the aspects of this work that he enjoys the most is visiting machining facilities to learn about the manufacturing technology, systems and strategies they have adopted, and the successes they’ve realized as a result. Pete earned his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and he first learned about machining by running and programming machine tools in a metalworking laboratory within GE Aircraft Engines. Follow Pete on Twitter at Z_Axis_MMS.
Steve Murray shows a sand mold component that would have required a complex pattern involving inserts to produce the various slots. 3D printing made this component much easier to produce.
Steve Murray, additive manufacturing consultant at Hoosier Pattern, will be one of the speakers at this month's Additive Manufacturing Conference. His company is advancing a means of making foundry molds through 3D printing that is bringing new design freedom to cast parts—read more here. The conference—October 20-21 in Knoxville, Tennessee—focuses on industrial applications of additive manufacturing. Learn more and register to attend at additiveconference.com.
And speaking of additive … have you seen the new Additive Manufacturing website? We have been posting new content here daily. The increased attention to AM extends to social media, too—join us as one of the earliest followers of Additive Manufacturing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Also this month, AM subscribers will receive the first issue of the new, full-size Additive Manufacturing magazine. Begin a subscription here.
Trade shows and conferences can be challenging to attend because the distance imposes travel time and cost. But here is an event that is very accessible to a significant concentration of manufacturers: the Made in Elk Grove Manufacturing & Technology Expo, to be held October 12. The Chicagoland area’s Elk Grove Village, Illinois, is not just a major industrial suburb, but home to the largest consolidated industrial park in North America. The organizers of this unusual event (unusual in that it is hosted by a municipality) say it will showcase 100 manufacturing firms in the village and is expected to draw 1,000 attendees from the regional manufacturing sector.
Also at the event, the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center will facilitate a Manufacturing Matchmaking opportunity aimed at introducing smaller local manufacturers to larger OEMs with whom they could become supply chain partners.
The Expo will be held at Elk Grove High School, which will showcase its STEM coursework during the event with demonstrations by students in the school’s Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering Laboratory.
Luke Niels (left) is plant manager at Progressive Turnings, an example of a shop in which learning and knowledge sharing are valued. Learn more about this shop.
Ben Dollar, a principal with Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice, recently wrote an article for the firm’s human resources blog about the various factors contributing to the shortage of talented employee prospects in manufacturing. He also described how manufacturing employers should respond to the serious challenge this shortage presents. Here is a summary of his advice to manufacturers:
1. Manage the talent pipeline like a supply chain, he says. Too many companies react to personnel needs by scrambling to fill holes as they appear. Take a predictive approach to identify coming workforce needs and take action to fill them far in advance.
2. Foster long-term career development and employee growth. Create a culture in which learning, improvement and knowledge sharing are highly valued.
3. Employers should challenge themselves, he says, to recruit employees from sources other than those from which employees have routinely come in the past. Seek a fresh perspective on the skills needed and the type of candidate who will ultimately be successful.
4. Think about recruiting and employment from a marketing perspective. Pay attention to the company’s “employment brand” as closely as the commercial brand. In fact, this might be the key role social media plays for manufacturing. While social media’s effectiveness is questionable at directly connecting buyers and sellers of manufacturing services, social media provides transparency into a company’s culture, significantly affecting the perception of the company’s employment brand.
5. Look closely at who does the shop’s recruitment and how this person carries out the work. Obviously, it all starts here. Manufacturers should “redesign and reskill the human resources function to address what is becoming one of the most significant challenges manufacturing companies have faced in decades,” Mr. Dollar says.
Photo taken at 3V Precision, Tacoma, Washington. This shop’s attention to employees includes daily shared breakfasts. Read more here.
One of subtlest but most significant developments I am seeing in manufacturing is a change in the culture of manufacturing businesses. A different understanding of, and appreciation for, the personal worth and individuality of production team members is something I’ve encountered in interactions with Baklund R&D and Staub Machine, as well as companies such as Defy that have come to manufacturing only recently and brought an outside culture with them.
If you are a shop owner or leader who thinks about company culture and how to shape it, please take some time to read one of my more recent articles about an example I found of a deliberately positive manufacturing environment. I went to 3V Precision to talk about Inconel, but it soon became clear that the mettle of this shop is as interesting as the metal.
The article makes the point that people are part of the process. Let me know what you think, and let me know if this article reminds you of any shops you know.
At CIMP-3D, visiting engineers from various companies look at a layer slice of an additive-manufactured part. Penn State research assistant Kenneth Meinert discusses additive build orientation and parameter settings as they relate to this part.
Dr. Timothy Simpson, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at The Pennsylvania State University, will be one of the speakers at the upcoming Additive Manufacturing Conference. He recently commented on how soon he expects additive to go mainstream. The conference—October 20-21 in Knoxville, Tennessee—focuses on industrial applications of additive manufacturing. Learn more and register to attend at additiveconference.com.
And speaking of additive … our Additive Manufacturing brand is about to grow. Soon, we will launch a new website devoted to additive manufacturing for industrial applicatons, and we will expand the publication that began as a small supplement into a full-size magazine. All of this will happen later this year. For now, stay apprised of these and other additive developments (and also give us a little encouragement) by joining us as one of the earliest followers of Additive Manufacturing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.