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Emily Probst

Emily Probst is the associate editor for Modern Machine Shop. She joined the staff in the summer of 2006 as the editorial intern editing product releases for the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). Hired full-time in 2007 after graduating with a B.S.J. from Ohio University, she edited product releases and columns until 2012, when she moved to her current role of writing and editing case studies for both print and online media channels. In this role, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world as well as visit some interesting shops and trade shows in the United States. She also administers Modern’s blog as well as its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Posted by: Emily Probst 26. May 2016

Training the Manufacturers of Tomorrow

Students at Northern Maine Community College's Precision Machining Program receive valuable real-world CNC experience and other manufacturing training.

Given the opportunity, manufacturers can greatly benefit from working with nearby community colleges. Companies both large and small can work closely with schools to determine the manufacturing industry’s foremost training needs and the schools can help recruit new talent. In addition, some schools, like Northern Maine Community College, produce lot sizes of 100 pieces or fewer for customers from all over the country; customers pay tooling, materials and shipping costs in return for labor at no charge. What benefits have you found working with community colleges?

Posted by: Emily Probst 12. May 2016

Manufacturing News of Note

Jerry Rex has been appointed COO of Methods Machine Tools Inc.

Methods Machine Tools, Inc.. (Sudbury, Massachusetts) has appointed Jerry Rex Chief Operating Officer of all Methods operations. Spanning 40 years, Mr. Rex’s manufacturing career began with a machinist position at GE Locomotive. He steadily rose from roles in engineering and applications to production, sales management and executive positions at manufacturers and machine tool organizations. Most recently he served as executive vice president of Concept Machine Tools (Minneapolis, Minnesota). Prior to Concept Machine Tools, Mr. Rex was President of Hegman Machinery LLC, a Morris Group Company from 2013 to 2015. For the 20 years prior, his roles included President of Morris South (Charlotte, North Carolina), Vice President of Gosiger Inc. (Dayton, Ohio) and Regional Manager of J&H Machine Tools (Richmond, Virginia).  Mr. Rex also served as chairman of AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, where he continues to serve on the board of directors. 

Here is more news to note:

Posted by: Emily Probst 11. May 2016

Read the May 2016 Digital Edition

Read the May digital edition by clicking on the photo above.

Even though profit margins are good for high-volume implants, they’re much tighter for the tools surgeons need to apply them. Alpha Manufacturing & Design’s turn-mill enabled it to decrease setup and cycle times to compensate and maintain competitiveness. Turn to page 74 to read the full story.

Also in this issue:

  • Learn how one shop uses a software tool to tailor the machining program to the location and orientation of each contoured part instead of creating precise holding fixtures for every part number;
  • Read how optimum workholding increases output; and
  • Learn about what has happened since the peak in machine tool consumption.

Access this and more in the May 2016 digital edition.

Posted by: Emily Probst 4. May 2016

How to Use Google Street View in Your Shop

A Google Street View tour of Gilman's facility is available on its website and Google Maps.

How do you let potential customers see your machines and manufacturing capabilities when they can’t spend the time and money to leave work and fly across the country to visit your facility? Gilman Precision of Grafton, Wisconsin, is taking an unusual approach to showcasing its capabilities: providing a virtual tour using Google Street View. I wrote about this virtual tour last week, but I thought it was important to reach out to see if they would share their story and offer some tips for other shops considering a virtual tour.

Google Street View wasn’t Gilman’s first attempt at a virtual tour. YouTube videos ultimately fell short of expectations because visitors couldn’t stop and stare at things that piqued their interest. However, when the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce sent out information for using Google Street View to tour restaurants, bars, etc., Gilman reached out to Google to see if they would consider a street view of a manufacturing facility.

To start the process, Gilman got bids from some Google-certified photographers in the area. According to Douglas Biggs, vice president of sales and marketing, prices depend on the size of your facility, and how many photos would be necessary to cover it. Gilman paid about $2,000 for photos of its 70,000 square-foot-facility.

Once the company chose a photographer, the rest of the process took little involvement from Gilman, Mr. Biggs says. The photographer used a digital camera with a fish-eye lens on a tripod to capture images around the shop. Every 5 feet, he would stop and take four photos in each direction before moving on. The whole photoshoot took about 2 hours to complete. Afterwards, the photographer loaded the tour online to Google. From start to finish, creating the virtual tour took about two weeks.

After going through this process, Mr. Biggs has some tips for other shops considering a Google Street View photoshoot:

  • Consider the lighting. You want to make sure your shop is brightly lit. There is nothing worse than a dark shop.
  • Clean up. While he considers it a “home-field advantage” to always have a clean shop, Mr. Biggs suggests going through and making sure to clean out your junk drawers, so to speak. Like inviting guests over to your house, you want to put your best face forward.
  • Get as many sets of eyes on your shop as possible. Take several people through your shop beforehand looking for customer-sensitive parts and logos. Gilman used to be part of SFK until it set out on its own about five years ago. Still, there were some old calendars and displays that needed to be removed before the photoshoot.

According to Mr. Biggs, walking through the facility so slowly and deliberately was an eye-opening experience. “I’ve never walked my floor and examined it to that extent,” he says. “It’s a completely different way of looking at your shop. In fact, it sparked some ideas for the future. I now know that if we need a new machine down the road, we can do it by moving a certain machine to another location.”

After a little more than a week, Google Street View is already making a difference with Gilman's marketing efforts. The company promoted the virtual tour through an email blast, which saw significant growth in its open rate for that particular mailing. Moreover, the shop is already getting feedback from customers that didn’t realize it had certain capabilities. Business opportunities are already in the works.

The next step is to look at Google Analytics to see where people are clicking on the website next after taking the tour. Are they wanting more information on the company’s spindles, or perhaps they want to know about a different topic? Using this information, Gilman can better prepare its future marketing content.

Posted by: Emily Probst 27. April 2016

A Cool Way to “Visit” Your Machine Shop

Online marketing is a necessity for job shops. In fact, we’ve written about it several times. (This column and this later column are just two examples.) Aside from investing in your website, blogging, posting to various social media channels and perhaps sending mass emails, what can you do to promote your machine shop?

Gilman Precision of Grafton, Wisconsin, took an interesting new approach that I haven’t seen before. The company partnered with Google Street View service to provide a virtual tour of its facilities. You can view it on their website or on Google Maps. This tour lets you navigate through Gilman’s main doors and around the factory, including its class 10,000-level spindle clean room.

A virtual tour is a great way to show potential customers (and magazine editors) a little about your shop, machines and capabilities.

Tell me, are you using Google Street View service at your shop? 

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