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.
In search of new customers, new markets and new business, a machine shop might consider hiring an outside salesperson. When this person finds new business, it is important that he or she not be met with internal resistance. For instance, a shop might have to change its culture by making new types of parts or working for unfamiliar customers. The shop also might need to update its equipment and certifications to meet the technical requirements of new jobs. Unless this salesperson is backed by the entire team, business opportunity will be lost, says David Bassler, president of Bassler Sales and Management Consulting LLC.
With that said, an outside salesperson is only one element of a coherent business development strategy. Mr. Bassler has developed a list of tips that owners or managers of growing machine shops, along with their entire team, should embrace:
A website. If you don’t have one, get one. A subcontractor can easily and affordably build one.
A company page on a social media platform. The same subcontractor can create this as a package deal with the website.
Brochures and other marketing material.
An updated quality system. If you are not ISO compliant, many big OEMs simply don’t want to talk to you.
An understanding that when you solicit machined parts from a new prospect, they will likely only send you their hardest, most complex parts. Why should they send you easy parts? They can do those themselves.
Additional inside sales staff or someone dedicated to the role. Someone has to respond to all inquiries accurately and in a timely fashion.
An understanding that your machinists, engineers, sales staff and management will need to continue to grow, along with the organization, and that there is a need for continuous training.
An understanding that you will have to do things differently than you did in the past.
An understanding that a new customer is not a hindrance, but something the whole organization should embrace enthusiastically. If leadership embraces it, the rank and file will too.
An understanding that new machines, tools, measurement systems, software systems and specific personnel with niche training will be needed to aggressively pursue new business.
An understanding that this is good for everyone. Everyone needs to grow together.
A shop that does this can pursue new business from a whole variety of new customers, and win it, he says. And when the outside salesperson shows up in the prospect’s office, he or she is not the only one showing up—the entire shop is. Then and only then, can they all grow and succeed.
Read the February digital edition by clicking on the photo above.
The daily reporting document pictured on the cover of the February 2016 issue is a visual tool used by plant managers at Tech Manufacturing to easily check the previous day’s machine performance. The color red indicates a planned interruption (such as inspection or scheduled maintenance), while black indicates periods in which a machine is scheduled offline. Green, meanwhile, is in-cycle time. The machine is producing parts and making money during these periods. Yellow is what the shop doesn’t want to see. This color indicates unexplained non-cutting conditions. Click on the cover image above to access the digital edition of the magazine and turn to page 74 to read the full story.
Also in this issue:
How machining IDs and ODs of 0.0160 inch with tolerances down to ±0.0001 inch led to the development of a new multifunction turning center;
How one shop took baby steps to integrate five-axis manufacturing; and
What Hydromat is doing to tailor its rotary transfer machines to specific high-volume applications.
While the current employment outlook is seemingly bleak, with a high number of manufacturers reporting a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified production workers, there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel concerning the future of American manufacturing over the next decade.
So says Jon Iverson, CEO of Optis, in an article written in correlation to the company’s new qualitative research report, which looks into the state of American manufacturing to examine the current mood and make predictions for the future.
In the article , Mr. Iverson mentions three ways the manufacturing industry can begin to bridge the skills gap, ensuring a sustainable future.
Use model-based definition. Design parts and automatically embed tolerances in the model. By doing so, product development can be streamlined.
Use automation. Automating routine tasks enables personnel to concentrate on more intricate, complex and individualized procedures. According to the report, this will become increasingly important as manufacturers reshore to the United States, bringing more demand for operators and further impacting the skills shortage.
Design more intuitive machines. A certain amount of “tribal knowledge” will be lost when the baby boomers retire. This insight needs to be “trained” into machines so less human intervention is necessary to make the future machine tool self-sufficient.
The cover story for our January 2016 issue delves deeper into standard tool classification for better data communication. This story describes how cutting tool manufacturers have worked together to create a generic tool catalog format that helps link cutting tool information with applications supporting data-driven manufacturing.
Also in this issue:
How a shop applied lessons learned after purchasing its first Swiss-type nearly two decades ago to larger, multi-spindle and multi-turret lathes for bigger and more complex parts;
It’s become a tradition for me, as this blog’s moderator, to look back on the year and see which posts resonated best with our readers. I “geek out” running the reports each year wondering what kind of content is going to come out on top. Did you like our posts about additive manufacturing best, or maybe you were really interested in automation? What kinds of content did you prefer? Long-winded, in-depth looks at new technology, brief pieces of news or lighthearted viral-types of shares?
Well, the numbers are now in. Here are the top 10 most popular posts from 2015:
Aside from realizing that our readers appreciate a well-produced, informative video, I learned that there isn’t a particular technology that stood out as a clear trend this past year. I was a bit perplexed by this at first. How could there NOT be a technology trend on our blog? But then I thought of the big picture: Obviously, there are big trends in manufacturing right now—the Industrial Internet of Things, additive manufacturing and automation, to name just a few—but Modern Machine Shop covers more than just the trends. We cover a wide variety of day-to-day manufacturing topics that we hope you find useful and informative. Our hope is to continue bringing you this type of information in the upcoming year.