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.
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.
We hear the complaint time and time again: There’s a shortage of skilled labor in the United States. So what are we doing about it? One solution that has been getting results in Florida is the 80 to Work Program from Longwood-based Machine Training Solutions (MTS). This intensive virtual reality training program helped Hoerbiger Corp. of America have new employees on its shop floor moving on with the next phase of their training in two weeks. Read more here.
While Southfield Packaging in Stamford, Connecticut, is not in the business of making chips and cutting metal, it does face some challenges that job shops can easily relate to. Mainly, it needs to be able to access information about inventory, stock, order status and other key business operations in real-time to remain competitive at providing packaging and fulfillment services to manufacturers. When the company noted that order processing time was on the rise, it turned to Exact Software (Waltham, Massachusetts) for a cloud-based business software that substantially helped reduce project time. Read the full case study here.