The March spotlight highlights machining centers from builders including Makino, Mazak, Doosan
and Chiron (pictured above).
The Modern Equipment Review Spotlight section in our March issue delves into the world of machining centers, including machines ranging from compact VMCs to the large five-axis T1 machine from Makino (top image, above). Click through the slideshow for more on this month’s featured products or visit the Machining Centers & Milling Machines Zone for additional content.
With the iconic Art Deco façade of the Arizona Biltmore in the background, AMT's 2014 IMTS and Smartforce Rally Fighter sports cars bask in the bright Southwest sunshine.
For many of us in manufacturing, it seems that the industry is enjoying a figurative springtime of renewed vitality and growth. So it is appropriate that The MFG Meeting, an important event that brings together machine builders, distributors and end users from all areas of the manufacturing technology industry, opens today at the Arizona Biltmore near Phoenix.
This setting represents a fitting convergence of history, style and flowery splendor that reminds visitors from wintry regions of the country that springtime (the warming season of the year, that is) is not far off. The MFG Meeting is a joint event for members of AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA). Conference presentations, technical sessions and activities at the event are designed to help attending members maintain the momentum that has been propelling the manufacturing industry in recent years—a welcome turnaround that many pundits only a few years ago predicted would never happen.
The Arizona Biltmore is an historic resort hotel, the design of which was heavily influenced by America's most original architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who helped oversee construction of the complex in the late 1920s. The hotel's bold, yet intricate, styling still seem fresh, hopeful and appealing—exactly the sort of image that manufacturing is projecting to a new generation of entrepreneurs, technicians, engineers and apprentices.
The hotel and its lush landscaping proved to be the ideal setting for a pair of the daringly different vehicles brought to the event by AMT. The 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) and Smartforce Rally Fighters are characterized as the world's first open-source production vehicles, designed and developed by a collaboration between Local Motors and a global community of designers, fabricators, engineers and auto enthusiasts. The vehicles represent a new era in manufacturing that is based on the latest advances in digital manufacturing, one of the trends being discussed and promoted at The MFG Meeting.
PMPA Member President Darlene Miller (center) reported at a recent PMPA conference that PMTS has been recognized as one of the 50 fastest growing tradeshows by Trade Show Executive magazine. Right and left photos were taken at PMTS 2013.
Trade Show Executive magazine has recognized the Precision Machining and Technology Show (PMTS) in its “Fastest 50 Class of 2014,” a list of the fastest growing tradeshows across multiple industries. The magazine compares shows’ growth percentages in three distinct categories: total square footage, total number of attendees and total number of exhibotors. PMTS, which is managed and produced by MMS publisher Gardner Business Media and co-sponsored by MMS and its sister publication Production Machining, was one of the elite shows that qualified in all three growth categories. Winners of each category will be announced at the Fastest 50 Awards & Summit in Chicago May 20-22.
PMPA Member President Darlene Miller reported this news during the recent Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) Management Update Conference. She recognized Gardner, Production Machining and PMTS for their support and development of the precision machining industry.
Ms. Miller encouraged every company at the conference to exhibit or attend PMTS, which is positioned to be even bigger in 2015. The show will take place April 21-23 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Find out more about PMTS.
There are advantages to having a single operator tend multiple machines and/or performing other tasks while a machine is making chips. However, if the operator isn’t aware that a machining cycle has been completed, the machine could potentially sit idle for an extended period of time. This can be especially true when jobs have long cycle times.
One shop came up with a simple solution to prevent this from happening, and it offers the solution to others facing similar situations. Produced by C&C Manufacturing, the “Short Stop” wireless device minimizes machine downtime by alerting a machine operator that a machining cycle has been completed.
The video above shows how it works. After a cycle has ended, a Short Stop transmitter is installed in the machine’s spindle. The machine moves the transmitter to trigger an actuator button that sends a signal to a receiver that is located somewhere near an operator to alert him/her that the cycle has ended.
When not being used, the transmitter can be stored in the machine’s ATC magazine like any other tool. Its circuit board is coated to prevent damage due to vibration during changeout and its housing is sealed with an o-ring. The transmitter can also be moved from one machine to another as needed.
An example of a Haas customer overseas: The Eric Company of Suzhou, China has 16 Haas CNC machine tools, including the VF-2SS machines seen in this image. The small manufacturer splits its production between making parts for aerospace, medical and precision equipment applications.
(Read more about this shop.)
Is Haas Automation’s strategy for serving the CNC machine tool market the right choice for America, or is it more of a global strategy that also provides the right framework for serving other countries’ markets? I recently had the chance to spend time with Haas Automation General Manager Robert Murray. He says this is an important question, and the company has given it serious thought.
Haas’s success is hard to dispute. If there is a ubiquitous machine tool brand in the United States, this is it. I visit a lot of shops. Routinely, I find at least one Haas machine in a facility, while many shops are essentially Haas-only sites that see no reason to switch to a different brand. While the company does not win every sale, the company does get serious consideration from many or most machine tool buyers. It makes the short list more often than not.
Mr. Murray says the company still has ample room to grow its market in North America, but the even better opportunities for Haas to grow its business are in Europe and Asia, where its current market share is much smaller. The question then becomes: Is the formula that has succeeded so far reproducible and exportable? Does it work in other cultures?
Mr. Murray says he is convinced the answer is yes, and here is why:
He says there could not be a more universal experience than that of making machined parts. In every case, in every country, the manufacturer wants to make the part to specification as consistently as possible, as quickly as possible and for the lowest cost possible. Culture is important, and culture colors the way customers are served and the way customer relationships are sought and developed. However, in manufacturing, the most important factors are physical and economic considerations that are independent of nationality.
Even the pain points are universal, he says. The difficulty with finding skilled labor is a problem that seems to beset every manufacturer in every country. The company’s efforts to engineer machine tools with this limitation in mind are relevant to every market.
To be sure, certain machine types are representative of the needs of particular markets, he says. Haas’s VF-2SS is a production-oriented vertical machining center with 30 inches of X-axis travel. This machine makes sense for a lot of the machining done in China. Meanwhile, the UMC-750 is a full five-axis vertical machining center with a price point that is low relative to other five-axis machines. The machine is popular in Western Europe, where five-face machining is common as a means of reducing setup time.
Still, across all of these markets, he says that what machine tool users want is reliability, speed, economy, ease of use, ease of service and responsiveness when there is a service need. The company’s products, along with its “Haas Factory Outlet” service model, have been developed and refined with these priorities in mind, he says, and when the company looks for further ways to improve its product or its organization, it focuses on these areas. As long as these priorities continue to be paramount, he says the result will be a company and a product line suited not just to the home market but to international markets as well.
Haas Factory Outlets look the same in any country. The company aims for them to operate the same in any country as well. Here are views inside the showrooms of HFOs in China and Germany.