Technology Takes Teamwork

Close collaboration will be the norm for optimizing equipment performance. Desemco’s recent experience is the model.

Columns From: 4/18/2012 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Mark Albert, MMS Editor in Chief

Mark has been writing his Mark: My Word column every month since January, 1981.

Early in the development of the article about vector programming at Desemco, it became clear that interaction among many parties was an important factor in implementing this technology. For this concept to be effective, changes and adjustments had to be made to the machine tools, CAM software, postprocessors and CNCs. This couldn’t happen on its own. People had to make it happen. 

It was important to talk to all of the main players to get the whole picture. The cast included Eric, the CNC expert; Jimmy, the postprocessor developer; Todd, the distributor rep; Karen and Grant, the shop managers; and Dave, the shop CAD/CAM guru. This entire team was able to gather at the shop for my visit. When it was time to leave, I knew I had the story nailed—at least from a technology standpoint.
 
I also came away with the sense that this particular group of individuals got a kick out of working together. Something about their experience made it exceptional. I went back to them later to analyze this a little more. Here’s what I learned:
 
They are all passionate about machining. Eric explained that, “like me, they dig this business. And when you dig what you’re doing, it makes long hours [in an effort like this] a lot more bearable.” Grant said the effort reinforced his passion and gave him a “sharper focus to that passion.”
 
They were all united in a common goal—to prove that this technology would lead to significant results. All were aware that the success of this pioneering effort would benefit the machining industry, not just one shop.
 
They all valued the learning experience. In particular, they are wiser about the products they sell or use. “I learned that we have the power to change things to make the machine tool more effective,” Todd said. Grant said that from now on he will look beyond the spec sheet “to find out what the machine tool is truly capable of.”
 
They were willing to go out of their comfort zone. For example, it took some persistent prodding to get the OEMs in Japan to talk to each other to resolve technical issues. Likewise, Jimmy and Eric frequently challenged one another to keep up with the latest in CAM and CNC capabilities.
 
The group was naturally cohesive and congenial. The experience strengthened business relationships as well as friendships. Grant said, “I saw a group of highly skilled professionals enjoying the technology and their friends around them. Everyone was there because they wanted to be there.”
All would agree with Grant that their experience represented “a gathering force for positive collaboration and information sharing.” That’s the energy that will move manufacturing forward.
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