Volume I, Issue 2

E-Planets Align, Metalworking-Wise? Now, we don't think the Web will hit and change machine shops overnight. Never have.

Columns From: 2/5/2000 Modern Machine Shop, ,

E-Planets Align, Metalworking-Wise?

Now, we don't think the Web will hit and change machine shops overnight. Never have. But an e-commerce harmonic convergence of sorts occurred during the week of January 17th, 2000. And while your shop might not have felt the gravitational pull directly, the events of that week may one day be remembered as the time when our industry formally "got" the e-commerce "it." At the very least, those events suggest that fundamental changes are coming soon in the ways you shop for and purchase the equipment that makes your shop run. I can assure you of this—the folks that manufacture and sell that equipment sure as heck noticed. And they're being pulled in by its force field right now. Consider that:

  • Yet another, major Web site specializing in machine tool auctions and many of the services supporting the sale and life of machine tools, launched 1/17/00. This brings the total of sophisticated online ventures offering the auctioning or direct sale of machine tools to no less than 10. For more info, click here.
  • AMT - The Association of Manufacturing Technology officially launched IMTS Net, their official site to support and expand their International Manufacturing and Technology Show (IMTS) beyond the boundaries of Chicago every other September. The theme of IMTS Net? "The Show That Never Closes." For more info, check out MMS online's IMTS Zone.
  • Microsoft Corporation announced that it will invest approximately $300-million worth of cash and support in an online purveyor of vertical e-commerce communities (including ones for metalworking and manufacturing disciplines). To the casual observer, 300-million Sammies to the software giant constitutes no more than a piggy bank visit; but the reality is that it indicates how serious the potential for e-commerce rewards are seen in manufacturing. Look for other similar partnering developments now that Microsoft has acknowleged manufacturing—and your shop's money—directly.

And announcements of other online commerce ventures for tooling, materials, and shop supplies (to name a few) are flying across this desk with greater regularity. Will your shop get bit if you don't jump in with both feet right now? Nope. Could you miss out on revenue streams by not using these developments as inspiration for services you offer your own customers? Probably. Learning how and why to use these tools—and which ones to avoid—can give you or your employer a competitive edge, because these changes will affect your universe (and what your customers expect from you) sooner than you might have thought.

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Make A Comfort Zone

Web sites, no matter how sophisticated, need some updating. Some more regularly than others, I’ll grant you. But, for the most part, everyone’s familiar with this basic rule.

So, that said, how does your shop or plant add materials, mechanisms or information to its Web site(s)? This is important. Because your online visitors—internal or external, customer or prospect—become more familiar with your online layout with each visit. They learn where to look for the right thing when they need it. Adding product or process information to your Web site without a plan can confuse your customers. And that’s not good.

Familiarity and comfort within a Web site is often as effective as the amount or even quality of info found there.

Give your site’s categorization—and what your visitors will see—some thought before you add new info or features. Remember: If your visitors can’t find the right info at the right time, they (and you) can lose.

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Job Shop Site Of The Month

Speaking of comfortable Web sites, check this out. I first wrote of Polcraft (www.polcraft.com) in this column “way back” in ’98. Just as then, the company has kept its site's format simple but effective. Job shops should take note of Polcraft’s focus on its own strengths and how it delivers on them: EDM, turning, milling and surface grinding are represented by the equipment, personnel and past experiences they bring to each process. Also noteworthy is that this site was created and is maintained completely in-house.

Want your shop considered for Job Shop Site of the Month? Send your site's URL to otw@mmsonline.com with OTW Site Of The Month in the subject line.

EDM, CAD/CAM & Cutting Tools Get The MMS Treatment

February '00 finds MMS focusing its formidable metalworking forces on three very special machine tool topics. And MMS Online plays a role in support of each that you’ll wanna to check out:

  • EDM is well supported by the MMS' EDM Zone, where you’ll find technical articles, products, EDM-focused suppliers, and more. Included in our EDM coverage are the technical articles Trends In EDM and The Case For Additve Technology In EDM.
  • CAD/CAM can be found in abundance in our Software Zone. While there, check out the CAD/CAM Selector. Enter your criteria for a CAD/CAM package in the selector, and you get a list of only those packages and suppliers that match your needs. Still looking for the right software? Then look no further than the Software Products section. You'll find hundreds there. And, of course, the Software Zone's got the Web's best collection of CAD/CAM technology and applications information.
  • Cutting Tools rounds out our coverage this month, and the Cutting Tools Zone gives you a lot more than search engines and databases; you’ll find an exhaustive collection of compelling tooling applications and studies from the MMS staff, all categorized by shopfloor applicability. And February's Tech Digest rounds out the best coverage of Cutting Tools anywhere.

Up Next Month: In March '00, MODERN MACHINE SHOP will feature Measurement & Quality as its Emphasis, and Five-Axis Machining as the Spotlight topic. And don't over look MMS' first Tech Digest focusing on Automatic Machining.

To get MODERN MACHINE SHOP magazine, metalworking's uppermost of the toppermost, visit our Subscription Page.

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