In the last couple of issues of Modern Machine Shop I have been discussing how you, as the originator of a new product that improved the manufacturing process in your facility, could take the item to market. If that product should happen to be in the area of workholding then please pay careful attention to the following.
During the 1992 International Machine Tool Show (IMTS) in Chicago, a number of leaders in the workholding industry held an exploratory meeting. These successful manufacturers realized that they must join forces to gain the recognition of the importance of the industry. It was acknowledged that the group lacked the time and resources to create a brand new association with staff and headquarters. AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology was approached and readily agreed to take the group under its umbrella.
The Workholding Product Group (WPG) is composed of representatives from workholding suppliers in the United States. The activities of the WPG are devoted to the development and implementation of programs to increase communication within the workholding industry and with machine tool builders. Its mission statement reads, "The Workholding Product Group provides a forum for manufacturers of workholding devices. Group members work with (AMT) staff to develop, promote and implement products and services to assist the workholding community."
Joe Cousins, president of Bock Workholding (Mars, Pennsylvania) says, "AMT combined with the Workholding Product Group is the common bonding agent that provides the smaller manufacturer, such as Bock, the means to network with peers in a casual manner. The more experienced members of the group had already resolved the initial problems that I faced in the beginning, and they were happy to share their ideas with me. As we have grown my associates continue to serve as a sounding board for our ideas. I know of no other way this priceless benefit could be achieved."
The Workholding Product Group is successfully pursuing these initiatives: gain increased recognition of the importance of the industry; serve customers better; establish a reliable, timely marketing statistics system; compile engineering data on products; participate with ANSI/ISO standards-writing bodies; become a central clearinghouse for domestic and foreign marketing opportunities; and develop strategies for global competitiveness.
Spencer Hastert, vice president of Kitagawa Workholding (Schaumburg, Illinois), adds, "Originally we were concerned about joining the Workholding Product Group and not sure of the usefulness to our business. The major concern was a matter of confidentiality. Also, like most companies, we are a lean organization. It is difficult to find that extra time to devote to outside activities. Since joining the Workholding Product Group, our confidentiality concerns have been answered and resolved. I always leave the group's meetings with more knowledge that can be applied to our day-to-day business."
Jon Johnson, director of marketing for Midaco Corporation (Elk Grove Village, Illinois), concludes, "Being a member of the WPG has allowed us to obtain valuable market information. We have been exposed to other methods of marketing our products and are able to sound out our peers on how they would handle a particular problem."
Is your company a workholding manufacturer or sole distributor of a foreign-built workholding product line? If so, then you are eligible to participate in the statistical program. The monthly Market Data Report is an index of sales and industry employment. For more information about the WPG, please call Paul Warndorf, AMT director of technology, at (703) 827-5291.