A Bird’s-Eye View

Different shops serving different industries often have more in common than one might think.


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Maximizing machine uptime—referred to at TMCO’s metal fabricating division
as “beam-on time”— is a critical goal of virtually any manufacturer.  
Different manufacturers serving different industries certainly have their own unique goals and needs. However, stepping back to look at the broader picture often reveals more similarities among disparate operations than one might think.
Consider this article, which details the implementation of a Trumpf laser cutting cell at TMCO, a manufacturer with a range of capabilities in Lincoln, Nebraska. Even manufacturers that have never used a laser cutter—or aren’t even involved in fabricating operations at all—can likely relate on a fundamental level to the following aspects of the shop’s experience:
—Demand for faster deliveries of cheaper parts, the problem that drove the shop to install the cell in the first place.
—The value of staying abreast of the latest technology and working to drive growth regardless of economic conditions. TMCO cites this strategy as key to its success, and economic prospects were far from certain when the company started the equipment search that eventually led it to install the Trumpf cell in mid 2010.
—The use of automation to take labor out of the process and maximize machine uptime. For TMCO, the ability to increase lights-out capacity was key to meeting production goals.
—The importance of flexibility. With the new laser cell, TMCO can process multiple types of sheet material as-needed without operator intervention. While not all manufacturers require such on-the-fly change-overs, the ability to respond quickly to changing customer needs is commonly cited as an important advantage by companies throughout the industry.
In my view, the fact that these and other themes surface repeatedly in Modern Machine Shopdemonstrates the value of profiling a diverse array of companies using a diverse array of metalcutting technology. The bird's-eye view of the industry that emerges from the amalgamation of these disparate shops’ stories can shine a light on common challenges and perhaps even spark new ideas for meeting them, even if those ideas come from unexpected places.  


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