Finding Time to “Play”

The chance to work on something other than work can not only improve morale, but also lead to new ideas and new opportunities for improving the manufacturing process.


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Although useful, the machining parameters often found in cutting tool marketing material are no substitute for due diligence. “You have to view the tool as part of a system,” says William Fiorenza, die/mold product manager at Ingersoll Cutting Tools. “You need to invest time in understanding the capabilities of your tooling and in developing your programming skills.”


William Fiorenza, die/mold product manager at Ingersoll Cutting Tools, shares his wisdom every year at the company’s Die and Mold Seminar, one of many events dedicated to helping customers better understand the technology behind the tooling. (The company’s headquarters campus was also home to the recent Liebherr Gear Seminar.)

The key phrase here is “invest time.” That is, Fiorenza is adamant that dedicating time solely to technology research and experimentation can pay significant dividends later, however busy a manufacturer’s schedule. And he would know, having spent plenty of time in the field with employers other than Ingersoll during his decades-long manufacturing career. One previous employer stands out for fostering an environment that he found particularly conducive to growing his own knowledge and skillset. “Maybe a couple of times a week, they’d encourage us to take an hour to just program various things for fun,” he recalls.

Modeling and plotting toolpaths for, say a burger-and-fries sculpture (one of Fiorenza’s previous “playtime” projects, which, of course, was never machined) might not impact the bottom line directly. Yet, what a programmer can learn from such an exercise can be invaluable. (After all, beyond that, such projects can build camaraderie and keep people interested and engaged in the technology and their work without the pressure of a real job with a real deadline.

Granted, time is always short in manufacturing. But whatever the approach, perhaps it’s worth considering the value of questioning minds, to show that experimentation is valuable, to break routine, and to simply have fun.  


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