MMS Blog

Westminster Tool used to have a skilled labor problem, but it no longer does. In the past, this moldmaker and contract manufacturer in Plainfield, Connecticut, struggled to find skilled employees such as toolmakers. Now, it has a surplus: a waiting list of more than a dozen prospective employees who have been vetted according to the shop’s needs. What made this change possible was a dramatic culture shift deliberately undertaken by owner and founder Ray Coombs, allowing the shop to change what it looks for in employees. By equipping the entire staff with training in emotional intelligence, Westminster was able to implement a system of rapid on-the-job learning enabling employees without experience in metalworking and moldmaking to acquire that experience quickly.

I wrote an article detailing Westminster’s aims, philosophy and transition, and this video is a companion to that piece—offering a taste of the company’s culture through the words and perspectives of some of its team members. Joining me in this video is Christina Fuges of MoldMaking Technology, with videography and video production by Gardner Business Media’s Austin Grogan.

One aspect of our annual Top Shops benchmarking program that participants appreciate is that its survey highlights not only the machining and shopfloor practices successful shops are leveraging, but also the business, human resources and workforce development strategies they have put in place. In fact, the variety of topics covered in the following top 10 blog posts for 2018 support the notion that shop owners and managers are open to considering a range of ideas that can potentially help them grow their business. This includes machining technology, but as the list bears out, certainly isn’t limited to it.

Here is the list of the top 10 blog posts you found most interesting this year:

This year marks the ninth edition of our annual Top Shops benchmarking program. Some of you are familiar with it (and possibly have participated); others, maybe not. For the former, this is a reminder/refresher. For the latter, this a basic introduction.

Here are the top three questions I am asked about the program:

By: George Schuetz 31. December 2018

Dial vs. Test Indicators

Although dial and test indicators share many similarities, test indicators are distinct from dial indicators. The immediately obvious difference is that test indicators have lever-type contacts and tend to be smaller and lighter than dial indicators. In general, the two tools are used in different applications: Test indicators are utilized for layout work on surface plates or aiding in part setup during the machining process while dial indicators are used for comparative measurements with gages and fixtures.

While both dial and test indicators are mainly comparative devices, test indicators excel at consistency measurements, as opposed to comparative ones. They are most often used to explore relatively broad part surfaces in either one or two dimensions, for example, measuring variations in height, flatness and roundness. Typical setup includes mounting the test indicator to a height stand on the surface plate and moving either the workpiece or the stand freely on the plate.

The Additive Manufacturing Workshop Series, presented by Modern Machine Shop and sister publication Additive Manufacturing magazine, offers focused, technical content on the industrial applications of additive technologies for making functional components and end-use production parts in your shop.

The inaugural workshop series will kick off at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) January 16 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. The workshop will cover technical content on how 3D-printing technology is shaking up auto manufacturing.

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