MMS Blog

How Do Top Shops Handle Aero?

Aerospace machining can be very challenging due to difficult-to-machine materials, industry regulations and OEM requirements. In the next edition of our ongoing series of webinars, Chief Data Officer Steve Kline takes a deep dive into the equipment, machining strategies, employee retention practices and operating metrics of the top aerospace machine shops from the last 10 years of Modern Machine Shop's Top Shops.

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Does Asia's Low-Cost Manufacturing Option Still Make Sense?

Cost-cutting measures put in place by U.S. companies over the past 20 years have resulted in manufacturing practices that appear regularly in this publication — practices that include automation, lean manufacturing and increased deployment of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and machine monitoring systems. But the downward pressure on U.S. companies to reduce costs during the past two decades has also resulted in the massive off-shoring of manufacturing operations to plants in China and other countries throughout Asia, a phenomenon that has helped China attain roughly 16% of today’s world gross domestic product. For domestic companies that rely on parts produced in China, the result has been a massive supply chain risk, most dramatically seen recently as the latest coronavirus shut down most of the country. 

To discuss this and other disruptions resulting from the pandemic — as well as the potential long-term domestic manufacturing benefits that may result from it — I talked to Randy Altschuler, CEO of Xometry, the Maryland-based online platform that connects customers and suppliers of custom manufactured parts. While tough times lie ahead for many small manufacturers in the near-term, the opportunity for a sustainable domestic manufacturing surge has perhaps never been greater. 

Manufacturers Experience Fewer Changes with Less Impact from the Coronavirus

During the week of March 9th, Gardner Intelligence, the research arm of Modern Machine Shop publisher Gardner Business Media, conducted for the second time a short survey to gage the effects of COVID-19 on discrete parts manufacturers across all the industries that our publisher covers. The survey asked two basic questions:

For each of those questions, respondents were asked to rank the severity of the change or adjustment from minimal to moderate to major.

When Manufacturing Industry Events Are Delayed

Walter Maschinenbau GmbH, a member of the United Grinding Group, is ready to unveil its new products despite the fact that GrindTec 2020, the international trade fair for grinding technology, has been postponed until November 10-13 in Augsburg, Germany. Instead of delaying the product launch, the company has found a way to promote its products now, though a digital product launch.

In November, the company still plans on being in Hall 2, Booth 2055 to present a complete range of precision machining products for grinding, eroding, laser and measurement technology. The company will also have more information about United Grinding Digital Solutions.

How to Practice Stage Two Thinking in Your Machine Shop

In “Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One,” the economist Thomas Sowell argues that “stage one thinking” is when a decision-maker considers only the immediate result of an action without determining what happens next. An example of this might be a government’s decision to raise taxes, assuming that the only result would be increased revenue. What it may fail to factor in is the subsequent effect on the business environment, possible relocations or expansions elsewhere, or negative payroll implications. The net result may actually be a loss in revenue over time. 

On the shop floor, stage one thinking could encompass hiring decisions, capital equipment purchases or strategic initiatives. Here are five areas in which I personally failed to look past stage one when I decided to purchase a machine shop, and what stage two thinking would’ve involved in each scenario.