MMS Blog

DiscoverE, an organization dedicated to improving access to K-12 STEM education in the United States, is organizing its annual Girl Day on February 20, 2020. Girl Day is a collection of events occurring across the country, inviting school-aged girls to participate in learning activities that encourage them to explore STEM education and engineering as a career.

Girl Day began in 2001, when it came to the organization’s attention that only 17% of engineering undergrads were women. DiscoverE chose to address that gap by helping organization engage female students with activities designed to teach engineering skills, a project they called “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” or Girl Day for short.

By: Aneesa Muthana 1/10/2020

Why Is It Okay to Fire a Customer?

We work overtime to meet the demands of our customers, and rightfully so. Our success depends on our reputation and repeat business. So much so that going the extra mile in communication and delivery has effectively become the new baseline for good customer service for successful businesses.

This is all well and good. I’m proud of our industry’s efforts to elevate the standard through innovation and technology, and it’s working. Even so, elevated standards mean bigger risks for customers and suppliers alike, making the century-old saying of “the customer is always right” somewhat of an overstatement. What was once sealed with a handshake is now enforced by contracts and documents written to protect all involved parties.

The Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking closed 2019 registering an improved reading of 48.2. Index readings above 50 indicate expanding activity while values below 50 indicate contracting activity.  The further away a reading is from 50, the greater the magnitude of change in business activity. The Index’s recent upward movement toward 50 indicates that business activity is contracting more slowly than in the prior month. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying index components observed that the Index, which is calculated as an average of its components, was supported by an expansion in supplier deliveries. We saw no change in new orders and slightly contracting activity in exports, production and employment (although the contraction of those three components in January is less than December). Only backlogs prevented the Index from moving higher. Backlogs ended the year registering a sharp contractionary reading.

2019 was a year of transition for the Metalworking Index. The start of the year saw all components except exports continue their expansionary trends first observed in early 2017. Data collecting during the first quarter witnessed slowing growth in backlogs as new orders growth was outpaced by production gains. It was not until the second half of the 2019 that new orders activity abruptly slowed with July’s reading registering the first contraction in new orders since late 2016. The sharp transition in new order activity resulted in a steep contraction in backlogs, a trend that would be exacerbated throughout the remainder of 2019. 

Time flies. It seems like only yesterday that we introduced our Top Shops benchmarking program. In fact, it launched back in 2010.

Flash forward to today: The annual program has expanded to become an even more valuable tool for helping U.S. machine shops grow their businesses and become more efficient operations.

Shop Hands Over Gear Deburring to a Robot

Using grinding wheels to manually deburr gears was once an unreliable process at Finnish gear and gearbox manufacturer Katsa Oy. The company decided to commission another Finnish company, Flexmill Oy, to design and build a robotized cell to finish and deburr gears ranging from 2 inches to 5 feet in diameter. Flexmill’s turnkey cell relies on the RMP60 probe from Renishaw to achieve the necessary precision.

When Katsa was still manually deburring gears, machinists had to be very skilled to achieve a high-quality and consistent finish; but even then, variations from one operator to another were unavoidable. In addition, manual deburring can be a dirty and hazardous job, one that few operators at Katsa wanted to undertake. As a consequence, finishing and deburring operations became a bottleneck in the company’s manufacturing process, culminating in significant delays.