MMS Blog

Calling Ace Stamping & Machine Co.’s toolroom a toolroom does the operation a disservice. What happens here is production machining by any definition, and the transformation from toolroom to captive CNC machine shop has been both rapid and impactful.

Not that any of this is immediately obvious to most visitors. After all, the company’s main, 76,000-square-foot plant is filled not with knee mills and workbenches, but lines of punch presses and racks of sheet metal.

The success machine shops increasingly are having today with lights-out machining is the result of various advances that have come together: more systemized processes plus more accessible automation technology plus machine tool monitoring. After reading my recent article describing this point, Steve Kline of Gardner Intelligence reached out to share that he sees corroboration for the combined effectiveness of these advances in the data resulting from our annual Top Shops benchmarking survey. Looking at differences in machine shops’ profit margins, he sees evidence not only for the value of a shop employing (1) an improvement methodology, (2) unattended machining and (3) machine monitoring, but also for a logical pathway from one to the next to the next.

In this video, Steve Kline and I discuss the Top Shops data and what it suggests about choices shops might make that contribute to lights-out machining.

Last week at the Absolute Machine Tools open house in Mason, Ohio, I got a chance to see seven-axis cobots for entry-level collaborative automation, production turning solutions and a variety of other CNC machines designed to increase productivity. I also spent some time learning about the new Meteor TS-630V machining center from PCI, one of the machine tool builders that Absolute represents. What makes this machine interesting is that it has twin spindles. But more than that, these spindles can move independently from each other.

“There are other twin spindle horizontals out there,” says Steve Ortner, president of Absolute Machine Tools. “But basically, there is a fixed distance between the spindles, and they have to make the same part.” That’s one of the main reasons why many shops avoid twin-spindle machining centers: Setup of the two parts is very challenging because it has to be extremely accurate.

By: Wayne Chaneski 10/31/2019

6 Ways to Reduce Outstanding Receivables

As a small business owner, I recognize the importance of timely payments from my customers. Late payments are frustrating, and follow-up can be time-consuming. For some, asking for payment is one of their most dreaded tasks. There are certainly reasons for late payments such as misplaced invoices (they’re still “in the pile”), cash flow constraints (your customers waiting for payment from their customers) and even misunderstanding of actual payment terms. Yet it is important to have a process in place for dealing with late payments. Here are six often overlooked steps you can take to reduce your average accounts receivable days outstanding.

As simple as this sounds, it is surprising how long it takes some businesses to send invoices to their customers. Unless specified in terms previously established with the customer, an invoice should be dated and sent the day a service is performed. This lets customers know that you are prompt with your invoicing process. The sooner you invoice, the sooner you will receive payment.

Here is a truth every job shop knows that many others seem to forget: Quoting isn’t free. Preparing quotes is costly because it consumes the attention of knowledgeable staff members who could otherwise be giving attention to paying jobs. Yet as shop owner Jeremy Hamilton says, “Responding to every RFQ is the standard machine shop habit.”

The president of Advance CNC Machining in Grove City, Ohio, Mr. Hamilton recently began to question this habit. He became concerned about the price his shop was paying to prepare quotes. Ultimately, he learned that one of the most effective things he could do to protect the productivity of his shop’s team was to teach his salespeople to filter and scrutinize certain requests for quote.