MMS Blog

Lately, you may be encountering the term blockchain in many discussions related to information technology, the Internet of Things, data security and other contexts. Blockchain technology often comes up in news about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. If you are a not an information technology person or an accountant, you may be struggling to figure out what blockchain technology is all about. I believe I have come up with a way to understand it, at least on a superficial, non-technical level. This explanation isn’t meant to reveal how blockchain works, but rather characterize what it does.

Blockchain technology is described as a distributed-transaction-ledger database of economic exchanges that can be programmed to record and share information about these transactions. It also can be used for almost any kind of data exchange. To relate blockchain concepts to everyday life, there are similarities to managing any checking account with a traditional paper checkbook and register, which I still use for paying some bills. Whenever I write and sign a check, I record it in the register, where I jot down the check number, the date, the party to whom I’m making a payment and the reason for the check. On the right side, I fill in the check amount and subtract it from the current balance. I record deposits in the same way. A mock-up of my check register is shown below.

Changing how you run a job shop can be a little scary. With small-to-medium size job shops, chances are that shop management methods still consist of spreadsheets, stacks of paper and other manual means. Moving to the cloud also comes with the threat of needing complicated hardware or IT support, often at a hefty price.

The truth is that a shop may excel at making parts but may struggle with managing the operation, which requires having access to accurate and timely information to make better business decisions. Without it, companies can face missed deliveries and new order opportunities. Disorganization and inefficient information management are barriers to growth.

By: Wayne Chaneski 26. April 2018

We Can All Benefit from Networking

Everyone is busy. It seems ironic that as we have gained access to technology intended to make our jobs easier, we seem to spend more time either at work, working from home or just thinking about the things we have to do at work. Being so busy, it is hard to find time to do the things we know we should be doing, such as attending seminars/conferences/trade shows, reading trade journals or even taking classes to enhance our skills. Another thing we should be making time for is networking. Unfortunately, many of us only think about networking when we are contemplating a change in jobs, or when we have actually left a job and need to find a new one. Yet, building relationships over time via networking can be one of the most important things we can do to increase our knowledge and skillsets, and it is something we should be doing regularly. It is amazing what we can discover when we take the time to reach out to others. Just a few of networking’s inherent benefits include: 

Networking is one of the few free sources of information from which we can learn things that offer the potential to make our organizations better. Building our network is easy; in fact, it likely already exists in the form of friends, relatives, classmates, former coworkers, and even vendors and customers (past and present). Connecting or reconnecting with this network of talent may require some initial effort. Yet once in place, our network’s value will quickly exceed any upfront effort if we are willing to invest the time to listen, learn and share.

Tariffs and trade wars, not to mention combustible politics, make the world nervous. Nonetheless, testimony from many exhibitors at South Korea’s largest machining exhibition, the Seoul International Manufacturing Technology Show (SIMTOS), was tinged with cautious optimism.

Much of the reason for that optimism was encapsulated in the buzz of activity 300 miles away at an entirely different, overlapping exhibition, the China CNC Machine Tool Fair (CCMT). Although SIMTOS was well-attended, particularly steady traffic even in the latter days of CCMT evidenced the opportunity that characterizes manufacturing in today’s China. It’s likely that some of these eager attendees left the show with plans to install equipment from South Korean machine tool builders that were exhibiting simultaneously in both their home country and their largest overall export market.  

Large, monolithic parts are the trend in many aerospace and defense systems. These parts call for machine tools with the capacity to process them, often in three, four or five axes. However, it is difficult to maintain the accuracy of large machine structures, especially in the outer reaches of axis movement. Calibrating and adjusting a machine to hold tight tolerances is time-consuming and the results may be incomplete, uncertain or not long-lasting.

Automated Precision Inc. (API) has developed a volumetric-error-compensation (VEC) process designed to overcome these limitations. This process was the result of a project originally coordinated through the efforts of the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences and its Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities program. API’s now-patented approach is intended to capture machine error and apply this data in the machine controller to correct for the error. According to the company, this technology enables a machine to achieve a tolerance within 0.005 inch over the entire 20 by 10 by 5 foot or larger volume of its work envelope.

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