MMS Blog

We’re on to the eighth edition of our annual Top Shops benchmarking survey. In fact, the online survey is now live and will remain open through the end of February. In short, the survey enables shops of all types and sizes to see how they compare against leading U.S. machining operations in terms of tactics and metrics in categories including machining technology, shopfloor practices, business strategies and human resources/workforce development. 

Last year was the first time we offered custom reports that rank a participant’s responses to the survey’s quantitative questions against other applicable participants. We’re doing that again this year. Learn more about the reports, and visit our Top Shops Zone to access information from past surveys.

Too often these days “high speed” gets all the glory in machining. But what really matters is efficiency. That is, what gets the job done quickest and at the lowest overall cost?

And so it is with roughing. Conventional practice is to rip through the material as quick as possible. But that can put extremely variable loads on the cutter, which forces you to program for the worst-case scenario in terms feeds and depth of cut. A better way is to keep you cutter forces (chip load) constant throughout an entire roughing routine. You’ll finishing the operation faster, sometimes much faster, and get much better tool life as well...READ MORE.

One year. For one of the recurring part numbers that R&D Manco machines, a part that begins as a casting, obtaining the part from the foundry requires a lead time of one year. While this is an extreme example, the company has realized many successes in converting jobs to being machined out of solid instead. It can save its customers both cost and lead time, for example. However, in converting these jobs, the shop must step up to a more significant role. Essentially consolidating its customers’ supply chains, the shop must accept any pressure for future cost and lead-time reductions.

Also in this issue of Modern Machine Shop:

Does the music industry have a lesson to teach manufacturing?

Stephan Thomas says yes, and the lesson is partly a cautionary tale. The music industry lost more than half its value after the onset of free digital sharing of music around 2000. Only when the industry found platforms for sharing data but also keeping that data secure (Spotify, for example) did its sales begin to grow again. Mr. Thomas is co-founder of a company, Identify3D, that aims to bring the same kind of data security to manufacturing.

For many manufacturers, robotic automation enables them to redeploy employees who previously performed repetitive, mundane tasks (such as loading/unloading machine tools) to execute duties of higher value.

To automate part inspection, ABB Robotics has developed its Robotic Inspection System consisting of a 3D white-light scanning sensor mounted to the arm of its IRB 4600 industrial robot, using the robot’s multi-axis agility to enable the sensor to access various part features from the optimal angles. The sensor technology rapidly records and details geometric and surface data to compare that with a CAD model of the part being inspected.

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