Craft Advice for Machinists- How Good Can You Get?

October 16, 2017

Gary Chynne  uses his skills with the longbow to explain and demonstrate the fundamentals of  mastery by having and following the process in “Guy Language.”

How good can you get?

At 3:10 into this video,  he summarizes his lesson: ” So how good can you get? If you know all your steps- you take your front step, your back step. Get your head, get your bow at 45 degrees, get it back to your anchor, relax your arm. If you can follow those steps and get bulls-eyes, THEN DO IT!

“Do not short draw. Do not overdraw. Do not draw to the right of your anchor. Do not draw to the left of your anchor. Don’t let your bow waver around. Don’t let it wiggle. If its supposed to be 45, make it 45. 

“That’s how you’re going to hit the target. So its just a matter- once you know how to shoot- how good can you get- at taking the steps to shoot properly?”

Probably the best advice you’ll ever get about machining as well. Follow the process. Be true to the process. Don’t take shortcuts or deviate from your known process.

His follow up is TRUTH as well

Anyhow, it’s kind of a blast, and its kind of a bit harder than you would wish, sometimes. Anyhow, when you do that stuff, you start to hit the target.”

Or, as one of the commenter’s posted:

Don’t just practice until you can get it right. Practice until you never get it wrong.

I think that this is probably some of the best machinist advice I’ve run across. What about you?

 

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5 Bullish Facts About Manufacturing Employment -and Your Career!

September 5, 2017

Here are 5 facts to convince you that prospects for employment in Manufacturing are strongly bullish and worthy of consideration for your own career or the career of someone that you love.

Career prospects are looking UP in Manufacturing!

Facts courtesy of BLS:

  1. The 36,000 jobs manufacturers added in August 2017 were the fastest monthly gain in five years;
  2. The number also increased for the third consecutive month;
  3. June and July hires were revised upwards by 19,000 jobs from original estimates;
  4. Manufacturing employment has risen by 155,000 over the last 9 months- 17,000 average;
  5. Total manufacturing employment rose to 12.48 million, up 1.03 million since the Great Recession;
  6.  Bonus! Total manufacturing employment is highest it has been since January 2009;

Our PMPA Business Trends Report continues to show strongly positive Employment sentiment- 90% (or more) of shops expecting employment prospects for the next three months to remain the same or increase- since last November. Last month it was 96%.

Manufacturing employment is on the increase. Great careers, not “labor jobs.” Interesting work. Our precision machining companies are looking for people to bring their talents.

And that’s no bull!

Well, it is a bull for manufacturing employment, and that’s no bull!

Now is the perfect time to consider a Game Changing Career in Precision Manufacturing.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chart and Analysis Courtesy Chad Moutray at NAM.


Technology- Profit Differentiator or Limiter?

September 5, 2017

I have had some interesting conversations with a couple of shop owners after they read our article Technology or People in the July issue of Production Machining.

The point that I had hoped to convey was that while the contributions of technology to our shops’ bottom lines is undeniable, it is up to us to get our people in position to take maximum advantage of the technology- to lead the technology.

Technology As Enabler

One correspondent pointed out that they purchased technology so that they could still get production with the available manpower in their area. They thought that getting people who could use the technology that they had was chore enough. They were buying technology with canned cycles so that they could produce with out a lot of engineering and programming, which was not a strength of theirs based on their workforce.

Technology As Equalizer

Another person called to discuss the article and said that to them, they thought that technology was in fact a “great equalizer” or “homogenizer.” That shops with the same technologies would likely quote similar parts to similar times and costs based on using the technology in similar ways based on how it was equipped from the factory. So they saw technology not as a way to differentiate  shops, as much as a way for multiple shops to get to a common and competitive level of performance.

Technology as Empowerment

The third caller raised the point that I had tried to make, but in much richer detail. “If you use the machine just out of the box, you’re no different from anyone else. If you use the machine’s built in roughing cycles,  for example, you’ll get the exact same result as everyone else with that same machine. The profits are made when you go out past the “built in” capability and create greater value by customizing your process.  On a complicated part, using the machine “normally” might require you to use 12 tools, and require a very expensive machine because of the relationship of certain features to each other. But what if I build several of those interdependent features into a special tool, whether OD form, or ID step drill, for example? Now I don’t need so many consecutive tool’s stacked up to do the cutting and adding up time for each part. Because the features are built into the tool, I don’t need so much precision out of my machine. And now I don’t need all of those expensive stations… ”

They had quite a bit more to say about how the canned cycles are conservative and wasteful and in some cases a compromise that  might not be best for the particular job. But when I thought about what he had said, it raised a question in my mind- “Since we don’t need so many tools and so much precision because of the “novel way” that was determined that would work- “Doesn’t that mean we don’t need that original expensive high tech machine tool?”

Not So Fast, Vigo!

The third caller shared how they were able to make parts using a sub $100,000 mill in their shop- while their Customer could not get the parts correct on their million dollar plus technology.

Was he saying that the little guy and the cheap equipment will always beat the big guy and their expensive technology? Not at all.

What he was saying is that it is up to all of us to assure that our people and our technology are operating at their highest and best use. Not just their nameplate or nominal capacity.

He was saying that technology is the tool that can best help us achieve our vision and fully realize our abilities. Technology is the best means available to us to deliver the best that we can think of. It is our thinking therefore, that leads our technology.

Final Questions

What is the purpose of technology in our shops?

Is it to substitute for knowledgeable people and still get acceptable parts to ship?

Is it to ensure that our shops are competitive in the market?

Is technology merely a means to an end, and best driven by deliberate intention to give the engineer the ability to make the parts the best way that they know how? Without the need for an unnecessary investment?

Or is technology the tool that empowers our people to deliver the best that that they can imagine?

What Is The Purpose of Technology In YOUR Shop?

Thanks to the folks that gave me a shout to discuss the article. We learn so much from our conversations.


Overall Equipment Efficiency and Your Precision Machining Shop

August 21, 2017

Overall Equipment Efficiency

“What are you going to work on in your shop today?”

Busy machines and production lines are good, but even better are busy machines and production lines that are making the right product- and the product right. This is one perspective on OEE- Overall Equipment Efficiency.

What is OEE?

Availability, Performance, and Quality. As a percentage of your equipment’s ideal values, each of these factors plays a role in determining your shop’s OEE. When I looked at OEE for my plant, I found that we were definitely not getting the productivity that our equipment was capable of achieving.  Here are three equations to help you determine your OEE:

Availability

Availability in my shop had two components: Running time (time the machines were actually producing product) and Scheduled Time. Availability (A) is the ratio of Running Time to Scheduled Time.

A= RT/ST

Compare this availability factor to total operating time, and identify the differences- idle time due to operator coffee, smoke, and meal breaks; Setups and changeovers; Breakdowns and mechanical issues; Delays waiting for first piece approval, gaging setups, or crane availability. Once these are identified, prioritize them for improvement. (Some practitioners simplify this to Scheduled time divided by the product of 365 days times 24 hours per day; while this is strictly speaking correct, it typically does not reflect the real world utilization for small contract manufacturing shops like ours.)

Break times affect Availability

Performance

Performance is the ratio of the time the machine is actually running and the theoretical time. The difference between theoretical and actual is the time lost due to tool changes, raking out chip bird’s nests, emptying the chips, loading new barstock, or slowing the machine down due to perceived technical issues. Performance is the ratio of Output Achieved divided by the Theoretical Output (TO).

P=OA/TO

This is often a factor that is more often identified when comparing two shifts or operators on the same process. Also can be affected by changes in tooling or methods from the initial quote. (Sometimes it is easier to figure this using parts produced  (OA) versus Theoretical parts produced using the quoted cycle time (TO))

Process performance affects output…and actual uptime.

Quality

Production foremen might think that machining is about making the production numbers, but shops that remain in business know that it is making  parts with the quality needed that keeps the parts shipped and the invoices paid. Quality was simply the ratio of Good Parts (GP) divided by the Total Parts (TP) produced.

Q=GP/TP

These are also a factor in your shop’s OEE.

Overall Equipment Efficiency

OEE is now determined by multiplying A, our availability term; P, our productivity term; and Q, our quality term. What if you are at 90% for each of these terms?

OEE= 0.90 X 0.90 X 0.90 = 0.729 or 73%

What does a 1% improvement in each of these do for you?

 OEE= 0.91 X 0.91 X 0.91 = .754 or 75.4 %

What does 100% Quality (Zero defects) get you with the other two factors at 0.90?

OEE= 0.90 X 0.90 X 1.00 = 0.81 or 81%

So what are you going to work on today in your shop?

 

Accountant photo: accountant.

Break photo courtesy Wikipedia commons

Reject tag photo courtesy Linton Labels


Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

August 8, 2017

Excitement!

I’ll admit it, I’ve been a bit of a curmudgeon regarding Additive Technology in manufacturing. While everyone in the trade press seems to be gushing breathlessly about additive technology like a bunch of tweens waiting for their first One Direction concert, I’ve stayed away.

I’ve stayed away, because until now, most things that I saw were mere novelty applications. Distractions, or lets face it, quite impractical. Who needs a 3-d printed plastic wrench?

A very nice project but not really a useable tool in most situations.

 

What have been some of my objections?

  • No  practical mechanical properties. Or else requiring a very expensive thermal treatment to develop mechanical properties that are still below those of traditionally wrought products.
  • Low density. Or higher density achieved by absorbing a molten metal at high temperatures like a wick.
  • Cycle time. building a part a thousandth of an inch or so per pass takes a long time. Even watching the laser pulses  as it builds up features, layer by layer gets old after a few passes.
  • Tolerances. Newer technologies are getting more precise, but  the tolerances  claimed haven’t exactly been  “hold my beer watch this!” impressive.

So what has changed my thinking about Additive in our Subtractive precision machining world?

NanoSteel BLDR Metal for Powderjet Fusion

  • Mechanical properties objection- With case-hardening steel powder that provides high hardness and ductility (case hardness >70HRC, 10%+ core elongation)  that objection is gone.
  • Low density objection- If it is dense enough to perform as roll threading dies, that objection is also moot.
  • Cycle time. Well, the video doesn’t say how long it took to fabricate these thread roll dies, but my guess is it probably took less time than the time to find, purchase, ship and deliver the tool steel needed to fabricate new ones by traditional machining methods.
  • Tolerances. Now, they don’t share the tolerances achieved in this video, but it seems pretty clear that their claim of making tooling capable of fabricating the bolt shown is credible.

So there you have it.  A credible role for Additive in our Subtractive precision machining shops.

I’m impressed. So impressed, I wrote this post.

Now where do I find tickets for One Direction???

NanoSteel.

Excitement Photo     Courtesy Mama Bird Diaries.

Instructables Plastic Wrench 3-d Printing

 


July 2017 ISM-PMI Solid Report Despite Slight Softening From June

August 1, 2017

 “The July PMI® registered 56.3 percent, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points from the June reading of 57.8 percent.”- Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee:

Manufacturing grew somewhat less in July than in the prior month.

Indexes for Inventories and Prices increased, while indexes for New Orders, Production, Employment and Supplier Deliveries decreased somewhat.  Manufacturing industries that we serve or are a part of, including Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;  Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Computer & Electronic Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Primary Metals; and Transportation Equipment all reported growth in July.

PMPA’s Business Trends Report has been positive about prospects for manufacturing all year, and this ISM PMI report supports that thinking. June 2017 PMPA Business Trends

Link to ISM PMI release 

Link to Calculated Risk Blog 


OSHA Finally Clarifies Online Injury and Illness Reporting Rule

June 30, 2017

 

“The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today proposed a delay in the electronic reporting compliance date of the rule, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, from July 1, 2017, to Dec. 1, 2017. The proposed delay will allow OSHA an opportunity to further review and consider the rule.

The agency published the final rule on May 12, 2016, and has determined that a further delay of the compliance date is appropriate for the purpose of additional review into questions of law and policy.  The delay will also allow OSHA to provide employers the same four-month window for submitting data that the original rule would have provided.“- OSHA NEWS RELEASE

PMPA noticed an unannounced posting on the OSHA website which we captured and shared with our members May 31:

On June 27, OSHA issued a news release quoted above.

While it took OSHA 27 days to issue a news release AFTER we noticed their website posting, they are offering the public only until July 13, 2017 to provide comments.

Here are some bullet points from our testimony back on January 9, 2014:

  • OSHA has not provided any reasons to show how making this previously confidential information public will advance worker safety;
  • OSHA has shown no public purpose to justify the increase in the reporting frequency to quarterly;
  • The creation of quarterly reporting merely provides OSHA with another means to find employers to be not in compliance with yet another paperwork requirement;
  • The proposal removes the presumption of privacy rights from the employer and employees whose data and information would be reported;
  • We disagree with the presumption of this proposal that data shared for statistical and regulatory purposes should be broadly disseminated and made publiclly available to third parties who have no regulatory need for that data;
  • Employers are mandated by the federal government to protect the privacy of health related information of employees in our records, yet OSHA will use this rule to publicize to the world the injury or illness status of our employees;
  • But most seriously, the way that this proposal has been explained places the credibility of OSHA on the line: telling employers that“The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records, it only modifies an employer’s obligation to transmit these records to OSHA”  is disingenuous at best when the proposal in fact removes the privacy of the employers’ data and changes its status from confidential to publically accessible. Telling us that ‘nothing has changed,’ when in fact the agency’s intent is to remove privacy status of employer reported information and publish those details online is not telling the whole truth.

We’ll be reiterating these and some additional points in our comments, but by all means, feel free to weigh in on your own.

Try this link Injury and Illness Comments

Is public shaming of employers is the REAL agenda, or is it just about using the power of regulatory agencies to bully? What is the regulatory need for public online posting? No one will be any safer because these records are posted on the internet.

Department of Employer Shaming