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By: Christina M. Fuges 24. October 2014

Moldmakers Working for Funding to Support Manufacturing Training

Raymond Coombs is not only president of Westminster Tool, Inc. of Plainfeld, Connecticut, he also serves as the president of the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (EAMA), established to help beat the labor crunch by investing in the future manufacturing workforce.

EAMA is an aggregate of 34 manufacturers from three states (Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts) that work closely with two local community colleges: Three Rivers Community College and Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC) to provide direction for curriculums that will benefit the future of manufacturingFor example, QVCC offered its first Advanced Manufacturing certificate program in the fall of 2013, from which two Westminster Tool employees graduated, and in which two more employees are currently enrolled.

And now, QVCC and TRCC were awarded funds from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant.

Since first covering EAMA earlier this year, the organization has expanded into North and South Chapters to accommodate the growing membership and fulfill specific needs.
 
1. The South Chapter members had a specific need for sheet metal fabricators and a training program that would produce fabricators. This was not something that either community colleges that EAMA works with offers. 
 
2. TRCC and QVCC applied for the grant under the umbrella of Connecticut Advanced Manufacturing Initiative (CAMI), which comprises 12 community colleges in Connecticut and some of the technical high schools.
 
3. TRCC won grant funds to start a sheet metal fabrication training program.
 
4. QVCC won grant funds to support of its ongoing Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program.
 
It's very motivating to hear about the various efforts across the country honing in on our workforce dilemna in such a successful way.  Please consider contacting me to share yours.
 

By: Christina M. Fuges 23. October 2014

Industrial Size Investing

 

It was no surprise to me after working with Industrial Molds on several editorial projects, including the 2012 Leadtime Leader Awards, amerimold and several case studies and features, that this mold manufacturer continues to grow. So much so that its current level of business prompted them to slow down and analyze how they can improve work flow to meet lead times.

According to Industrial Molds' Production Supervisor Andrew Peterson, a lot of planning went into their machinery purchases and building renovations. An investment of $1.7 million was made in new machinery as well as another $300,000 in a complete renovation of its 43,000-square-foot facility with the goal of making a more efficient shop layout, work flow and floor space for the new, larger machinery.

Some of the equipment includes a Mikron HSM 400 U LP five-axis electrode cutting machine that will double electrode production; an OKK HM1000S (a four-axis horizontal mill with a 40”x 40” dual table) installed in the mold base department to replace an older machine; three new Haas CNC milling machines (a V4 and two V2) in  the prepping departmen, which are forecasted to increase capacity in that department by 33 percent.

Industrial notes that the decision to create a specific department for preparing cavities and cores, which then get moved to the high-speed machining department, helps them keep a more efficient work flow. 

Industrial Molds also purchased two grinders for finishing after heat treat.

Industrial Molds Group will be exhibiting at NPE 2015, March 23-27, Orlando, FL, Booth #S-22144.


By: Matthew Danford 22. October 2014

Sandvik Pushes Collaboration, Education With New Facility

This spacious, glass-enclosed machining area provides customers and partners with access to equipment ranging from the requisite lathes and machining centers to multitasking machines, all from a varied selection of leading builders.

Calling Sandvik Coromant a cutting tool supplier almost seems like a disservice after the opening of its latest productivity center in Fair Lawn, New Jersey last Thursday. Complete with a tour, dinner and a series of brief presentations, the event drove home the point that the company's role extends far beyond that. A quote attributed to Klas Forsström, company president, sums up Sandvik’s philosophy as such: “If we manufactured pens, we wouldn’t just be delivering pens. We’d also be teaching the art of writing.”

After two years of extensive renovation, the company’s Fair Lawn, New Jersey headquarters site certainly reflects that mission. Rising from—and, in large part, built from—the rubble of facilities that had been in place there for more than half a century, the new productivity center is designed for two purposes: to help customers engineer or re-engineer processes, and to provide training, whether for customers, channel partners, or the company’s own personnel. Either task requires focusing not just on the cutting tool, but on the entire process, from CAM programming to material and machinery selection to quality control.

These priorities are evidenced by more than just upgraded infrastructure and the wide variety of machinery, software and other technology at visitors’ disposal. As is the case with other productivity centers (the company will soon have six throughout the Americas), the design is characterized largely by open space, from well-manicured walking paths on the outside to the open-office layout, glass-enclosed machining areas, and multiple exterior windows on the inside. The resulting vibe of openness and transparency jibes well with the company’s stated goal of facilitating collaboration, whether internally or with outside partners and customers.

The sleek, modern look of the new facility might also help address outdated perceptions of manufacturing among the general public, for whom it may well serve as an introduction to the industry. Referencing the skilled labor shortage, personnel stated an intent to open up the new productivity center whenever possible to young people who might be interested in pursuing a manufacturing career. Upon touring this well-lit, clean, technologically sophisticated and highly computerized facility, such visitors would surely come away with a far different perception of our industry than the dark, dirty environs of the popular imagination.

All in all, a space to store and ship inventory and to perform basic testing might have sufficed if Sandvik Coromant were focused solely on providing quality cutting tools. However, the company has obviously decided that such a role wouldn’t be enough. Instead, it aims to act simultaneously as a full-blown engineering consultant, an educational institution, and an ambassador for the industry. These broader priorities for the new facility reflect the fact that modern manufacturers need more than just a supplier—they need a partner.


By: Lori Payne 21. October 2014

What to Consider before You Buy

If you want to grow while giving yourself the insight to make the best decisions, taking a hard look at your technology and processes is a large part of what enables lowering your operating costs, increasing your visibility into the business, driving better decisions, improving processes and realizing efficiency gains, and providing the framework and foundation for future growth.

No small manufacturing leader wants the distraction and expense of investing months of team time into solutions that take a long time to vet, even longer to implement, and don’t allow the flexibility you need to answer your unique business challenges. No two businesses run exactly alike, and if you find that you’re taxing your budget and reorganizing your entire business to fit a new tool, you might get the feeling that you’re on the wrong path. 

Other important things to think about as you consider how technology will enable your growth:

  • Was it developed specifically for small- to mid-sized manufacturers?
  • Will it help you automate processes, freeing your team to do more accurate work and serve more customers in the future?
  • Will it give you insight into every facet of the business—from back office to shop floor to the field?
  • Will non-technical users be able to customize the software to fit their roles?
  • Is it Cloud-based, or will you be looking at significant implementation time and cost?

 

With these thoughts in mind, you’ll be better equipped to assess where you are now, where you want to be, and how technology can help grow the enterprise into which you and your team have put your heart and souls. Finding the right guidance can help

 


By: Matthew Danford 20. October 2014

TV Show Celebrates Working People

Created by Mike Rowe, this poster parodies an old college recruitment message that he viewed as bad advice. The original version used a smiling graduate and a frowning factory worker with a hammer (with the word “not” intact) to push the supposed advantages of a four-year degree. (Image courtesy of profoundlydisconnected.com.)

“We’re lending money we don’t have, to kids who can’t pay it back, to educate them for jobs that don’t exist.”

It’s always a good feeling when the mainstream media starts harping on the same topics that tend to obsess those of us in the manufacturing trade press (and, of course, you, our audience). That’s why I was particularly pleased the other day to hear the above quote on, of all places, CNN. The quote comes from Mike Rowe, who is perhaps best known as host of the now-defunct “Dirty Jobs” TV show and, for me, a consistent source of the warm fuzzies when it comes to people outside our industry talking about the skilled worker shortage.

This is a topic that’s near and dear to Mike’s heart, and CNN has given him a new platform on which to tout it. October 8 marked the inaugural episode of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” an unscripted reality series that sounds very much like his old show (I haven’t yet seen it, but the first two episodes are recorded on my DVR!). The third episode airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Granted, I’m not sure whether Rowe has plans to dedicate any episodes to moldmakers, or even to any metal-cutting shops in general. Nonetheless, his stated purpose in introducing the show will resonate with many of this magazine’s readers. I, for one, welcome any outside influence that can help convince the masses of what those involved in our industry and other skilled trades already know. Check out CNN's video and Q&A to hear his message for yourself.

Rowe is active in this arena off the screen, too. For more information, check out “Profoundly Disconnected,” a foundation he set up to help close the skills gap.



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