Category : Manufacturing Process

manufacturing automation

Robots on the Rise — Rapid Advances in Automation

It is common knowledge that companies and educational institutions are doing what it takes to keep up with the ever-evolving field of automation.   Robots and robotics impacts work and workplaces in new ways, every day.

Automation Changes Every Thing

Automation is changing how we live, how we work, and how we spend our free time. It improves quality of life and productivity. The supply and demand in most areas of commerce and business field are made easier because of various uses of automation. According to economists,  the improvement of productivity that automation provides is positive for improving Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the value of goods and services produced in any given country.

Robots are a newish concept. However, since the beginning of making and providing goods and services, automation has existed. Consider the printing press, the steam engine, or a plow and compare them to a modern-time machine shop.  Machine-tending robots utilize times when production would not occur. They also provide faster and more efficient work. However, while robots are on the rise, man and machine collaborate and work safely in the same space. ” Cobots” use sensors to allow humans and machines to work side-by-side in a machine shop or factory without incident.

Fear Not Robots

A custom machine shop is not the end of employing humans. No historical evidence exists that shows a significant technology impacting human employment levels. The fear that robots will take over stems from Western economies that include robots and automation. The trepidation and hesitation to utilize the latest technologies are unfounded. No one knows where the future of robots and automation will take the human race, but by all accounts, they are positive for all aspects of life.

Aspects of Automation

Companies like cnc automation continually examine the market of robots, machine shop technology, custom machined parts and all things’ automation.  Every aspect requires constant consideration and the evolution of beliefs.

  • The human workforce will remain competitive. Not all companies utilize automation and certainly not assign their labor to solely robots. Factors such as business size, geography, and payoff of the investment of automation technology. Companies that keep a mixed workforce are more productive than those that utilize only one or the other.
  • The rise of robots sees safer work conditions. Workplace accidents come at a high cost, financially and personally. With the latest technology, the most dangerous of tasks are doable by robots. Strains from heavy lifting, exhaustion, and unsafe working conditions are no longer the norm.
  • Automation drives job creation.  Evidence shows that waves of technology have no effect on employment numbers. The opposite is actually true. As technology evolves, the number of required skills in a workplace grows. 
  • Three major industries predict a mostly mixed workplace. Healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics already are putting automation to work with their human labor force. The trend is expected to grow far larger and far faster in the future. Productivity, accuracy, and competition are the driving force in robots and humans working together.
  • Workers report positive job satisfaction and a rewarding salary when automation is part of a company’s profile. Factors such as decentralized management structure,  collaboration with multidisciplinary teams, the wide variety of tasks, and employee autonomy lead to positive workplace culture.

Robots & Manufacturing

Consumers now enjoy a wide-ranging variety of products. The increase in low volume, high mix manufacturing is obvious. Robots and automation is crucial when improving productivity in a non-challenging way. For example, Denver Manufacturing is a highly adaptable region where machine shops work to reduce manufacturing defects, lessen machine downtime, and decrease cost and loss of productivity.

One of the rising trends in automation and robotics is Cloud robotics. It is when data is collected and analyzed for productive and predictive purpose. Robots are becoming easier to afford, more adaptive to constant updates, and straightforward when reprogramming.  Historically, larger businesses were the beneficiaries of robots. However, at a lower cost and easier to operate, everyone is seeing the rise in robots, in a factor or even in a personal home.

Factors that make automation and robotics available to all:

  • Expansion in Company Visions
  • Falling Prices in Components and Custom Machined Parts
  • Mobility and Gripping Technology
  • Cobot Evolution
  • Sensory Technology

Robots — The New Coworker

Workers see an increase in responsibility of workflow and processes in factories and warehouses because of effective integration of robots.  Other workers experience robots as direct coworkers and teammates. For example, robots and workers come together to assemble products or parts and pack them for delivery.

A collaborative robot is one that senses the environment and knows to move or react in tandem with a human counterpart. They work with human labor to lift a heavy object from one place to another for processing, get and carry parts that the worker requires, and perform precision manufacturing in a factory setting driven by human workers.

Actions possible with a collaborative robot includes:

  • Weld
  • Glue
  • Mark
  • Label
  • Solder
  • Lift and Place

The International Standards Organization  (ISO) identifies four kinds of human and robot collaboration:

  1. Safety-rated monitored stop. “This is similar to the approach used with traditional industrial robots,” said Vladimir Murashov, a senior scientist in the Office of the Director at NIOSH and a member of the NIOSH Center for Occupational Robotics Research. “The work stops when a worker would like to enter the workspace of the robot.”
  2. Hand guiding is when a robot moves with the help of an operator.
  3. Speed and separation monitoring are when a robot slows or stops when human coworkers approach or touches it.
  4. Power and force limiting. “This is the approach that has really taken off in the marketplace, so it defines what everyone considers a ‘collaborative’ robot,” said Carole Franklin, director of standards development at the Robotic Industries Association. “Typically, these robots are limited in the payload they can carry and in the amount of force they could exert if they were to strike a person by accident. Also, the power/force-limited robots tend to be designed with rounded edges and softer surfaces that reduce the risk of injury if contact were to occur.”

New technology is often met with skepticism and anxiety. However, no evidence exists that robots take away human employment. Instead, it creates new jobs and optimal productivity. Interested in seeing Sawyer, a collaborative robot in a machine shop? Contact Tag Team Manufacturing in Parker, Colorado.

precision machine shop

How to Choose the Right Tools for the Job: Examples of CNC Machine Tasks

Just because the world of manufacturing has changed doesn’t mean that people need to stray from the basics. It is just as important to choose the right tools for the job today as it was hundreds of years ago. In actuality, as technology has advanced, there are more tools at someone’s disposal than ever before. With more choices, it has become harder to select the right tools. Now, there are CNC manufacturing tools available in almost every precision machine shop, leaving people to select which types of tools are most applicable to this advanced technology. What are some of the examples of tools that a CNC machinist might require? How can the right tools be identified?

Starting with Computer-Animated Drawing (CAD) Model Design

The first step in the CNC machining process is the creation of a 2D or 3D model of what is going to be produced. Typically, this is done through computer-animated drawing, or CAD. This is computer programming that plays an essential role in the CNC process. CAD allows manufacturers to put together a picture with the necessary specifications (including dimensions and various geometries) that will allow the product to be completed.

The designs of CNC machined parts are typically restricted by the geometry of the machine process itself. CAD helps manufacturers identify potential problems and limitations of the end product before the process gets underway. In this fashion, CAD saves both time and money in any precision machine shop. By identifying and fixing problems before the first machine is moved, a tremendous amount of stress is saved.

Once the CAD drawing is complete, the file needs to be exported and converted into a format that is compatible with CNC machining. Common formats include STEP and IGES. It is important for manufacturers to take a look at the various software programs that are available for CAD. The more familiar people are with CAD, the more efficient the CNC machining process will be.

Building the CNC Machine: Examples of Possible Tasks

Now that the CAD drawing is complete, the next step is to build the CNC machine. Depending on the actions that must be done to build the final product, this machine can take many forms. Some of the tools that the manufacturer will need to find include machinery spindles, machine vises, drill bits, end mills, lathes and more. These tools then need to be attached correctly for the various steps to be performed. It is important for everyone to identify the various steps that must be completed and build their machine accordingly. Some of the types of CNC operations that might be performed using custom machined parts include:

CNC Drilling: Drilling is a machine process that relies on the use of drill bits with multiple points that will produce holes in the desires workpiece. Using CNC drilling, the machine will feed the rotating drill bit into the perpendicular plane of the workpiece. This produces holes that are aligned in a vertical manner with diameters that match the width of the drill bit. Using advanced CNC machinery, holes can also be drilled at an angular manner. Drill bits can also be used to perform tasks such as reaming, countersinking, and counterboring. If these tasks are required, advanced drill bits might be needed. Manufacturers in a precision machine shop should plan accordingly.

CNC Milling: Another possible CNC task is called milling. In milling, a rotating multipoint cutting tool is used to remove certain amounts of material from the workpiece. The CNC machine will typically feed the workpiece into the cutting tool in the same direction as the tool’s rotation. This produces a smooth surface while simultaneously removing material from the surface of the workpiece. Depending on the program, CNC milling can either be used to cut shallow, flat surfaces with flat-bottomed cavities (called face milling) or to produce deep cavities such as slots and threads (called peripheral milling). Depending on the type of milling that people need to perform, they might prefer one type of equipment over the other.

CNC Turning: CNC turning is another possible task that can be performed by advanced CNC machinery. In CNC turning, the machine (such as a lathe) will feed the cutting tool into the workpiece in a linear fashion. Then, using a single point, the machine will remove material from the circumference of the workpiece. This will be continued until the desired diameter is achieved. Therefore, CNC turning can be used to create cylindrical parts. Advanced CNC turning can also be used to apply advanced internal features to the workpiece. This includes threads, tapers, and slots. If advanced features are needed, the manufacturer may want to investigate advanced CNC turning tools that are capable of doing this.

As a summary, CNC drilling is used to produce cylindrical holes of varying sizes. CNC milling removes material from the workpiece and produces a wider variety of shapes. CNC turning is used to create round or cylindrical parts. All of these require different manufacturing tools that interact with CNC machines in a different way.

A Revolution in US Manufacturing with Prototype Machining from CNC Manufacturing

While these are a few of the most common tasks that can be carried out using CNC tools, there are numerous other examples as well. These include lapping, honing, grinding, broaching, and sawing. These are advanced tasks that can be combined with those above to create additional features in the final product. With the advent of advanced CNC programming, machines in any precision machine shop can be set up to perform multiple tasks at the same time using custom machined parts. This has changed what people expect of their original equipment manufacturer (OEM) because this technology can increase both productivity and accuracy. It is crucial for manufacturers to embrace CNC manufacturing and invest in the proper equipment to ensure these expectations are met.

Choosing the Right Tools: Help from the Experienced Professionals

As the world of Denver manufacturing continues to change, it will only become more important to choose the right tools. The expectations of the consumer are going to change and precision machine shop businesses need to rise to meet them. This means putting CNC manufacturing to work in the right way with the right equipment and the right team. Because of this, anyone who is working in a custom machine shop Denver needs to make sure that they have access to every tool. This is where it is crucial to have a high-quality CNC Machinist available. To learn more about CNC manufacturing and how it can change your Denver manufacturing company, contact Tag Team Manufacturing today. Someone is always available to provide assistance.

custom machined parts

The Evolution of Manufacturing

It’s no secret that technological advances have changed every sector of the economy and this is just as true in the world of manufacturing as it is in any other industry. Those who have experience working in the manufacturing field know how the field has changed over the past few decades. Manufacturing has come a long way from the first assembly line and, now, people might think that custom machined parts, advanced machinery and robots are changing the field permanently. In order for a business to rise to meet these changes, they also need to understand the course of manufacturing evolution over the past few decades. How has manufacturing evolved from its roots to the present?

The Early Days of the Manufacturing Industry

Custom machined parts haven’t always been around as manufacturing has changed significantly over the past several decades. Many people look at the advent of the Industrial Revolution as the starting place of manufacturing. This was the first time that interlocking parts were used to create high-output facilities that could produce identical parts quickly. Despite the use of machines to produce parts, the human hand still played a critical role.

Unfortunately, one of the major problems with manufacturing during this era was safety. People were intimately connected to large machines with dangerous moving parts. One mistake could place someone in the hospital, rendering them unable to work or provide for their family. Furthermore, there were health concerns associated with many of these facilities. Because many of these factories were coal-powered and workers were kept in close quarters, illness was common. If someone got sick, that illness could spread through the entire building in a short period of time.

Finally, a huge safety issue was fires. There are numerous stories of the early days of manufacturing of large conflagrations that rapidly engulfed entire buildings. One example is the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that took place in New York City in the early 1900s. It is still regarded as the deadliest manufacturing disaster in the history of the United States, as it resulted in the deaths of nearly 150 people. Fortunately, technology improved and changes were made that placed worker safety at the top of the priority list.

The Assembly Line Changes Manufacturing

As technology progressed, thinking changed. The leaders of the world of manufacturing looked for ways to increase output to meet the rising demands of consumers. With this, the assembly line was developed. Many people credit the first use of the assembly line to Henry Ford, which he used to build the first affordable automobile, the Model T. In the assembly line, workers are trained to perform the same task over and over again. Because they are performing the same task, they become experts at this task, allowing them to perform this task faster than anybody else. By combining many people who are experts at their singular task, production and output increase. The assembly line completely changed how manufacturing was performed.

Computers Change the Manufacturing Industry

As the 20th century rolled on, computers started to play a role in the manufacturing industry and changed the fundamentals. With the advent of computers, workers became able to give the computer commands, allowing more precise tasks to be performed. The early days of computer manufacturing involved punch cards that were used to deliver commands. Then, the computer would spit out answers or perform tasks based on those punch cards. Computers and machines are able to perform tasks more quickly and more accurately than human hands. By removing humans from the front lines, factories became safer and humans were largely able to work behind operational controls.

Automation as the Next Step

Technology continued to progress and no area was left untouched. This includes manufacturing and its custom machined parts. As computers became both smarter and smaller, automation developed. Automation is the ability of machines to perform the same task over and over again without requiring additional input from the human hand. Automation became common in the average precision machine shop, leading to significantly increased production capabilities. Machines that are automated do not get tired and, thus, led to the development of 24-hour per day production. Furthermore, these automation robots are also more accurate than the human hand. The manufacturing industry exploded as production and accuracy both increased. Instead of humans turning the screws and tightening the bolts, robots were able to do this. Now, the people became responsible for delivering commands to the machines, changing their jobs when necessary.

Manufacturing in the Contemporary World

Over the past few years, there have been several additional major changes in the world of manufacturing. Some of the examples include:

Workers are More Highly Skilled: Because the manufacturing industry is producing more complex items than ever before, the workers must also be more highly skilled. Those who work in the manufacturing industry often have advanced training in areas such as computer science and robotics.

Higher-Value Goods are Produced: Due to the advent of technology, the manufacturing industry is also producing more high-value goods than ever before. This includes advanced vehicles, accessories for computers, and other connected devices.

The Job of the Human Hand Has Changed: The days of workers getting their hands dirty in a steel mill or coal mine are now relegated to the pages of history. Today’s manufacturing employees are working on a squeaky clean factory floor delivering commands to precision computers that perform a majority of the step-by-step tasks. This is both faster and safer than the early days of manufacturing.

Manufacturing in the Global World: Finally, the world of manufacturing is now a global place. Many of the goods produced in factories today are exported to other countries. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is distributing products around the world. The growth of logistics has allowed this to happen. The world is more connected than ever before and Denver Manufacturing is at the heart of these custom machined parts.

Without a doubt, manufacturing is going to continue to evolve as technology continues to progress. CNC manufacturing and custom machined parts have already changed the way manufacturing functions. With computers able to perform multiple complicated tasks at the same time, consumer expectations have changed. It is important for manufacturers to stay ahead of the curve and meet these expectations.

Relying on High-Quality CNC Manufacturing

Precision manufacturing, such as CNC Machining, has completely changed the way that products are produced. It is important for manufacturers to rise to meet these changes so that they can remain competitive in the modern world. Having a high-quality CNC Machinist in a custom machine shop in Denver can help a company maintain an edge on their competitors. CNC machinery can help a business quickly produce high-quality results that will inspire loyalty among customers. To learn more about custom CNC precision machining in the Denver area, contact Tag Team Manufacturing today.

cnc machining

What is CNC Machining?

It’s no secret that the work done within a machine shop has changed significantly over the past few years. The world of manufacturing used to be dominated by assembly lines where workers would perform the same tasks over and over again to rapidly produce high-quality products. As the technology in the manufacturing industry has progressed, so too has the world of manufacturing. Now, a large amount of manufacturing is performed by something called CNC machining. CNC machining and CNC manufacturing represent the next generation of manufacturing. It is important for everyone to familiarize themselves with this industry. Those who are best able to adapt to these changes in the world of manufacturing will be best positioned to remain competitive in the next generation.

An Overview of CNC Machining

For those who might not know, CNC machining is the name given to a manufacturing process that is dominated by advanced computer programming. In this process, a high-precision computer program controls the movements of the various tools and machines within a factory. In this fashion, computers are able to control the complex movements of various machines with extreme precision. Examples of machines that can be controlled through CNC machinery include routers, lathes, mills, and more. With the help of CNC programming, 3D cuts can be performed quickly and accurately with only a single set of prompts. In this fashion, efficiency within a factory can increase dramatically and the output of the manufacturing lines is improved.

What Does CNC Stand For?

CNC stands for “computer numerical control” and has changed how an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) functions. Many compare this process to something called limited numerical control. In contrast to CNC, limited numerical control requires human operators to feed prompts into the system. The human hand is responsible for guiding the machines using tools such as buttons, wheels, and levers. In contrast, a CNC system is more like a set of computer components that are running off of software and consoles. Because computers are able to perform tasks more quickly and accurately than the human hand, CNC is superior to other potential forms of control. For this reason, CNC has risen rapidly in popularity when compared to other forms of manual control or limited control.

How Does CNC Machining Work?

While CNC machining is controlled by complicated computer programs, it is important for everyone to understand the basics. When a CNC system is turned on, the required cuts are entered into a software system as programs. These commands are used to control the corresponding machines. Then, their tools will carry out each of these commands are specified in the computer program. In essence, the machine will function as a robot in a custom machine shop.

The CNC programming is controlled by computer code. This is a numerical function that will ensure that the mechanisms are flawless. Even though errors can occur, these programs are far more accurate than a human operator or manual control. Furthermore, a CNC program can even ask a tool to cut in more than one direction at the same time. This expedites the manufacturing process and can increase the output of a factory.

Many of these CNC machines can retain programs in their memory systems with code that is both written and edited by trained computer programmers. This further increases the efficiency of CNC machines. Finally, CNC machines are not static. They can change and evolve as the circumstances require. New prompts are able to be added to pre-existing programs by simple revisions of the code. This means that CNC machines are able to be adapted to carry out different tasks in a machine shop Denver. Their versatility is unrivaled in the world of manufacturing.

What are Some Types of CNC Machines?

CNC machinery is incredibly versatile and can be applied to a wide variety of machines. As technology has advanced, the mechanisms in these machines have been enhanced with digital computers that have made CNC machining and precision manufacturing possible. Many of the machines in today’s manufacturing world are electronic. This means that CNC machining can be applied to almost all of these devices. There are several common applications of CMC machining which include:

Mills: Mills that run via CNC are able to be run on programs that use both number and letter prompts. These prompts are used to guide the machine across various distances, sometimes in multiple directions at the same time. The code that is used to feed a mill can be tailored to meet that needs of the manufacturers. Mills use a 3D system that functions on the X, Y, and Z axis. Newer mills can add even more axes to increase their efficiency.

Lathes: CNC machining can even be applied to lathes. In the past, lathes were dangerous machines that would lead to horrible accidents. Because lathes can now be controlled by CNC machining, the frequency of injuries due to lathes has dropped. Using CNC technology, circular cuts can be controlled and performed with higher precision and velocity. Because of this, CNC lathes can produce more complex designs than those that could be produced manually. CNC lathes typically are controlled by code that supplies commands on two separate axes. More complex lathes can have 3 axes.

Water Jet Cutters: CNC machining has also been applied to water jet cutters. Water jets are tools that fire a stream of water at high velocity. This water is used to mold hard materials, such as metal and granite, with a high-degree of precision. The water can also be mixed with sand or another solute to shape the target accordingly. CNC machining can be used to control both the speed and direction of the water jet. It can also be used to control the width of the stream. As a result, CNC can be used to mold metal and granite into very specific designs with a high-degree of precision.

Plasma Cutters: CNC machining has also been applied to the world of plasma cutters. This machine uses a white-hot plasma torch to cut pieces of metal and other hard surfaces. The speed and heat necessary to cut metal is incredibly dangerous and produced using compressed air and electrical arcs. The ability to control these devices using CNC machining represents an advancement in the world of safety.

A Wide Variety of Applications with CNC. 

Clearly, CNC machining can be applied to a wide variety of different machines and tasks. Because of CNC machining, these devices can be controlled remotely, increasing safety in the workplace. As technology progresses, CNC machining will become even more important to the future of Denver manufacturing. A CNC machinist can use this type of programming to produce high-quality custom machined parts more quickly than ever before.

U.S. Manufacturing

U.S. Manufacturing Myths and Misconceptions

It’s impossible to pinpoint when we collectively became Debbie Downers regarding U.S. manufacturing. People appear to equate the rise of Chinese manufacturing with the decline of U.S. manufacturing, although there is no truth to it. In fact, there is no truth to many of the myths and misconceptions about Manufacturing. Here are 10 of the worst offenders:

Manufacturing in the U.S. is in a Sharp Decline

A 2016 MAPI Foundation report claims that if U.S. manufacturing were its own economy, that economy would be the seventh largest in the world. The size of the economy based on manufacturing alone is greater than the economic output of Brazil, Italy, India, and Canada. Just to underscore – that’s the manufacturing sector alone. Nearly one-third of the U.S. economy is manufacturing-based. Consider the points scored politically by both sides of the aisle when politicians decry the loss of Manufacturing in the US. While it may benefit them in the short run, it does the public at large a disservice by painting a far bleaker picture then actually exist.

Jobs in Manufacturing are Dangerous

To be fair, there have been times in American history when manufacturing jobs were downright unsafe. Innovative laws, regulations, and technology introduced through the years have resulted in far safer workplaces. While the risk of injury exists at any place of employment, Americans working in manufacturing have a relatively low risk of being injured. This is according to a report by the Bureau of Labor statistics. Less injuries are partly due greater awareness, and partly due to newer, safer production techniques. It is in the best interest of both a company and its employees to employ practices designed to protect employee wellbeing.

Robots are Going to Replace Humans

Is impossible to deny that manufacturers have invested in greater automation technology. That fact in no way means that robots will replace humans. More than 12,000,000 Americans work in the manufacturing industry, a number that is expected to increase rather than decrease in the upcoming years. Automation was never designed to take over for humans, but to give them a competitive edge in the world marketplace. U.S. workers produce more than workers anywhere on the globe, and automation simply makes them more efficient.

Manufacturing Does Not Create Enough New Jobs

This myth practically busts itself. In an industry that employs more than 12,000,000 people, there are always jobs available. Manufacturing continues to represent one of the country’s most vibrant job markets. Positions in manufacturing, from CEO to CNC machining, must be filled in order to enjoy continued growth.

It’s Too Expensive to Manufacture Products in the U.S.

Due to the way in which U.S. manufacturers have “leaned” their production processes and received new tax breaks, the cost of American products have actually become less expensive, rather than more expensive. In order to compete, American companies are learning to work smarter (beginning with processes like Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma). Combined with tax breaks, they are able to pass the savings to consumers. As easy as it would be to be cynical and assume that manufacturers are keeping the extra profit for themselves, they realize that they must offer competitively priced products in order to compete with production coming out of other countries. As an added bonus, U.S. manufacturing companies spend more on research and development then manufacturers from any other country in the world. The result is a better product and now, a better price.

American Manufacturers use Outdated Processes

This myth has just enough truth at its core to make it believable. It is, however, not true. It did take U.S. manufacturing more time than it should have to embrace new technology and the digital revolution. As more manufacturers realized that they would have to adapt to survive and that automation and streamlining could improve efficiency and output, they came on board. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find a successful manufacturer that does not use the most up-to-date processes. In fact, you need look no further than your local CNC machine shop for state-of-the-art technology.

It’s Fine to Outsource as Long as Product Design Stays in America

People have found ways to justify outsourcing since it began. They’ve said that they’re doing it to cut costs and save jobs in the U.S. They’ve said that it’s good for the global economy. They have also claimed that it’s fine to outsource production as long as product design stays in the U.S. This is a myth. As the former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove knows a thing or two about manufacturing processes. Grove argues that the best innovation takes places when designers and production teams are in one place. They can troubleshoot, give each other feedback, and fine-tune their designs.

The Only Manufacturing Jobs Available are Low-Skilled and Tedious

Today’s manufacturing involves the use of computers that can operate machinery in a way that allows for extraordinary precision. The field requires skills like the ability to problem solve on the fly, operate complex machines, and make quick calculations. Any job can be tedious. The best employees in manufacturing do not just consider the task at hand, but also think about ways they can improve the process.

Women are Unhappy in Manufacturing

The collective mental image we have of the American factory worker tends to be male. After all, it was men who filled the factories after World War II, and men we saw on the nightly news when they went on strike in the decades that followed. That image may be one of the reasons that a Women in Manufacturing survey found that less than 10% of women ages 17 to 24 listed manufacturing among their top five career choices. Perhaps the outcome would have been different had they known how happy women working in the manufacturing sector are. 82% of women who work in manufacturing say they find the field interesting and challenging. 74% felt that manufacturing offers multiple career opportunities. No matter a person’s gender, opportunity awaits in fields like CNC manufacturing, electronics, and apparel manufacturers.

Manufacturing has no Future

Change is not only inevitable, it is uncomfortable. While U.S. manufacturing evolved and some of the big players moved to a bench position, the myth that manufacturing in the U.S. has no future grew. Rather than marveling at the new and innovative businesses that were expanding their manufacturing base and much of the public focused on the big players that now seem somewhat small. The truth is, change is not bad, it’s just scary. Manufacturing in the U.S. is alive and well. The number of people needed to fill open manufacturing positions continues to grow and the impact the manufacturing sector has on the economy swells.

As manufacturing fuels the economy, there will be a need for more skilled workers, like engineers and machine operators who can work on custom machined parts. That’s good news for everyone. Tag Team Manufacturing, located in Parker, Colorado is looking to add machine operators and set up machinists to their team. Contact them today at 303-841-5697.

Safety procedures in a cnc manufacturing facility. Work Safety concept.

How to Stay Safe in a Manufacturing Facility

Safety in the workplace is important no matter what line of work someone is in, but in the cnc manufacturing industry, it’s one of the most important factors. Manufacturing, with its heavy-duty equipment, long hours, and endlessly tight deadlines supporting other industries around the world, can be extremely dangerous if the necessary safety precautions aren’t taken by staff and the managers.

Here’s what manufacturers and CNC manufacturing employees should keep in mind to ensure safety in the workplace.

Ensure Everyone Gets the Same Safety Training

One of the most common causes of injury in the workplace is not adhering to safety procedures designed to keep workers safe. Workers may disregard the rules, forget them after a period of work without being reminded of them, or may never even have been taught them in the first place.

To ensure workers are following safety regulations that will keep them safe, hold regular training courses on how to safely use and handle different machines and hazardous materials in the company and have supervisors watch to ensure workers are following the facility’s protocols.

Wear Safety Gear

Stories of gruesome injuries, disfigurement, and even death from lack of safety equipment have cropped up in countless stories over the years. Sometimes a pair of safety goggles are the only thing standing between a manufacturing facility employee and permanent blindness, and the risk of injury from lack of safety equipment usage is one that can be remediated with minimal expense.

To minimize the risk of injury from improper safety gear usage, all employees should undergo basic safety training, and supervisors should perform routine checks to ensure employees are wearing their safety equipment as instructed. Any safety gear with replacement dates should have their expiration date cataloged so the cnc manufacturing facility can replace them.

Ensure There Are No Slip and Trip Hazards

Slick and otherwise hazardous floor conditions can be extremely dangerous for workers when they’re on the job. A fall can mean sprains, bruises, broken bones, and even muscular tears depending on the severity of the fall. If a worker is holding equipment when they fall, their injuries could be worsened. Because of this, it’s important for manufacturing companies to ensure there are protections in place to minimize the risk of falls in the facility.

To minimize the risk of falls, ensure that flooring in the necessary areas is equipped with non-slip mats. Non-slip sprays can also be applied to reduce the risk of falling, and workers can be outfitted with no-slip boots to further lower the risk. Any one of these would work well on its own, but a combination of the above can greatly reduce the number of falls in the cnc manufacturing facility.

Keep Emergency Exits Free and Clear

Because of the risk of fire and other incidents within a cnc manufacturing facility, it’s important for emergency exits to be free and clear, as well as explicitly labeled to ensure workers know where to go in the event of an emergency. Incidents in unregulated factories in the past have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of workers; these fatalities underscore the importance of having emergency evacuation routes and protocols in place should the worst ever happen.

To ensure clear and easy evacuations in the event of an emergency, clearly label emergency exits and consider marking the paths to them to ensure walkways remain clear at all times. Signs should be posted indicating that a hallway is part of an emergency route, and supervisors should regularly conduct checks to ensure those routes remain clear.

Eliminate Fire Hazards

There are a number of fire hazards present in any cnc manufacturing facility, and some are more subtle than an unspecialized eye could ever detect. Fires, which can destroy expensive equipment and injure or even kill workers, can come from a multitude of different places, so it’s important to prepare as needed to prevent and manage them. To prevent fires in your manufacturing facility, keep in mind these potential sources of fires:

  • Combustible dust.
  • Hot work.
  • Flammable chemicals.
  • Equipment and machinery malfunction.
  • Electrical hazards.

Because of the number of ways a fire can break out, it can be difficult to prevent or reduce the risk of fires in a facility. Follow a regular cleaning schedule to prevent dust buildup, and enforce strict training and adherence to chemical storage and usage policies, as well as safety guidelines for when hot work is necessary. Equipment, machinery, and wiring should be inspected regularly to ensure all parts are in good working condition and all wiring is still workable with no risk of overloading circuits.

Store Hazardous Materials Safely

Hazardous material use and storage can be an overwhelming set of rules to learn. Hundreds or even thousands of chemicals may be used by a manufacturing facility on a regular basis, and though workers may not need to use them all, a single mistake can result in severe chemical burns or toxic gases leaking into the facility.

To ensure safe hazardous material storage and safety, ensure workers are thoroughly trained in the use of materials they will come into contact with, and keep various forms of documentation on hand to assist with storage regulations for every chemical that will see use. Additionally, ensure goggles, chemical aprons, gloves, and eye rinse stations are located wherever necessary to prevent or mitigate accidents.

Report to Your Supervisor if you See Anything

This is perhaps one of the most important safety protocols to keep in mind when you work as a CNC machinist. Sometimes safety standards get overlooked, and the supervisors in the facility may not be aware of them. When you know a safety hazard is present in your area of work, report it to your supervisor immediately before it can become a threat that endangers you or the lives of your coworkers.

Your safety is important. By being mindful of the risks and safety hazards present in a cnc manufacturing company, you can play your part in making your machine shop a happier and safer place for everyone.

Detail of aluminum machined parts, shiny surface.

Achieving Maximum Efficiency in Machining Tight Tolerance Parts

The best practices for precision manufacturing come from using computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining. CNC manufacturing uses high-speed, robot-driven machines and specialized cutting equipment in a custom machine shop. A machine shop for CNC manufacturing will have vertical and horizontal milling machines and lathes.

This CNC process can make custom machined parts to meet the exact specifications of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Besides precision manufacturing, a CNC machinist can perform prototype machining in preparation for full-run CNC manufacturing.

This is a guide to the best practices with practical tips on how to create designs, use prototype machining, and choose materials that result in the most cost-efficient custom machined parts produced by CNC machining.

It Starts With Superb Design

Before the machine shop work can begin, creating a precise computer-aided design (CAD) model is the first step. Then, the CAD model is loaded into computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. This creates the instructions that tell the robotic machines how to move in order to cut away material from a manufacturing blank in order to form the desired end result.

The instructions are very detailed and include the following:

· The tool paths that are necessary, based on the geometry of the finished part.

· How fast the cutting machine should move.

· How fast and in what direction to turn the materials stock and/or the cutting tool.

· The precise locations and how to move, based on a three- or five-axis coordinate system.

The computer controls of the machine doing the cutting work guide the movements on all three X, Y, and Z axis simultaneously, making complex cuts and detailed geometric patterns possible.

Choosing the Right Cutting Tool for the Design

A CNC lathe has a fixed cutting tool and the material stock rotates. A CNC mill is the opposite, With a mill, the tool rotates and the material stock is stationary. Using a CNC lathe produces a better result for complex cylindrical shapes.

If a part requires square features, these are better made using a CNC mill. If a round part has a square feature, then first the round geometry is produced on a CNC lathe and then the square features are cut with a CNC mill.

Part sizes are limited to the tool clearance of milling machines and the depth of the cuts possible. Lathe part size capability depends on the build space. A live tooling lathe combines CNC milling capability within the lathe, which is a beneficial tooling solution to increase the features that can be produced and reduce lead times.

Default Tolerances

Unless a customer provides specifications that include tolerances, the general permissible tolerance levels are plus or minus 0.005 inches for metal parts and plus or minus 0.010 inches for plastic parts. The walls of metal parts are a minimum of 0.030 inches thick. The walls of plastic parts are a minimum of 0.060 inches thick.

The best practice is to mill the finish to a maximum 125 micro-inches as measured by the root-mean-square (RMS) of the peaks and the valleys of the surface. Surface finish treatment is only applied if requested.

Tighter Tolerances

Very tight tolerances are possible that exceed the standard default tolerances. However, tighter tolerances result in added expense because a tighter tolerance may increase waste, require more fixturing, and/or additional measurement processes. Longer cycle times may be necessary to slow down the machining in order to achieve tighter tolerances. Therefore, tighter tolerances should only be specified when necessary to achieve critical design specifications.

Material Choices and Blank Size

Raw material selection is determined based on the part’s design, functionality, and cost limitations. There is usually a need for certain material characteristics such as chemical resistance, rigidity, thermal stability, heat treat-ability, hardness, and others.

The type of raw material used strongly influences the cost of the part. Plastics are preferred and are much less expensive. Plastics are a wise choice if the rigidity of metal is not needed. Metals that are softer, such as brass and aluminum, are easier to machine than stainless steel and carbon steel.

As a general rule, add 0.125 inches to the material size in all three directions of width, length, and depth. This is the necessary size of the material blank to be used for cutting. It is more cost effective to used standard material blanks if possible. For example, if a part can have the dimensions of 0.875 inches or less on each side, then a standard one-inch cube as the material blank can be used.

Part Complexity — Three-Axis vs. Five-Axis Machining

Two-axis cuts are the easiest and least costly. For a more contoured part, three-axis cutting is necessary with the cuts being made by the tool or blank moving simultaneously on the X., Y, and Z axis.

With five-axis machining more complex parts can be made in a cost-efficient way. In five-axis cutting, the tool and the blank move simultaneously around in five ways. Five-axis machining reduces the number of setups needed, achieves faster cutting speeds, uses better tool paths, and results in a better surface finish.

Fillets

A CNC milling machine (horizontal or vertical) makes interior vertical walls with a radius. It is a round tool, which spins at a high revolution per minute (RPM) that removes the blank material. This limits designs to allow for where radii occur.

Inside corner fillets are easier to make by using a radius that is non-standard. End mills need clearance to turn and to continue milling. By adding 0.02 inches to an internal radius, the cutter can turn slightly without having to stop. This reduces cost and results in better CNC parts. In general, the larger the radius the lower the cost.

Floor fillets are easier to machine if the floor radius is less than the corner radius. If the floor and wall radius is the same size, then it makes it challenging to remove the corner material. If the floor radius is somewhat smaller than the wall radius, then the same tool can be used to create a nice flow through the corner.

Undercuts

If a standard machining tool cannot reach an area, this creates an undercut region on a part. It is better to avoid the need for a special tool that would be required if the feature is not a standard dimension because a custom tool is expensive. A standard tool is less than half the cost of a custom tool. It is also important to make sure the undercut can be reached and is not too deep. A less shallow undercut is better.

Threads

To reduce costs, use standard thread sizes and the largest thread size possible. Small taps have a greater chance of breaking during production than larger ones do. Only specify the depth of the tap necessary because deep, threaded holes increase the cost of the part. A custom tool may be needed for very deep holes.

Surface Finishes

The standard milled finish is 125 RMS. With this finish, minor tools marks may be visible. Smoother finishes of 63 RMS, 32 RMS, or 16 RMS are possible, but they increase the processing time necessary to make the part.

A bead-blast finish creates a matte surface by blowing tiny glass beads under pressure at the surface. If the masking of some areas from the bead blasting is necessary, this adds to the expense.

A corrosion-resistant finish can be created by anodizing a metal part. This can be done with a transparent finish or in different colors (red, black, gold, etc.). This is a popular finish for aluminum parts. Hard-anodizing is also available that creates a thicker, wear-resistant surface layer.

A powder-coat paint finish is created by spraying on paint and then baking the painted part in an oven. This creates a very strong finish that is wear- and corrosion-resistant. It is more durable than regular paint. Many colors are available to create a nicely-finished look for a part.

Custom finishes are also available, at additional expense, such as plating or specialized chemical films.

Summary

By following these best practices as a guide, it is possible to get excellent results when working with Tag Team Manufacturing. This is a machine shop Denver has that can produce up to 50,000 components annually for Denver manufacturing and other locations. Contact Tag Team Manufacturing for a quote from the best Denver CNC machine shop.

CNC Machinist

What you can Expect from a Career in CNC Machining

At some point in his or her life, everyone has to make a decision as to what they want to be when they grow up. It is not uncommon to continue to ask oneself that question into adulthood. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a CNC machinist, we are here to lay it out for you.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly half a million CNC machinists working in the U.S. That number is expected to stay level through at least 2026. If you’re someone who likes to get your hands dirty, to really get in there and find practical solutions to problems that perplex others, a career as a CNC machinist may be precisely what you’re looking for. If you’d rather be working outside or in a custom machine shop setting than sitting behind a desk, read on. There are a number of things about CNC machining that are likely to appeal to you.

This list represents some of what you can expect to experience as a CNC machinist:

You can expect to learn on the job. Although some CNC machinists are trained at vocational schools, community colleges, technical colleges, or through an apprenticeship program, it is still common for companies to create their own training program for the CNC machinists who will be working for them. That’s because most corporations have a very specific manner of doing things, operational procedures that are not taught in other settings. If you’re someone who gets a thrill out of learning new things, the ability to learn on the job may be of benefit to you.

You can expect to be creative. Anyone who has ever worked in manufacturing, whether they were making baseball bats or secret parts for the Pentagon, knows that things can turn a little frantic when anything goes wrong. Every company is beholden to their customers and must follow strict guidelines and delivery dates. If a part is so much as a thousandth of a centimeter off, it can spell peril for the manufacturer. That’s where you come in. CNC machinists are commonly called upon to get to the root of a problem and come up with a creative way to solve it. If you’re a person who has always enjoyed puzzles, or someone who simply likes a good mystery, this job will offer you plenty of opportunities to think creatively.

You can expect to be part of a team. Teamwork is what it’s all about in this job. People count on you and you count on them to make the most of your workday. Whether operations are running smooth as silk or the sky is falling, and upper management is losing their collective minds, CNC machinists work as a team with every other employee in the company. As a CNC machinist, you can expect people to come to you on a regular basis to ask for your opinion and expertise. In turn, you can ask someone else for help when you need it. For some, it’s the camaraderie that makes the job so enjoyable.

You can expect to be know your value. What you do as a CNC machinist is so foundational to your company’s ability to operate that your absence would present a problem. At some point in their live, most people have had a job in which they felt invisible and unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth for a CNC machinist. Without them, a business would have no way to control quality, and would be far less likely to come up with new innovations.

You can expect to channel your inner Nikola Tesla. As a CNC machinist, you will be part problem solver and part innovator. What commonly happens in the midst of a manufacturing snafu is that innovations are born that can prevent the problem from arising again. You would be the person expected to come up with innovations that work. Everyone has to start somewhere, but the more you innovate, the more confident you become. CNC machining is a job that allows you to try new things until you come across the one that works. And really, that’s how all great inventors got their start.

You can expect to change.  Not everyone is adaptable, not everyone can shift the way they operate. Because of the nature of their jobs, CNC machinists become supremely adaptable, able to veer from the task in front of them to another when it suddenly becomes a priority. If you aren’t especially adaptable going into the job, you can expect to learn the skill out of necessity.  Adaptability is a trait that carries over into every other area of your life and will stay with you into retirement. In an ever-changing world, the ability to adapt is priceless.

You can expect your skills to be sharpened. Just as a prize fighter become stronger through sparring, your work as a CNC machinist will hone your mental skills. Each day, you will learn something new. Each frustration (and there are frustrations) will bring with it a chance to problem solve. Every level of company hierarchy that you interact with will teach you more about how a corporation works. Through this one job, you will grow intellectually and socially. If, at some point, you find yourself moving to a new company, you will find that you can use what you learned through your first experience as a CNC machinist.

You can expect to be on the cutting edge of technology. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines are a blend of digital and physical technologies. In this field it is computers that provide instructions to tools of the trade, such as lathes. For example, it is a CNC machine that allows for the precise shaping of raw materials like plastics or metals. Computers are used in every step of CNC machining, and as a CNC machinist you are the person who is counted upon to understand what’s going on with each step and to troubleshoot in order to keep operations running smoothly. Your computer skills and the desire to learn more are essential for success.

You can expect every day to be different. There is no typical workday for a CNC machinist, primarily because it’s impossible to predict when troubleshooting will be needed or when engineering will change plans midstream. There is very little risk of boredom in this job, a benefit for anyone with a curious mind.

Each person on this planet has a different skill set and different goals that drive them. What most have in common is a desire to spend their workdays doing something that has purpose and offers a sense of fulfillment. If you find that CNC machining sounds like something that would fulfill you, why not take a deeper dive and learn more?

Energy efficiency as car speedometer. 3d illustration

Energy Efficiency – The Key to Success in Manufacturing

In today’s world there is a great deal of focus on sustainability and energy efficiency.  It seems everything, from cars to buildings, is measured by its carbon footprint, or environmental impact.  Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have strict energy regulations in place for manufacturing industries and for machine shops.  The United States currently does not have any formal regulations regarding energy usage, but that should not stop the CNC machinist from doing everything in his or her power to limit energy consumption in their machine shop.

Limiting the amount of energy used within the machine shop has several benefits.  Of course, limited energy expenditure is more environmentally friendly, reducing the amount of electricity pulled from the power grid.  Reducing energy also has a trickle down benefit to the machine shop owner, OEMs, clients, and customers alike.  Less energy usage can reduce the amount of money spent on electricity, replacement parts and tools, and waste material.  Saving money in the manufacturing process is the key to success by allowing the shop to create an environmentally conscious product for less money.

Mindful Process Changes

One way a CNC machine shop is able to become more energy efficient is by making mindful and impactful process changes.  There has been a great deal of research conducted regarding the amount of energy consumed within the manufacturing process.  By making strategic and thoughtful decisions related to the process of creating components, it is possible to create a more energy efficient process.

Cycle Time

Selecting tools that can both increase a faster feed rate, while reducing feed time, is an excellent way to impact the cycle time between completed components.  In one study, simply selecting the right tool for the job made all the difference.  Consider the advantage to using multi-fluted tools.  This is a great way to deliver instant energy savings over the course of the manufacturing process.  The higher amount of flutes allows for a shorter cycle time, creating more parts per minute.

There is some trade off though, so the CNC machinist must be strategic in their selection.  More flutes, and thus more components, is not always better.  In some cases, while more flutes can certainly increase production, wear on the component can become a challenge.  Multi-fluted tools, or specialty tools, can be expensive to replace.  Further, more fluting can often result in irregular wear patterns which means the tool has an overall shorter lifespan.  Understanding the broader reaching purpose for the job, and selecting the right tool, will ultimately find a happy medium.  The key to cycle time energy efficiency is being able to balance the cycle time increases with the life expectancy of the tool.

Coolant Process

Another area machine shops are able to find energy saving changes is within the coolant process.  Often, coolant delivered to the tools via through-tool delivery help to prolong the life of the tool.  This method can increase how long a tool can be used, thus saving money and resources on replacement parts.  Further, using through-tool coolant can make the wear on the various tool components more uniform.  If the wear is uniform, it helps the CNC machinist predict the wear pattern, thus increasing the usability of the tool.

Further, there are methods to use coolant recycling systems.  These systems can easily be connected to the machine plant cell.  They work by combining a combination of recycled coolant with new coolant.  Studies have shown that by mixing recycled and new coolant there are no noticeable differences in performance.  Not only does this recycling method help to reduce coolant costs, but it has also shown to cut water usage by upwards of 10%.

Software Programming

Using various available software programs to better aid in the manufacturing process, particularly for custom machined parts,  helps to save energy.  Specialized programing is available to help create a custom tool path.  This allows the user to maintain uniform stress on the tool, keeping constant and even pressure, to create a curving, circular path.   Using this continuous, smooth motion allows the machinist to create the component with faster cutting speeds, without risk of tool damage with sudden, sharp turns, thus reducing energy costs.

Another software element indispensable in precision manufacturing is specialized programming that allows the tool to cut with uniform force.  Having a steady cutting force results in energy reduction without varying forces and additional electric input to adjust for changing pressures.

Machine Tool Selections

Aside from making logical and strategic processing decisions, the tools within the machine shop itself can be energy efficient.  There are several tools designed for energy efficiency, especially with the eco-friendly mindset of several companies and customers alike.

Limit Base Load

There are many energy-sapping functions within a tool that can go unnoticed, aside from the immediate energy load required to operate the tool during active phases.  Many auxiliary parts continue to run, even while the tool is in between phases.  The tool’s base load still consumes energy even while the tool is resting.  Luckily, there are many new tools that can be switched off during these non-productive phases which can help save on energy costs.

Tool Selection

Addressed earlier while mentioning the practice of selecting the right tool to increase cycle times, tool selection can also impact the amount of energy consumed.  Of the many components, a spindle can greatly impact the tool’s efficiency.  If the spindle drive is run too slowly, below it’s intended operating speed, it can eat up a tremendous amount of unnecessary energy.  Further, throttling the tool to reduce the speed only increases the time it takes to manufacture a component.  Increased manufacture time leads to an increased use of electricity.  It is recommended that spindle motor efficiency is considered for the component in question.  Sometimes energy efficiency can be improved by using synchronous motors as opposed to asynchronous motors.

Regenerative Supply Usage

Lastly, tools are now made in precision manufacturing that have a regenerative energy supply.  Traditionally, fast moving tools require an internal braking system to slow down the acceleration.  In a non-regenerative system the power used to brake the tool is converted to heat, from friction, which is then lost in the overall process.  Regenerative tools are now available that redirect that lost energy into useable kinetic energy, sent right back to the power grid.

This regenerative supply can help save energy in several ways.  Not only can regenerative power help maintain consistent power to the tool, foregoing the momentary power loss sometimes exhibited when the tool starts and stops, but it can also help in processes that require multiple tool changes.  In systems that require one, or multiple tool changes within 100 seconds regenerative power supplies are able to keep constant energy to the system.  In a non-regenerative tool, the power it takes to restart the machine after a tool change spikes, drawing an excess amount of power from the grid.  This can be avoided with a regenerative tooling system.

Just because the United States has not fully regulated energy consumption by machine shops nationwide, does not mean manufacturers are not interested in the valuable savings associated with energy efficiency.  Conserving energy is a key factor for an original equipment manufacturer in the Denver manufacturing market.  Between prolonging the life expectancy of tools, saving money on energy costs, and making environmentally friendly choices it is clear that energy efficiency is the path for a successful manufacturing process.

Check out another article on renewable energy in Manufacturing.

Continuous Improvement Always Get Better Speedometer 3d Illustration

Improving your Machine Shop

A machine shop can be compared to the parts that are manufactured on a daily basis, with many moving parts, all of which needs to work together in synchronized processes to achieve the maximum efficiency in a machine shop. It’s a delicate balance to keep the machines running at tiptop condition and all the employees working efficiently as well.

 

Keeping Your Processes Updated

 

Machine shops of all kinds need to be aware of current trends and standards in their industry to increase your efficiency in the CNC machine shop. The Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT is a relatively new process to help revolutionized the way that we look at different prototype designs. It also monitors the specific customer feedback to newer products and with the rise in mobile connectivity; it leads to more networking possibilities. It also has a high level of connectedness between all of the equipment and machines on the shop floor.

 

Employee Education

 

All employees in a machine shop should be properly educated on the OSHA requirements that need to be followed in order to reduce employee injuries that lead to downtime. The employees should be aware of the workplace hazards for their particular part in the machining industry process and how to operate all machines safely in the manufacturing shop that they use on a daily basis.

 

Quality Control

 

The last step in most manufacturing processes include quality control checks to make certain that all parts in a product are the correct size and items such as pumps operate correctly. If your employees are trained correctly to do their jobs, there will be little errors in the final product. However, if one employee makes a mistake more than once, you can have them re-trained so this doesn’t keep happening. Making another component or part to replace a defective one costs your machine shop extra materials, time and labor and can be very costly. On the other hand, the QC inspector may actually notice that a setting on the CNC machine needs attention by finding inaccuracies in the products made.

Examining the Workflow

 

The process of examining the workflow in your local machine shops can lead you to realize that it is not running as efficiently as it could be. You may be able to improve your daily operations significantly after an inspection by analyzing your shop processes. Lean manufacturing processes are the route that the product travels through a machine shop in the manufacturing stages. For example, if parts are produced in a CNC Machine Shop and the process starts at the front of the shop, then the part moves to the back of the shop for the next phase in the process, then time is being wasted by the two workstations not being next to each other in the shop. It may not seem like a lot of time to walk several hundred feet from one area to another–but it all adds to the inefficiency of the entire workload in your shop. The best idea is to figure the route that is most commonly used for the majority of materials you produce in Local Machine Shops and place the machines accordingly.

 

Collaborate with Full-Time Employees

 

It’s a great idea to talk to your employees with the most tenure that are full-time employees. These people will have the best ideas to help you to decide about any changes that need to be made in your local machine shops. Most employees will just do their job and not create waves, but if you ask them for their opinion, you may find a goldmine of information to draw on and increase proficiency by leaps and bounds. This strategy also strengthens your bond with employees and encourages input from teammates in the future that will help the machine shop.

 

Keep Realistic Deadlines

 

When bidding on a job, make the deadlines for the products realistic. Employees don’t want to work so many hours that they have no family time to themselves and even if they are paid well for the overtime, they will eventually tire out from extra long hours on a daily basis, which leads to more workplace accidents. Planning the deadlines correctly will give you a bit of leeway in the deadline to account for machine downtime and employee sickness if they should arise.

 

Upgrade Machining Tools

 

For Quality Manufacturing you can upgrade your machining tools to take advantage of the newer processes of additive manufacturing and 3D printing to reduce the costs and time of having to do custom tooling by hand. These types of tools will cost you in the beginning, but your largest budget is usually the tooling needs and in the future when the tools are paid off, it will pay for itself in the lower amounts that you pay employees for labor and the time saved.

 

Routine Maintenance

 

Routine maintenance, preventative maintenance or PM, helps keep all of your equipment in functioning order in your Manufacturing Shop. It’s best to have all machines examined at the beginning of the workday to see if they are operating correctly and have employees fill out check lists. It’s much less expensive to have specific intervals for routine maintenance than to have a major setback when a machine goes down. Downtime is not only expensive because you need parts and labor right away, but the parts may not be available for a few days, which will delay you reaching your deadlines and it could cost you future jobs from a customer.

 

Machine Downtime is Your Enemy

 

Machine downtime is the leading cause of inefficiency in any machine shop. You can make some decisions if you keep good records on all the machines and tooling devices in your shop. Make a record of machine downtime on each machine and find the cause of it. Keep records on how many machines are down and for how long. If one goes down often and it has the scheduled maintenance that it requires to be up and running, you may think about a replacement instead. You can assign team members from a different area to do the inspections as they may notice something that isn’t right on a machine that took a long time to surface, whereas the member that uses the machine daily may not notice because the inefficiency occurred over quite a bit of time. Also, make note of the corrections that were made and if they were efficient or need to be changed.

 

Following these ideas can help your machine shop to operate efficiently by timely operations and lower labor costs, extend the life of your machining tools and help to keep great team members on board with you.