Tag : precision machine shop

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5 Lean Manufacturing Principles Every Machinist Should Know

Lean principles are the way to improve manufacturing processes and can be applied to any production process. Every machinist should know these lean manufacturing principles in order to increase efficiency and help reduce costs. With the right lean manufacturing principles, US manufacturing can compete on an international level. There are five principles to incorporate: value, value stream, flow, pull and perfection.

Value

The value should be established early on in the CNC manufacturing process. In determining the value, machinists should look at the needs of the customer for the product. Other things to consider are the timeline, price point and if the customer’s expectations are going to be met.

Value Stream

After value has been determined, there needs to be an established process that takes the materials to the final product, known as value stream. Value stream is mapping out the steps it takes to complete the whole process. Every step needs be identified no matter what department it is in, whether it’s design, production administration, delivery or customer service. Once every step is determined, it’s necessary to go through the steps in order to find ones that don’t create any value and are wasteful. This process can be referred to as re-engineering, and helps better understand the whole organization. It’s important to identify inefficient inventory control, defects or bottlenecks in the process in order to make the system more lean.

In this step, determining everything of nonvalue is very important. It’s necessary to learn the difference between value and waste, and vendors may need to be consolidated. Purchasing supplies and components from one source may eliminate waste, since communicating with multiple people can use up time and money.

Flow

Once the waste has been eliminated from the process through value stream, the next step is to determine the flow of the remaining steps to continue to eliminate any interruptions, bottlenecks or delays. The steps need to flow smoothly. Sometimes it’s needed to look at all departments so they become cross-functional. This can lead to increases in productivity and efficiency, sometimes showing more than 50% improvement.

Pull

The idea of pull is to have the product ready for the consumer at any time, because the steps to make the product have become efficient and that product can be pulled when needed. This saves money for the manufacturing process because products don’t have to be stockpiled and there isn’t inventory just sitting there where people have to manage it.

Perfection

Lean is not just a one-time thing and, in order to achieve perfection and perfect value, the first four principles need to be looked at often and incorporated into the company culture. All employees should be involved in the process. Even though many of the processes are within manufacturing, other departments can still be involved. It may be necessary to repeat value steam and flow to create maximum efficiency.

When implemented correctly, lean principles will help improve efficiency and provide other values, such as increased workplace safety. Lean principles not only can be applied to manufacturing, but also different departments. By thinking outside the box, lean can be used to reduce fatigue in the manufacturing process, which can reduce injury potential. Not only does the company benefit from lean principles, but customers benefit as well.

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Improving CNC Machine Shop Efficiency and Productivity

As manufacturing continues to evolve, CNC machinists find themselves in stressful situations since the skills gap is diminishing with time. It has become very difficult to find experienced CNC manufacturing machinists in this industry. The level of competition is up which requires high CNC automation of machine tools to provide stiff competition to other CNC machine providers.

The high demand for quality parts means that mechanical engineering and milling processes must put more emphasis on increased productivity and manufacturing. Today, modern valuable CNC machining tools have made it possible for most shops to modernize their operations. To remain competitive, CNC machinists must find viable ways of increasing their output and maintain reliable, quality and exceptional customer care services.

Time is an important aspect in manufacturing and each CNC machine shop owner wish to make their shops more productive and efficient. Here are three main tips for improving your CNC machine shop efficiency and productivity.

Prolonging the Life of the Tool

Consider having a high-pressure coolant system or increase the concentration of the existing one. It is advisable to examine your tool holder and the inserts from time to time to enhance its lifespan. This simple process helps you to prevent any disastrous failures. You should also record the number of materials that are being removed. Mechanical engineering schools put a lot of emphasis on avoiding extreme contact time with the new materials.

During this process, it’s advisable to go for harder insert grades of your choice which will service you for long. To maintain your tool holder for a long time, some specific coatings like aluminum oxide will help you to reduce the cycle while increasing the lifespan of your tool, feed rates and cutting speeds. Alternatively, you may consider investing in a cryogenic machine.

Improve the Organization

Lack of proper organization may lead to loss of money and significant manpower. There is need to maintain a properly arranged workplace for your business especially if it’s a machine tool. You have to organize things and put them in place when you are done with your work.

You should make sure you invest in quality shadow boards, and tool draws such as those used at US manufacturing schools. You should also improve the labeling system of your arrangements to prevent confusions. Cleanliness of your equipment and shop floor should be maintained since it’s beneficial to your health and business.

Equipment Management System

It is profitable to keep your tool cost as low as possible and invest in US manufacturing tool management system while setting your time down. A good and reliable tool management system will help you to manage and track your inventory. This will enable you to reduce the cost of overstocking or understocking of the tool supply.

The manufacturing in USA enables you to find useful software that will help you control performance, tool usage and procurement in your CNC machine shop. The software also provides crucial purchase notifications to help you avoid costly downtimes. You need to understand that your production quantity isn’t the only factor that drives business growth. You need to thoroughly evaluate the kind of services you are providing to your clients and streamline your overall business processes.

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Machining Technology Trends 2018

2018 is already off to an exciting start when it comes to CNC manufacturing and automation. The US economy is improving, jobs and growth are projecting higher for US manufacturing for the coming years, and new technologies are emerging. Here’s a look at some of the top machining technology trends for the coming year (and beyond).

1. Demand for Machine-Tooled Products Is Increasing
Consumer confidence is on the rise and the US economy is ramping up after a slowdown of many years. This means the demand for machine-tooled products will be on the rise as well. New changes to US tax laws and trade policies are increasing the demand for domestic manufacturing. This will also make it easier for new CNC manufacturing startups to get off the ground, because they can be more competitive with established overseas machining operations.

2. CNC Growth Projections Are High
CNC manufacturing is projected to grow in demand across nearly every sector this year. Take a look at the estimated 2018 growth in CNC industries from an analysis by Gardner Business International:

Medical Devices & Instruments: 5.1 percent increase
Surgical Instruments: 3.1 percent increase
Automotive Manufacturing: 2 percent increase
Aerospace Parts & Engines: 3 percent increase

3. Demand for CNC Manufacturing Jobs Projecting Upward
This is actually a “good news and bad news” trend for the moment, with the bad news coming first. The CNC manufacturing sector overall was not ready for the increased demand for precision machined products. In the short term, the skilled labor gap is going to get worse than it already is. Mechanical engineering schools don’t have a lot of new slots opening up, while the industry needs skilled and trained workers for CNC automation and machining. Bottom line: There aren’t enough workers to keep up with demand in the short term. However, that is good news in the long run. The job outlook for the CNC manufacturing sector looks better and better through 2018 and beyond.

4. More Touchscreen Controls
Companies that make precision CNC machining equipment are rapidly implementing more touchscreen controls. The controls make it easier and faster to pre-program machinery and tools for 3D cutting tasks. Program navigation, editing, creation and verification are all made easier by implement touchscreen controls with manual keypads. CAD/CAM programming and USB communication with interfaces allow even more options, versatility and ease-of-use on the machining shop floor. The implementation of touchscreen controls has added more speed to the CNC machining process, which is great when manufacturers want to quickly push more product out the door.

5. Robotics & Regulations
As the CNC manufacturing sector continues to expand, human engineers are increasingly working in proximity to robots. State and federal government will eventually step in with new regulations related to functional safety. While it hasn’t happened yet (beyond regulations that are already in place under OSHA), the industry is holding its breath for when that day comes. When it does happen, it will likely have a ripple across the domestic CNC manufacturing industry which will increase product costs for consumers.

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7 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing

One of the effective ways of increasing the profitability of any enterprise is through waste elimination. Processes can either add more value or massive wastes to the production of goods and services. The seven wastes of lean manufacturing came from Japan where there were referred to as “Muda.” The first step towards eliminating waste is understanding what waste is and the specific places where it exists in your processes. The wastes found in various manufacturing environments tend to be similar. Here are the seven wastes in lean manufacturing.

1. Overproduction

Overproduction refers to the process of manufacturing specific items before they are needed in the market. Overproduction is expensive since it hinders the uninterrupted flow of material and degrades the quality of products produced. Overproduction in industrial manufacturing is usually referred to as “Just-In-Case” manufacturing. This type of manufacturing will lead to significant storage costs, excessive lead times, and make it almost impossible to notice defects. The solution to this waste is stopping the production tap. You should only manufacture what can be shipped or sold immediately.

2. Transportation

The waste of transportation usually refers to the movement of items between different processes. This will involve the use of a forklift truck or similar equipment to move products around the factory. Transportation is a waste occurring as a result of overproduction. Excessive movement of products around the factory will cause harm and can also lead to deterioration in the quality of the products. The equipment used to move the products around the factory lead to another production cost that adds no customer value.

3. Over Processing

Over processing is extra work that adds no significant value to the consumer or business. Over processing is a waste that takes the form of adding unnecessary features to a product that the customer doesn’t use but raises the cost of production. A good example of over processing would be maintaining paint finish more tightly than required or building a product that will last for five years when you know that the customer will replace it after two or three years.

4. Excess Motion

The waste of excess motion is related to wasted movement and is evident in all cases of walking, stretching, lifting, bending, and reaching. Some of these issues are also related to safety and health which is becoming a major concern in today’s world. Technically, jobs that require excessive movement need to be analyzed and re-engineered for significant improvement with the participation of the industrial workers.

5. Excessive Inventory

Excess inventory is a waste representing cash that is tied up in the form of material which is technically difficult to turn into liquid cash quickly. Inventory eats up much storage at the manufacturing plant since it has to be managed and stored. It can also become obsolete leading to more waste. The quality of any inventory can undergo deterioration over time especially perishable goods such as rubber seals or food.

6. Waiting

The manufacturing waste of waiting hours occur whenever products aren’t moving or being processed. Waiting is perhaps the most common waste of the seven. It is lost time due to poor flow of production process. Equipment breakdowns, part shortages, and bottlenecks can also lead to waiting wastes. Waiting can also frustrate the workers leading to reduced morale. The Goldratt’s theory of constraints states that every hour lost in a typical bottleneck is like an hour lost to the entire factory output which is impossible to recover.

7. Defects

Defects have a direct and substantial impact on the quality of products manufactured. Defects will lead to rescheduling, re-inspecting, and loss of capacity. The overall cost of defects is always a substantial percentage of the entire manufacturing cost. This waste can be reduced through continuous process improvement and employee involvement in the production process.

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Things to Look for When Hiring a Precision Machine Shop

People should look for several items when they are choosing a precision machine shop to make certain that they make the right choice.

Communication Skills
The person in the shop that you are telling about your job or project should have great communication skills. They should be skilled at their job and know what the others in the shop can accomplish. If this person is experienced, they will also have questions for you to help you to describe your job in as much detail as possible. Great communication is the first skill to look for, because if you and the shop manager are not on the same page, your project may not come out as you saw it.

Innovative Technology
A good precision machine shop is only as good as the available technology they use and it is based on the technician’s knowledge to use it. Research what types of equipment are needed to manufacture a prototype of your project. Then ask what types of equipment the machine shop uses such as CNC Machining, Manual Machining and Wire EDM. Also, ask if the process uses more than one type of machining for the run. The machine shop should also be able to have certified technicians to run the software available for the process so they can implement any changes in the design that you may ask for. Shops with the latest technology are forward thinking and will learn and implement new processes to keep up with the rising technology needed.

References and Samples of Work
A great machine shop will have a project book with photos of some of their past work along with the customer’s names and phone number and won’t be afraid to share these things with you. If they don’t give you references or explain past processes, they may be hiding something about their performance from you. The project book should have their most difficult jobs that they completed in it to show how capable the machine shop is in their business.

Flexibility
Machine shops that are proficient in their work will have some sort of process to allow flexibility in the project while it is underway. They should report to you at certain steps of the process to make certain they are on track and be able to change things if it isn’t to your specifications. This helps to get the first prototype correct and sets in place the specifics for a full production run of your products. If they don’t have a schedule set up, you may want to look elsewhere for a precision machine shop that is more compliant.

Quality Control
All machine shops should have a quality control inspector, whether in-house or out of house to ensure that your project meets all of the specifications that it should. They should be willing to talk about their quality certifications such as ISO 9001 and AS9100 standards and share with you what types of equipment they use to ensure the standards are met.

Looking for these items will help you to find a quality precision machine shop that you can use for prototypes, parts and projects of any size to successfully fulfill your wishes and demands.

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Tips for Hiring the Ideal CNC Machinist

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology has revolutionized modern manufacturing in the US. With CNC machining, the role of CNC machinists (operators) has reduced significantly. The operator only feeds instructions in the computer, set up the required tools, feed the materials in the machine, and control speed leaving the computer to do the rest.

Given the complexity and technicality of the CNC machines, the operators need top-notch skills for set-up and programming. CNC machinists are fabricators, builders, mechanics, craftsmen and quality assurances making them difficult to find. Below are 6 tips for hiring the perfect CNC machinist;

Consider All Means of Advertising

Although the manufacturing industry looks promising, there’s a real scarcity of machinists in the US. Other than placing your ads in the local newspaper, radio, monster and indeed, Craigslist is also a good starting point that most take for granted.

While at it, expand your search to major cities rather than concentrating on your locality. Make it easy for applicants to reach out by leaving the company’s details guiding to the company’s website for a direct application.

Go Searching in the Nearest Technical Schools

Although most of the technical schools in the US have shifted away from CNC machining, you can still find a local mechanical engineering schools approach. Approach a couple of potential job candidates just before graduating before all of them are taken. Consider expanding your search to other states.

Train the Applicants Desired to Learn and the Drive to Succeed

In as much as you’d bring skilled workforce aboard, it may not be possible as fresh graduates from the US manufacturing schools may have no experience. But you can choose the talent with attention to detail and drive to learn and succeed then teach them on the job.

Promise to increase their wages over time after the training, so they don’t run away to greener pasture after the training.

Set an Exam for the Ideal Candidates

Resumes are just a means used by prospective applicants to show off their supposed skills and abilities. Undoubtedly, resumes will help you separate the chaff from the grain. However, comparing the applicants solely by their resumes would be a disservice to the company. Some of the best machinists do not have the best resumes.

Instead, consider giving the applicants a test to gauge their basic knowledge of the CNC machining. Some people get intimidated by a written test. Prepare a list of relevant questions and ask them verbally.

Involve Other Machinists in the Interviewing and Hiring Process

Company Machinists have a proper understanding of the machines and other tools. They can help structure a test the cuts across all areas of the job. Involve in chit-chat to keep the interviewees at ease before hitting them with the tough questions.

Allocate enough time for the prospective employees to spend time in the shop together with the interviewers so you can check out how they handle the machines.

Hiring a CNC machinist can be a daunting task. The tips above should help you land the best candidates with ease. Tag Team Manufacturing is a modern manufacturing company specializing in machining CNC for OEMs in almost all industries. We can produce over 50,000 components annually and have the skills necessary to work closely with the engineers in producing prototypes. We’re working continuously to improve and develop our processes and capabilities.