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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Introducing PMA’s New President, Roy Hardy

Roy Hardy
President, Precision Metalforming Association 

With a pedigree steeped in engineering, manufacturing and our industry’s workpiece metals of choice, Roy Hardy assumed the leadership position at PMA as its new president on May 15, 2017. He succeeds Bill Gaskin, who retired at the end of May after 40 years of service to the metalforming industry.

A self-described third-generation metals man–his grandfather worked in a ductile iron foundry for 35 years and his father’s career was spent as a metallurgist at Huntington Alloys–Hardy has had a lifelong fascination with this type of work.

“As a kid on plant tours where my dad worked, I watched metal being poured, twisted, bended, recycled to be used again…I’ve always wanted to be a metals guy,” he says.

Graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering, Hardy worked his way through nearly every link of the metal-parts supply chain, then owned a company supplying steel mills, the heat-treating industry and forging companies. For the past eight years, he served as president of the Forging Industry Association.

“PMA’s mission is to assist members in being more competitive in the global economy, and I know we can compete if it’s on a level-playing field,” Hardy says, “so we will continue to be active in government advocacy telling the PMA story.”

Recognizing that PMA’s effectiveness as an advocate is directly related to its size and strength, Hardy seeks an increase in membership in coming years and more engaged members.

“If we can grow PMA membership to 30 percent of the metalforming industry, we can increase PMA’s clout in Washington, D.C., giving us a bigger voice for the industry. In addition, we need to continue bringing our people together through networking opportunities. Part of that involves empowering and energizing our local districts, the backbone of PMA. Future leaders are found in the districts, and they serve as our first line of communication as to what’s going on, what’s new and what are the concerns.”

Key to competitiveness is linking members to the latest, most effective technology, making PMA “a matchmaker for members and technology,” as Hardy says. “We want to expose members to what’s going on related to technology. International conferences and tradeshows are ideal for technology transfer, so PMA will continue to be active in these areas.”

To address the industry’s challenge of finding and retaining qualified associates, Hardy stresses the need for workforce-development programs “to develop the talent we already have, and train managers as future company leaders.”

And, he sees PMA’s Educational Foundation as instrumental in helping address the skills shortage by raising awareness among the general public, and assisting and funding PMA’s efforts to deliver training via an online learning-management system as well as workshops and seminars.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Predicting Electricity Price Trends

Guest Blogger: Kathy Kiernan
Senior Vice President & Managing Partner, APPI Energy

Retail electricity prices are largely driven by natural gas prices. Even though your system operator (PJM, ERCOT, MISO, NEPOOL) is procuring power from a variety of sources—hydroelectric, wind, solar, nuclear, coal, gas—the way system operators pay generating plants is based on the last fuel used to meet demand, which is almost always natural gas. Therefore, the amount you pay per kWh is determined primarily by the current price of natural gas in your region. 

Retail electricity prices tend to follow trends in natural gas prices. Gas prices, however, are significantly more volatile than electricity prices. For example, when we see gas prices fluctuate by as much as 70% in a single month, corresponding electricity prices will generally move in the same direction, but by only around 10%. The change in electricity prices will also typically lag behind gas prices by a couple of weeks.

In the financial sector, the “volatility index” of a stock, commodity, or asset is a statistical measure of the uncertainty or risk associated with rapid and/or dramatic changes in the security’s value or price. Over the past 12 months (Feb 2016 – Feb 2017) the volatility index for NYMEX natural gas futures was 5.7%, and 7.0% for Henry Hub spot prices. The volatility index for the national average benchmark price of retail electricity during this same timeframe was only 1.4%.

What does this mean? The use of gas prices in short-term forecasting often overestimates the extent of change in electricity prices. Gas prices are therefore a better indicator of longer-term electricity price trends than they are predictors of short-term price shifts. Rule of thumb, for a 10% shift in gas prices anticipate electricity prices will move in the same direction by only 2-3%.

Learn more about PMA and APPI Energy’s partnership here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PMA 75th Anniversary Interview with Bill Gaskin

PMA President, Bill Gaskin, shares his memories and experiences as PMA celebrates our 75th anniversary.

Q: How long have you been at PMA?

A: I am closing in on 40 years. Jon Jenson, who was president of American Metal Stamping Association (AMSA) from December 1975 through August 2000, hired me in February 1977 with an official “start date” of March 1, 1977.  (See below for more on this) 

Q: What is your current role? Have you held any other positions at PMA previously?

A: My current role includes being President of three separate, but related entities:

(1) Precision Metalforming Association, which is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit trade association

(2) PMA Educational Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charitable organization supporting training and education·      

(3) PMA Services, Inc., a for-profit company (owned equally by PMA and PMAEF) engaged primarily in publishing and management of other associations, such as Women in Manufacturing (WiM). 

My first job title was Staff Representative; then succeeding ones: District & Government Relations Coordinator, Government Relations Manager, Vice President, Executive Vice President, and in 2000, President.  (The next one is likely to be President Emeritus.)

Q: What is the best part of working at PMA?

A: The people I work for and the people I work with. One of the great things about PMA and many similar trade associations and/or professional societies, is that you can make a significant and positive impact on an entire industry (or profession) and help it succeed.  In turn, this affects our larger economy and overall success of our country. The volunteer leadership of PMA is comprised of motivated, hardworking individuals who are very busy in their own companies, yet they take time to work on PMA, to help us be successful as an organization and an overall industry. In turn, my fellow PMA employees invest their time and energy to provide information, services and benefits that help our member companies succeed. It is this synergy of dedicated members and a dedicated team of co-workers that has allowed us to help the metalforming industry be stronger, more innovative and more successful.

Q: What was the first PMA event/meeting that you worked on? 

A: A meeting of the Government Affairs Committee, in Washington, D.C. My first unofficial day on the job (I was actually a volunteer that day) was Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1977, two weeks before my actual start-date as an employee. During my final interview, Jon asked if I could take two days of vacation from the job I was leaving to participate in an AMSA Government Relations Committee meeting being held in Washington, D.C.  It was a very useful meeting, because I had a chance to meet about a dozen active members, who believed strongly in the importance of “telling the industry story” to our elected representatives and employees of government agencies. I also started to learn about some serious industry issues caused when the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), which had been established just six years earlier, had taken voluntary industry safety standards, and overnight made them the “law of the land.” The metal stamping industry was really struggling to comply with these new requirements, and AMSA was indeed the “voice” of the industry then, as PMA is today. 

As a side note, that trip to Washington, D.C. was the first time I was ever on an airplane.

Q: What PMA event is your favorite? 

A: Forming Our Future, which we used to call the “Annual Meeting.” It is a multi-day event in a very nice location, with great speakers, small group meetings, larger assembly sessions and plenty of opportunities for participants to meet new people, share-interesting ideas, learn new things, and take some time to relax and have some fun. While the locations, hotels and speakers are amazing, the people from our member companies are what really make the event worth every minute. 

Q: What is your favorite PMA memory? 

A: Being among a group of PMA members who spent their personal time and company money to travel to Washington, D.C. to help end the 201 Steel Tariff, that very negatively impacted steel consumers with an overnight 36% duty applied to all imports of flat rolled metals.  Jim McGregor from Morgal Machine Tool, at his company’s expense, loaded an operational metal stamping line (uncoiler, feed, stamping press complete with tool and a parts bin) on a flatbed truck, then parked it outside the U.S. Capitol Building. This was part of a press event to bring attention to the harm caused to steel-consuming companies while steel-producing companies were being protected from low-priced Chinese steel imports by a tariff that artificially raised the price they received for their steel. Our large group of members in D.C., some of them standing on the truck, held their “stop the tariff” signs, to help make the point to Congress that while steel producers were benefiting from the tariff, steel consumers were being impacted negatively.

An economic study we commissioned determined that 71 steel-consuming industry jobs would be lost for each steel-producing job saved. PMA and our allies were successful in ending the steel tariff 20 months early, likely saving tens of thousands of jobs in our industry.

Q: What makes you proud to work at PMA?

A: A combination of things: 

(1) Our employees and their remarkable dedication to the association, our members and the metalforming industry, which motivates them to perform outstanding and challenging work to provide leadership, important and useful information, personal service, outstanding products, publications, and events to our members and the entire metalforming industry. 

(2) Our members and their willingness to volunteer their time and company resources to collaborate with others, engaging through PMA to improve the metalforming industry, including learning from each other, and working with government officials and other associations to help the industry and our economy grow stronger.

(3) The resources we sometimes take for granted, such as our debt-free office facility, built in 1998, in Independence, OH, and our relationships with other associations, our suppliers and partners who make us better and help us strive to achieve our mission:  To shape the environment of the metalforming industry, leading innovative member companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability.

Q: What does PMA mean to you?

A: To me, PMA has meant having an opportunity to make a difference to our member companies and their employees, and to PMA’s team. I really believe that organizations such as PMA make a huge difference within an industry, and in turn contribute to the success of the overall U.S. economy, thereby enhancing our lifestyle, freedoms and long-term success. PMA means the opportunity to help an industry, which is essential to our daily well-being, succeed and serve their customers, and thereby contribute to the past, present and future of our families, communities and country. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

New Technologies to Address Die-Shop Challenges

Guest Blogger: Pat Saul
General Manager, RPS Quality Solutions Inc

Today the Die Industry faces multiple challenges. Die shops encounter high demands in both cost and time and must deal with continuously shifting technologies.  

New Materials, Drastic Designs and Late Form Changes, combined with Aggressive Prototype and Quotation Timelines -- all of these create significant issues for Sheet Metal Die Design and Development which are always on the critical path of automotive vehicle programs. Die Suppliers often contend with pressure to deliver Die Designs and Builds to very tightly compressed timelines. 

There are frequently delays in receiving quote packages and product data from the customer, while required delivery dates do not change, which results in reduced turnaround times. Die Suppliers have had to find creative and effective ways to adjust and be successful delivering on time quality dies that produce quality parts. 

Pat Saul, General Manager of RPS Quality Solutions, will illustrate some of the latest technologies that help overcome these challenges at PMA’s Metal Stamping Technology and Tool & Die Conference on December 6 -7, 2016 in Chicago, IL. 

Pat’s presentation will highlight the benefits and savings to be found with the use of cutting edge Morphing Software Solutions and Blue-Light Scanning Technologies -- and the further benefits and synergies realized by Combining and Integrating these two technologies

Their presentation will showcase utilization and applications revolving around the experience and expertise of two leading technology & process developers:

1. Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence 
2. Rise-ES.

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (HMI) is a leading metrology and manufacturing solution specialist.  HMI’s expertise in Sensing, Thinking and Acting – the Collection, Analysis and Active Use of measurement data – enables customers to increase production speed and accelerate productivity while enhancing product quality.  In our presentation, Hexagon will describe the best known scanning techniques in order to optimize the die try out process and reduce the number of quality loops during the die tryout phase. 

Rise-ES was founded with the vision to develop Engineering Applications that are practical, effective, and easy to integrate into existing processes -- while at the same time improving those processes and the quality and speedy delivery of the process outputs. 

For the Die Industry, Rise-ES provides Omni Transformer -- software based on the Omnicad system for morphing product or manufacturing geometry based on inputs of analysis software tools or scans of actual physical properties. 

As Die Design Shops have successfully adopted simulation tools (such as Autoform, Dynaform, Pamstamp, etc.)  to predict springback, areas of cracking/thinning etc., and also to provide customer feedback for product concessions, these shops have been able to realize improved die and stamped part outputs. 

During the upfront design phase Tool & Die shops can use these simulation/analysis tools in conjunction with OmniTransformer Morphing Software to generate tight simulation loops and to run various “what-if” scenarios, to determine the optimum die face that will produce a stamped part that should mostly closely match the dimensional characteristics of the product design -- and thereby reduce the physical die tryout and tune-in time. 
In this scenario, the outputs of the simulation tools are the inputs for OmniTransformer. 

In addition to creating compensated surfaces based on Simulations, die shops also Combine OmniTransformer with Blue Light Scanning during the physical die tryout phase to rapidly generate CAM cutter paths to modify the die face to address any remaining dimensional deviations. In this scenario, the outputs of the Blue Light Scans are the inputs to the OmniTransformer Morphing Software. 

Pat’s presentation will emphasize these three different areas for the successful implementation of the latest set of technologies:

1) Morphing during Die Design Phase
2) Blue Light Scanning of physical properties once produced
3) Morphing and final refinement of dies based on scans of physical parts produced during tryout 

Hear more from Pat at PMA's Metal Stamping Technology and Tool & Die Conference, December 6-7, 2016 in Chicago, IL.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Quantifying Lubricant Thickness Accurately

Guest Blog: Mike Justice
President, UPA Technology

Forming good parts is a demanding and difficult task, mainly because of the many variables that can interrupt the process. Stamping problems can be due to several areas including problems with dies, substrates, press issues as well as incorrect amounts of lubricant. Quickly evaluating and eliminating the possible causes of stamping problems speeds up correction at the press where downtime often is measured by minutes/month.

Quantifying lubricant thickness quickly and accurately can determine or eliminate whether lubricant issues are the cause of forming issues. But, measuring lubricant thickness has not been easy and has been the cause of much discussion and dissension.  

Stampers, processors and mills are routinely tasked with accurately measuring oil-films ranging between 7-120 Milligrams per square foot (mg/ft2) in order to meet specification for making good parts.  As a thickness instead of a weight, this equates to only 2 - 40 millionths of an inch! Making things even more challenging is that measurements have to be made instantly, portably, on a number of different substrates, and the inspection equipment must be easy to operate with virtually no training. In reality, this is but one of the many difficult challenges facing the stamping industry, metals mills and coil processors.    
Lubricant thickness has been determined for many years from weighing a sample, cleaning off the lubricant and then re-weighing (weigh/strip /weigh). The average thickness of lubricant can then be calculated from those numbers. Mills and automotive plants have used this method because of the availability of extremely accurate scales/balances, but the weigh/strip/weigh method is not without issues. The weight difference between coated and uncoated samples can be less than .008 grams. Adding all of the uncertainties resulting from imperfect sample size, scale error, uneven lube distribution and improper handling normally reduces the accuracy to below acceptable limits. Plus, the weigh/strip/weigh method is destructive, slow and untraceable to any national standard.

Fortunately, advancements in electronics technology are occurring rapidly and many promising new technologies have been introduced. This is good news and just in time for measuring at the tightened lubricant-thickness specification requirements that have increasingly become difficult to confirm and control.

New measurement devices are primarily using infra-red, beta backscatter or ultra-violet principles for oil-film measurement. Each of these new technologies have their strengths and weaknesses, so choosing the best one will depend on any number of factors, depending on the specific conditions.  Choosing the wrong method can be an expensive mistake, so doing some homework beforehand is worth the effort. Gone are the days when companies can say “I will use this method—because my customer uses it.”  Having both companies using an incorrect method

doesn’t help anyone, so the best choice of instrumentation should be based on facts and careful evaluation.

Hear more from Mike at PMA's Metal Stamping Technology and Tool & Die Conference, December 6-7, 2016 in Chicago, IL.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Automotive Tooling Industry: Where To From Here?

Guest Blog: Laurie Harbour
President and CEO, Harbour Results, Inc. 

In 2016 the U.S. manufacturing industry was relatively stable with overall production slightly up from previous years. Specifically, the automotive tool and die industry was predicted to be busy with forecasted tooling spend on the rise. However, taking a closer look, the year proved to be a bit more challenging. Data collected through the Harbour Results’ Harbour IQ pulse survey (a business intelligence tool for performance, financial, operational, trend and market data), which was completed by more than 100 tool shops globally in the second quarter of 2016, has shown that capacity reached a low of 81 percent among die shops in late 2015 and early 2016, but was expected to rebound to 78 and 86 percent respectively by year end.

So what caused the slow down?
  1. Program delays—on average, just over 20 percent of vehicle launches were delayed in 2015 and 2016. 
  2. Work on hold—in early 2016, 18 percent of all work that had been awarded was on hold for reasons outside the tooling shops.
Looking forward, the U.S. automotive industry is predicted to maintain vehicle sales at or near 17.4 million units in 2017. However, for the tool and die industry it is important to note the industry is expected to source tooling to support 70 new vehicle launches, which is more than any other year between 2014-2022. Tooling spend for 2017 is expected to be $13.7 billion while 2018 is expected to be $10.7 billion.

Delivering Operational Excellence
Today, tool and die making is no longer an art, but a manufacturing process. Yes, it is true that each die is unique, but the process to build it should be standard and repeatable. A shop owner’s goal should be to reduce all unnecessary activity and the key to that is collecting and analyzing the right data. Easier said than done, we know.

The best die shops are investing in technology to help them better understand what is happening on the shop floor. Tools such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and machine monitoring systems can assist in gathering data points and tracking key trends over time (utilization and efficiency) to help better make informed decisions impacting the shop.

Harbour Results has coined the phrase—Operational Holy Grail—which has three key functions that are critical for effectively aligning a business:
  1. Resource Monitoring
  2. Capacity and Demand Planning
  3. Production Scheduling
Staying focused on these three areas, and collecting and analyzing the data and information throughout the shop, owners will be better equipped to make decisions and constantly adjust to drive improved efficiency and reduce lead time.

2017 and Beyond
To be successful in the automotive industry, tool and die shops must look for opportunities to create a competitive advantage. With that in mind, the following are three key areas of focus (beyond operational excellence) that should be a priority for shop owners.
  1. Understand your customer—Who are they? What’s going on in their industry? What is their product plan? What is available to my shop in the market? Gathering customer and market data gives you a leg up on the competition. It will help you develop a solid sales strategy and pursue profitable business for your company. 
  2. Focus on your niche—What is your why? If you can focus in on why customers should do business with you and what makes you unique, it will create a barrier so that other shops can’t infringe on your business. 
  3. Invest smartly—Invest with a purpose; to improve your agility, grow in other regions, create a sales process or strengthen your aging workforce. Understand what your company’s pain points are and look to invest to make improvements. 
Hear more from Laurie at PMA’s Metal Stamping Technology and Tool & Die Conference, December 6-7, 2016 in Chicago, IL. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Quick Look at Dry-Film Lubricant

A Metal Processor's Best Friend

Guest Blogger: Mike Tieri
Director of Sales & Marketing, Chemcoaters

Scrap…What a problem! Are you having trouble with higher scrap loss than you can understand or more importantly tolerate? It could be the metal but perhaps it’s a problem in the processing itself. Have you looked at dry-film lubricants (DFLs)? If it’s been a while, you should look again. Largely used by the automotive and appliance industries, you surely know that if it didn’t provide a tremendous benefit, they would never add that cost into the process. When I asked why, I was shown all of the benefits it provided.

CASE: One company monitored costs of using oil against DFL. One item evaluated was worker gloves. They said that bringing material in with oil showed that workers wore 5.6 pairs of gloves per week. By going to DFL, the workers’ gloves didn’t get saturated and usage was dropped to 2.4 pairs of gloves per week. It might not seem to matter much but on 1800 workers the cost savings paid for the DFL! WOW!

It provides much better coefficient-of-friction numbers usually between 0.04 and 0.09, much better than any wet lube or oil. So, regardless of how the metal is drawn or shaped, there is a barrier between the metal and the tooling. This reduces the metal shavings mixing with tool shavings and oil. In the end, there is less sludge build-up in the die. This creates a greater amount of time and parts between die cleanings, less scrap due to galling and/or cracking and less down-time on the machine.

CASE: One company used so much oil, they applied it with a mop so much in fact that the robots used to move the sheets were unable to pick up the metal. Production dropped off drastically because they had to use four men instead of two robots. Oil was being splashed all over the area and then tracked through the plant by foot or forklift traffic. Build-up in the die was so quick that they could not meet the demand for the parts. By going to DFL, the robots were put back in place, production time greatly increased and they had a much cleaner, safer work environment.

Dry-film lubricants provide more warehouse protection against corrosion and will not oxidize on the surface of the metal. If you were welding, the DFL reduces the spatter from sticking to the metal. It’s a non-hazardous product that can be left on or removed with an alkaline cleaner; it can even be tinted for visual detection.

CASE: One company used so much oil to make its parts that they had to use a very hot wash system to clean the parts. The time it took created a bottleneck in the production process that created tremendous delivery issues. The other problem was that the water solvent was so hot that it burned the oil and created a sort of tar on some of the parts. By going to DFL, they could process easier and faster, increased throughput, eliminated the bottleneck and reduced scrap. They are now moving to convert all jobs in the plant to DFL and remove the wash system.

In closing, if you were going to open a hamburger restaurant, you might want to open right next to McDonalds. They have done all the work to evaluate whether they should be there or not. No one will eat at the same place every day. Take advantage of the R&D that they have done, the same way you can be assured that the process-improvement teams at auto and appliance companies have done their homework. You can benefit from that. Give it a look and see where dry-film lubricants can work for you. 

Hear more from Mike at PMA’s Metal Stamping Technology and Tool & Die Conference, December 6-7, 2016 in Chicago, IL. 

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