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Showing posts from 2016

New Technologies to Address Die-Shop Challenges

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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 ill…

Quantifying Lubricant Thickness Accurately

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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 m…

Automotive Tooling Industry: Where To From Here?

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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?
Program delays—on average, just over 20 percent of vehicle launches were delayed in 2015 and 2016. Work on hold—in early 2016, 18 percent of all work that had been …

A Quick Look at Dry-Film Lubricant

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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 cos…

IIoT’s Cloud Computing in Manufacturing

With all the talk in the last year of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how to best prepare your company for these new innovative technologies, the major question on most manufacturers’ minds is, “But does it work and will it work for me?”

Plex’s 2016 State of Manufacturing Technology Report aimed to explain just that, with a focus on cloud computing and its effectiveness on the shopfloor.  Here are some of the most significant results from their survey of nearly 200 manufacturers who are using IIoT in some capacity.

Cloud computing increases the ability to manage fluctuating business needs.  With cloud computing, manufacturers are able to connect the plant floor with the C-Suite, giving everyone access to either identical versions or tailored versions of real-time data.

Of the respondents who use cloud technology,

98% reported that connectivity of machines, systems, suppliers, and clients delivers value to their business today64% found they were better equipped to handle cha…

2016 Elections: Congress Counts

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Election Day 2016 is not just about the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There are also races are happening across the country for seats in the House and Senate.  So what is at stake for the 115th Congress?

Control of the House and Senate is particularly valuable in this election year.  The next Congress may tackle tax reform, and many other issues critical to the manufacturing industry.

Here is the breakdown of our current Congress.  Going into Election Day 2016, Republicans have a majority in both the Senate and the House.
















Here is the latest data on how races are faring for these seats:























Current data seem to suggest that it is unlikely that the Democratic party will take back the House.  Still, there are about forty races that remain incredibly close. For the Senate, who takes control is still too close to call, but Democrats are within four or five seats of retaking control. In any event, a newfound Democratic majority would by no means be commanding sinc…

The Evolution of B2B Marketing and How it has Changed Sales

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In the past ten years or so, we have seen a shift in how B2B buying decisions happen, who the decision makers are in the process, and where these decision makers are getting their information.

Traditionally, marketing was always a linear path - people saw an ad, they were interested in the product, so they went to the store and bought it. What’s changed, is now customers are finding the information on their own. It is now the marketer’s job to pull that audience in by creating a personalized experience that resonates with the potential customers. The path to purchase is no longer linear - it is a collection of moments that influence a customer to purchase your product.

There’s no question that everyone is online these days, including B2B audiences. Buyers are more empowered than ever before: B2B buyers review an average of 10.4 sources on average for any buying situation. More costly or complex purchases require more research and content review. Customers are educated and informed, a…

The Most Unpredictable Election Ever: Results, Reactions and Next Steps

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As the dust begins to settle from the 2016 elections, PMA will host an exclusive members-only webinar on Thursday, November 10 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern to help make sense of it all, allowing you to hear "what's next?" directly from Washington insiders right after the election.

Your advocacy team in Washington, D.C. will review the election results, which races mattered most in Congress, which communications messaging worked the best and how the results affect manufacturing in America. Congress and the new Administration may tackle EPA, OSHA and NLRB regulations, take on tax reform and provide health care relief.

Don't miss your chance to hear it first, directly from Washington, on how the elections will impact your business and the year ahead.

To register for this webinar, visithttp://bit.ly/2eKViHd

Why metalforming? Why not!

If you are under 40 and have chosen a career in manufacturing, I am sure you have been asked the question – “Why?”  We know that manufacturing is an exciting industry full of opportunities for creativity, continually changing technology and a place where you can make a real impact.  However, it is not viewed as a glamourous job.  Everyone values high-tech jobs and thinks that Google and Apple are the only place to be.
Every gen-xer and millennial loves technology. What would we do without all of our gadgets.  You stamp, form and roll the parts and pieces for all of the creature comforts we take for granted.  When someone asks why you work in manufacturing, have them take out their cell phone.  In their hand they hold the connection to everything they find important.  It connects them to family and friends and serves as a diary, a scrapbook and a personal assistant.  Explain that you made that!  Or maybe you made or assembled parts to the truck that delivered it.  You may not be perso…

Bringing Training Local

Everyone is talking about a skilled workforce.  But why invest in training? Let me count the reasons!  Here are the top three:

Safety
– Ensuring that your staff is fully trained on the most up-to-date safety procedures is vital to reducing injuries.  When your staff operates safely, it protects both the employees and your company.
Productivity – Training keeps your business ahead of the curve.  When you invest in training your staff on the current trends in your industry, it keeps your business on the forefront of technology and keeps you competitive.
Retention – Study after study has proven that investing in your employees keeps them engaged and happy.  This will reduce turnover and make sure that you maintain a high-quality and highly skilled workforce. 
PMA districts are excellent, cost-effective resources for training.  They bring in local industry professionals and leading national experts to lead half- and full-day training seminars for everyone from the plant-floor operator to th…

What Do We Mean By Bench Strength?

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About Guest Blogger, Matt Roberts: Matt is an Associate at MelCap Partners, LLC, a middle market investment banking firm, where he focuses on M&A transactions. MelCap Partners helps companies in the following three areas: M&A advisory, capital raising (equity or debt), and other advisory work such as valuations or feasibility studies. Prior to MelCap, he spent several years in management consulting and accounting roles.



At MelCap Partners, we are a specialized investment banking firm that advises business owners in mergers and acquisition transactions. Over the next couple months, we would like to dive into some business issues that can have an impact on an M&A transaction. Below we’ll explore management bench strength, how it affects value, and things to consider before selling a business.

What Do We Mean By Bench Strength?

In an M&A transaction, especially in the lower middle market ($10—$250 million in sales), the strength of the management team will influence a buye…

Machine Learning is Revolutionizing Manufacturing

A common theme we have been discussing over the last few months is that every manufacturer, no matter the size, has the potential to integrate smart manufacturing tech into their shop floor and increase their competitive edge in the evolving market. New data is rapidly being released on just how much smart tech is revolutionizing our industry, and we want to keep you updated. Here are some of the new statistics that are currently exciting us:

Big changes for client management. One of the most significant transitions happening outside the shop floor is in the sales side of manufacturing. No longer will “relationship management” be a common term – instead, we are moving to “relationship intelligence.” The encouragement of this new technological capability is not to eliminate the sales team, however; groups like SalesforceIQ who are spearheading these initiatives simply want to create a way to strategize best tactics and keep customer priorities at the forefront.

Increased production capac…

The Pros and Cons of Local Sourcing

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Think globally, act locally. – Paul McCartney …except when to do so causes more harm than good. – Kelly Barner
As consumers of goods and services, we are constantly bombarded with feel good messages about the companies we buy from. Green production, sustainability, and local sourcing: it is easy to take for granted that these programs are in everyone’s best interests. After all, why wouldn’t we want the companies we patronize to keep the bigger picture in mind and take every opportunity to do a little bit of good in the process of making a profit?
Business to business operations have to take a different kind of approach to such initiatives as their immediate customers are usually more motivated by efficiency and innovation than socially-oriented programs. Procurement and purchasing professionals play a unique role in B2B local sourcing; we have to outline the pros and cons and help the rest of the company decide when these programs are advantageous for all parties involved and when the…

Millennials Need Manufacturing

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We know that manufacturing needs millennials, but recent research proves that millennials need manufacturing as well. 

This is not going to be another article about the skills gap in manufacturing.  We all know about the millions of open jobs and how the number is only going up with daily retirements.  But replaying these same dire predictions and hoping they will attract new workers is like putting an unpopular song on repeat and hoping people start to dance.

I have been working with the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and Women in Manufacturing (WiM) for more than a decade.  Over the years, I’ve seen many workforce development initiatives come and go.  Too often, they fail because the focus is on the industry and not on the worker.  That’s the wrong strategy.  We need to flip the paradigm and start from scratch.  We need to recruit millennials into manufacturing not just to help manufacturing, but to serve millennials as well.

Not just a cog, but a view of the whole wheel.

Mi…

Progressive Stamping Dies – A Brief History

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Prior to the discovery of metal, people used simple hand tools crafted from bone, rock and wood. After fire was discovered, humans soon learned that adding heat to certain rocks (ores) would free the metal from the rock. Eventually, the art of extracting and smelting metals and forming them into usable objects evolved. This practice is commonly referred to as metalworking.
Metalworkers were considered very valuable members of early societies. As more and more items and tools began to be made out of metals, more people were needed who were skilled in the craft of metalworking. Objects made out of metals were necessary for industry, farming, jewelry making and defense purposes. 
Old coins show that the art of die sinking - a process to create a specific size or shape cavity or opening for casting or forging - was known to the ancient Greeks at least back to 800 B.C. (ref: J.L Lewis, Journal of Commerce, 1897). But these artifacts do not show that the use of punches and dies was equally…

Outsourcing Metal Stamping Dies

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Many contract stamping manufacturers have the ability to build their own stamping dies onsite, in their own tool room. On occasion it may become necessary to buy tooling from an outside source. This is commonly referred to as outsourcing.

Outsourcing may be the required due to excessively high workloads in the tool room or short delivery requirements from the customer. For some companies, outsourcing may be part of an emerging or existing business strategy.  Sometimes, it is simply be a better economic choice.

When considering to outsource any tooling, either domestically or internationally, you should first conduct a “make-or-buy” study first. A high-quality make-or-buy study ought to include a thorough evaluation of the following:

Design and Engineering Capability: Does the project require you to have die designers and engineers on staff with varied experiences? Does the project require unique processes engineering skills that your company does not possess? Does your engineering dep…

The Skills Gap, Efficiency, and the Industrial Internet of Things

Did you know that 91% of Millennials plan to stay in a job for less than three years before moving on? Imagine your own business’s turnover rate if every new employee you hire will only be there for a maximum of three years. Add that to the baby boomer retirement rate of nearly 10,000 people leaving the workforce each day in the US, and that is a lot of holes to fill. Those are some intimidating stats!

All that considered, let’s think beyond the skills gap for a moment. How does this turnover rate favored by Millennials affect your business as an operation? We asked ourselves this question and the first thing that came to mind was: “inefficiency.”

When you consider the amount of work and time that goes into each new hire, from the hiring process itself to training to probationary periods and more, not only are resources constantly redirected from the shop floor to the training room, but the risk of error rises, too. How can you prevent the same mistakes from being made by each cycle o…

Collaborative Learning: What Is It and How Do We Use It?

We all know about the skills gap and our industry’s concerns for the future of manufacturing. According to research from Deloitte, nearly 3.5 million skilled jobs will need to be filled in the next decade, and the skills gap is predicted to result in over 2 million of those jobs remaining vacant. One of the many proposed adjustments is the integration of collaborative learning.

What is collaborative learning?

Whenever someone is learning a skill, process, or system outside of the typical instructor/trainee scenario, that is collaborative learning in its broadest sense. Hands-on experience, mentorships, online tutorials, message boards, and any other kind of interactive learning outside of a classroom lecture environment is considered collaborative.

Why is this model so important to manufacturing?

There are many reasons why collaborative learning is critical to the future of manufacturing. First, this type of engagement will allow the highly-skilled generation that will soon be retiring …

The Relationship Pendulum Swings between Procurement and Sales

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Traditionally speaking, procurement and sales have been ‘uneasy bedfellows.’ We each represent our organization through an important interaction that may or may not result in an ongoing relationship. Even if a deal is struck, there is likely to be a change in the point of contact on one or both sides. Procurement may hand off to budget holders within the business and sales may hand off to technical or account managers.

And yet, for the duration of the sourcing/sales/negotiation processes, procurement and sales bear the majority of the responsibility for exploring the potential benefit of helping their organizations work together on an ongoing basis.

Over time, the nature of these processes, and the relationships that result from them, have changed significantly. One of the most meaningful changes has been the perception of the relationship between procurement and sales. Unlike the curve we typically associate with maturity or evolution, the changes have come in the form of a pendulum…

The Future of Manufacturing and How to Be Ready, Part III

For the past few weeks, we’ve worked through the definition of smart manufacturing, its potential to radically change our industry, and common traits of manufacturers who are ready to adopt smarter systems. This week, we’ll discuss Larry Korak’s 5 steps for starting your expedition into the world of Industry 4.0.

As we said before, there is no conclusive checklist of tools that must be incorporated in order for one’s company to be considered a smart manufacturer. Some companies will need to deploy many forms of new tech while others will be able to use only two or three disruptive technologies to maintain a strong market position. With  that in mind, here are Korak’s suggested stepping stones to get involved in the world of smart manufacturing, however you choose to jump in:

Develop a basic strategy and set clear goals. Think about your business and what you want to achieve. Not only that, think about why you want to achieve those particular goals. Be specific and realistic so that the…

For More and More Millennials, an Apprenticeship is a Surer Thing Than a College Degree

If you had to choose between job-prep that costs thousands of dollars and could leave you with no clear career path or job-prep that pays you a wage to learn high-demand skills, which would you pick? When you put it that way, most people would opt for the latter, and data is showing that more and more millennials agree. As Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says, apprenticeships are “the other college, except without the debt.”

Apprenticeships are typically a combination of classroom instruction at a trade school or community college and hands-on instruction from mentors. Since apprentices earn a wage for their work  and tuition is typically covered by a grant or the employer, many young people are finding that this really is a better alternative to a college degree. Millennials who have finished their apprenticeships are even finding that their new skills are so marketable that the average starting salary is $50,000.

So what does this mean for the skills gap and the future of manufacturing…

The Future of Manufacturing and How to Be Ready, Part II

Last week, we defined smart manufacturing and discussed its potential to radically change our industry. It got us wondering: what exactly would a company that is ready to take on the 4th Industrial Revolution look like?

Lucky for us (and for you), an excellent article by Larry Korak was published in Industry Week recently that discussed just that. Here some highlights from his list:

Common Traits of “Future-Ready” Manufacturers
An innovative mindset. If your company already supports out-of-the-box thinking and    encourages team members to contribute, you are ready to try news systems that are agile and flexible, allowing for easier rearrangements to the status quo when someone spots a better way to meet a goal.A desire for up-to-date stats. With new tech, especially the Internet of Things, real-time data communicated between systems is becoming a reality on the shop floor, in the sales rooms, and more. If you already work with the most current data possible when making decisions, you …

The Future of Manufacturing and How to Be Ready

There are several names for the impending industrial revolution: Smart Manufacturing, Digital Enterprise, and Industry 4.0. No matter what you call it, it’s all about the rapidly-changing disruptive technologies that are already starting to churn up the waters of manufacturing.

The biggest signifier of the changes to come is the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT), meaning that the world of the virtual is colliding with the world of the physical. This has been predicted to increase efficiency and streamline the production process, but what does the data show?

According to the American Society for Quality’s recent study, the manufacturers surveyed who have begun to implement smart tech reported the following:

•82% found increased efficiency
•49% found lower product defects
•45% found customer satisfaction gains

It makes sense: mobile and social tech streamlined training and shop floor tracking, robotics and automation revolutionized productivity a…

Negotiating Smarter by Focusing on Cost, not Price

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Anyone with procurement or purchasing experience knows that price and cost are not the same thing. Price is what the buyer pays in return for goods and services and costs are the supplier’s direct and overhead costs to produce the good or service. The difference between the two numbers is the primary focus of most negotiations. Some of it is kept by the supplier as profit margin, and some of it is claimed by procurement as savings.

The best thing procurement can do in advance of a negotiation is to research and understand all of the relevant costs. This ensures that negotiations will be fact-based rather than instinct-driven – a focus that should create an advantage for procurement.

There are multiple ways that procurement should allow a detailed understanding of costs to influence their negotiating strategy. Doing so requires procurement to dig into the details of costs, categorizing them by type and determining how much control the suppliers have over each one.

Supplier Cost Advanta…