We caught up with Roscoe Wallace at PMTS  and got his take on Manufacturing from his perspective as an Aluminum supplier.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj_ROV9pQCU]

Positivity about

  • manufacturing,
  • productivity,
  • reshoring, 
  • manufacturing as a career.

Concerns about

  • material integrity from off shore
  • right skill sets for job openings  that their customers have  in advanced manufacturing.

Thanks to Roscoe for his positive news from the aluminum side of precision machining.

And thank you to Kaiser Aluminum.

Sometimes the best information that you can get about your machining process requires your sense of touch to feel the vibration.

In many shops, the definition of a problem is  “something that is not easily seen.”

Unwanted vibration in our machining processes can cause variation, unsatisfactory surface finish, and dimensional variability. Unwanted vibration is not easily seen.

A friend who plays fingerstyle guitar sent me a link to a video that got me to thinking about the role of vibration, harmonics, and chatter in our shop processes. The genius of the video is that it makes something not easily seen- easily seen!

Don't try this with your iPhone in your machines...
Don’t try this with your iPhone in your machines…

The video is convincing  that the sounds we hear are tied to a wave form on the string.

The sounds that we hear from our machining processes similarly are tied to a ‘harmonic’ or standing wave  vibration in the workpiece or in the tool and machine. Sometimes, this sound  is lost beneath the noise of other processes in the shop.

So when a machine operator complains about variation while machining, I ask him to lay his hands on a safe part of the machine and tell me what he feels.

If it is more like a Rock  Concert than a smooth constant vibration punctuated with noticeable jolts from the indexing, I suggest that rather than looking at material, we look at the machine itself and the rigidity of the tooling as the likely cause of the variation being experienced.

  • Mass in machines is used to attenuate this kind of unwanted vibration.
  • Wear in machines or any kind of looseness can decouple the tool from that mass, promoting vibration, and thus variation.

In the guitar photo and video, the displacement of the string appears to be far greater than we could imagine possible.

And it turns out that it is an illusion created by the sampling rate of the CMOS camera ‘shutter’ in the iPhone Camera.

Regardless, it serves us a great picture of the unseen and reminds us that in noisy shops, feeling a vibration on a machine may tell us more about the process than our control charts or reading of the tools.

Link to YouTube Video

The M-List is curated by the Manufacturing Institute to include those institutions that offer NAM endorsed metalworking skills training and certification.

PMPA partners with the Manufacturing Institute to promote the growth of credentialed metalworking professionals following the NAMEndorsed -NIMS Skills Credential Model.

The M-List recognizes high schools, community colleges, technical schools, and universities that are teaching manufacturing students to industry standards.  Specifically, these schools offer students the opportunity to earn NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certifications as a standard part of their manufacturing education programs.

The NAM-Endorsed Skills Certification System is a system of stackable credentials that can apply to all sectors in the manufacturing industry. These nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials validate the skills and competencies needed to be productive and successful in entry-level positions in any manufacturing environment.

Right Skills Now is an acceleration of the NAM Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certifications Program designed to fast track qualified candidates into a career in precision machining / advanced manufacturing.

See the M- List here.

If there is no M-List program in your area, don’t despair. PMPA has prepared a database of institutions that offer relevant skills training for precision machining (some of which offer the same NAM endorsed -NIMS Manufacturing Skills credentials here: PMPA Career Training Database

No ROI for college loans? Consider getting a skill that will assure you of a job- and a means to earn your way through college.
No ROI for college loans? Consider getting a skill that will assure you of a job- and a means to earn your way through college.

If you are one of the unhappy college graduates mentioned in Forbes- perhaps you should consider bringing your talents to work in our industry.

CNN Photo

You could ask this woodworker why they put guards on his machines.

Why exactly did you take off the guards?
A better question would be “Why,  exactly did you take off the guards?”

The hazards are real.

Respect the horsepower and sharp edges of our steel tools.

No one should get hurt  to make something. Not at work. Not in our shops at home.

Machine guards are there for our protection.

We are  the reason for the guards.


Good luck with the skin graft…

Karen Martin spoke at PMPA’s Management Update meeting earlier this year. Her presentation was based on her book, The Outstanding Organization

It turns out that  her book The Outstanding Organization won a 2013 Shingo Research Prize.

Shingo Prize worthy.
Shingo Prize worthy.

The book and its message are heavily pointed at achieving institutional clarity through reducing chaos.

That is a great takeaway, but was not the best one for me.

The One Lesson that I took from Karen’s presentation was that the Shewart Cycle- Plan- Do- Study- Adjust- is the authentic model for continuous improvement.

First proposed by Walter Shewart,  and edited, published, and improved by Deming,  the Shewart cycle  was recast by Japanese executives into PDCA- Plan-Do-Check-Act- and this is how many of us have learned it.

According to Karen Martin

  • In the 1980’s Deming felt that the model had been corrupted by translation difficulties.
  • Deming recommended replacing PDCA with PDSA- which he felt was closer to Shewart’s original intent.
  • “Deming continued to refer to the cycle  as PDSA and dubbed it the “Shewart cycle for learning and improvement.” (The Outstanding Organization, pp.128-129.)

So why am I a fan of Karen Martin’s PDSA reframing?

Certainly not because of this little bit of historico-semantic revisionism?

Actually, it is because unlike all of the other graphics that you can find on PDSA on google images, Karen Martin’s book  has depicted this cycle as Shewart and Deming have relayed it- a continuous, ongoing process of continuous feedback- ongoing process improvement.

It is not a wheel, PDSA is a continuous cycle of cycles!
It is not a wheel, PDSA is a continuous cycle of cycles!

This is the One Lesson I Learned from Karen Martin.

  • Ditch  the PDCA wheel visual-Embrace the continuous cycle of cycles model of PDSA.

Here is a whiteboard trailer for the book.

And, congratulations on the Shingo Research Prize.


Plastics Machining Manual

Copyright 2013
Compiled by plastics producers and processors. Includes machining data tables.   
53 pages (1967)
What is a Plastic? 
Index to Trade Names, Generic Names, and Common Usage
     Polyamides (Nylon)
     Fluorocarbons (Teflon)
     Acetals  (Delrin)
     Polyethylene – Polypropylene
     Polyvinylchlorides (PVC)
     Polystyrenes (Styrene)
Thermosetting Plastics
Things to Keep in Mind When Ordering Plastics
How to Identify Plastics
Storing and Handling

There is no reason that the vast majority of new manufacturing jobs have gone to men, but they have.

We need to turn this trend around. We need their talent too.
We need to turn this trend around. We need their talent too.

Why has womens’ representation in manufacturing dropped for two decades?

PMPA Vice President Darlene Miller testified before the Senate Joint Economic Committee last week on the topic of Women in Manufacturing.
As a shop owner, STEP Women in Manufacturing honoree, and member of the President’s Job Council, Darlene has some real world insight into the issue.

Here are her 4 Steps to Encourage Women in Manufacturing Careers

1)      It is absolutely essential that businesses engage with local community colleges to assure relevant skills sets are being taught;

2)      Equipment needs to be current, not old and outdated. We have high tech $400,000-$500,000  equipment per machine.

3)      We really need really excellent math and problem solving skills; we need to tell the Schools what those are.

4)      We need to get into middle schools to  engage female students at a younger age to potential careers.

Watch the testimony:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN3JQkE3gng&w=420&h=315]

Read the report:
Women in Manufacturing PDF

We recently caught up with Charles Ruecker of PMPA member company Core Powered to get his opinion on PMTS and the state of precision manufacturing.


Healthy and strong!

Team play. Synergy. Working together.

Thanks Charles.

Core Powered Inc.