Why is this Here?

Will I use it this minute?

Will I use it this hour?

Will I use it this shift?

Will I use it today?

Why is this here?

Because I am using it.
Because I am using it.

This best practice photo of a shop operating on this principle was taken at Paul Horn GmbH.

Horn USA is  a PMPA technical member.

If I visited your shop what would I see?

More importantly, what would a customer or job applicant see, and what would it tell them?


PMPA has a history of providing relevant industry training programs at the local regional and national level.

Training for competitiveness and love of the craft
Training for competitiveness and love of the craft

Now, PMPA is providing a means to capture the value of that training for both attendees and employers through Continuing Education Units.

PMPA is pleased to offer the CEU program as a means to recognize and document your employees’ achievements and your investment in their training and career development.

Earning CEU’s will provide employees documentation and credentialing that recognizes their training and professional development throughout their careers in the industry.

The CEU program will help your company track your investment in employee training. The program will provide a means to assist your HR staff in documenting employee training as required for various quality standards and certification programs.

You can find out more about PMPA’s new CEU program HERE and at CEU FAQ.

“If you have a flat tire on a car, you fix the tire, you don’t look at the tire balance, vibration of the motor, or the paint job…”

Thoughtful follow up to our post on Vibration, Harmonics and Chatter   from William R. Shaffer,  VP at Conicity Technologies.

Conicity provides specialized edge prep solutions for our industry.

Here’s what Bill had to say:

So should I look at the engine mounts, the shocks and struts, the paint job, or should I just fix the tire?
So should I look at the engine mounts, the shocks and struts, the paint job, or should I just fix the tire?

“Perhaps there is some chatter that is a function of machine harmonics, but I have not seen that as of yet. My feeling is that the machines are designed and built with the high level of technology, much higher than the technology that is associated with the design of the cutting tool.

“Cutting tools used to drive the machine tool industry to higher levels of capability because the capability of the tool always exceeded the machine.  Spindle speeds and rigidity often lagged tool designs and machine tools were not able to take full advantage of tool capability.   That was then. Not today.

“Bottom line, machines have surpassed the tool capability and tools really have not made and significant breakthroughs to push the machine building community.

“I deal with chatter on a daily basis for our customers.

“We have successfully cured severe levels of chatter in metalcutting by addressing the micro-geometry of the cutting tool.

“At the end of the day, vibration starts at the tool because perhaps the tool geometry being suspect, friction, perhaps feed rates combined with tool design, but it starts with the tool.

“If the machine hums and vibrates when it not running a workpiece, then you do have a problem.   If you have a flat tire on a car, you fix the tire, you don’t look at the  tire balance, vibration of the motor, or the paint job…

“So the question I would like to explore is “what do the people that make the machine tools feel about their machines having inherent vibration and harmonics that create issues in machining?”

“What do the folks who make the machines have to say about this?

“Is the picture that many may have in their minds that “the machine has it’s own set of harmonics, so does the material that is being processed, perhaps even the tool,” valid, or not?”

Your comments please…

June 2013  |  Craftsman’s Cribsheet #10

Brainstorming sessions are very ineffective in their use of time. Assembling a number of people, letting
them speak (produce) only one at a time, and the pressure to not offend others and avoid organizational taboos reduce the effectiveness of small group brainstorming.

Powerhouse Brainstorming is a method that unleashes the power of all attendees in a short amount of time, and produces output that can then be immediately analyzed by the group.





How we manage our time is a great way to evaluate our success as managers.

How do you utilize your time?


Is the majority of your time spent putting out fires?

Dealing with unanticipated urgent issues?

Or do you spend most of your time planning, preparing, anticipating or otherwise shaping outcomes?

My rule has always been that Anticipation is the true mark of a great manager.

I am proud of my ability to deal with sudden “urgencies.”

But I believe that a manager’s highest value is having prepared in such a way that those sudden urgencies never arrive.


Find A Job Friday.

We live in a world filled with mixed messages.

The FED says “…economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace.  Labor market conditions have shown further improvement in recent months, on balance, but the unemployment rate remains elevated. “

This is what the FED calls Labor Market Improvement.
This is what the FED calls Labor Market Improvement.

Parents and guidance counselors tell us that college is THE WAY to  well paid career, and yet recent college graduates have almost double the unemployment rate of the general population.

These rates are nothing to brag about.
These rates are nothing to brag about.

And student loans to repay.

This can't possibly end well...
This can’t possibly end well…

Nobody wants to work in a skilled trade any more

1000 High School students surveyed revealed their impressions of jobs in the skilled trades

  • 54 percent of young people believe there is a better future working in computers than working in skilled trades.
  • 37 percent of young people believe working in an office is more respected than working with your hands.
  • 25 percent of young people believe skilled trades jobs are old-fashioned.

Here are 4 reasons to find a job and a career in Precision Machining

  1. Executives at most PMPA member shops tell me their number 1 concern is finding skilled people to hire.
  2. If they found a candidate with the right skills, they would hire today, even if they didn’t have a current opening.
  3. Most Students at local community colleges’ machining programs have found jobs by the end of their first term, and by the time they graduate, all will have found a permanent placement according to students and instructors I have spoken with. This short video post shows the extent of jobs available and posted at Cleveland’s Tri- C Machining Class.
  4. Ninety-two percent of the respondents to PMPA’s monthly business trends survey for May 2013 are expecting prospects for employment to remain the same or improve.

We understand that there are a lot of confusing messages out there.

We know that the news makes it easy to  remain in the ranks of the hopelessly unemployed. After all , there are almost 3.1 unemployed workers for every job opening currently.

But we also know this, despite the graphs, and charts and opinions in the press, our industry is still looking for people with skills.

If you would like to get a job, start a career, and discover the joy of making safety critical parts that improve the safety and quality of life for everyone, you ought to consider a position in Precision Machining.

This link will help you find  training programs in your area that will give you what you need to start your career in advanced manufacturing.

Oh- and if you don’t believe me, how about the Chicago Sun-Times or Forbes

Unemployment Graph

Recent College Grads Graph

Crazy Student Loan Graph

Poll link

This post looks at the megatrend of Aging Society and its potential impacts on our precision machining businesses. It is based on a presentation I attended at HORN Technology Days.

Our future is determined more by societal demands than it is by our workforce and current capability.

External Fixation, Artificial Joints, Human Spare Parts...
External Fixation, Artificial Joints, Human Spare Parts…

Why Aging Society is my choice for most impactful megatrend for our industry

  • Annual worldwide growth trend of 5% increase in Medical Technology Developments is  2X -3X current GDP growth. (Economically compelling)
  • Who is against improving the quality of life of the people we love? (Emotionally compelling)
  • Growth in the sector of Endoprosthetics- Human Spare Parts. (Aging and active population makes this compelling)

Because of this megatrend, our industry can expect to see growing opportunities in the production of

  • Surgical tools and instruments
  • Human spare parts and hardware (Bone screws, implants (including dental), joints, and hardware)
  • More challenging materials to process – ceramics, titanium, magnesium, and composites.

What will the keys be to growing in participation in this field in the future?

  • Flexibility and speed of processes and capacity
  • Systems built on assuring quality
  • Taking advantage of  cost effective technologies to build in process assurance, and cost effective minimum waste provision of parts. 

Over the long run, our businesses seldom grow faster than GDP. Knowing that the impacts of our aging society will grow faster than GDP provides a roadmap for savvy managements to plot their course to use their companies to serve this growing market.

You can see the aging of society every day – at work, shopping, and even in our schools (universities).

What are you doing to meet the demands that this megatrend is creating for your precision machining business?

Horn is working on developing tooling technologies and processes to improve your capability and performance, improve cost effectiveness and innovate your production.

New technologies call for - new tooling technologies. Thread Whirling Head for Bone Screws.
New technologies call for – new tooling technologies. Thread Whirling Head for Bone Screws by HORN.

What are you doing to take advantage of this  growing 2X-3X  faster than GDP opportunity?

HornUSA- Tools for Medical Technology

It is not just demographics of our workforce that drives our industry. It is also the demands of society that provides us with the opportunity to innovate.

I was on a panel at IMTS last year on workforce issues.

I shared the following information regarding our workforce demographics in 2020 according to BLS

Major changes ahead for our shops.
Major changes ahead for our shops.

You can read my post here Skilled Workforce Demographics 2020

I was interested to see a presentation from Paul Horn GmbH. entitled Society- Driver of Technical Innovation at HORN Technology Days last week. Their approach was workforce agnostic- it was based on a look at the  demands from society, rather than focus on how industry will supply that demand.

My economics professor would be so proud.

in 2008-2009 we learned that it is Demand, and Not supply, that drives the economy.
in 2008-2009 we learned that it is Demand, and not Supply, that drives the economy.

So how does Horn see societal demand driving innovation in the precision machining space?

7 Megatrends to Impact our Industry

  • Mobility
  • Population Growth
  • Globalization
  • Communication
  • Health
  • Aging Society
  • Urbanization

Changes in each of these areas requires technical innovation in Production Technology, Materials, Processes, Electronics, and Software, to make new technologies economically adoptable “Just in Time.”

Pillars of technical innovation
Pillars of technical innovation

Interestingly, Precision Machining “owns” all five of the “columns” in this model as we grow into our future state.

Which of these  are your particular “sweet spot?” What is your plan to gain competence in the others?

Who would argue that we are not facing new challenges in production technology, materials, processes, or increased use of electronics and software to make tomorrow’s more challenging parts?

We will revisit some of these megatrends in coming blogs.

Do you have a process for identifying “over the horizon” issues that will affect your shop?

Which megatrends are opportunities more so than challenges for your shop and team?

Thanks to  PMPA Technical Member Horn USA for sharing the materials from Technology Days

OSHA is reminding compliance officers to check for adequate means of egress at all workplaces. This follows the recent disastrous fire and explosion that killed at least 119 workers on June 4, 2013, at a poultry processing plant in China.

Over 120 fatalities; Exits blocked.
Over 120 fatalities; Exits blocked.

The standard for exit routes is called   Fire Protection; Means of Egress; Hazardous Materials; 1910.33  you can find information at   Egress

OSHA has an “Emergency Exit Routes Fact Sheet” which provides information on employers’ responsibilities to ensure that their workers are able to exit the workplace quickly and safely.

OSHA Exit Fact Sheet

A memorandum sent to the agency’s regional administrators and state plan designees directs field inspectors, when conducting inspections, to be mindful of whether employers have provided and maintained adequate means of egress from work areas. This includes checking that an adequate number of exit routes are provided, that the exit routes are free and unobstructed, and that exit doors are not locked.

I advise using the fact sheet for supervisor’s weekly meeting and inspection, then for safety training crews on safe egress.

How would you escape?

China Rescue Photo

You can tell a lot about a shop by what you don’t see…

I had the privilege to attend Technology Days  at Paul Horn GmbH in Tubingen, Germany.

Horn USA is a PMPA Technical Member.

ADJ Sign IMG_0545

While we know this company as a supplier of tools to the precision machining industry, what many of us did not know is that over half of their revenues are for “specials-” custom engineered tools not carried in their general catalog.

So with over half their production classified as “specials” their shop faces many of the same demands as we do in our make to order shops.

Here are some views I saw in my 10 hours of shop touring;  what don’t you see here that you see in your shops?

(Click on the photos to see full size.)

ADJ Fisheye shop IMG_0438

OK, I’ll give you a more literal view.

ADJ Shop IMG_0435

What do you not see here, that you see in your own shop?

ADJ Grinder IMG_0684

Tool coating
Tool coating

ADJ Tools Jewels IMG_0677

Tools as Jewels…

In my extensive time on the shop floor I didn’t see any clutter, rags, materials or spills on the floor, dunnage, used inserts.

The difference between what we see in our shops and what we don’t see in this make to order shop is our opportunity to improve.

I saw best practices- at work!

Thanks to the team at Paul Horn GmbH for sharing a glimpse of what best practice in custom manufacturing can look like.