With 82 companies responding, the PMPA Business Trends Index for July 2017 plummeted dramatically from June’s near record 135 to the lowest reading all year of 112. The sky is not falling however, as the July 112 value is down just 3 points from July’s five-year average of 115- and up 4 points from July 2016.

Sky is not falling- July’s 112 value is down just 3 points from July’s 5 year average of 115. And up 4 points from last July’s report!

Sentiment was level for Employment and strongly positive for Net Sales, Lead Time, and Profitability for the next three months. Despite the slope of the line on our graph, we remain optimistic for precision machining.

Overall Equipment Efficiency

“What are you going to work on in your shop today?”

Busy machines and production lines are good, but even better are busy machines and production lines that are making the right product- and the product right. This is one perspective on OEE- Overall Equipment Efficiency.
What is OEE?
Availability, Performance, and Quality. As a percentage of your equipment’s ideal values, each of these factors plays a role in determining your shop’s OEE. When I looked at OEE for my plant, I found that we were definitely not getting the productivity that our equipment was capable of achieving.  Here are three equations to help you determine your OEE:
Availability in my shop had two components: Running time (time the machines were actually producing product) and Scheduled Time. Availability (A) is the ratio of Running Time to Scheduled Time.


Compare this availability factor to total operating time, and identify the differences- idle time due to operator coffee, smoke, and meal breaks; Setups and changeovers; Breakdowns and mechanical issues; Delays waiting for first piece approval, gaging setups, or crane availability. Once these are identified, prioritize them for improvement. (Some practitioners simplify this to Scheduled time divided by the product of 365 days times 24 hours per day; while this is strictly speaking correct, it typically does not reflect the real world utilization for small contract manufacturing shops like ours.)

Break times affect Availability

Performance is the ratio of the time the machine is actually running and the theoretical time. The difference between theoretical and actual is the time lost due to tool changes, raking out chip bird’s nests, emptying the chips, loading new barstock, or slowing the machine down due to perceived technical issues. Performance is the ratio of Output Achieved divided by the Theoretical Output (TO).


This is often a factor that is more often identified when comparing two shifts or operators on the same process. Also can be affected by changes in tooling or methods from the initial quote. (Sometimes it is easier to figure this using parts produced  (OA) versus Theoretical parts produced using the quoted cycle time (TO))

Process performance affects output…and actual uptime.

Production foremen might think that machining is about making the production numbers, but shops that remain in business know that it is making  parts with the quality needed that keeps the parts shipped and the invoices paid. Quality was simply the ratio of Good Parts (GP) divided by the Total Parts (TP) produced.


These are also a factor in your shop’s OEE.

Overall Equipment Efficiency
OEE is now determined by multiplying A, our availability term; P, our productivity term; and Q, our quality term. What if you are at 90% for each of these terms?

OEE= 0.90 X 0.90 X 0.90 = 0.729 or 73%

What does a 1% improvement in each of these do for you?

 OEE= 0.91 X 0.91 X 0.91 = .754 or 75.4 %

What does 100% Quality (Zero defects) get you with the other two factors at 0.90?

OEE= 0.90 X 0.90 X 1.00 = 0.81 or 81%

So what are you going to work on today in your shop?
Accountant photo: accountant.
Break photo courtesy Wikipedia commons
Reject tag photo courtesy Linton Labels


I’ll admit it, I’ve been a bit of a curmudgeon regarding Additive Technology in manufacturing. While everyone in the trade press seems to be gushing breathlessly about additive technology like a bunch of tweens waiting for their first One Direction concert, I’ve stayed away.
I’ve stayed away, because until now, most things that I saw were mere novelty applications. Distractions, or lets face it, quite impractical. Who needs a 3-d printed plastic wrench?
A very nice project but not really a useable tool in most situations.

What have been some of my objections?

  • No  practical mechanical properties. Or else requiring a very expensive thermal treatment to develop mechanical properties that are still below those of traditionally wrought products.
  • Low density. Or higher density achieved by absorbing a molten metal at high temperatures like a wick.
  • Cycle time. building a part a thousandth of an inch or so per pass takes a long time. Even watching the laser pulses  as it builds up features, layer by layer gets old after a few passes.
  • Tolerances. Newer technologies are getting more precise, but  the tolerances  claimed haven’t exactly been  “hold my beer watch this!” impressive.

So what has changed my thinking about Additive in our Subtractive precision machining world?
NanoSteel BLDR Metal for Powderjet Fusion

  • Mechanical properties objection- With case-hardening steel powder that provides high hardness and ductility (case hardness >70HRC, 10%+ core elongation)  that objection is gone.
  • Low density objection- If it is dense enough to perform as roll threading dies, that objection is also moot.
  • Cycle time. Well, the video doesn’t say how long it took to fabricate these thread roll dies, but my guess is it probably took less time than the time to find, purchase, ship and deliver the tool steel needed to fabricate new ones by traditional machining methods.
  • Tolerances. Now, they don’t share the tolerances achieved in this video, but it seems pretty clear that their claim of making tooling capable of fabricating the bolt shown is credible.

So there you have it.  A credible role for Additive in our Subtractive precision machining shops.
I’m impressed. So impressed, I wrote this post.
Now where do I find tickets for One Direction???
Excitement Photo     Courtesy Mama Bird Diaries.
Instructables Plastic Wrench 3-d Printing

 “The July PMI® registered 56.3 percent, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points from the June reading of 57.8 percent.”- Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee:

Manufacturing grew somewhat less in July than in the prior month.

Indexes for Inventories and Prices increased, while indexes for New Orders, Production, Employment and Supplier Deliveries decreased somewhat.  Manufacturing industries that we serve or are a part of, including Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;  Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Computer & Electronic Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Primary Metals; and Transportation Equipment all reported growth in July.
PMPA’s Business Trends Report has been positive about prospects for manufacturing all year, and this ISM PMI report supports that thinking. June 2017 PMPA Business Trends
Link to ISM PMI release 
Link to Calculated Risk Blog 

Published August 2017

By PMPA Staff

After forming ZPS America in 2008, the company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is the only remaining multi-spindle screw machine manufacturer that produces both newly designed CAM and CNC multi-spindle machines in mass production.