Guest post by John R. Wirtz of Pinpointe Marketing, LLC.JRW Pix

PMPA collaborates with Gardner Publications to produce Production Machining Magazine.

We contribute a half dozen pages of content each month, and our partners at Gardner do the rest.

The February issue had a wonderful tutorial about how not to get the contract. It was written by John R. Wirtz, a respected marketer in the industry.

Spoiler alertWe’re just giving you the bullet points, you’ll need to go to Production Machining’s posting of 10 Ways to Get the Contract to get the full details!

So why did you lose a major project to a competitor?

Hint- it probably wasn’t your price!

1. Do less talking and more listening.  

2. Use the tech review as a weapon of mass instruction.

 3. Don’t assume anything. 

4. There’s no such thing as a courtesy meeting.  

5. Act like you truly want the business.

6. Add value at every step of the process.

7. Show your bench strength.  

8. It rarely comes down to only price.

9. Make the most of your oral presentations.  

10. Be careful how you play the boss card.

John modestly suggests in his article in Production Machining that you should take these tips with a grain of salt.

I’d suggest acting on them immediately to improve your closing percentage.

Thanks to John R. Wirtz president of Pinpointe Marketing LLC. and Gardner Publications for the share.

Pinpointe Marketing, LLC, an Ohio-based sales and marketing firm specializing in the turned parts and engineered industrial products industries. He can be reached at 440-506-8963.

Wear of equipment in our industry is not on most people’s minds nor check books.

It didn’t look like this when we installed it…

There is no ROI on any of your shops’ equipment if your ablity to process chips is stopped because  your chip processing system is non-functional due to a foreseeable and preventable wear failure.

Here are 6  wear abatement strategies for the world of high abrasion, high impact, 60-G  force chip wringing and fluid recovery:

  • Make sure high wear surfaces are easily replaceable; liner, screen, top cover, discharge housing;
  • Make sure that abrasion resistant materials are properly specified for those parts subject to sliding friction;
  • Protect specific areas such as impact zones, liner, and vanes and key structural welds with hard facing;
  • Use Grade 1 screen material to maximize life of separation area;
  • Manganese steel is a choice for areas encountering both sliding and impact wear;
  • Nickel hardened castings can be used for critical transitions and joints in air discharge style equipment.

Just as we use specialized coatings to maximize output on our tools, selecting specialized materials for critical components in balance of plant equipment like chip processing equipment can assure durability and routine operation instead of creating another maintenance headache to add to the list.

For most of us, wear abatement strategies are limited to getting the right coatings on our tools and using the proper cutting oil. Yet we are vulnerable to wear failures in our balance of plant anciliaries such as chip wringers and processors.

In my steel cold finishing mill, I had shot blasters for removing scale from hot rolled bars. These shot blasters used 4140 Q&T hardened steel shot that literally ate the machines up from the inside out due to abrasive wear.

I remember increasing uptime and service life  in my blasters by strategically placing hardfacing and upgraded components, just as the Prab strategies discuss.

I hope you never lose a shift of production because of lack of attention to high wear applications somewhere critical in your shop…

Where else in our shops is abrasive and sliding wear a vulnerability?

Nanosteel (photocredit)

Wear Abatement Article – Production Machining

Prab Inc.

Zelinski: “Any product you pick up and touch, it’s not too many steps away from a machining process.”

Most of the parts in your car engine come from a CNC machine. Medical devices, your kitchen cabinets — CNC machine. Your computer case, your iPhone earbuds — well, no. But the mold that created them — CNC machine.

The growth of these machines represents the biggest change in manufacturing over the last 20 years. The people who run them are factory workers.

But they also have to be computer programmers. And they are in high demand.

Marketplace on  American Public Media /National Public Radio Closed with a story on the importance of CNC machining last night.

You can access the podcast and read the full transcript at NPR CNC STORY 

Bottom line : Skilled operators of CNC machine tools are in high demand.

High enough demand to make the national financial news on NPR.

Tip of the hat to Peter Zelinski at Modern Machine Shop magazine, for effectively describing and communicating the opportunity of CNC machine technology for our workforce.

Modern Machine Shop is the Flagship publication of Gardner Publications, who co-produce Production Machining Magazine with PMPA.

CNC Podcast

Photo credit Dustin Dwyer at MarketPlace

Is  there a swiss type machine in your future? How would you know?

Last year’s Top Shops Survey found that 24% of  the top tier (top 10%) of shops reporting in the survey reported Swiss technology in their shops. This compared to just 11% for the balance of shops reporting.  This is a trend that you probably ought to be following if you want to stay up to date on trends in precision machining.

Last year Modern Machine Shop launched its first annual Top Shops Survey. Almost 200 machining facilities took part in that benchmarking survey. The Top Shops Report of that survey’s results had a number of interesting shopfloor practices worth considering. The report also provided a number of operational and business metrics which can help a shop your shop stay competitive and become a better business.

Well worth a few minutes of your time.

The survey will be available until February 15th, so click the link to  go to Modern Machine Shop’s description of the survey which includes a link to the online survey site. TOP SHOP ARTICLE

Direct link to Survey.

PMPA co-publishes Production Machining Magazine in partnership with Gardner Publications in Cincinnatti Ohio. Production Machining focuses on our high precision, high mix, production industry.  Gardner’s flagship publication is Modern Machine Shop– which covers the broader contract machining industry.

The survey will only be posted for a short time, so now is the time to benchmark to your peers.

Good housekeeping enables many things in your shop- all good!


Let no one say "all was cleanliness here, until you came..."


I recall when a colleague was given a “battlefield promotion” from inside sales manager to plant manager at a steel plant that was closing. My colleague confided in me by saying, “I don’t know how to run a plant; I don’t know this; I don’t know that.”
My comment to her was simple: “I’ve been to your home. It is a clean and safe place. Think of the mill as your home. Does it meet your standards for safety? Does it meet your standards for housekeeping? If you don’t tolerate dirty laundry on the floor in your home, why would you let your crew put debris or rags on the floor of the shop — your home away from home?”
During the period of time that she was plant manager, her plant (despite the stress of imminent closing) had the top safety record, the top on-time performance record and the best crew attitude.
There was no uncertainty in her crew. They knew that she expected an orderly, free-from-trash, no-waste work environment (and lunchroom). That’s how she managed. Along with that came improved safety, attitude and performance. Those are not bad side effects from just focusing on one area.
Is housekeeping an area you choose to focus on in 2011?
And what do you expect as the side effects of your choice?
Original Article: Production Machining
Photo credit: Floating Branch Products

It feels like our industry just finished a  year long  work out at the gym.

Describes our last year pretty well.

Based on this, I’d say we have lost a lot of weakness as we cut waste and reduced capacity.
Now that we are out of the Gym, and back to a “new normal,” are we still managing like we were in the gym workout?
Or are we managing in light of the new business environment?
We  lost weight and built organizational muscle able to do more with less.
Now that we are out of the Gym, shouldn’t we be focused on rebuilding our business, and less on losing weight…
What do you think?
See our article in Production Machining  Our Year in the Gym
Photo credit

  1. Nitrogen strengthens ferrite.
  2. Nitrogen improves surface finish.
  3. Nitrogen improves production rates.
  4. Nitrogen can contribute to cracking during cold working.

Well 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

"Three out of four ain't bad"

Nitrogen is a chemical element that can contribute to improved surface finish, especially on side working tools. It does so by strengthening  the chip, resulting in a crisp separation from the workpiece. The bulk hardness of the material increases with increased Nitrogen as well.
Nitrogen is an important factor, especially in free machining steels. Like 1215 and 12L14.
As Nitrogen increases, so does hardness.

Nitrogen is higher in electric furnace melted steels than in steels produced in Basic Oxygen Furnaces.
The down side of higher Nitrogen is that it can result in cracking during cold work- operations such as staking, swaging or crimping.
Nitrogen is “implicitly” specified whenever purchasing chooses a  steel supplier. That supplier’s melt process is a major factor on determining the Nitrogen content that you get in the shop.
For a more complete discussion of the role of Nitrogen and how it can affect your precision machining operations, see our article  in Production Machining here.

Thanks to you she can enjoy this moment.

All of us have many reasons to be grateful. To be thankful. To consider ourselves blessed.
Here is a link to an article that I wrote for the PMPA pages in  Production Machining Magazine. The article will give you a sense of how our industry contributes to the joy and quality of every day life. I hope that you enjoy it. The photo above is what inspired my column.
Thank you for doing your best at whatever it is that you do that makes our world a better place for someone, somewhere.