Enjoying this mild winter…so is your bottom line!

Everyone knows that the weather can affect your mood but it can also have a serious impact on business.  The 2015-2016 winter season has been one of the warmest and mildest on record for the Northeast Region, and it’s expected to have a positive impact on local businesses.  Getting blasted with snow last winter forced many businesses to close, often for several days at a time.  This obviously resulted in a loss of revenue as businesses could not invoice for work that had not been completed.  However most companies resumed business when the weather cleared and were caught up fairly quickly.  For shops that were busy, and had a regular backlog of work, they were forced to pay employees overtime pay to get caught up on back jobs. In particular with a winter like last year that included multiple storms hitting and shutting down New England businesses again and again it can be impossible to get caught up without paying the high cost of overtime.  For most manufacturing companies the work is considered “fixed bid” meaning the customer is paying you for the work completed regardless of whether it takes a week or three weeks to get it turned around which leaves no room for added employee costs.  According to an NBC report the winter storms last year resulted in roughly $15 billion dollars in recoverable losses throughout the economy.

The effects of closing a business can be far-reaching.  Large companies with offices in multiple locations struggled to complete projects.  Progress would often get hung up waiting for someone who was out of the office in the northeast or other location.  Other companies who used job shops in the northeast grew frustrated with the delays in getting completed components and chose to move the work to shops in warmer weather climates to ensure an on time delivery.  All of this can significantly depress a local economy such as New England’s.  Studies have also shown that layoffs are more common in cold weather months, thus further increasing the benefits of this year’s more temperate winter season.

Shipping and rigging for new equipment can also become an issue.  When the weather prevents trucking companies from delivering new equipment, or limits the ability for it to be offloaded, it slows both production and new equipment manufacturing.  Many OEMs of large manufacturing equipment saw a slow down through last winter as new machines were not being purchased when customers were unsure when they could get them delivered or were too busy getting caught up on their backlog of work.  Certainly as these large OEMs slow down many of the smaller businesses that supply them with parts also feel the pain of the slow down.

There are some business sectors that don’t see the benefits of improved weather such as seasonal work as well as disaster recovery businesses.  For example construction companies were kept especially busy dealing with roofing repairs after many that collapsed last year and HVAC companies had an increase in work for heating needs.  However the majority of businesses have benefited from this more mild winter and should expect to see that in their quarterly numbers.

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Manufacturing Predictions for 2016

It’s critical for every business big or small to have a sense of where the market is going for the coming year.  Many different private and government organizations pull data from various sources to make these predictions.  From nearly every account money will be spent and growth is predicted in 2016.

According to the Manufacturing Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI Foundation) the predictions for 2016 include 3.4% growth in general manufacturing, 6.1% growth in computer and electronic products, and 3.3% growth in non-high-tech manufacturing.  This information was gathered from an assessment of 27 different industries in domestic manufacturing.

What’s fueling the growth?

The MAPI Foundation’s study found that there are several areas expected to drive this growth trend.  New housing for single family homes is expected to make a dramatic increase from the very low levels it’s been at recently which will result in growth for every part of that supply chain such as appliances, HVAC, construction equipment and many other areas.  Further the continued decline in gas prices is expected to further boost the domestic automotive industry as customers are more willing to purchase larger more expensive vehicles.  This will increase growth in suppliers for the big automotive companies as well as all of the parts suppliers.

Not all areas are expected to see growth though.  The drilling, mining, medical and public works sectors could see business decline or go flat for the coming year.  An assessment of the previous trends in government spending during an election year would set an expectation that military spending and other government areas will hold steady but not experience any significant growth.

According to manufacturing.net two areas of dramatic growth over the coming year will be 3D printing and automation.  The 3D printing industry is expected to climb to being over a $7 billion dollar industry in 2016.  More and more companies are seeing the value that the time savings and operational efficiencies of 3D printing can add.  As the capabilities of the 3D printer have continued to improve and the price point decline it’s becoming much more feasible for companies of all sizes to enter this space.  Many people assume the use of manufacturing robots and automation has hit its peak however that has proven to be completely untrue as this industry has grown over 50% in the past 5 years and is now expected to be more than a $5 billion dollar industry for 2016.  Even companies that have embraced the use of robots for years are continuing to spend money in this area with new developments in robotics technology allowing them to become even more efficient.  The “Internet of Things” concept of better integrating machinery and robotics with a corporation’s IT infrastructure is fueling this growth.  Being able to collect real time data from every machine about it’s up time, through put, maintenance cycles, material waste, backlog, and more is becoming a requirement for many OEM’s looking to manufacture as efficiently as possible.  All of this requires the purchase of new machinery and robotics systems.

A look towards the future shows a positive outlook with many areas of growth potentials in 2016 and several years to come.

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Benefits of Rotary Transfer Machines

A rotary transfer machine has multi-station functionality which leads to its main advantage, productivity. Each of the workstations is dedicated to a specific operation. They are capable of milling, drilling, and contouring a part. With this, by the time the part has moved around the entire table, it comes off completed.

This differs from traditional machining because it can simultaneously use 20 or more tools in the cut, making it an amazing multitasking machine tool. They are great for making parts with multiple features while also reducing cycle time and producing consistent quality in the finished part. Other obvious benefits include smaller carbon footprint, energy efficiency, reduced floor space, and ease of maintenance.

When it comes to these machines, BTB Transfer is the leader in the design and manufacture. Their multi-spindle rotary transfer machines provide users with high productivity and profitability. They handle simple to difficult parts in all materials.

Their wide range of CNC transfer machines are focused on high productivity amongst which:

  • CNC horizontal axis transfer up to 10 work stations and 25 work units
  • CNC vertical axis transfer up to 18 work stations and 48 work units
  • Bar turning transfer with built-in cutting unit
  • Multi-center transfer that uses up to 19 work centers and 52 tools with built-in tool change
  • Modular transfers 5 axis in various configurations with 90 tool changes and work area 450x450x600 mm for heavy machining

BTB Transfer machines include:

  • 2-way
  • 3-way
  • Multiple-way
  • Modular transfer
  • Transfer with bar load
  • Transfer with orbital units

Brooks Associates proudly offer their customers BTB Transfer machines as a Gosiger import. These machines are great for increasing productivity, quality, and energy efficiency while reducing a shop’s carbon footprint. Shops interested in investing in one of these machines can learn more about them by visiting the Brooks Associates website.

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Additive Manufacturing Predictions for 2016

When new technology arrives on the scene, people often marvel at the expanded capabilities. Beyond the initial amazement however, the actual application of the new technologies are often slower to take off. That’s what has happened with additive manufacturing. As additive manufacturing technology continues to advance and become more mainstream, here’s how it is expected to change the industry in 2016:

Standardization:

Traditional manufacturing processes are here to stay, but that isn’t to say additive manufacturing won’t be seen in more shops. Additive manufacturing could bring about standardization of the industry, so that it is only used for creating products that aren’t attainable using existing methods. Standardization, which some organizations are looking at, could help streamline processes for manufacturers using additive manufacturing.

Skills Shortage:

With more new technology coming into play, the skills gap and demand for workers will only increase. This means there needs to be even more focus on training and recruiting workers for the field, not only in traditional machining methods, but additive processes as well.

Publicity:

When additive manufacturing appears in the news, often it’s talking about 3D cars, houses and other large, luxury items. However, these are far-reaching possibilities that give the public a twisted perception of this process.

Innovation:

Technology drives innovation, so there’s sure to be new and improved projects being made with additive manufacturing. This could help to transform the industry in ways previously thought impossible.

When looking at primarily metal printing, here’s what is expected to happen:

Metal Additive Manufacturing Focus:

There’s a lot of growth in this area, which is anticipated to become a huge focus of 3D printing in 2016. It’s expected to continue rapidly growing in 2016, with many businesses not previously involved now jumping in.

Automotive Industry:

It’s believed that in 2016, major carmakers will invest in direct metal printing. While indirect metal printing could grow within the automotive industry, large amounts of metal automobile components aren’t likely to be printed this year.

Small Footprint 3D Printing Systems:

For the last two years there was increased revenue growth from large-format metal systems sales. However, in 2016, smaller footprint systems could be shifted into the spotlight. Not only being used for research application but also for small-scale manufacturing opportunities.

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What to Know About Aerospace Machining

When machine shops decide to break into a new industry, such as aerospace machining, to gain a new source of income, they’ll have to do some research before they can be successful. They’ll most likely need to buy new machining equipment as well. When looking at getting into the aerospace machining industry, here are some facts to remember:

There are different part families that are divided into three groups:

Structural Components

Usually machined from aircraft grade aluminum and titanium, this category includes wing components, spars, door assemblies, brackets and more.  Since they range in size, the machines used to build these parts need to have the right table sizes. 3-axis machines are the most common choice for component parts, but some require 4 or 5-axis machines. Horizontal machining centers are preferred by many in this field to minimize cutting time.

Non-Structural Components

This groups includes valves, landing gear, pumps, and more. When creating these parts, precision and quality control are required. This is due to the fact that they are involved with the reliability and control of the aircraft. Machines needed for these are 5-axis and Swiss-style lathes.

Engine Components

These components include all of the stationary and rotating pieces found in the turbine and reciprocating engines. Made from high temperature alloys, they are complex in shape. The machines required are both turning and milling. These parts can also range in size from a few inches to over 10 feet in diameter.

When deciding what type of machine to purchase for aerospace machining, most machine shops choose horizontal machining centers over vertical machining centers. This is because HMCs provide superior chip control, automatic pallet indexing and rotation as part of their basic design. While more expensive than their vertical counterparts, their productivity outweighs expense.

No matter which machine is used, machine shops should keep in mind a few features:

  • Spindle horsepower
  • Tool changing capacity
  • Chip conveyor
  • Spindle coolant
  • Flood coolant

With so many features to consider when purchasing a new CNC machine for aerospace manufacturing, it’s best to consult a professional. Brooks Associates has served the aerospace machining industry for over 80 years, making them experts on the right machines for the job. They’ll find the perfect machine, as well as offer training and service.

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Defining Advanced Manufacturing

While America is focusing on measuring advanced manufacturing, it is important to determine what is defined as advanced manufacturing. The term popped up a few years ago, sparking confusion for some. Since it was introduced, many still cannot agree on how to define advanced manufacturing compared to traditional manufacturing.

Everyone in manufacturing has a different answer when asked what advanced manufacturing actually encompasses. It varies by country, region, and even sector and shop. There are a variety of factors to consider when deciding how to identify advanced manufacturing.

Many determine it by separating older and newer manufacturing industries. They think of traditional manufacturers such as auto, steel and industrial as not advanced, while the newer industries such as aerospace, medical devices, and pharmaceutical industries are considered advanced.

Others prefer to define it by focusing on what is made, whether the products feature the latest technology, require high levels of design and are technologically complex. Some extend that idea even further, to include how the product is made. They would argue that advanced manufacturing is defined not only by the technology used to make the product, but also by the technology inherent in the product. With this view, using any production technology such as advanced robotics, CAD, CAE, CAM for design, simulation and analysis, high performance computing, additive manufacturing and other intelligent systems for production with information technologies coordinating it falls into advanced manufacturing.

In addition, there are some who think management and leadership methodologies should be included in the definition. These methodologies being lean management, Six Sigma, supply chain integration, and advanced planning and scheduling. There’s also the basic science component to consider. Some say advanced manufacturing involves the rapid transfer of science and technology into manufacturing processes and products.

With all of these ways to identify advanced manufacturing, it can be difficult to determine the metrics to evaluate it. It has also lead to some sectors of manufacturing being under-valued and others over-valued. Finding a composite definition of advanced manufacturing will determine how it will be evaluated in terms of success. It will also help shaping public policy and business strategy.

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All About Lathes

Lathe machines are used for shaping and machining various cylindrical pieces made of hard material. They come in many different types depending on what material is being shaped or cut. Lathe machines can be especially helpful when producing pieces according to specifications.

Its main function is to remove material from a work piece through the use of cutting tools. It shapes the material by holding and rotating it as a cutting tool is advanced into it. It can produce many shapes and forms in various sizes and specifications.

The important elements when using a lathe are the rotating speed, cutting depth, and sending speed. These are decided based on the material, size and shapes of the part being made.

  • Rotating Speed: This is the number of rotations of the chuck of the lathe. When it is high, the processing speed is quick and the surface is finely finished. However, starting with a low rotating speed at the first stage can prevent operation mistakes.
  • Cutting Depth: This affects the processing speed and roughness of the surface. When the cutting depth is large, it’s faster but the surface temperature is increased, creating a rough surface.
  • Sending Speed: This also affects the processing speed and roughness of the surface. When the sending speed is high, the processing speed is faster. If the speed is low, the surface turns out better.

Lathe machines come in three general types. These are engine lathes, turret lathes, and special purpose lathes. Each has specific applications and distinctive characteristics.

Engine Lathes

This type of lathe machine is popular because it can be used for various materials. They can also be adjusted to variable speeds for a wide scope of work, and they come in various sizes. The main components of the engine lathe includes the bed, headstock, and tailstock. This setup makes them easier to use.

Turret Lathes

When machining single workpieces sequentially, this is the machine to use. This eliminates errors in work alignment making it extremely efficient. It also saves time, because there’s no need to transfer the piece to another machine.

Special Purpose Lathes

Usually these machines are used for heavy-duty production of identical parts. They also perform functions that standard lathes cannot.

Brooks Associates can find the right lathe for any shop. From installation to training and maintenance, Brooks is there through the entire process.  Visit their machining website to see the various brands and products they offer.

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