Made in America – Statistics for 2017

American Manufacturing Jobs

As we approach the one-year mark since the last presidential election took place, people have been asking whether there have been any changes in manufacturing.  While it’s difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether any of these changes are directly related to who is sitting in the oval office, it certainly plays some part.  There are several interesting facts with regards to 2017 manufacturing trends.

First some changes between 2016 and 2017.  The number of manufacturing jobs increased from 12.1M to 12.3M, overall wages in manufacturing increased as well, however manufacturing fell from being the 5th largest employer in the country to being the 6th.  This seems to be directly tied to the challenges in finding and retaining talented people to work in manufacturing.  While the public perception continues to be that wages in manufacturing are lower than most other fields that’s proving to be less and less true.  The average hourly manufacturing employee in the U.S.A. earns $26.17/hr while the salaried employees are averaging $64,305 annually.  This is nearly double the average for someone working in construction or an employee in leisure and hospitality.  It’s rapidly closing in on the averages for government civilian employees, currently the largest employer in the country.  Another interesting fact about jobs in manufacturing – for each manufacturing job created another 2.5 more jobs in local goods and services are created.

In terms of the impact of U.S. manufacturing on the overall economy for 2017, the following stats have been reported:

  • For every $1 of goods being produced, manufacturing is generating an additional $1.37 for the economy
  • Manufacturing contributed $2.09 trillion dollars to the economy
  • Manufacturers are responsible for nearly three-fourths of all the private sector R&D which of course directly contributes to the economy’s growth
  • The top states in terms of quantity of manufacturing jobs for 2017 were California, Texas, and Ohio
  • The top states in terms of largest manufacturing concentration for 2017 were Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan
  • 2% of U.S. exports are manufacturing goods this equates to $1.3 trillion dollars
  • In 2017 manufacturing comprised nearly 11.8% of the U.S. GDP
  • Top areas of growth for manufacturing jobs in 2017 were transportation, food and fabricated metal

Interestingly the percentage of growth in total manufacturing jobs was nearly the same after the first year post-election previously (2012 vs 2013).  So it may in fact have nothing to do with who gets elected but instead be more closely correlated to the end of the election cycle.  Many businesses are more hesitant to make capital equipment purchases just prior to an election and will instead wait to see which direction things are heading before making a decision, but most seem to end up moving forward rapidly after an election is over.  Regardless the continued growth in manufacturing year over year certainly bodes well for 2018 with the biggest potential struggle being the need for more qualified workers to help companies reach their growth goals.

 

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What is the new GlobalMAX Waterjet System?

As Fabtech approaches many manufacturers are preparing to unveil new machinery and technology to their customer’s and OMAX is among the leaders bringing new technology to the abrasive waterjet world.  Their new GlobalMAX waterjet cutting system will be available for demonstration throughout the Fabtech show in Chicago in November but what are the advantages of this new machine and who is the ideal customer?

The GlobalMAX waterjet line is a low priced option to get in to the waterjet market.  For many people the high cost of entry has prevented them from being able to be part of the waterjet cutting industry but now OMAX has changed all of that.  The GlobalMAX is both robust, reliable, and cost effective.  It’s available in 3 different standard sizes – 2’7” x 5’, 5’ x 10’, and 6’8” x 13’3” – and with 2 different pump options – 20hp or 30hp.  This means you can get exactly the system you need for your application.  If you’re a machine shop looking for a smaller system you’re all set or if you’re looking to get into the job shop waterjet business then a larger table to hold a full sheet of material could be for you.

Beyond the price tag there some fantastic advantages that GlobalMAX customers get to take advantage of just by joining the existing OMAX and MAXIEM family.  Of course it would be risky to buy a low priced waterjet from an unknown company but buying from OMAX guarantees a machine built with 25+ years of experience and 4000+ machines in operation.  GlobalMAX customers will be getting the same reliable and highly efficient direct drive pump technology that OMAX and MAXIEM customers have relied on for years.  They’ll also get the benefit of an extensive network of certified OMAX technicians, customer service support, and application’s specialist.  This resource will prove invaluable to customers that are completely new to the waterjet industry.  In addition there’s the incredibly powerful software package that OMAX is known industry wide for.  GlobalMAX customers will have software designed and supported by the same engineers that have been responsible for the premium OMAX software that competitors have tried to duplicate for years.  So even if you’re new to abrasive waterjet cutting you’re coming in with a distinct competitive advantage by partnering with such a well-established industry leader.

OMAX has also made ease of operation a priority for the new GlobalMAX system.  They understand that there are some OMAX accessories that may be of interest to GlobalMAX customers and can improve their user experience so they’re offering options such as the terrain follower, pneumatic drill, laser feature finder, and bulk abrasive feed hopper to OMAX and GlobalMAX customers alike.  If you’ve been considering the idea of adding a machine that can cut virtually any material, at any thickness, with incredible precision and no HAZ then the GlobalMAX is for you and your time has come!

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Hurco Control Leads Shops to More Profits

Hurco Controller

Since Gerald Roch, co-founder of Hurco, invented their conversational programming back in 1974, Hurco has set the standard for easy-to-use part programming software and they’re continuing to lead the way with advances in their 5 axis programming capabilities. The directive given to the software engineers at Hurco has been to develop features for the Hurco control powered by WinMax® software with the primary focus being on those features with the highest capacity to increase profit for customers and bring value to those shops. Hurco software needs to do more than just operate their machine, it needs to make their customers money. The software needs to be equally powerful for both NC programming as well as conversational programming. One way they have achieved this is by maximizing the flexibility of the Hurco control to ease the programming process for shops that have a high mix of parts.

Hurco also recognized early on the movement towards 5 axis work and has stayed ahead of the game with their 5 axis software offerings. The combination of many of their new features allows customers to program 5 axis parts without a full CAM package by simply using their 5-sided conversational features. One great example of this is, Transform Plane. This key feature eases the transition between a 3 axis and a 5 axis machining center. By essentially changing programming on a 5 axis machining center back to a 2.5D program, which is used on a 3 axis machine, it allows the machinist to move part files between various machines and get running more quickly. All the machinist has to do is establish the initial part origin, program the first side of the part, enter the axis angle(s) to the next side, program the features on that side of the part, and tell the control the axis angel(s) to the next side. After these steps are completed for each side of the part, Transform Plane will calculate the tilting and rotating required automatically.

“Hurco engineers have focused on the development of 5-sided programming features like Transform Plane because the fastest way for shops to instantly increase their profit margins on existing parts is to transition from 3-axis machining to a 5-sided machining process on a 5-axis VMC. It’s been a major initiative at Hurco since 2008 to make sure that the Hurco control leads the industry in making this transition to 5-sided machining as easy as possible in an effort to help customers be more profitable,” said a company spokesperson.

Another key feature shops use in order to increase profitability is the NC/Conversational Merge. It combines NC programming with conversational programming. NC/Conversational Merge allows the machinist to pull up an NC program but then use the standard conversational features that many find extremely useful for quick changes such as scaling, tool probing, pattern operations and part probing. Many of these processes are either not possible or are much more cumbersome if done without the conversational programming tools.

Of course Hurco recognizes that in order to have powerful software their control must also have powerful hardware. In order to accommodate these features and the larger part programs that are becoming common Hurco recently upgraded their already robust technical hardware specifications to 128-GB Solid State Storage Drive, 4 GB of RAM and 3,000 bps of processing power. This helps Hurco customers meet today’s requirements as well as stay ready for industry changes in the future.

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New Software Company Could Benefit All New England Job Shops

Xometry Machining Software

Xometry, a company based out of Maryland, recently received a $15 million investment from the venture capital divisions of BMW and GE to help launch what is being described as the “Uber of Manufacturing”.  The concept is both simple and well proven as companies such as Amazon and Uber have made their fortunes off the exact same idea.  In this case Xometry, pronounced “Zometry” provides a software platform in which potential customers create a CAD file, upload it to Xometry’s website and then receive immediate price quotes for the part to be manufactured as well as delivery dates.  The company already has over 5,000 customers using its site on a regular basis to get high quality parts for fields such as aerospace, medical, automotive and industrial.

Much like Uber brings riders and drivers together, Xometry brings parts buyers together with parts suppliers to create an immediate marketplace supply and demand situation.  In this comparison the Uber customers looking for a ride are those looking to get parts produced, while the drivers are those shops looking to bid the job.  Job Shops would then receive an email that would basically say, “You’ve got a $5,000 job, see the details.  If you want the job click on this button”  It’s just that simple for fabrication and job shops to quickly see a  large variety of available jobs and select the ones that best fit their capabilities.  While some smaller job shops have had concerns that this will simply turn into a price war, that has not proven to be completely true.  In the end, customers have seen that some shops are offering a better price, others a better delivery time, others a higher quality part or a willingness to do small runs.  The buyer then chooses what best suits their needs at the time.

Xometry describes their business as one that “quickly delivers quality custom parts to businesses of all sizes”.  Xometry says that while they’ve attracted investors and customers such as GE and BMW they’ve seen the biggest beneficiaries be the mom and pop job shops. These are often multi-generational shops providing high-value parts but losing customers as they’re just not getting access to them through the more traditional sales and marketing methods. In many situations, these smaller shops haven’t gotten work outside of their immediate geographic area because customers in other parts of the country have simply never heard of them.  Just as Amazon will now deliver anything from a bike to a loaf of bread to your door in two days, these shops are starting to see the country as a much smaller place as well.  There’s no reason a shop in Connecticut can’t have parts shipped to a business in South Dakota.  As President Trump is continuing with his “buy American, sell American” mantra Xometry is working to help companies do that.  As smaller shops in New England are the backbone of manufacturing in the area finding ways to connect the highly valuable skills they offer to buyers all over the country is invaluable to the continued growth of American Manufacturing.

Industry experts are seeing this digital manufacturing as the process of the future.  It’s easy to access and available to anyone; it might just be exactly what struggling shops need to stay alive as well as what growing shops need to get their highest skills and expensive equipment utilized by buyers in every corner of the country.

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Is Hurco’s new UltiMotion Technology Right for You?

After 6 years in the making Hurco has recently released their new UltiMotion technology and the customer response has been overwhelming.  With over 200 machines worldwide already running it people are thrilled at the reduction in cycle times and the improvements in part finish.  UltiMotion is a completely new and different way to approach motion planning and is only available on Hurco systems.  By using advanced software algorithms it is able to calculate the optimal feed rate and trajectory to run the tool.  While for many years now the look-ahead feature has been available, it has not been able to able to make adjustments on the fly rather than being a more fixed software feature.  The result is a reduction in machine jerk by 50% and an increase in cornering velocity by 2.5X the conventional motion system.

Many customers have seen a reduction in cycle time by 30% or more depending on the complexity of their parts.  Those with the most complex parts see the most benefits.  These would be parts that require drilling, a lot of tapping, high-speed machining, pocketing, complex 3-axis and 5-axis contouring, or the spindle to change directions frequently are all excellent candidates for the new UltiMotion software package.  UltiMotion is idea for customers doing 5-axis machining as well with substantial improvements in time and surface finish for simultaneous 5-axis work. Customers running largely parts with simple geometry, very few corners or slow feed rates will see less of a benefit in terms of cycle time but could still see an improvement in surface finish.

As long as your Hurco machine can run WinMax version 8 or later you can take advantage of the UltiMotion upgrade without needing any new hardware, and UltiMotion comes standard on all Hurco “I” series mills. Even customers who are already running a CAM package that offers smoothing are seeing benefits from using UltiMotion.  Because UltiMotion is controlling the machine mechanics and dynamics it’s able to provide an even smoother, tighter control system then even excellent stand-alone CAM offerings.  Also because the motion system is separate from the graphics system there will be no slowdown in graphics as a result of running UltiMotion.  UltiMotion does not change your tool paths but instead optimizes the machine motion.  It will not require any changes to your existing programs or post processor and requires no special training for your operator.  All of your existing programs should run just fine regardless of whether you’ve been working with NC or Conversational programs.

Hurco is excited to bring this incredible new technology to the industry as they continue to lead the way in innovation.  They are encouraging all customers to give UltiMotion a try with some of your existing parts.  Hurco is so confident in the new product that they’re telling customers it should never be turned off – UltiMotion is superior to Standard Motion in every way!

Check out this video to see it in action!

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10 New Reasons To Attend EASTEC

It seems like every sales person in New England right now is talking about the upcoming tradeshow, EASTEC. They’re offering free tickets, cool samples or a free lunch but what are you really getting out of taking a day away from getting work done in your shop?  Do the benefits of attending EASTEC really outweigh the costs?  Well here are a few good reasons you might want to consider attending, some of which you may not have really considered.

  1. Learn what’s new & where things are heading – many manufacturer’s use trade shows such as EASTEC to unveil their newest products. It’s a great way for them to promote new ideas as well as get immediate market feedback.  So if you want to get the first look at the newest industry technologies, this is the place for you!  Tradeshows are also a great way to get a read on the pulse of the industry.  If everyone’s talking about a certain technology that’s a pretty good indication of where the market is going.
  2. Network with other attendees – often you think only of the conversations you’ll have with people working in the booths at the show, but what about the opportunities to talk with other attendees? Be sure to bring a stack of business cards as this is a great chance to meet potential customers, prospective employees or future business partners.
  3. Check out the competition – EASTEC provides a unique opportunity to see what your local competitors are doing. What types of equipment are they investing in, what markets are they pursuing, what suppliers they are using, etc.
  4. Get inspiration – often as you walk the show floor you’ll see new ways of doing things that you haven’t thought of before. These new ideas can send you back to the office with ideas on how to streamline a process, operate more efficiently and ultimately be more profitable.  Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective to change the course of a business.
  5. Meet with exhibitors – most people think of this in terms of the attendee listening to the sales pitch of the exhibitor but there can be a whole more to it than that. This can be a great time to observe companies you’re considering doing business with and get a sense of the company culture.  It can also be a great chance to give your feedback to vendors that you’ve bought from in the past.  Most companies find that kind of customer feedback invaluable in the development of their new products and product improvements.
  6. Gain firsthand experience – there’s nothing better than getting the chance to actually put your hands on the machine you’re considering purchasing. Seeing something in operation can help you get answers to your questions as well as give you considerations you may have missed such as do we have enough ceiling height in the location we planned on putting this?  Or is the employee we planned to have run this really the right choice?  In addition, you’ll get to hear the kinds of questions other attendees are asking which could be invaluable.
  7. Compare multiple products – there’s nowhere easier to see how the competition stacks up than a tradeshow. This is really the only time you’ll find multiple vendors of the same product all under one roof.  In an afternoon, you can check out the top 5 OEM’s and do a thorough comparison.  It’s also a great chance to compare multiple product lines offered within one company.
  8. An efficient purchasing process – another advantage of being able to compare products is the ability to take weeks out of the purchasing process. It can be a major ordeal to get all of the decision makers from your company together multiple times to meet with sales people from several companies, travel to several demos, and then negotiate back and forth on pricing and final purchasing details.  EASTEC can combine all of these in to one day saving you countless man hours. At the end of the day, you want the best solution to your problem not the lengthy process it can often take to get there.
  9. Get a deal – every vendor wants to make sales at the show. Often they have equipment in the booth that they don’t want to have to ship back across the country and they’re eager to make you a great deal.  In addition, vendors are sitting on a huge expense to be at the show and sales from the show help justify the cost of being there.  They also know that you can easily walk around the corner and start talking to one of their competitors, so for attendees this can mean a great chance to find exactly what you need at a fraction of the normal cost.
  10. Find the specific solution for your needs – most vendors will bring in a variety of their best talent for tradeshows. This can include technical experts, application specialists, software engineers, and finance professionals.  All of these people can be a valuable resource that you might not otherwise have access to during the purchasing process.  Take this opportunity to pick their brains and get solutions custom tailored to your company’s needs.

EASTEC is fast approaching and with any luck the weather will be sunny and warm so think beyond the push of the sales person and make the drive over to the Big E.   There are at least 10 good reasons that it will be worth your effort.

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Closed Loop Water Filtration Pros and Cons for Waterjet Cutting

omax-water-recycling-system

Many shop owners are concerned about the water consumption that abrasive waterjet cutting requires, and the process for properly disposing of the used water after cutting.  One of the big advantages to abrasive waterjet cutting is that it’s such a “green” technology – no dangerous gases or chemicals are used.  Abrasive comes for the ground and is generally able to go back to the ground, but what about the water supply – can it go back to the ground water?  Generally the answer is yes.  In most cutting operations spent water is considered standard grey water and can go right down the drain.  Of course if the material being cut on the waterjet is hazardous, such as lead or copper, then those chemicals could be introduced in to the water supply and thus it should not go down the drain.  However in general job shop operation or standard cutting the water is safe to go to the drain.

So why do people purchase closed loop water filtration systems? A closed loop water recycling system is an expensive investment which needs to be carefully considered and justified before being added to a waterjet purchase.  There are several situations where one might be necessary.  First if the shop is on a well rather than city water.  In many cases the well water supply is not sufficient to keep up with the demand that the waterjet puts on it.  Second if the shop uses a septic system for waste water disposal.  Again the capacity of the septic tank will likely not be able to handle the volume of water that the cutting process will generate.  Another reason would be if the materials being cut are going to be hazardous at which point a closed loop system will be a requirement.  Lastly to reduce water consumption in general.  While it may seem that adding a closed loop system would save money by reducing water consumption/disposal costs that is not typically the case.  Generally the cost for the filters that the treatment system requires are more than the cost of water, but if the goal is not to save money but simply to reduce water usage than the closed loop system will do the job.  Keep in mind that the water must be extremely clean in order to be put back through the pumping system hence the expensive filters.

Another factor to consider is how much water will be necessary to operate the waterjet. This will depend entirely on the type of pump that the abrasive waterjet is running off of.  Generally in the industry there are two common options, the hydraulic intensifier pump and the direct drive crankshaft style pump.   When considering a pump one significant difference between them is the water consumption.  The intensifier pump will require substantially more incoming water and of course generate more waste water for disposal.  While both pumps need about 1 gal/min of water for the actual cutting process, the intensifier pump will also need water to cool the hydraulic system.  This cooling water will be an additional 4-6 gal/min depending on how warm the incoming water is and how hot the pump has gotten.  An even larger water volume would be necessary for the larger horsepower hydraulic pumps.  The direct drive pump does not generate anywhere near as much heat thus it’s able to use the same 1 gal/min to first do the necessary cooling and then be used for cutting.  A larger number of shops running intensifier pumps will opt to add the water recycling system for the goal of reducing water consumption than those operating the direct drive pumps.

A water recycling system is definitely worth consideration when looking to purchase a waterjet however the high price point makes it less attractive for most customers who aren’t required to use it. Abrasive waterjet cutting is definitely an environmentally friendly operation whether a closed loop water filtration system is used or not.

 

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