Direct Drive Pump Benefits for Abrasive Waterjet

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In the world of abrasive waterjets there are basically 2 options when it comes to pumps – the hydraulic intensifier and the direct drive crankshaft style.  For many customers figuring out which is a better choice for their needs can be confusing and end up getting overlooked during the buying process.  This could prove to be a huge mistake, the pump is the heart of the machine.  If the heart stops beating, it’s game over.  Finding a pump that’s reliable, easy-to-service, efficient to run, and durable for the long haul is a critically important component of selecting an abrasive waterjet system.

Generally speaking OMAX is the primary manufacturer for direct drive style pumps, while the majority of their competition have elected to go with a hydraulic intensifier.  You may be thinking is that because everyone has figured out that the intensifier is a better choice?  OR Does OMAX have a better mousetrap and they refuse to change to the intensifier simply to reduce manufacturing costs?  To sort it all out let’s consider the origins of these pumps and how they work.

The hydraulic intensifier was invented prior to the direct drive pump.  It utilizes a complex system that requires an electric motor, hydraulic pump, oil reservoir, manifold and plunger.  The direct drive was invented to simplify the mechanics of this down to just the electric motor, which is powering a crankshaft-driven set of plungers.  Due to the incredible inefficiencies found in the hydraulic losses of the intensifier pump, the direct drive pump can deliver a higher percentage of its electrical power to the cutting nozzle.

At the end of the day what matters for waterjet operation is the horsepower at the nozzle, not the horsepower at the pump.  That’s where the direct drive and the hydraulic pump have substantial differences.  It takes a 70hp intensifier pump to deliver the same horsepower to the nozzle as a 50 horsepower direct drive pump.  The intensifier is only 60% efficient while the direct drive is 85% efficient.  That adds up to a lot of wasted electricity with an intensifier pump to get the same cutting speeds as the more efficient direct drive.

Another cost savings with a direct drive pump is in water usage.  As water becomes more of a precious resource, and waste water more of a regulated resource, it makes a lot of sense to seriously consider the amount you’re going to need for your waterjet pump.  A direct drive pump typically uses 60-80% less water than an intensifier pump because it does not require a separate water supply for the cooling of the hydraulics.

Brooks Associates encourages our customers to do their homework.  The direct drive style pump provides a more steady pressure for smoother edge finish, uses less power and less water, and is far quieter during operation than the intensifier pump.  We recommend getting a demo of both styles of pumps before making a purchase.

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Posted in Advanced Manufacturing, automation, Machine Tools, Manufacturing, Omax, Water Jet Cutting, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Motivating Employees in 2019

Motivated employees

As we move into the holiday season you’re likely focused on finishing the year strong, and looking towards next year, but one of the factors that will determine what next year looks like is the happiness of your employees.  You want to be sure that your employees come back from the Christmas break energized, motivated, and ready to get the year started, but what’s the best way to do that?  As many companies have figured out, it isn’t through hosting a company Christmas party.  It turns out the majority of employees who attend, 74%, do so only out of a feeling of obligation.  In addition, 90% of those surveyed said they would rather have the extra vacation day, or holiday bonus, over the company party.  So if the party is off, what is on?

Recent studies have found that there are several items that are most likely to get your employees motivated to work hard, many of which are easy to implement and won’t cost the company large amounts of money.

The first is charitable giving.  75% of employees interviewed for the study stated that it was important to them that their employer participate in charitable giving.  This can be something simple like promoting a food drive or Toys for Tots program with your company being a donation site.  It could be something more unique like giving employees Global Giving gift cards which allows them to then select from more than 3,000 non-profit charity organizations to which they can donate their gift card.  Or you could do something that would both build a sense of team with your employees as well as contribute to charitable giving such as spending a day with your employees helping at Habitat for Humanity or serving at a homeless shelter.  It turns out that younger employees in particular were highly motivated to work for companies associated with charitable giving.

The second option for motivation is to give employees something tangible.  Rather than cash, that will be quickly forgotten, give them something they’ll have for years to come.  The best way to do this is to give something that benefits not just the employee but their family as well.  Consider sending them a gift basket from Omaha Steak or sign them up with a meal delivery service which would allow them to select a few meals per month to be delivered to their home.  If you’d rather focus on the employee maybe a watch, gym bag, or a Fitbit would be a good choice.  Just be sure to steer clear of putting your company logo on it as it shifts from being a gift to being advertising at that point.

As you look towards 2019 and what you might focus on to help reach your company goals, finding ways to support and encourage your employees will pay huge dividends.  With nearly 2/3 of small businesses getting rid of holiday bonuses, maybe it’s time to come up with an alternative to let your employees know you value their service.

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Hurco Lathes – Have you given them a look recently?

Hurco Lathes

TM10i Lathe

While Hurco may be best known for their incredibly powerful software platform, control technology and milling machines, the CNC lathe products deserve serious consideration too.  As you might expect the engineering team at Hurco did not let off the gas when they began the process of designing a line of lathes to complement their existing product lines.  The same attention-to-detail and customer focus went in to the design and building of the Turning Centers as went into the mills.  The company goal of producing equipment designed to “maximize productivity and increase customer profitability” has definitely been met with these machines.

The Hurco system is a slant-bed lathe designed with maximum flexibility to make sure our customers have what they need for every application.  Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts.  All Hurco turning centers are built with an extra wide saddle and large Z-axis rails to provide maximum rigidity.  The 30-degree true slant bed creates larger turning capacity while increasing efficiency for chip removal.  In fact, every part of the chip management process has a purpose.  The telescopic way covers, inside door, adjustable brass coolant nozzles, wash-down and air guns provide industry leading protection for internal components.

Hurco offers two product lines for their lathes – the TM and the TMX.  The TM is perfect for a wide range of applications.  It features chuck sizes from 6-18”, a generous through-hole, and incredible rapid speeds.  The TMX turning centers are built for high performance with industry leading power.  The TMX leads the competition by providing the highest in rigidity, increased travels, faster spindle acceleration rates, faster rapids, and more horsepower.

Customer feedback is constantly helping refine the machine tool design at Hurco.  Throughout the development of the lathe product lines our customers have requested a focus on helping them meet their need to deliver parts in small batches with minimal lead time.  As more and more companies are focused on low inventory, Just in Time production management, it pushes our customers to be able to reliably produce high quality parts with a quick turnaround.  Hurco takes that need seriously and has integrated their WinMax control, tool presetter, bar feeder interface and easy chip management system to maximize efficiency.

Brooks has many Hurco lathe customers throughout the New England area running parts every day.  We’re happy to get you in to see a demo and answer all of your questions about how a new turning center might improve your efficiency and change the direction of your business for the upcoming year.

Posted in Hurco, Lathes, Machine Tools, Manufacturing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Building a Machining Brand

Hurco machine tools timeline

Brooks considers ourselves incredibly fortunate to be partnered with the best machine tool builders in the world, many of whom have a long history of leading their industries.  OMAX has been in the abrasive waterjet industry for 25 years, Sodick has been leading the way for EDM products for over 40 years, and Hurco just celebrated 50 years of product innovation.  What makes these companies able to survive through the start-up phase, a recession, changes in corporate leadership, 13 U.S. Presidential changes, and all of the other difficulties facing businesses today?  One thing we’ve seen that they all have in common – engineering lead companies.

Each of these businesses was built off of an incredible product that was soundly engineered.  Each brand proceeded to challenge themselves to be constantly innovating new products and staying ahead of the competition.  Over time of course, each of these companies has added a sales team, customer service, and many other supporting staff members, but the direction for the company has stayed true to its engineering roots.  Whether it’s software or hardware engineering both areas are pushed to excel.

Just consider the number of patents each of these organizations has been awarded – 80 to Hurco for machine tool control technology, 35 for OMAX ranging from software to pumps and cutting heads, 75 for Sodick covering a broad range of areas. These are companies that have invested a tremendous amount of resources into the development of their product, and the government has recognized the unique value that each of these brings to its respective industry.

Pricing for machinery is another similarity of these companies.  None of them is the cheapest option in their field, nor is any of them the most expensive.  The reality is that to build the best tools possible with the durability customers expect in manufacturing, it can’t be done at the cheapest price point.  Customers throughout the world have come to associate all three of these brands with high quality, well designed products that can stand the test of time – and worth every penny they cost.  Simultaneously each of these companies is led by people who want their product to be available to the average smaller shop as well.  They aren’t looking to price their machinery beyond the means of the majority of the manufacturing companies in the country.  The numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that of the roughly 250,000 manufacturing companies in the country, 160,000 of them employ 9 people or less.  Those shops are exactly the types of companies that OMAX, Sodick, and Hurco want to see their machinery in.

While the face you see most often is a sales person or a service technician, behind the scenes of these incredibly successful companies there’s a huge team of engineering folks that are determining the future of these organizations.  They’re taking the feedback from customers, service techs, and sales people and improving their equipment for the next generation of products.  Brooks has enjoyed the long history we’ve had partnering with each of these companies and getting to watch them lead the way for the future of manufacturing.

Posted in 5-Axis Machines, Advanced Manufacturing, Hurco, Machine Tools, Manufacturing, Omax, Sodick | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Is abrasive waterjet the right tool for machining composites?

omax-composite-materialWith the use of composite materials increasing every year, more and more customers are pursuing the best method for machining it for their specific application.  In many cases an abrasive waterjet is the perfect tool for the job.  The waterjet cuts composite materials with both speed and accuracy.  An OMAX® abrasive waterjet running a 60,000 psi pump will cut through ¼” thick carbon fiber at up to 180 inches per minute while maintaining taper of less than 0.001” per side.

Other features of the abrasive waterjet that make it ideal for working with composites include its ability to nest parts as well as the easy set-up.  Parts for waterjet cutting can be nested within 1/16” of each other, which means minimal waste and maximum profits.  In many composite applications our customers are doing small runs with a variety of different parts.  This is a very different situation than an application knocking out thousands of the same part over and over again.  For a job with a whole series of part numbers you need software that will easily import and nest these parts together, and you need a machine that can quickly change from one set-up to another.  An OMAX® waterjet can be loaded and ready to run in just minutes.  If you need to go from carbon fiber – to G10 – to a different thickness of carbon fiber – it’s not a problem.  It literally requires a few quick clicks in the software to make the change and you’re ready to start cutting.

Surface finish is another big concern for many of our customers.  With the correct abrasive, composite materials can come off the waterjet with a surface finish of 0.0002” and no need for further processing.  Parts cut on OMAX® machines have been extensively studied and looked at under a microscope to confirm that no abrasive was found impinged in the material.  That means you can cut even consumer grade carbon fiber without fear of your material being damaged during the cutting process.  Because the waterjet doesn’t alter the properties of the material being cut there’s no concern of heat damage or frosting.

In the past, the biggest hurdle for wide spread use of the abrasive waterjet for composite cutting has been piercing.  During the piercing process it’s possible for delamination of the material to occur.  OMAX® has released several accessories to help with this problem.  By piercing at a lower pressure, selecting a specific pierce type in the software, and priming the line with abrasive, the risk of delamination can be dramatically reduced.  However, if a material is found to be especially difficult to reliably pierce, OMAX® offers a pneumatic drill feature that can be mounted next to the waterjet cutting nozzle.  This will guarantee 100% success when piercing your composite material.  The drill will create the start hole, the waterjet nozzle will then automatically move into position over that hole, and the part will be cut from that point on using the waterjet.

With the many technological advances in the OMAX® abrasive waterjet over the years, cutting composites has become one of the many applications that are perfectly suited to waterjet cutting.

Posted in Machine Tools, Machining Applications, Manufacturing, Maxiem Waterjets, Omax, Water Jet Cutting, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Year End Machine Buying

Machine Buying Time

89361882 – new year 2018 goals, target or checklist concept as number 2018 wooden cube block with sandglass and white paper note with pencil on wooden table.

As the end of 2018 approaches many of our customers are looking to make a decision on whether to move forward on that new equipment purchase or not.  If you’ve gotten to that point you’re likely feeling the pressure of the days ticking by, and the opportunity to get a machine delivered before year end is beginning to slip away.  There are some definite economic advantages to moving quickly as we get into the 4th quarter.

Machine Availability – as the year winds down many equipment manufacturers will run out of inventory and be unable to deliver certain units.  Understand that for many manufacturers’ decisions about ordering components have to be made 6-9 months ahead of time.  They do their best to forecast which sizes and accessories they anticipate selling and then place orders for long lead time parts.  This is of course more of an art than a science, and in many scenarios there will be certain machines that simply can no longer be built at the end of the year.

Machine Discounts – There are always great year end deals available.  For tax purposes no manufacturer wants to end up stuck with a tremendous amount of inventory, so they begin offering price discounts to move things along.  This will most certainly move sales of those units along quickly but for those customers that wait into November there is a good chance those discounted units will be sold out for the year. You could end up taking delivery in 2019 and potentially paying a higher price.

Installation Scheduling – typically sales go crazy in September and October in order to get machines delivered before the end of the calendar year, but there are only so many installation technicians available.  This means customers who wait to order until later will end up with a shiny new machine sitting on their floor, but no tech available to do the installation until 2019.  We all know that the goal is to start making money off that new machine as soon as possible, which requires a timely installation.

Tax Incentives – after a conversation with the tax consultant many business owners find that they’re going to need to spend money or lose it in taxes.  New equipment purchases are able to provide significant tax benefits to many of our customers.  However in order to qualify for these tax benefits, machinery must be on the buyer’s floor before the end of the year.  Definitely something you want to discuss soon with your tax expert before it’s too late to take advantage.

The team from Brooks Associates will work with you to determine which machine fits your needs the best, we’ll work out the best year end pricing options and negotiate on your behalf with the manufacturer to get a prompt delivery and installation.  We’re committed to having our customers running hard right out of the gate in 2019.

Posted in Hurco, Machine Tools, Manufacturing, Maxiem Waterjets, Milling Machine, Omax, Sodick, Willemin-Macodel, Yama Seiki | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Year End Predictions for Manufacturing

4th quarter predictions

2018 has been an incredibly strong year for much of the manufacturing arena with the country’s gross domestic product expanding at a 4.2% rate in the second quarter, nearly double that of first quarter.  The recent tax cuts have resulted in higher than anticipated after-tax profits for most companies and an expectation for profit growth to continue through the end of the year.  Interestingly, acquisition of business equipment grew at the slowest rate in the last 18 months.  Many business owners appear to be holding back on capital equipment investments out of fear of a potentially larger trade war in the future.  While there is certainly concern about slowdowns in international trade, it’s expected that these will be minor and affect fewer than anticipated industries.

2019 is expected to see an increase in compensation for workers as the labor market gets tighter and tighter and employers are forced to increase wages to attract talent. However this is not expected to eliminate profit growth entirely as profits will still exceed wage increases.  The other factor analysts anticipate will affect 2019 numbers is the increase in costs to acquire materials resulting from recent tariffs.  This will hit some industries harder than others and could cause next year’s numbers to flat line.  One question yet to be answered is how tax cuts for individuals will affect spending through the holiday season.  While the President believes it will have a substantial impact, many analysts aren’t so sure.  The majority of the tax benefits will be felt by wealthier American’s and historically that sector tends to save that money rather than increase their spending.  Time will tell how the individual response impacts the markets through 4th quarter.

While oil demand decreases after the summer rush it’s still expected that prices will stay high as supply from Iran dwindles. These oil prices will affect everyone with increases in cost of delivering goods, increased costs for airline travel, and increases in daily cost of doing business.  It does appear that the President has come up with a way of preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.   There is an expectation that this will get finalized in the 4th quarter which should help to further stabilize the U.S. market and provide other trade options for U.S. businesses looking to acquire goods and services separate from the tariffs and trade wars going on with China.

Most analyst anticipate a strong finish to 2018 with growth expected throughout 2019 as well, it’s a great time to be in American manufacturing.

 

Posted in 3D Printing, 5-Axis Machines, Machining Applications, Manufacturing, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment