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

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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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Additive Manufacturing Follows the Footsteps of EDM

When a new technology comes into the machining industry, there are always worries that it will render other technologies inferior. It happened back when Computer Numerical Control Electrical Discharge Machining or CNC EDM equipment was introduced in the 1970’s.

It was thought by many that it would mean sure death for traditional chip-making processes for part production. Instead, the wire, sinker, and hole-drilling versions of EDM discovered and settled into their own niche. This allowed conventional milling and turning to remain useful. Although it has made developmental advancements since its beginning, EDM still complements conventional machining instead of putting it on the back burner.

Now, additive technology is going through the same process as EDM. Some people worry additive machining technology could collapse subtractive machining. Still being a fairly new technology, it has many kinks to work out before it can find its niche like EDM did.

That being said, additive will have an impact on part production and how designers think and create. In the end, it will likely settle into a niche and complement subtractive machining. Some shops have already brought in additive manufacturing, and are making it work right alongside their conventional machining.

Additive manufacturing can do things traditional machining can’t, or would require additional steps to complete. Conversely, some parts might need a more conventional process, or to be finished after being made by an additive machine.

With many shops already figuring out how to create a synergy between additive and conventional, there’s little chance that the design freedom and capabilities of additive manufacturing will lead to the demise of subtractive machining.

For all of your conventional turning and milling, EDM, waterjet machine needs and more, contact Brooks Associates. They can help find the perfect machining center for every need.

Posted in EDM, Machine Tools, Manufacturing, Milling Machine, Water Jet Cutting, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Boston Metro Area Continuing to Lose Manufacturing Jobs

Boston has always been a hub of manufacturing activity but in recent years while many other areas in the country have begun to see growth Boston has been on the decline.  A recent report of the country’s 107 largest metropolitan areas found that between 2011-2016 they saw a 4% increase in manufacturing jobs.  This works out to roughly 280,000 new jobs created.  These same 107 regions had previously been on the decline with a loss of about 1 million positions between 2006-2016.  However during this recent 5 year run of job increase Boston has not experienced the same growth in fact the Boston area experienced another 2% decline in manufacturing jobs during this window.  This means that of the 107 metro areas studied 80% are doing better with manufacturing job growth than Boston, 189,100 area jobs were lost last year alone.  While Boston did just barely remain on the list of top 10 metro areas in terms of total number of manufacturing jobs that will not be the case soon if this trend isn’t reversed.  Many local companies CEOs traveled to Washington recently to meet with President Trump to discuss trade and job creation for the Boston area but it remains to be seen what, if any, changes will result from these discussions.

Curious about where all of the growth is happening?  In terms of percentage of job growth Louisville, Kentucky topped the list with hiring increasing by 27.2% over 5 years.  They are followed by the greater Nashville, Tennessee area with a 27% increase and the Daytona Beach area of Florida with a 25.3% increase.  With regards to the actual number of jobs created Detroit, Michigan saw the largest increase with 37,500 new manufacturing jobs added in the 2011-2016 window.  They were followed by another Michigan city, Grand Rapids, which added 21,000 new jobs.  Third on the list is Nashville, TN with 18,300 new manufacturing jobs created.

Bostonians will watch anxiously to see if the trend can be reversed as many major corporations attempt to work with both local and national politicians on a plan forward.

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Hurco, Submarines, and the U.S. Navy

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Recently several Hurco employees were invited to a local function to meet the command staff of a newly commissioned Virginia Class Nuclear Submarine, for the U.S. Navy, the USS INDIANA…and, as it was written on the picture below, by the skipper of the Indiana, Commander Jesse Zimbauer, this submarine is “Hurco made”.

The reason CDR Zimbauer says that this next-generation attack submarine is “Hurco made”, is because Virginia class submarines are built under an arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat, and Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, VA. Both of these companies are Hurco customers, and have many Hurco machines in their shop.

With a length of 377 feet, a beam width of 34 feet, and weighing in at 7,800 tons, the USS INDIANA will be capable of steaming at more than 25 knots while submerged, and is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling for the next 32 years. The skipper stated that the USS INDIANA will be the most advanced warship in the world, and with the average age of the 135 man crew only 22-25 years old, the last couple of crews who will man this submarine “haven’t even been born yet”…something difficult to wrap your mind around!

Commander Zimbauer told us that the USS INDIANA will provide the US Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s underwater supremacy at sea. She will also provide the capability to attack shore based targets with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles, and conduct covert long-term surveillance of any land areas, littoral waters, or other sea-based naval forces.

If you would like to learn more about the USS INDIANA, you can visit this link: http://www.ussindiana.org

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A Misconception of Manufacturing

Today’s manufacturing jobs look vastly different than they did 50 or 75 years ago, but that message does not seem to be getting passed on to today’s young people.  In a recent study conducted by ORC International on behalf of Proto Labs, a digital manufacturer, they found that the majority of Americans (71%) still do not perceive manufacturing jobs as high-tech occupations.  Although many of today’s manufacturing jobs involve software development, or the operation of computer controlled high-tech equipment, that reality is not being shared with the younger generations.  This could be a major issue for the U.S. manufacturing industry in the future as baby boomers continue to retire in large numbers and an anticipated 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled in the next decade.  Current predictions show that without a major change in thinking among young people, nearly 2 million of these jobs will go unfilled.

Parents who do their homework will realize that there are going to be many high-paying, promising jobs available in manufacturing in the future and steering kids towards math, engineering and the sciences in school could be a huge asset for them.  The research study found that many of these jobs are paying $100,000 annually or higher with incredible potential for internal growth within larger companies. Unfortunately 1/3 of the people interviewed answered just the opposite, stating that manufacturing jobs are low-paying or entry level only.  This has created a massive chasm between perception and reality that must be overcome.

While the digital manufacturing revolution is taking over the industry, 55% of survey respondents still described dated images of manufacturing workers in dirty shops running old machines as their image for what it looks like to work in today’s manufacturing.  A mere 10% of respondents associated an image of someone working in front of a computer as a job in manufacturing.  The reality is that many of the manufacturing jobs are front-end software development jobs that allow machinery to run more efficiently.  As more machinery is used to automate manufacturing the man power is being transferred more and more to the software development side.

Tech schools, colleges, parents and employers will be key in making sure the future of manufacturing in the U.S. looks bright.  Without a rapid change in our view of manufacturing employment, one of the bedrocks of our economy could be in serious jeopardy.

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Benefits of Attending a Trade Show in 2017

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As companies review the budget for the upcoming year and make plans on whether to attend a trade show, and if so which one, often managers will ask, “What are the benefits to our organization of taking time away from the office to attend a trade show?”  Years ago attending a show was the only way to see new technology and compare manufacturer’s equipment, but with everyone posting videos online of their equipment, has it made trade shows obsolete?  Definitely not!  There are still countless benefits to attending a tradeshow.

  1. Finding Solutions – have a difficult job or application that you’re not sure how best to tackle? A tradeshow can be perfect for finding a solution.  By bringing that problem to a show there’s an opportunity to look at multiple possible solutions, talk to experts in the field, and often even run software or machinery and immediately determine if it’s a viable option.  Generally this can be a great way of crossing ideas off the list quickly and zeroing in on the right answer.
  2. Networking – by attending a show local to the area, such as the EASTEC show in Springfield, MA, there are hundreds of people to meet – all of whom are interested in keeping manufacturing strong in New England. This can be a great way to connect with potential vendors and customers.  Keeping work local can save everyone money and keep everyone’s business going strong.
  3. Education – many equipment manufacturers still present their newest products to the market via trade shows. Visiting machine manufacturer’s booths for the equipment already in your shop is a great way of checking in with them to learn about new upgrades or products that might enhance your operation and provide for improved efficiency.  Experts in the field make informative presentations about new developments and plans for the future.
  4. Purchasing Power – most of the manufacturer’s bring equipment in from all over the country to display at the show but are not anxious to ship it back, this can be the perfect chance to get a great deal on machines. This can be somewhat limiting in terms of various options that may come on the machine. However, if you know prior to the show that you’re going to be looking to make a purchase, contact the manufacturer.  Generally, they’re willing to modify the machine going to a show to fit your needs if they know they have a buyer, however these decisions need to be made at least 60-90 days prior to the show, so call early.

While most buyers come to trade shows more educated than ever before, thanks to the incredible depth of information available online, there are still many benefits to actually attending a show in person.  So gather information and come prepared to have focused discussions about your specific needs with industry leaders capable of providing answers.

Posted in Advanced Manufacturing, EASTEC, Hurco, Machine Tools, Machining Applications, Machining Trade Show, Manufacturing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment