More and more machine shops are moving to unattended or lights out machining to stay competitive. Having more production hours means higher output and additional revenue. At the Top Shops Conference, we learned that the top 25 percent of machine shops are running 14 hours a day, while the bottom 25 percent are only running 8 hours a day. On average, profit margins in machine shops running lights out were 3 percent higher than those who were not.
Most experienced machinists have seen at least one fire on the job. Cutting metals at high speeds creates plenty of opportunities for sparks to ignite flammable materials. Many fires in machine shops are preventable, either by minimizing sparks or making sure they do not ignite flammable materials. But mistakes can happen. Our analysis of 24 fires in machine shops shows that one mistake, in particular, causes almost 30% of all fires.
We are entering the era of 5-axis machining. Between increased competition, Industry 4.0, and the continual widening of the skilled labor gap, the machining industry is seeing some rapid changes around the technology used on the shop floor. The demand for 5-axis machining is higher than ever. In 2020, sales in 5-axis vertical machines are expected to increase by 18%, and 5-axis horizontal machines are expected to increase by 20%.
Eventually, even with the best coolant management plan in place, coolant will go bad and requires removal and replacement. Once the coolant reaches its useful life, it needs to be disposed of appropriately. With stricter environmental regulations, the burden is put on the machine shop to determine if the coolant and other materials are considered hazardous or nonhazardous waste. The machine shop must test the waste materials or have the necessary information about the waste to assess its status.
Many machine shops never recover after a fire while others, even those that incur significant fire damage, get up and running successfully. What sets these two types of shops apart? Recovery and disaster planning are contributing factors. Having a fire recovery plan in place is crucial to ensuring the survival of your shop. If fire strikes, damage to equipment and property are not the only losses.
Between $100M-$500M worth of machine value is lost each year due to improper machine coolant management. Coolant management mistakes can decrease the working life of a machine up to 10% per year. Having a robust coolant management plan keeps your coolant from going bad and significantly reduces lost value and downtime of machines.
Coolants are an instrumental part of machining, including grinding, milling, and turning. They help extend tool life and provide an improved surface finish of the parts being machined. Understanding the role and types of coolant help you select a coolant that is the right fit for your machine and operation. By properly maintaining the concentration levels of your coolant, you extend not only the life of the coolant but also your tools and machine.
Connected machine shops are closing the loop by implementing operational changes to improve processes and procedures based on the data collected and analyzed from machines. Connected machines allow you to monitor machines for real-time data while collecting data over time to help you discover trends in production. Learn how connectivity can be a powerful tool for your machine shop.
Adding automation to your machine shop will not just increase your overall productivity, it will help keep employees engaged. Using automation for repetitive and monotonous tasks, allows your workers to use their skills on larger, more important projects.
Your response to a fire disaster is crucial in minimizing downtime and getting operations back up and running as quickly as possible. Downtime, as well as repair and replacement costs, rapidly add up. Learn three key guidelines to help you return to normal operations following a fire.
Modern Machine Shop’s “Top Shops” program uses data collected from surveying machine shops of all types and size. The information is compiled to determine the top-performing shops and outlines best practices and key metrics for success. This benchmarking data offers actionable intel to compare your machine shop to the country’s leading machining businesses.
When it comes to protecting dust collectors, one size or system does not fit all. Several factors need to be considered when selecting a fire suppression system for your dust collector. Learn three types of systems that will protect your dust collector and keep your employees and business safe.