Editorial


 

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Turning Skilled Workers into Masters of Machinery

By: Brad Kuvin

Wednesday, May 01, 2013
 

Used to be the notion of a skilled worker employed in manufacturing could turn a wrench with the best of ’em. A worn leather tool belt sagged at the hips, steel-toed boots shuffled through metal chips and stamping lube, and knuckles glowed red. It was on the backs of these hard-working folks that many a metalworking factory thrived for generations. Some still do, but the definition of “skills”—when it comes to what manufacturing companies need on their shop floors in order to succeed—is changing. And this change is coming quickly, right before our very eyes.

Today’s metalforming companies need quick thinkers and problem solvers, factory-floor workers who adapt to new on-the-job requirements coming at them daily, if not hourly. The tools in their belts have been augmented by a whole new set of tools. These include the ability to communicate orally and in writing, to solve problems and to make quick, timely decisions—the right decisions.

In short, the skilled workers of today and tomorrow must think like engineers. Merely running the machines won’t cut it; they must be dedicated and capable of making our machines run more quickly, producing consistently higher quality parts at ever-higher rates of productivity. They are, as much as any other employees, the profit-drivers in our industry.

For a great example of factory-floor profit-driving, check out the article beginning on page 24 of this issue of MetalForming. Here we learn how engineers and machine operators at stamper/fabricator Premier Tool & Manufacturing have collaborated to perfect pierceless laser cutting. The firm’s brand-new fiber-laser cutting machine is part of a production cell that includes three press brakes and a mechanical press. Keeping those machines stocked with laser-cut blanks holds the key to a speedy payback for the laser. Give the article a read to learn how they’re doing.

Also featured in this issue is an article that reviews new and significant enhancements offered in the latest versions of several die-design and development software products. The article serves as a precursor to our upcoming Die Design and Simulation Software Experience, scheduled for May 29-30 in Grand Rapids, MI. The “experience” is a 1.5-day submersion in die-development technology. It includes product demonstrations from four leading software suppliers, four case-study presentations and three keynote addresses.

Among our keynoters are Chrysler quality center manager J.P. McGuire, who will speak on new die-engineering standards at Chrysler and their impact on die design; and industry consultant Paul Hamilton, who will present on the topic: “Parametric vs. Direct Modeling—Key design requirements for stamping-die design, and applying the various modeling technologies to those requirements.” The third keynote presentation comes from Joe Guarriello, director of engineering at Die-Tech Inc. His topic: “Critical Errors to Avoid in Precision Metal Stamping Design.”

If you’re looking to learn all about what’s new in die design and development software, and want to rub elbows with experts in this field, there’s no better place to be than MetalForming magazine’s Die Design and Simulation Software Experience. Check out the entire agenda and register to attend by visiting www.metalformingmagazine.com/diedesign.

See you in Grand Rapids.

 


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