Editorial


 

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Much to be Learned by Asking Questions

By: Brad Kuvin

Sunday, November 01, 2009
 
With this month’s issue of MetalForming, we’re pleased to have Tooling by Design columnist Peter Ulintz take a new tact with his column and offer a Question & Answer format for addressing the challenges that metalformers face. Peter and I encourage all of you to drop us a line with your questions.

This month, beginning on page 30, Peter answers a question related to splitting of stamped metal parts “that appears at the beginning of each coil and again when we are close to the center of each coil…The first reaction is to question the raw material suppliers, but is there something within the stamping process that may be contributing to the problem that we may be overlooking?”

The more questions you ask the more likely you will be to improve your processes. With the articles that appear in this issue, we’re proud to offer several examples of companies that refuse to settle for the status quo. For starters, take a look at the press-controls article beginning on page 20, where we profile metal stamper nth/works. I love the quote that begins the article (that’s why I used it in the article!) from Henry Ford: “If you need a machine and don’t buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it, but don’t have it.” The quote’s meaning, while self explanatory, is certainly worth thinking about, and should cause you to question your employees as to where your next capital-equipment dollars should be directed.

Also in this issue, beginning on page 16, we profile the metalforming operation of office-furniture manufacturer HON and its recent automation project that emanated from a 3P event—3P stands for Production Preparation Process. HON regularly stages 3P cross-functional team meetings where designers, engineers, operators and others question the status quo and seek to eliminate the last little bit of waste they can from every process within the plant.

As a final word, just as metalformers must question the way they do things, your customers will similarly question their suppliers. So, ask yourself this question: Why would a company choose to do business with you? That’s the challenge Chris Highfield, sales director for American Trim, Lima, OH, has taken on and addressed by sending me his Ten Tough Questions for Your New Metal Stamper.

Says Highfield, “With a declining base of financially solvent metal stampers, OEMs find themselves struggling to find suppliers who they can transition their business to quickly and efficiently.”

Space prohibits me from including all 10 of Highfield’s questions here, but here are the most important ones. How would you answer them?

• Does the supplier have experience in managing both domestic and offshore tooling sources?

• Will the supplier work to improve my current total cost of manufacturability?

• Can the supplier help improve inventory turns and cash flow?

• What are some of the R & D efforts recently made to improve and sustain the company, and can the supplier partner with its customers on research and development projects?

 


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