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Category Archives: Manufacturing News

16 SeptemberChanging Higher Education to Make Manufacturing Employment a Priority

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There has been much talk on how the American Manufacturing Industry can prepare for the jobs of the future.  The current boom of technical manufacturing is showing us where the world is heading.  To stay current in today’s marketplace, the American Manufacturing Industry will have to make some changes and it starts with our education.  Here is how we can change higher education to fill manufacturing jobs:

Refocusing Education

Some of us were taught the only way to get a good job was to enroll at a 4-year college or university.  That simply isn’t true.  The American Manufacturing Industry has many areas of focus which are not taught at 4-year universities.  The rising costs of 4-year colleges with no guarantee of a good job after graduation are leaving students in debt.   The reality is most traditional 4-year universities are not preparing students for high demand jobs.  In January, the New York Federal Reserve examined employment data for recent college graduates between 2009 and 2013 and found that 45 percent were working in “non-college” jobs.  Meaning, nearly half of all recent college graduates are underemployed.  Meanwhile, there are a lot of technology manufacturing jobs going unfilled. If more students had the training and skills to fill high-demand jobs required by the technology sector, more graduates would have meaningful employment.

Solution

Thankfully, there are a lot of technical manufacturing jobs which don’t require a 4-year degree with a higher price tag.  S.T.E.M courses are being taught at trade schools across the country.  At Lyndex-Nikken, we have sponsored selected employees to take night courses on machinery and CNC operations at our local community college.  Also, programs like the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS give students exposure to STEM based learning and how to continue their education past the show.  Students who desire a career in manufacturing should be encouraged to consider trade schools as an alternative.  Trade schools are feasible, cost effective options for those wanting to work in this industry.  By investing in cheaper more focused education options, we are preparing the next generation of technology manufacturers for the future.

3 June2-Ways Tech Manufacturing Startups have Changed

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Technology is ever changing. So much you can barely keep up. It seems like as soon as you get the latest laptop or camera, it’s already outdated. This is great for the tech manufacturing sector. From touch screens to voice control, Innovation keeps that industry thriving. If you have a desire to jump into the tech manufacturing business and you’ve seen the 4-movies (and counting) about how Steve Jobs started Apple, you may be thinking this could be your story. However, starting a tech manufacturing business isn’t the same as it used to be. Here are 2 major ways the landscape of Tech Manufacturing Startups have changed:

START UP COSTS:

Then:
Before the tech boom, work was more labor driven. The UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I) was the first desktop or tabletop computer as it was huge. To make one UNIVAC I took 67 staff workers. The good part was it was enough labor to go around. This was a big advantage for start-ups. Back then, an hourly worker was a cheaper solution for tech manufacturing.

Now:
Work is more machine driven. The cost for surface mount technology machines, which build circuit boards for cell phones and laptops, has tripled. Not to mention you also need equipment to test you’re the board’s quality assurance. Between product testing and storage costs for inventory, the expenses can add up to the hundreds of thousands very quickly. Just know if you are a planning to start a tech manufacturing business, you need to start pinching your pennies yesterday.

FUNDING:

Then:
If you had an idea for a new product that would enhance people’s lives, you saved your own money to pay for it. Bootstrapping is a term for an entrepreneur who starts a company from personal finances. You and a co-founder would completely pay for everything by pooling your savings together and borrowing less. The good part is once the business begins to make money, you and your co-founder are in control of all operations with very little input from investors.

Now:
Today, securing funding is a lot different. Bootstrapping is still possible but difficult because technology costs have increased. It’s very possible you may need over a million dollars in earnest money before mass production can begin. This leaves entrepreneurs needing venture capital from an investor. To secure the funding, you may have to give a percentage of your business away to the investor. Once the business starts to make money the investor backing you calls all the shots and you become a supervisor of your own company.
That said, it’s still a great time to start a tech manufacturing business. Sure, things have changed but it’s even more reason to try. Who knows, you may create the next big technology must-have. Innovation is more rewarding than start-up growing pains. Go and start the next tech manufacturing business. The industry needs your creative ideas.

3 March4-Skills You Need to Become a Machinist

 

Have you ever found yourself taking a product apart, looking at the components, mentally thinking of ways to improve the design and putting it back together again? If so, you may be a Machinist in the making. Mobile devices, cars, watches and airplanes are all products which are designed and produced by machinists. Believe it or not, everyone does not have a desire to know how things are designed or made. However, if you are a person who is curious about how products are created, here are 4 skills you need to become a Machinist.

Blue Print Reading

Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, also known as GD&T, is a system for defining and communicating engineering tolerances. It uses a symbolic language on engineering drawings and computer-generated three-dimensional solid models that explicitly describes nominal geometry and its allowable variation. Knowing how to read GD&T properly is a crucial skill of being a machinist. It is literally the blue print to the job. If you cannot read the dimensions and symbols on a blue print, how can you machine the part?

Reading Calipers and Micrometers

In addition to being able to read blue prints, knowing how to read the measuring devices used in machining is just as important to becoming a Machinist. Calipers and micrometers are commonly used devices to measurer parts accurately. Currently, knowing how to read vernier caliper gage vs. the modern digital gage is vital in most shops. Having a knowledge of how to read manual gages, will also aid in learning digital gages.

Base 10 Math

All machining dimensions go at least three decimal places past zero. Knowing how to convert fractions to decimal and doing simple decimal math is important to a machinist. All interactions with manual or CNC machines with a blue print will require a machinist to use Base 10 Math.

How to use a Coordinate Plane

Understanding a coordinate plane and its quadrants is the equivalent to understanding how to read a blue print for the machine. If a machinist does not understand the Coordinate Plane then they will not understand how a machine thinks or moves.   All movements of the machine and measuring equipment machines (CMM and Optical Comparators) will base all movements off of a coordinate plane quadrant and grid system.

19 February3 Keys Your Employee Training Needs Immediately

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There is only one word that can make your employees giddy while simultaneously terrifying Human Resources— TRAINING. Why you ask? It’s usually because employee training isn’t cheap. It can cost a pretty penny to hire consultants to train your employees. At the same time, taking your employees off the job to be trained is costly too. That said, the positives of training definitely out way the negatives. Having well trained staff that are knowledgeable and excited about their work is worth every dollar spent. So far at Lyndex-Nikken, here’s a few points we’ve focused on that have boosted the skill, pride and ambition of our team.

Cross Training

In the military, if the Staff Sgt. who is responsible for a specific and critical skill is injured, the mission is not automatically aborted. Reason being, everyone is cross trained on multiple jobs. Depending on the size of your company, you may need your employees to step into multiple roles. Cross-training is the way to make sure your employees are more likely to take initiative in times of need by performing jobs they may not otherwise have been trained for. Using our cross training approach at Lyndex-Nikken where we coach our sales team to service rotary tables and live tools has not only expedited the means which we qualify, service, and support customer’s service needs, but also has helped develop better sales skills. The knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of our rotary tables and live tools has helped answer customer application questions on a much deeper and technical aspect.

Company Pride

Do your employees know your company mission statement or even the values behind your brand? This may sound like a redundant question but you would be surprised how many of your employees don’t know the answer. It’s a very common occurrence but it’s usually due to the company not training their new-hires properly. You cannot forget to train your employees on what your company stands for. When your staff has a better understanding of how their role affects the company overall, they will transform into an ambassador for the brand. Managers must develop a consistent and clear philosophy for work ethic and company culture, and dedicate everyday for everyone, including themselves, to abide to strictly.  At Lyndex-Nikken, we value the transparency our president provides us. It makes us feel we’re part of something greater than ourselves.  Everything from the company’s financial health, sales of our rotary tables, live tools, toolholders, angle heads, which team did an extraordinary task, announcing new hires, and any changes in direction with business strategy are announced to everyone, from people in our Warehouse Team to the Accounting Team, every month.

Fear of Failure

Nobody likes to fail; especially, on the job. However, the fear of failure can be eliminated during the employee training stage. Creating a company culture that encourages trial and error, helps your staff be their best. At Lyndex-Nikken, we implemented a company-wide initiative dedicated to improvement. All new-hires, interns and staff are encouraged to share their ideas on areas where we can improve the company overall. Since implementation, it has been well received by all and extremely successful. Creating an environment where your employees are comfortable sharing ideas makes them want to reach for the stars. This will only help you company.

4 February3 Ways Big Data can help the Manufacturing Industry

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Big data has purpose in just about every industry. Tech, healthcare, retail and even government all use big data in some form.  Any industry that can analyze data to gain more insight about their operations can improve their production cost, quality and increase efficiency.  Here are 3 ways big data can improve the manufacturing industry:

 

risk_measurement_400_clr_5483Analyzing Risk

Some manufacturers are using big data to reduce risk in delivery, regardless of what may happen in the chain of supply. Using big data analytics, companies have access to information to adjust for potential delays.  Statistics on seasonal purchasing patterns and other predictive analytics allow companies to calculate any possible delays for delivery to and from their supplier.  At Lyndex-Nikken, we use this kind of preventative analytics to make sure we carry sufficient inventory for rotary table, toolholders and other machine tool accessories such as live tools, angle heads, and collets.  Identifying probable risk helps manufacturers develop contingency plans to make sure production will not be interrupted by any act of nature.

 

Profitable Products

Knowing the capabilities and condition of your equipment is crucial in manufacturing. Often times, designing custom accessories is necessary to provide greater productivity when compared to standard products. Lyndex Nikken and its parent company Nikken use data analytics to discover which specialized products should become standard items.  This information helps develop new equipment that satisfies the changing manufacturing landscape.

 

Quality AssuranceQuality Assurance

Using big data for predictive analytics, manufacturers are able to significantly reduce the number of tests required for quality assurance. Some tech manufacturers have seen improvements from analyzing the data from their product testing.  Big data helped to adjust their manufacturing process to cut down repetitive test time and focus on specific quality testing.  This improved their overall production time.  As a result, some tech manufacturers have seen a savings up to $3 million in manufacturing costs.

28 JanuaryTop 3 Cities for Automotive Manufacturing Jobs

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If you love finance and want to work on Wall Street you go to New York.  If you’re a techie and want to work around the latest in technology in Silicon Valley, you go to California.  If you want to work in automotive manufacturing, where do you go?  We’ve compiled a list of the Top 3 Cities for Automotive Manufacturing Jobs:

 

Detroit

Detroit, MI (Suburbs)

The Automotive Industry has come back to the Midwest.  In the last six years, the US auto industry has experienced increased sales by offering lower interest rates and capitalizing on consumer’s needs to upgrade their older model vehicles for newer models.  Cities around the Detroit area are generating the most new manufacturing jobs in the Midwest.  Michigan has recovered about 40% of the manufacturing jobs it lost during the recession.  According to the Daily Detroit, jobs in Warren, MI are up 8.9% and jobs in Auburn Hills, MI are up 3.5%.  13,915 manufacturers now call Michigan home. These companies collectively employ 675,400 workers. A strong emphasis toward improving and maintaining part manufacturing quality is becoming more apparent as many Midwest Automotive 1st and 2nd tier companies upgrade their existing toolholders to higher precision ones.  By integrating all aspects of precision from collets, toolholders, and durable retention knobs, run out of cutting tools is dramatically reduced, which helps produce better part consistency.

 

Nashville

Nashville, TN

Not to be left out of the automotive boom, Nashville’s manufacturing employment has jumped 23.9% since 2009.   Nissan made the move to Nashville and brought their US headquarters to the area in 2006.  They also created manufacturing plants in Central Tennessee, which has also created opportunities for small domestic auto-parts companies in the region.  The Right to Work states emphasizes more training in robotics automation used with 4th and 5th axis rotary tables to optimize flexibility and throughput of part manufacturing.  With the new implementation of advanced technology, demand for 5 axis rotary table programmers will also be very high.

 

Columbia

Columbia, SC

Columbia, S.C., has become a major hub for European car companies.  According to The State, the BMW plant near Columbia, SC brings in 16.6 billion annually.  BMW also generates more than 30,700 direct and indirect jobs to the area.  In total, there are 401 companies in South Carolina that produce automotive parts, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce. That’s up from 305 in 2008 and each profit from new automakers being in the area.  Sales of lathes with milling functions have increased over 43% in the past 3 years in the area, further showing the shift toward consolidated part turning manufacturing.  Live Tooling for milling, precision quick change lathe chucks, and programmable steady rests are becoming more common within the area’s manufacturing.  Set up lathe machinists with past experience especially utilizing live tools will definitely be busy for the next 3 to 5 years.

23 October3 Areas of Manufacturing Making Headlines

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Industrial manufacturing is what usually comes to mind when discussing the manufacturing industry. We’ve been conditioned to think of hard hats and blow torches whenever someone says they work in manufacturing. However, as technology grows, so does the manufacturing industry. There are many new areas being added to the manufacturing industry every day. Here are 3 areas of technology that will be influential in keeping American manufacturing competitive.

Sustainable manufacturing:
Energy-efficient manufacturing is growing bigger every day. Manufacturing companies are looking for more ways to continue operations without using an excessive amount of resources. The possibility of “blackout” factories that are able to operate in the dark have manufacturing engineers intrigued. These facilities have the potential to further cut costs by not needing to be heated or cooled because they’re largely ran by robots and other machines. Remanufacturing and recycling may also become more important as the priority grows to use more local materials.

Biomanufacturing:
Biomanufacturing is very different from industrial manufacturing. It uses biological organisms to produce products. This is being used heavily by pharmaceutical companies with the ongoing development of drugs and other medical compounds.

Adaptable Manufacturing:
Mobile cases are very popular because everyone has dropped their Cellphone. The result of this very expensive mistake is usually a cracked screen that is a pain to fix. However, imagine a Cellphone that could bend when you drop it. Over the next decade, adaptable manufacturing is expected to expand in creating flexibility electronics. Due to the demand of stronger and more reliable electronic devices, adaptable manufacturing is expected to be one of the fastest growing areas of technology in today’s marketplace.

2 October3 Ways to Attract Women to Manufacturing

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While manufacturers are rushing to fill positions, businesses are passing up an untapped resource, women. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 47% of the US workforce but only 29% of the manufacturing workforce. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 2.7 million manufacturer workers are expected to retire in the next 8 years.  In order to keep the US Manufacturing Industry thriving, it will be crucial to attract a new generation of workers.  Here are 3 ways to attract more women to manufacturing jobs.

Industry Re-branding  

The manufacturing industry has a reputation for being “man’s work”. This is repelling the majority of women from considering the manufacturing industry for employment. In order to change women’s perspective, there has to be a change in industry perception. Manufacturing companies have to re-brand their company to be more women friendly. Companies should engage more women prospects at college and business fairs. Hire more women who can recruit other women. It is important for women to see other women doing the job they want to do. At Lyndex-Nikken, 40 percent of our staff are women and we have many women in leadership positions. Our Inside Sales Manager and Purchasing Manager are both women. Businesses can create internship and mentorship programs to help guide women through working in manufacturing. This will help you to retain your newly hired women employees and keep your business successful.

Company Culture 

Think back to the best job you’ve ever had. Ask yourself, what made this job stand out amongst the rest? Usually, it’s the company culture. According to a study conducted by Deloitte entitled, Women in Manufacturing: Exploring the Gender Gap, company culture is very important to women. Similar to Millennials, women prospects want equally pay, a healthy work-life balance and a clear path to advancement within the company. These are key aspects women consider when accepting career positions. It will be important to spend time creating a company culture that attracts women to manufacturing, if you want to keep American Manufacturing in America.

Position Flexibility 

Boredom is job killer. Nobody stays at a job they consider to be tedious. However, you stay in a career in you find interesting. Women are no different. They want to be challenged and be assigned projects they enjoy and find interesting. Create training programs that allow employees to spend time in other departments within the company. This will give your new-hires a chance to see what kind of work they want to do. At Lyndex-Nikken, we created a training program which rotates our sales associates to various departments to learn how that department runs efficiently.  This helps to facilitate continuous learning and helps to fill any gaps you may have in your staff. In return, you have an employee who is excited about working at your company and who excels at their job. They are more likely to stay with the company for years to come.

These insights are valuable for all businesses but especially the manufacturing industry.  Please share, like and subscribe to our social media channels for more industry insights.

4 September8 Facts You Need to Know about American Manufacturing

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Our booming manufacturing industry plays a valuable role in our American economy. The County Business Patterns, also known as the CBP, is an annual report from the Census Bureau that provides sub-national economic data by industry. According to the CBP, the American manufacturing industry includes almost 300,000 businesses with over 11 million employees producing goods we consume domestically or sell to other countries. This keeps the American economy growing. The average person may not understand how important manufacturing is to our national economy. Here are 8 facts you need to know about the American Manufacturing Industry:

1. 60,000 manufacturing jobs were added in the U.S. in 2014, in contrast to only 12,000 in 2003. 1

2. Manufacturing jobs aided in the country’s recovery back from the recent economic downturn, producing 29% of total economic growth in America since 2009. 1

3. If American manufacturing were its own economy, it would be the 8th largest economy in the world. 2

4. The average annual salary of an American manufacturing worker is $77,060, which includes salary and benefits. The average worker in non-manufacturing industries earned $60,168. 3

5. Manufacturers contributed $1.87 trillion to the economy, in 2012. An increase from $1.73 trillion in 2011. 4

6. Manufacturing work supports an estimated 17.2 million jobs in the United States. Nearly 12 million Americans are employed directly in manufacturing. 5

7. The American manufacturing industry is leading the initiative toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses that could provide a more competitive workforce on a global level. 6

8. In 2011, American manufacturers invested 3.9% of its sales into research and development, which has increased the recent technological advancements with in the manufacturing industry.7

Sources:

1) http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-flips-the-script-on-jobs-reshoring-finally-outpaced-offshoring-in-2014-2015-05-01

2) http://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/Research/Facts-About-Manufacturing/Economy-and-Jobs/8th-Largest-Economy/8th-Largest-Economy.aspx

3) http://useconomy.about.com/od/glossary/g/manufacturing_jobs.htm

4) http://www.nam.org/Issues/Trade/Free-Trade-Toolkit/Sample-Trade-Newsletter-on-Trade/

5) http://www.nam.org/Growth/

6) http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/stem-education/2012/08/15/industry-educators-build-in-roads-to-stem-success

7) http://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/Research/Facts-About-Manufacturing/Research-and-Development/US-Private-Sector-RandD/US-Private-Sector-RandD.aspx

31 August3 Reasons why 3D Printing is a Must in Manufacturing!

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3D printing is quickly growing to be 2015’s hottest forms of technology. From the automotive industry to gun manufacturing, the ability to used 3D printing across multiple industries is appealing to manufacturers. However, some still wonder if a 3D printer is a necessary purchase or luxury item. For those who are still on the fence, here are 3 reasons why 3D Printing is a must in manufacturing.

Price
When 3D printing machines made its debut, prices ranged from 20k and above. Small to mid-size Manufacturing companies may not have had the resources for such a purchase. However, the price of 3D printers is drastically falling. Table top systems range anywhere from $300 to $9k. Since 3D printers are available at every price point, it is making them accessible to all levels of manufacturing businesses.

Recreating Parts
Owning an older machine that is still running is wonderful for your bank account. It also proves you made a great investment in a solid machine. However, one of the disadvantages to owning an older machine is having to order replacement parts. Finding replacement parts can be extremely difficult and if the part is discontinued, it can be impossible. So, do you search the internet for a new part or upgrade to a new machine? Neither, if you have a 3D printer. 3D printing allows you to create your own custom parts and tools in-house. The 3D printer can make an exact copy of a part in plastic or metal, which can be used to test in the machine, make necessary changes and move forward to production.

Improvements
As soon as a product is released, it goes through a critiquing process. Engineers and designers ask, “How can we improve upon this product?” However, creating a 2.0 version used to mean a lengthy pre-production and testing phase. 3D printing allows for manufacturers to improve upon their current product line in-house. 3D printing is a flexible tool which allows engineers to correct errors and make improvements early in the design process when it’s less costly.

There are many reasons to consider buying a 3D printer. At Lyndex-Nikken, we made the choice to invest in 3D printing machine after receiving angle head requirements and tool change arm clearance requests from our customers. Since then, we have been able to shorten our clearance verification process from weeks to days. Below is a video demonstration of how we used a 3D printed Right Angle Head to get clearance for an automatic tool change.