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workforce


Through the cooperation of CNC suppliers, machine builders, educational institutions and end users, an industry improves its workforce and itself


Randy Pearson ‘A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats’ T


he headline of this column is typically ascribed to John F. Kennedy, our president back in the '60s, when my metalworking involvement consisted of playing on the jungle gym on the school playground. Actually, his speechwriter borrowed the quote from a local chamber of commerce, which had the same general idea I am presenting to you here.


The metalworking industry as a whole benefi ts from the ongoing cooperation of the controls suppliers, the machine builder community, the educational institutions, whether high school shop classes, votech schools or university engineer- ing departments, plus all you folks in the end user world, from the fi ve-man job shop to the production department of a major OEM. This is not pie-in-the-sky or Pollyannish behav- ior; it’s serious business.


My company has formed an alliance with the TMA, the


former Tool & Die Institute, near Chicago, for example. This association changed its name a while back, precisely because it broadened its scope to include more companies, larger companies and more affi liate members among the industry supply base. This was done to expand the input, thinking and direction of the group, something from which we can all benefi t. The members are still all related to metalwork- ing but they include stampers, weld shops, chipcutters of all sorts and even the machine builders and dealers who supply the industry. They fi nd they have much more in common, when running their businesses, and those perspectives are useful to all the members. We’re helping to sponsor competitions among the mem- bers and the students at local schools, with an eye toward raising the bar, or water level in this analogy, to improve the skill sets of current workforces, as well as the next generation of machine operators, programmers, machine designers and maintenance engineers. Meanwhile, the feedback (no pun intended) we get from these various groups helps us design controls that are more fl exible, more responsive to user needs, more adaptive to the rapidly changing landscape in machine shop operations today and, maybe most important- ly, looking ahead to the future of manufacturing in America.


Siemens Industry Inc. Digital Factory Motion Control Machine Tool Business


When I think of the speed with which the transition from manual machines to NC tape drives to CNC and now to robotic articulation, machine-to-machine communications, transfer line technology for blank to fi nished workpiece fl ow and even the elimination of the zone controllers on fully automated production/assembly lines has been achieved, it becomes obvious that controls suppliers must make a com- mitment to follow every development in the market.


Several machine builder customers are now sending their students and customer workforces our way for specifi c training on the CNC technology.


This is not done to make us richer, as our involvement in most training enterprises is offered gratis. Rather, it’s done to make us a better supplier, to make our custom- ers build better machines and to make the industry more viable and more competitive on the world scene. In the end, everyone wins, that way. Several machine builder customers are now sending their students and customer workforces our way for specifi c training on the CNC technology. In one case, a builder has developed an entirely new machine for the job-shop sector, based on the input they and we derived from our joint experiences. In the fi eld, too, better training means a better operator


workforce, capable of running multiple and very different types of machines. The days when an operator of Brand X lathe wouldn’t even consider working on a Brand Y lathe are gone, forever and ever. And thank goodness they are gone, because American shops will no longer survive with that mindset. Through the cooperation of controls suppliers, machine builders, educational institutions and you in the end user community, the boats will indeed all rise and prosper.


136 — Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing 2016


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