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Jeffrey Reinert VIEWPOINTS INDUSTRY LEADER OPINION & ANALYSIS Advanced Technologies Keep Doing More with Less v


thoroughly analyzed the way they do business and eliminated unnecessary duties and wasteful activity. The focus on cost reduction has been very intense.


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And two of the largest costs, employment and energy, have been a key targets for cost reduction. Companies of all kinds have learned that they can function fully, yet more profi tably, with fewer employees and have squeezed more profi t per dollar out of revenue. Survivors are leaner than ever and more than a few are look-


ing at a return of demand for their capability, particularly if they can produce complex parts—the type that have not been easily outsourced or which have come back to the US. The question for some manufacturers then becomes: Are we going to add more personnel to meet the demand for our products or can we accommodate an increase in business by adding technology?


Adding capacity and improving capability by investing in machines that complete parts unattended offers a long-term, low-risk answer to the question. Machines than can do more in a single setup—the idea of


‘more done in one’—can be relied on to put more high-quality product out the door and bring more revenue in the door, without the need to add personnel. It can also offer meaning- ful reductions in energy consumption on the shop fl oor. Less personnel, less energy consumption, plus faster production is a recipe for future success. With new technology, output can be added or controlled con- sistently without the concerns that come with hiring and employing operators for equipment. This is part of the reason companies of all kinds and sizes are investing in information technology. IT has been one of the hottest sectors of the economy this year. And MTCon- nect offers a way to leverage IT for profi tability on the shop fl oor. The only concern is cybersecurity, once a network is connected. Managers and business owners are also faced with great uncertainty regarding health care costs, taxes of various kinds and levels, and likely increases in employment tax rates. It is this range of circumstances that has constrained manufacturing


136 AdvancedManufacturing.org | July 2016


anufacturing has trimmed operations in the past half-decade, reducing labor costs, energy cost, and nearly every other cost of doing business. Firms have


hiring and preventing employment in this country from improving in any meaningful way. According to our most enthusiastic customers, many of whom operate small shops, the investment in advanced ma- chining technology that can drop complex parts complete is a revenue and profi t builder, not simply an expense.


Adding capacity and improving capability by investing in advanced machines can offer a long-term, low-risk solution.


For example, about 80% of the so-called Swiss turning ma- chines working today are actually making fi xed headstock-type parts in the 1 1/4" (31.8-mm) range. Although the Swiss-style machines are built to handle this bar size range, it is a misappli- cation of the Swiss-style sliding headstock technology. So some time ago INDEX developed a very fast automatic lathe that offers greater tooling variety, high precision, more power, and faster processing speed, plus greater fl exibility, putting three live tools in the cut simultaneously. It offers a highly productive means of machining stock in the 30–42 mm range with more tools (42 quick-change tools, fi xed and driven), higher horsepower, and greater torque but with the RPM typical of Swiss-style machines. It comes down to cost per piece. A faster process with no wasted time, running continuously, makes parts profi tably—even if initial capital expense seems major. The fl exibility of modern equipment also means, of course, that you can handle many different jobs in less time on the fl oor. For example, if you are getting $0.50 per piece running the work on a machine that takes three minutes to complete each a part and you replace that machine with one that can drop a high-quality part in half that time, you are making a good profi t immediately. No added personnel, no part handling or work-in-process, no additional shop-fl oor space, and reduced


energy cost to produce each part. Looking ahead to greater opportunity and higher input costs, such as energy and labor, the market is telling us that advanced technology offers the best way to succeed going forward.


President & CEO Index Corp.


www.indextraub.com


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