Blogs for 08/2018

Every wonder what it would be like to sell machine tools for living? Rantings of a Machine Tool Salesman by Scott Walker provides a flavor of that wonderland career. Semiretired, Walker is chairman of Mitsui Seiki USA Inc., Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, where he started as vice president of sales in 1991. The company specializes in building heavy metal and mother machine tools.
A blade and knife manufacturer for the lumber industry suggested that it might have to close its plant in Michigan. The largest nail producer in the U.S. has laid off 60 workers and warns that it may be forced to move its factory to Mexico. A California cannery said its profit margins could drop by up to 70 percent over the coming months. A well-known motorcycle manufacturer said it’s shifting some of its production to foreign countries. What is this financial crisis that’s affecting so many manufacturing companies? In each case, the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum are said to be the culprit.
As discussed in a recent issue of Cutting Tool Engineering magazine in the feature article “Lean into it,” a little lean manufacturing goes a long way. One factor that tends to trip up people and companies on their way to establishing lean cultures is sustainment. Phillip Canipe, vice president of sales and business development for the Southwest region at Stellar Industrial Supply Inc. in Tacoma, Washington, said 90 percent of companies are reluctant to re-examine processes that already have been inspected and improved.
To gain more knowledge about Industry 4.0 developments, I participated in the Taiwan Smart Machinery Media Tour Aug. 20-24. The Taiwan External Trade Development Council hosted the event. The council reports that Taiwan has the highest density of precision machinery cluster in the world, exports almost 80 percent of its products and is the fifth largest export country for machine tools.
I’m not a morning person. If it were up to me, all alarm clocks on Earth would be rounded up and smashed with a giant hammer, their electronic corpses left to rot in a landfill far, far away from my home in Tucson, Arizona. I’m not sure what people on other planets do about the whole alarm clock situation, but I assume they are more advanced than humans and therefore late sleepers like me. Unless my dad’s predictions about the looming extraterrestrial invasion are accurate, however, we’ll never know.