Tooling & Production

August 2008 Edition

the view from IMTS 2008

Top execs set the stage for big show’s opening

Signs point to robust metalworking economy

John Byrd III
John Byrd III, President
AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Metalworking manufacturing isn’t dead, dying or even sick for that matter. According to John Byrd III, president of AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the industry doesn’t so much as have the sniffles.

What the metalworking industry suffers from is the wrong public perception.

Byrd says there is no better indicator of the industry’s health than its biennial extravaganza, the International Manufacturing Technology Show.

The 28th edition of IMTS takes place Sept. 8 through 13 in Chicago’s McCormick Place, drawing industry professionals from 119 countries. More than 1,500 exhibiting companies will be on hand, occupying 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space, attracting an estimated 91,000 buyers.

Even before the doors open for IMTS 2008, Byrd says all the signs point to a robust metalworking manufacturing economy.

"Exhibit space sales always provide measure of confidence," says Byrd. "We surpassed our goal and hear daily from producers who tell us that production operations continue to demonstrate a need for highly capable new equipment. IMTS is certainly the place to find it."

In addition to metalworking equipment and related products and services, the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) at IMTS 2008 will be showcasing MTConnect, an open communication standard for interconnectability between machines and independent systems.

"MTConnect may be the most exciting development in our industry since the introduction of NC almost 40 years ago," says Byrd. "We are mirroring the success occurring in the information technology world. That is, allowing devices, equipment, and systems to output data in an understandable format that can be read by any other device using the same standard format to read the data.

"MTConnect will enable everyone in the production supply chain to be part of making the manufacturing enterprise more productive."

AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology

IMTS provides chance to tap into new markets

Carlos M. Cardoso
Carlos M. Cardoso, CEO, Kennametal Inc.

For Kennametal Inc. CEO Carlos M. Cardoso, IMTS 2008 represents not only a chance to expand on his company’s sales base, but to see how the manufacturing landscape is changing.

"IMTS is always an exciting time for showcasing and learning about manufacturing technology," Cardoso says. "This year will be particularly exciting as the industry continues to grow globally, particularly in emerging economies, and the materials and technologies advance to provide new and improved ways to manufacture products. This event will serve as a platform for customer collaboration, breakthrough technology, education, business opportunity and global growth."

In a product-driven business, Cardoso says the ability to grasp the needs of the customer is as key to survival as any sale.

"[IMTS] gives us an opportunity to connect with our customers — old and new — and work together to form solutions to industry challenges," he says. "New materials such as composites bring new challenges to customers and to Kennametal, and we are ready to work together to conquer those obstacles from start to finish."

As markets emerge around the globe, Cardoso says Kennametal and other companies at IMTS are quickly adjusting.

"Global markets are influencing us dramatically," he says. "First, we are following our global customers so that we can provide the services and products that they need wherever they are in the world.

"We are excited by opportunities afforded by the emerging markets such as India, China, Eastern Europe, and parts of South America. If you look at China alone, 1.4 billion new customers are coming online, and these customers are going to want all the things American customers enjoy now. We want to be there to capture our share of these markets."

Kennametal Inc.

Welcome to the IT revolution

Rodger W. Pinney
Rodger W. Pinney, president and CEO, United Grinding Technologies

For everything else IMTS 2008 might be, says Rodger W. Pinney, president and CEO of United Grinding Technologies, it offers the chance to see and be seen. It is especially true when it comes to the latest innovations in manufacturing.

"The IT revolution and its powerful impact on manufacturing productivity will be on full display," Pinney says. "Industry leaders will be exhibiting their newest IT solutions aimed at boosting manufacturing uptime and efficiency through the integration of floor performance data from multiple manufacturing processes with plant management ERP and real-time SPC systems."

The technology show will also serve as a platform for several machine tool manufacturers to launch: 1. their newest concepts pertinent to total cost of ownership; and 2. total lifecycle solutions business partnerships with their customers.

It will be a chance, says Pinney, to see the latest manufacturing solutions for exotic materials in some of the hottest products from aerospace to cutting tools.

"Machine tool suppliers will demonstrate some exciting manufacturing competencies through assuming turnkey responsibility for the integration of equipment, processes, management systems, and workforce development to reliably produce highly complex parts at the lowest possible cost per piece," he says.

Every IMTS is a special opportunity. But this year will offer the chance for companies to broaden their ambitions in a unique way, he says.

"That’s so much more true because this is a critical time period when renewed interest in North American-based manufacturing is gaining positive momentum," says Pinney. "It’s a tremendous opportunity."

 United Grinding Technologies

Invest now or lose in the future

John Israelsson
John Israelsson, President, Sandvik Coromant U.S

These are good times to be an American manufacturer. The weak dollar has made U.S. production cheaper. But Sandvik Coromant U.S. President John Israelsson is quick to follow with a stern warning: it’s only temporary.

"It’s inevitable that the dollar will once again rise," Israelsson says. "For this reason, it is vital that American manufacturing take advantage of the present conditions to prepare for the future."

That means companies have to implement processes that increase productivity and minimize the cost of labor per component. The companies that do this will ensure a globally competitive advantage long after the dollar has regained its footing.

"Getting the most out of a production line requires a willingness to think outside of the box, an often-used but very relevant term," he says. "This is especially a challenge in terms of machining processes."

Perhaps the best example is buying a new insert grade. It doesn’t require a substantial amount of daring. While the technology might be revolutionary, increasing the feed rate or cutting speed doesn’t feel like a giant leap of faith.

Process evolution, by comparison, can be daunting.

"In many of the more traditional manufacturing environments, there is resistance to implementing anything that requires substantial change," says Israelsson. "That is a hurdle that must be cleared when company owners are evaluating new technologies through something like IMTS.

"Long-term success is viable and now is the time to act," he says. "Each company will determine the scope of its own potential through its willingness to think outside the box and work together with machine tool builders and cutting tool suppliers to maximize productivity."

Sandvik Coromant

New heights for aircraft market

Scott Walker
Scott Walker, President, Mitsui Seiki

IMTS 2008 takes place at a time when the manufacturing of aircraft parts has been a driving force in the industry, says Scott Walker, president of Mitsui Seiki.

"Our most significant machine tool developments in the last two years have been for this market," says Walker.

It’s precisely in this area that Walker expects to see the most productivity advancements at IMTS.

Some of that is reflective in the changing technologies. Where aircraft have traditionally been built out of aluminum, today’s newer generation are crafted from carbon fiber, composites, and new titanium grade materials.

New machines incorporating low frequency machining designs, new tool/spindle taper interfaces for high bending moments, and high powered spindles and servos will be prominent at IMTS, predicts Walker.

"These features are required to provide the extended tool life needed with the high stock removal conditions to keep costs in line," says Walker.

Engines have changed as well. Part cost is continuing to be driven down.

"More parts per hour, more drilled holes per hour, and new materials for extended engine life are continuing to drive new manufacturing technologies," Walker says.

Mitsui Seiki has traditionally been a milling and grinding machine tool manufacturer, but is now introducing a new five-axes laser drilling machine at IMTS.

"A new generation of small footprint, five-axes, large machining envelope machines have entered the market in the last two years," Walker says. "These types of machines are now in the cost range that most high-end shops can afford and are not just for the big OEMs."

Mitsui Seiki

Information-intense world changes IMTS

Kurt Zierhut
Kurt Zierhut, Director of Electrical Engineering, Haas Automation Inc.

For 24 years, Kurt Zierhut has made IMTS a biennial tradition. He’s seen the buildings change, get torn down and rebuilt. He’s seen the name change. But perhaps most importantly, Zierhut, the director of electrical engineering at Haas Automation, has watched the slow but undeniable contraction in the size of IMTS.

While many view the manufacturing show’s shrinking as an accurate indicator of the industry’s health, Zierhut vehemently disagrees, citing a comparison with the computer industry’s showcase event, COMDEX.

"That event grew dramatically over a period of 15 years until, in only a few more years, it shrank to nothing," says Zierhut. "However, nobody says the computer industry is contracting. This is because the methods of introducing products and information have changed. We are in an information-intense world. Few people would go to a show that gives them nothing more that they could see on the Web."

Those that still attend make the trip to see something new, on the cutting edge, that hasn’t been seen before, and cannot be seen anywhere else.

"I think this is the key," Zierhut says. "IMTS will thrive only if we, the presenters, bring these new ideas and products to the show and catch the attention of our customers."

Zierhut estimates he sees maybe 10 new ideas at each show. But he’s not expecting this year’s IMTS to set records. Rather, he estimates the innovations will come in processes.

"They won’t be dramatic changes to the way machines work," says Zierhut. "They are gradual improvements in the productivity of machines. These are things like robotic loading, pallet loading, and faster machining. These are the things people come to IMTS to see."

Haas Automation Inc.

Multi-tasking and flexibility the key to success

Brian Papke
Brian Papke, President, Mazak Corporation

To Brian Papke, president of Mazak, IMTS serves as the best way for manufacturers to evaluate their productivity and find new ideas for improving operations.

"Not only can they find methods of cutting parts faster at IMTS, but they also can find ways to increase equipment utilization and improve throughput," says Papke. "Concepts such as multi-tasking, five-axis machines, automation, and groups of machines with robot integration will enhance a manufacturer’s ability to compete in the global marketplace."

At Mazak’s manufacturing operation in Florence, KY, Papke says his company can remain globally competitive as long as they can integrate concepts like Done-In-One, multi-tasking, Palletech, five-axis machines, together with Lean manufacturing.

"We just went through an analysis of the machines that we’ve recently introduced into our operations, similar to those we’ll show at IMTS, and frankly we underestimated the productivity improvement," he says.

"The numbers are outstanding. Originally we estimated a 40 percent reduction in cycle times. The actual numbers were closer to a 70 percent reduction. We try to bring this type of thinking to IMTS, and provide real technology solutions that will improve customer productivity."

Among those feature solutions, Mazak will showcase the Integrex i-150, aimed at bringing versatility and accuracy on small, complex components; the Integrex e-420 H-ST II for multi-tasking; and three Hyper Quadrex models.

"They all bring together multi-tasking and flexibility for higher production volume parts and will illustrate the fusion of technology, performance and value that our customers can evaluate," says Papke.

Mazak Corp.

Taking advantage of booming times

Glynn Fletcher
Glynn Fletcher, President, Agie Charmilles U.S.

Is the cost for production has skyrocketed for many overseas rivals, the United States has enjoyed something of a metalworking manufacturing renaissance in the form of rising exports and domestic sales.

One of the keys for that, says Glynn Fletcher, president of Agie Charmilles U.S., is the cost of energy.

"America is the world’s largest country in terms of consumer spending," he says. "As rising fuel costs drive up the prices on goods produced abroad, more and more companies will recognize a benefit in bringing previously outsourced manufacturing back to the U.S."

Fletcher says this is a time of rare opportunity for manufacturers to invest in new and bold technologies — the most surefire way of being on the cutting edge.

"Productivity plays a large role in a manufacturer’s ability to maximize profits," he says. "Achieving the highest possible productivity requires a willingness to invest in new technologies. The current state of the market offers many incentives for doing so.

"Interest rates are relatively low, reducing the cost of investing," says Fletcher. "Additionally, the government’s stimulus package for business offers tax incentives for capital investment. At the moment, it is extremely cost effective for manufacturers to update their technology to take advantage of the latest innovations."

Fletcher eyes IMTS as the perfect springboard for taking advantage of the current market.

"IMTS is always an exciting time for manufacturing," he says. "The innovations unveiled at this year’s show will be perfectly timed to boost the productivity and profitability of American manufacturers."

Agie Charmilles

It’s survival of the fittest

Bill Gibbs
Bill Gibbs, President, Cimatron Technologies Inc. / Gibbs and Associates

If it’s time for IMTS already, then Bill Gibbs is starting to feel a little old. The president for Cimatron Technologies and Gibbs and Associates attended his first IMTS in 1978. At that show, he recalls the showcase piece being a CAM software you could talk to, instead of typing. Of course, that program was a bit ahead of its time: a solution in search of a problem, which is not a great basis for a business plan.

"Even had their technology been up to snuff, most people can type ‘-2.4368’ faster than they can say ‘minus two point four three six eight,’" says Gibbs. "The company didn’t last long."

Gibbs mentions all this keeping in mind the current economic landscape: a weak U.S. dollar, high gas prices, tight credit, the housing crisis, and a new president around the corner.

"I’m sure a lot of us stop and ponder how long our companies will be around," he says. "It’s not something we should take for granted. The best way to ensure that our companies will be around a while is to do something about it."

And in manufacturing that means improving one’s ability to compete: to make better parts faster.

"Improving your competitiveness is more important in a tight economy than in a good economy," says Gibbs. "In good times, everybody has more work than they can get to. In tight times, inefficient non-competitive companies fall by the wayside."

Manufacturing competitiveness is more technology-driven today than ever before, making IMTS a crucial tool for gaining knowledge.

"You have to see what’s new," says Gibbs. "What can improve your competitiveness. See what can help your company be around awhile. IMTS can help all of us have a better and more productive next year."

Cimatron Technologies Inc.

Harnessing the cutting edge of technology

Tom Dillon
Tom Dillon, President, Mori Seiki

To Mori Seiki President Tom Dillon, IMTS serves as a launch site for greater productivity both at Mori Seiki USA, and for the manufacturing industry in general. Part of the reason for that is the shifting landscape in the global economy.

"Where, in the past, manufacturing in the United States might have been more focused on the automotive market, we are now seeing a resurgence in energy, aircraft, and agriculture segments," says Dillon. "These expanding markets require innovative technologies and the most advanced machinery to accommodate for the growing number of users."

Because demand is constant, it places a greater need on machine tool builders to find better ways to improve productivity. In that sense, Dillon sees a mutually beneficial relationship.

"The combined productivity of builders and users naturally results in profitability for both groups," he says.

Mori Seiki will be introducing several new machines at IMTS 2008, including the NT6600/4000CS, which features a broad Y-axis travel and faster Z-axis rapid traverse rate.

For his part and that of Mori Seiki, the goal is to enable today’s tool users "to expand their business by employing the most advanced technologies." Then it’s up to the users to be "bold and visionary" enough to apply those tools to their processes long after IMTS 2008 closes its doors.

Mori Seiki

New ideas can help improve company profit

Andrew Benson
Andrew Benson, VP Business Development,
Iscar Metals Inc.

Andrew Benson, vice president of business development of Iscar, sums up IMTS concisely: "IMTS is about new ideas to improve profit. It’s a forum to create both opportunity and solution."

Benson says IMTS will be the place to showcase a company’s products.

Iscar will be featuring not only the new SUMO line, but also Matrix, Iscar’s new venture into inventory management equipment. Matrix features a flexible system in which drawers and cabinets can be swapped out and management software electronically controls access to items.

"After an exhaustive review of MRO vending systems, Iscar invested to bring to market what we feel is one of the best products (equipment and software)," Benson says.

He believes that escalating logistics cost will make more important the need to gain control and better plan supply.

Customer recognition is important, he says, and the goal is to create a new performance benchmark that yields even higher cost savings potential.

"They expect improvement and the Iscar field engineer is always prepared to bring that new solution," Benson says.

Will the attendee’s visit lead to improved productivity and profit? "I believe so," Benson says, adding, "Is it measureable? Indirectly, yes. We see the same customers every year at IMTS and they seem to have more attendees each year. They are healthy (profitable) because they make the investment to invest in themselves."

Iscar Metals

editor's blogs

Dennis Seeds

Off the Toolpath

EASTEC marks 30th show with spotlight on medical devices
The recession hasn’t stopped business, if the activity at the EASTEC Advanced Productivity Exposition is to judge. The show, in its 30th year, drew 570 exhibitors, down from 608 in 2008 and 650 in 2007. About 15,000 attendees pre-registered. Last year’s show tallied 14,000 attendees. The largest industrial tool trade show on the East Coast, EASTEC was held May19-21 in West Springfield, MA.
by Dennis Seeds, Editor-in-Chief

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