Better training leads to a stronger workforce

Through the cooperation of controls suppliers, machine builders, educational institutions, and the end-users, the workforce as a whole will benefit.


"A rising tide lifts all boats." That quote typically is ascribed to John F. Kennedy back in the 1960s, when my metalworking involvement consisted of playing on the jungle gym at the school playground. Actually, his speechwriter borrowed the quote from a local chamber of commerce, who had the same idea I present to you here.

The metalworking industry as a whole benefits from the ongoing cooperation of controls suppliers, the machine builder community, and educational institutions, whether high school shop classes, vocation schools, or university engineering departments. It also benefits from everyone in the end-user world, from the five-man job shop to the production department of a major original equipment manufacturer. This is not pie-in-the-sky or Pollyannaish behavior; it is serious business.

For example, my company has formed an alliance with the TMA, the former Tool & Die Institute located near Chicago. This association changed its name when it broadened its scope to include more companies, larger companies, and more affiliate 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 benefit.

The members are still related to metalworking, but they include stampers, weld shops, chip cutters of all sorts, and even the machine builders and dealers who supply the industry. They find that 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 members and the students at local schools, with an eye on 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 we get from these various groups helps us design controls that are more flexible, more responsive to user needs, more adaptive to the rapidly changing landscape in machine shop operations today, and, maybe most important, look ahead to the future of manufacturing in America.

I think of the speed with which we transitioned from manual machines to NC tape drives to CNC machines. Now we have robotic articulation, machine-to-machine communications, transfer-line technology for blank to finished workpiece flow, and even the elimination of the zone controllers on fully automated production/assembly lines. After all this change, it's obvious that controls suppliers must make a commitment to follow every development in the market.

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 customers build better machines, and to make the industry more viable and more competitive worldwide. In the end, everyone wins.

Several machine builder customers are now sending their students and customer workforces our way for specific training on CNC technology. In one case, a builder has developed an entirely new machine for the job shop sector, based on the input we derived from our joint experiences.

In the field, too, better training means a better operator workforce that's 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-and thank goodness they ARE gone, because U.S. shops wouldn't survive with that mindset anymore.

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.

Incidentally, I want you all to know that I was recently certified as a lift truck operator. We all need to multitask and keep honing our skills. Collectively, it will make us a better, stronger industry. In my case, I can now move some of the workpieces into our tech center work areas. I had pretty good test scores, actually, and I'm kind of proud of that. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Randy Pearson, a long-time veteran of the machine tool industry, is the Siemens sales support manager for U.S. dealers and OEMs. His special interest is the many levels of training on CNC machine tools, which he conducts through various seminars, workshops, and classes the company conducts at vocational/technical schools and on site at shops, as well as at Siemens training facilities around the country. His e-mail is 

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me