The Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing

Modern Manufacturing

Melting the Manufacturing Glacier

Modern Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the glacier of industry.  Because production is such a behemoth of material, process, scale, regulation, safety, establishment, and bureaucracy, any changes or innovation in the business of “making things” is slow to come. However, in the last decade, we’ve seen massive shifts in the way this industry does business.  

Slowly, the manufacturing sector is beginning to catch up to the on-time demands of customers who are used to point-and-click sale, payment, and shipping. A growing movement toward product customization, small quantity runs at competitive pricing, all with a new standard for precision and accuracy with increased automation is giving smaller, more modest manufacturing companies an edge over the big players.

Those same small makers are driving evolution industry-wide. The writing’s on the wall–the fundamentals of modern manufacturing have evolved.  Here’s a snapshot of some of the changes that are pushing manufacturing into new technologies and customer service frontiers.

The Way Things Were

It used to be that getting a part or product manufactured meant long lead times, colossal quantity requirements, and a lot of trial and error to machine parts that are accurate to customer specifications for optimal fit and function.  

A typical production job lasted for weeks or months, which would, in turn, cause bottlenecks and sometimes even complete breakdowns in the supply chain.

Taking completed products to market depended on endless spec collection, as well as repetitive back-and-forth dialog between customers, part designers, assembly line supervisors, and shop floor workers. Each piece of cutting equipment required a skilled worker for operation.

A New Technological Movement

With the advent of CNC manufacturing, website ordering systems, streamlined shipping, and more efficient communication protocol, smaller, more agile manufacturing companies like United Scientific are making names for themselves. The days of large-quantity minimum orders and “hair-on-fire” expediting nightmares are almost over.

How is CNC Technology Helping Speed Things Up?

Helping Technology Speed Up

Computer Numerical Control or CNC manufacturing is the messenger of production that can respond in real time to customer needs. CNC is a machining process that uses pre-programmed computer software as well as customized coding and memory storage to cut parts that offer a higher standard of precision fit.  

Further, because of the automation and digital aspect of CNC, near-perfect parts can be made every time with a significantly lower error rate than that of human-controlled machines.  

Unlike in previous decades where machinists did the cutting by “hand” with several implements, in CNC manufacturing, humans do most of the work on the “prep and design” end of the part or product.  

A design team or individual takes the specs of the desired product and feeds them into a CAD (design software) program. Once the design meets with customer approval, the part-maker then feeds the CAD design into a CAM program. CAM programs generate the “G-code” needed to tell the equipment (lathes, grinders,  or mills, for example) how to fabricate the piece.

G-code is specific in its communication with cutting equipment, providing instructions that detail the place and pace of each cut, coordinate multiple cuts on a part, and determine the feed rate of the product material through the whole process.

Once the cutting equipment has all the instructions, a product or part can be machined with a few clicks of a button, and repeated at the same precision standard for any product quantity. Also, instead of requiring a skilled worker for each cut with every piece of equipment, one worker can now “tell” several machines when and how to do the job, with a much lower margin of error.

Changes in Manufacturing Skills

The manufacturing workforce is undergoing a shift in current times. Shop floor workers must now be skilled in software operation more than the traditional machining skill sets. Machinists continue to be in high demand in the manufacturing sector. However, the new skill sets include familiarity and competence with both CAD am CAM software as it pertains to mills, lathes, grinders, and other part-making equipment.  

Real-Time Fulfillment

Just as we’ve all seen demand for online retail product ordering and free or reduced shipping skyrocket in the last decade, we are now noticing the same trend in manufacturing. Customers want their parts, and they want them delivered with both haste and precision.  

Also, huge quantity minimum orders are becoming a thing of the past as small manufacturers (like United Scientific) become experts at anticipating and delivering on the needs of their clients by adopting advanced technology like CNC programming, software, and equipment. Better technology means companies that build things can streamline their staff and efficiently use raw materials.  The result is a product that is both “lean” and “green” and ready for speedy delivery.

A Connected Company is a Successful One

Connecting with Those who Need CNC Manufacturing

Another aspect of the changing world of manufacturing is connectivity and communication. Customers expect to have updates and “tracking” ability in not only order shipment, but also in the whole process from design to completion.  

If our customers can access the exact progress of the part they need for their finished product, they can better plan for their growth, their future product innovation, and the satisfaction of their end users. United Scientific is with you every step of the way as we build the part you need, cut to the highest precision standards, delivered on your timeline.

Safety and Integrity

With the ethically minded consumer now ever more at the forefront, rest assured that United Scientific has always placed a priority on the safety of our staff and the ethics of our sales and partnerships. Even though our manufacturing uses state of the art technology, our people make our company tick.

When our people are happy, it shows in our work ethic, our communication with our clients, our overall customer service, and your end product.  

We are proud of our high ISO 9001 Certification Audit score, and ultimately, it’s our team that got us there. We are here to serve you with efficiency, accuracy, and relationship. That’s why at United Scientific, we are “scientific in process and united in purpose.”

What Happens in a CNC Machine Shop?

What is a CNC Machine Shop

What is a CNC Machine Shop

As the world has shifted over the centuries from agrarian to industrial, the need for quality machines and parts has grown exponentially. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is the method by which computer programming controls the tools necessary to create parts and prototypes. What happens in a CNC machine shop is not only fascinating but vital to every part of the global economy.

Regardless of your industry, when you need a prototype, part, or component quickly, you can trust United Scientific Inc. They work with speed, accuracy, and precision to create what you need for your job. In business since the 1940s and the time of “punched tape” machining, United Scientific knows how to deliver your product with excellence.

What Is A CNC Machine Shop?

At its basic level, CNC machining is a process that works by subtraction or elimination. It is a type of subtractive manufacturing. Starting with a solid piece of material the tools remove layers until the desired shape and dimensions emerge. By contrast, 3D printing is an additive process, building a part or component in layers from a 3D printer.

In a CNC machine shop, machinists can work with just about any material, such as wood, copper, steel, foam, and polypropylene. They serve many different industries from education to aerospace with their expertise.

So what happens in a CNC shop? As it turns out, a lot happens. From start to finish, the process is intricate and impressive.

CAD File Conversion

Before any machining can happen, a designer generates a computer-aided design (CAD) with the specific dimensions and geometries of the client’s part or prototype. This file then goes through another computer program that generates the specifications for the CNC machine in its language. This digital output allows the tools to understand their job.

G-code is the most common programming language used for CNC machines. It takes the CAD and translates into digital instructions for the machine. This language tells the tools where they need to go, when to go there, and how quickly to move.

Setting Up the Machine

Setting Up the Machine

Once the computer knows what it needs to do, the machinist has to prepare the tools for that particular job. Each project starts with a blank – the solid piece of material that the machine will reduce and sculpt. The CNC machinist loads the blank onto spindles and ensures all the tools are functional and ready to work.

Also Read: What is lean production and how does it minimize overhead

CNC machines use several different tools, such as drills, vises, and lathes. Sometimes these are combined into multi-use components in the device. The operator must check that everything is lined up and working correctly before running the program.

Executing the Program

After everything is prepared and ready to go, the operators can run the program. The CNC machine will follow its digital road map and set of instructions to create the required piece with precision.

Some of the most common types of operations in a CNC shop are:

  • Milling – This process feeds the blank to a rotating cutting tool that cuts away excess material. Milling can create threads, slots, and cavities in a piece, as required by the instructions.
  • Drilling – The drilling process feeds the material to multi-tip drill bits that can bore holes into the piece which makes it possible for the CNC machine to countersink and ream parts as needed.
  • Turning – The turning process removes material from the outside of the blank by feeding it into a machine such as a lathe. It can create slots and grooves around the circumference of a part.

Who Uses CNC Services?

CNC Services

Although most people may never need a CNC machine shop, these workplaces are vital to almost every industry around the globe. Our modern world relies on machinists for productivity in every facet of society, from farming to medicine to high tech industries.

Some machine shops produce products that the company then sells directly to consumers. Often, these businesses do all of their CAD work and CNC machining in house.

More often, however, the machine shop is a contract shop. In this case, the operators and machinists create parts and components for clients who use them to make products they sell to consumers.

Contract shops typically do not have CAD designers in house. Instead, the client hires that out and provides the CNC plans to the machine shop.

Machining is essential to the productivity of any manufacturing businesses in the global marketplace. Some of the biggest customers for the CNC machining industry are:

  • Military and Defense – The ever-evolving need for new designs and technology in the military demands constant updates to parts and components. Also, the natural attrition of vehicles and weapons means that the timely production of new parts is critical.
  • Aviation and Aerospace – As aircraft getter faster and lighter, CNC machine shops are busy keeping up with the demand of parts made with incredible precision to ensure safety and success.
  • Medical Research – The realm of medicine and healthcare relies on fast-moving research. Laboratories around the world require CNC machined parts regularly.
  • Optics – Manufacturers of telescopes and microscopes rely on accurate, precise CNC machining for their fine-tuned parts and pieces.

Commitment to Quality

At United Scientific, we pride ourselves on producing high-quality parts for our clients. Always. We give every single job the attention it deserves so that no client is left wanting. We know that you trust us to create parts that will function safely and effectively for you and your customers.

This commitment to excellence and the highest quality of work is why our clients come back to us again and again. They can rely on our precise, attentive, accurate work.

By hiring the best machinists and supporting them with ongoing professional development, we can always deliver. With a documented 99% accuracy rate, we know that our 70 years of machining experience will provide exactly what the job requires.

Trust United Scientific For Your CNC Machine Shop Needs

No matter your industry and no matter how tight the tolerances, United Scientific is ready to serve you. We are proud of our ISO 9001 outstanding certification, and we strive to exceed expectations for every client.

Reach out today to get your job started right away. We can’t wait to serve you.

 

What is Lean Production and How Does it Minimize Overhead?

Lean Production and Manufacturing

Lean Production and Manufacturing

In today’s economic climate, organizations have had to do more with less. But how does a person, team, organization or even a manufacturing company do more with less?

Is doing more with less even possible? With lean production principles, doing more with less is not just possible; it’s becoming the expectation.

Here at United Scientific Inc., we have adopted many lean principles into our business and manufacturing processes, which helps us to be more efficient and increase production output.

Who Are We?

United Scientific Inc., located St. Paul, Minnesota, is a manufacturing company offering customers high-quality products made within our high-performance, multi-faceted production center. Since the 1940s, our custom machining and manufacturing facility and staff have offered our customers an extensive focus on providing diversified parts manufacturing.

Our employees begin each project with the understanding that the work they perform is essential to our customers’ success. Speed, accuracy, precision, and quality are our hallmarks at United Scientific Inc. Our team will always follow stringent safety protocols, lean principles, and green initiatives wherever possible. We aim for zero defects with 100% on-time delivery rates.

What is Lean Production?

What is Lean Production and Manufacturing

According to the Lean Enterprise Institute, lean means “creating more value for customers with fewer resources.”

At United Scientific Inc., understanding our customer’s value is essential to the manufacturing and production process. Knowing what our customers’ value aids our team in focusing the manufacturing goals, enhancing our customers’ satisfaction. We know positive customer satisfaction leads to loyalty, repeat business, and referrals.

Also Read: Four Reasons Your Company Can Benefit From a Precision Machine Shop

Adopting lean production helps companies better achieve their goals by assisting management and employees focus on eliminating waste from the production process.

But what exactly is considered waste?

The Seven Deadly Wastes

In the production and manufacturing process, waste is an action or set of actions that do not add any value from the customer’s perspective. Customarily, there are seven areas of waste. They are:

  1. Overproduction – Manufacturing items before they are required or even requested. Overproduction can lead to additional costs.
  2. Inventory – A direct result of overproduction. Excess and “just in case” inventory leads to overstocking and low quality. This practice can wreak havoc on storage costs.
  3. Motion – Related to ergonomics, this is the unnecessary movement of employees or machines within the process. Unnecessary movement leads to injuries and longer production times.
  4. Waiting – This one is pretty self-explanatory. It refers to time wasted waiting for the next step in the production process.
  5. Transport – Unnecessary movement of materials from one location to another. With the high price of fuel, this particular practice can be extremely costly to your business, and it decreases quality.
  6. Overprocessing – The inappropriate use of techniques, oversize equipment, or adding additional features not required by the customer.
  7. Defects – Quality defects have a direct impact on the bottom line. It can lead to rework or replacements, thus costing valuable time, labor, and money.

Lean isn’t Just for Production or Manufacturing

Common misunderstandings about lean principles are that they only apply to manufacturing or production lines. Lean principles can apply to every business and every process. In fact, industries worldwide, including healthcare, military, aviation, and governments, are using lean principles.

Some prefer not to call it “lean.” They wish to emphasize the fact that lean isn’t a cost restructuring program or strategic tactic. Instead, it is a school of thought and a different way of thinking and acting to improve overall production by eliminating waste in the process.

The purpose of lean is to help the company develop thought processes and methods to achieve the critical goal — understanding what our customers value — by eliminating waste in the process while maintaining high quality.

Five Key Principles

Principles of Lean Production

The Lean Enterprise Institute lists five fundamental principles to help guide companies in implementing lean techniques. They are:

  1. Identify Value – What are the customers’ needs for the precise project or product?
  2. Value Stream – Map the steps and processes, from raw materials to delivery of the final product. Remove any waste.
  3. Flow – Ensure the remaining steps in the process flow smoothly without delays, bottlenecks, or interruptions.
  4. Pull – Allow customers to pull product as needed, thus reducing the need to stockpile. This habit saves resources and reduces costs.
  5. Perfection – Make lean thinking and process a part of the organization’s culture. Becoming lean requires consistent effort to be perfect.

United Scientific is Ready to “Lean” for You

Here at United Scientific, adopting a lean mindset has helped us stay “Scientific in Process, United in Purpose.”

Our customers honor us with the privilege to handle their machining and manufacturing parts requests. We are proud to merge excellent customer service with high-quality parts manufacturing and CNC machining expertise.

Our customers can trust that United Scientific will complete any machining project correctly, on-time, and with the highest level of quality assurance, without any waste or loss in customer value. We work together with our customers to ensure that we meet all their requirements, and customers are satisfied with the final result.

United Scientific Inc. strives to ensure their lean production processes are flexible and adaptable wherever possible. We respect progress, but never at the expense of accuracy, quality, and precision.

We back up our quality-control with a scientific quality process generating a 99-plus percent accuracy factor. Our method yields a 131 Defective Parts Per Million rating, which is tops in the industry. The specialists in our inspection department have implemented Lean processes to eliminate waste, yet not at the expense of quality and precision.

All United Scientific customers experience the feeling of satisfaction, knowing from start to finish that the professionals at United Scientific will meet their requirements. And whenever possible, we exceed our customers’ wishes. We go above and beyond.

No matter your industry, when you need parts manufacturing, CNC machining, aerospace parts, medical device prototypes, or components, put your faith in United Scientific Inc. United Scientific is the company to call for quality, on-time delivery, and accessibility to meet your manufacturing needs.

Call Us!

To learn more about our services, lean processes, and how United Scientific Inc. can support your project, contact us at 651-483-1500, or email sales@usimn.com.