As we put Q1 of 2017 in the rearview mirror, what does Q2 look like going forward?
MORE, MORE AND BETTER!
More advanced machine tools, more talented people, and better results for our customers.
Let me first look back to the last quarter of 2016. Buyers leaned out their inventory as the world held its breath, watching the U.S. elections unfold. I can only characterize that time as one of overcapacity and uncertainty. This lethargic environment changed rapidly as we entered the new year, like a dragster coming off the line when the lights turn green. Precision Plus had already committed to rolling out the oldest of our CNC Swiss lathes and replacing them with new and consistent equipment. Making this change amidst such a demand spike created its own set of challenges, but these are the challenges we like. The new Tsugami S205 lathes are in place and working great. Prior to this, we had eleven machines in this cell representing five different platforms. This made scheduling difficult and standardization awkward. We now have eight machines and one platform, allowing us to serve our customers much better. In total, we have 24 CNC Swiss lathes, all Tsugami and all new since 2008.
With the new Swiss lathes in place, we set our sights on expanding our CNC turn/mill capacity. Our six Miyano ABX lathes, with up to three turrets and 2.5” bar capacity, had reached a critical capacity constraint, and we needed more machines. We started searching for the most logical, consistent, and value-driven solution. In February, we decided on two new Miyano BNX-51MSY CNC lathes that will be installed early April. These are 2” capacity, bar fed, single turret, sub-spindle and high pressure equipped lathes that utilize all the same tooling as our other six Miyano machines. Stay tuned for another video installment of “machine tools on the move” that we will be sharing soon. Meanwhile, check out the video link below to learn more about what we can do with this technology.
While the new machines are a wonderful and necessary addition, they would be a waste of money if we did not have the talented people to engineer processes, program and set them up, as well as the skilled technicians to run them at the highest levels possible. Technology is meaningless without great people, from the front of the building to the back. I am grateful for the team we have built, and I amazed at what they can accomplish when they set their minds to a challenge. But this remains the single greatest challenge we face: where does one find great talent? In my opinion, talent is scarce, very scarce, and the best solution is to grow your own. However, this takes time. We pursue a blended approach – trying to attract talent when possible and investing significant resources to grow our own. This past month we hired two new team members with extensive CNC Swiss background, and we are still looking for more. Our Miyano team is also looking for more help as we add equipment and explore ways to capture even more hours per week. Let us not forget about all the other support roles like quality systems, material handling, shipping, engineering, and others.
Regarding the long-term program to grow our own talent, I can report much progress in this area. It started with raising awareness of the career opportunities in the community, followed by action to provide career exploration opportunities like summer internships and youth apprenticeship during the school year. This led to the investments at Gateway Technical College and the RPM center, an employee exchange program with another machine shop in Switzerland, and more recently, the investments at the local high school where they have reintroduced machining and welding programs with new facilities, equipment, and talented educators. These high school programs have attracted considerable attention and large numbers of students eager to learn about cool technology and rewarding careers. I feel good knowing we have great things going on in our community, and I look forward to working with and helping to develop the next generation of manufacturing professionals.
More, more and better. More advanced machine technology, more talented people, and better results for our customers. We strive to be the very best precision machined solution supplier in North America by empowering our talented team members with the very best machine tools available. Never will we accept the status quo as good enough, so the journey continues. Feel free to reach out to me directly should you have any questions or wish to learn more about all the good things going on in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Mike Reader, President