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Midwest’s Rockford, Illinois: A Shining Star In The Aerospace Industry

Michael Reader

The Rockford, Illinois region is located in the middle of North America, equidistant between Milwaukee and Chicago and part of the third largest economic corridor in the U.S. According to the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, “The region offers abundant land for development at a low cost per acre, much of it within Foreign Trade Zone #176. This strategic location provides excellent direct access to markets via four interstates (I-90, I-88, I-39 and I-43); Global III, Union Pacific Railroad’s intermodal hub; and Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD), the 18th largest air cargo airport in the United States and home to the second largest UPS hub in the nation (parcel and heavy freight).”

The Greater Rockford Area is also a hub for the U.S. aerospace industry, hosting over 170 aerospace suppliers and employing over 6,000 people.  The Rockford region is home to five major tier one aerospace supply companies: Hamilton Sundstrand, Woodward, B/E Aerospace, Mag Aerospace Industries, Inc. and Supplycore. Additionally, local universities strive to bring science to the area. Rockford’s nearby Northern Illinois University (NIU) awards over 400 engineering degrees each year and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University – a world leader in aviation and aerospace education – which established a campus at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport in 2008 and offers a number of aeronautical degrees, including masters in aeronautical science.

Jeff Kaney, an entrepreneur who has founded two aerospace companies in Rockford, and who is chairman of RAAN (The Rockford Area Aerospace Network)  says companies in the Rockford cluster constitute all elements of the aerospace supply chain, including assembly, inspection, testing, repair and software.

Kerry Frank, president of Comply 365 Solutions, a software firm that develops software for the Kindle Fire, iPads and other portable devices used by pilots and flight attendants, says the cluster has brought a great awareness regarding aerospace to the Midwest.

Local news  reported that the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) reported a strong start to 2012 with a 14 percent increase in first quarter passenger traffic year-over-year. Each month in the quarter saw strong passenger growth with March being the busiest month in RFD’s history. During its record-breaking month of March, 32,473 passengers came through RFD. March also had the largest increase in year-over-year traffic for the quarter, posting a nearly 18 percent jump. The previous busiest month at RFD was in March 2008 with 29,361 passengers.  Punta Cana and Denver destinations have really helped drive passenger growth with their strong bookings,” said Mike Dunn, RFD Director of Economic Development and Government Relations.

Precision Plus is a proud supplier to the aerospace industry, supplying mission-crucial components that are used from single-engine aircraft to the Space Shuttle.

Precision Plus Sales and Engineering Manager Bill Wells Receives PMPA Recognition

Michael Reader

On April 11, 2012,  during a PMPA district meeting which took place in Brookfield, Wisconsin,  PMPA President Richard Hoster and PMPA Executive Director Mike Duffin presented Precision Plus’  Bill Wells with two awards:  the first award recognizes him for his outstanding service as the 2011 National Technical Conference Chairman, and the second award commends him for his tireless efforts as PMPA’s Wisconsin District Chairman.

Bill, who serves as Sales and Engineering Manager at Precision Plus, invests a tremendous amount of personal time and energy to continuously improve the programs PMPA has available for its members.

We are all truly grateful for all his contributions and congratulate him on his achievements.

-Pictured are Precision Plus’ Bill Wells and PMPA President Richard Hoster-

PMPA National Technical Conference to Take Place in Wheeling, Illinois – April 21-24, 2012

Michael Reader

PMPA (Precision Machined Products Association) will be holding its annual national technical conference at the Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel in Wheeling, Illinois.

According to the organizers, “The precision machining industry relies on the best and the brightest people in manufacturing to produce safety critical parts for numerous applications.  There is not a trade that has more advanced tools, machinery, or people.  PMPA’s 2012 National Technical Conference has been designed to further develop the technical, quality and managerial talents of the people in shops.”

There will be a number of conference sessions ranging from new technology, shop safety, the quoting process, to critical thinking and many more.  The keynote speaker for the conference will be Krish Dhanam whose “Top Performance” keynote will be sure to inspire those who hear it.

The program will include certification workshops in “Critical Process Thinking in the Quality Profession,” and “Leadership Gold.”  There will also be track sessions targeted to three groups of personnel: technical, quality, and management.  Both the certification programs and the track sessions are geared to the continuous improvement of precision machinists.

Photo courtesy of PMPA

Seventy exhibitors will also be showcasing the latest in technology and will be on hand to discuss with attendees.

Both members and non-members of PMPA are welcomed to attend this conference.  PMPA members are encouraged to sponsor a prospective member or a student.

Precision Plus’  Bill Wells, serves as a senior advisor to the PMPA’s National Technical Conference.  We believe the conference delivers a strong message to the importance of U.S. manufacturing.

For more information about attending this conference, please contact Monte Guitar at 440-526-0300, visit the PMPA’s National Technical Conference website, or scan the QR code below.

New State-of-the-Art Miyano Increases Production Capabilities at Precision Plus in Elkhorn, Wisconsin

Michael Reader

We are anxiously anticipating the arrival of our new Miyano ABX-51TH3.  This new Super Precision Turning Center will be capable of processing high-end parts efficiently in a single setup by being able to mill and drill even more complex parts than what equipment allows now..  This will bring the number of Miyanos precision turning centers in our shop to four.

Miyano ABX-51TH3

The ABX-51TH3 Miyano is a 2-spindle, 3-turret turning center with 2-Y-axis.  A Y-axis control is featured on each of the two upper turrets (right and left), which makes it possible to have revolving tools attached on all of 12 stations. A lower turret, which could operate either right or left, can also have revolving tools on its own 12 stations, which results in 3 tools being able to work simultaneously, performing complex operations both front and back, in a single machine setup.

Miyano’s newest precision turning center sets a new standard for bar machines with its high precision and high functionality features.

Our new custom-specked turning center will also come with three attachments:  an FMB Turbo 5-55 Bar Loader, a ChipBLASTER High Pressure Coolant System and a Hainbuch Collet-Style Clamping System.

The FMB Turbo 5-55 is an automatic bar loading magazine for processing bars in diameters from 5 to 55mm and in lengths of up to 4200 mm.  Quick change polyurethane guide channels allow for quiet operation at high RPM while feeding round, square or hex bar stock. There is no metal to metal contact and it features an automatic feed system.

The ChipBLASTER High Pressure Coolant System features automatic variable volume, double ChipBLASTER’s  super duty pump, double compression filter hold down, and multiple pressure options. It is also equipped with four outputs for accommodate multiple operations.

The Hainbuch Collect-style Clamping System is a SPANNTOP Modular system, with a through-bore for bars and tubes.  It features parallel/cylindrical clamping, and offers optimal holding power and rigidity.  Its design allows for easy change-overs and minimal wear.  Its concentricity is of < 0.01 mm.

Precision Plus is on a never-ending quest to design and manufacture precision components that will save our customers production time and money.  Next week’s arrival of our new Miyano Super Precision Turnning Center will be just another step in our quest.

ABX-51TH3 Specs

‘RIGHT SKILLS NOW‘ PROGRAM BRINGS HOPE TO U.S. MANUFACTURING

Michael Reader

Call it a conundrum of sorts…in a down economy, when jobs are scarce while unemployment soars, the manufacturing sector struggles to find qualified candidates to fill available jobs.

Some refer to this void as the “perfect storm:” manufacturing being outsourced abroad, Baby Boomers in manufacturing approaching retirement age, and Gen-Exers and Milleniums pursuing broader-ranged careers.

In October of 2011, and in response to the lack of available talent to fill manufacturing positions, The Manufacturing Institute launched a fast-track education and training program called “RIGHT SKILLS NOW.”  Based on the National Association of Manufacturers’ Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, the program is designed to provide accelerated, intense training and education to  potential workers, who upon completion of the 16 to 22-week program are able to meet the demands expected in precision machining jobs in manufacturing.

RIGHT SKILLS NOW is a grass root movement backed by some formidable partners:  The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, The Manufacturing Institute, ACT, Inc.,  and The National Institute for Metalworking Skills.  The scope of the program involves aspects from professionalism in the workplace, integrity, communication, problem solving, and CNC milling and turning.

Several schools around the U.S., including Minnesota and Nevada, have already set up and implemented curricula for  “RIGHT SKILLS NOW” programs.  The first graduates are expected to receive their certificates in mid 2012.

Click now to see employment opportunities at Precision Plus

In Pursuit of Precision

Michael Reader

What was it that inspired Ralph “Buck” Cates to decide to go “solo” in 1982?  Buck had worked in machine shops all of his life, but he saw precision beyond precision. Buck understood  what “the system” meant .  Buck knew that no matter how good a machinist could be,  a system must be in place in order to make the machinist flourish, in order to make precision happen.  So it was in 1982, that Buck and a select group of hand-picked machinists turned on the power at a modest but powerful  5,000 sq. ft. machine shop in Walworth, Wisconsin.  Buck called it “Precision Plus” because of his belief: precision should always go beyond its expectations.

17,000 sq. ft. and 50 employees later, Buck saw it as the perfect time to pass on his legacy.  It was in 1988 that Buck sold his company, his vision to Phil Reader.  Soon after the transition, Phil was confronted with the reality of  “a global economy.”  It was no longer manufacturing as usual.  Emerging economies were making strides into the U.S. manufacturing arena.  Phil had to consider his current aging equipment situation and come up with a solution to stay ahead of the trends and competitiveness of this “new” economy.

As fate would have it, Phil’s son, Michael Reader, who had studied finance and worked in areas of international affairs, joined the company in 1995.  Michael understood  both the importance of running a competitive U.S. manufacturing business and the strategies of how it would fit within a global economy.

The transition took Precision Plus through a series of renovation and expansion: Retrofitted machines were replaced by state-of the-art equipment able to maximize efficiency, while a new, expandable 45,000 sq. ft. facility in Elkhorn, Wisconsin made it able to accommodate rigorous schedules and just-in-time deliveries.

Precision Plus Inc. has never stood still during these years.  It’s always been keen in  anticipating industry changes, always making sure to capture trends, always ready to respond to the most challenging requests that will make efficiency shine.

Michael, now at the head of the company, has never forgotten Buck’s mission:  “Precision beyond precision. “  Even in a non-tolerant industry as the Swiss-turning precision component one, innovation is always the answer.  Michael, Phil, and everyone at Precision Plus know that.

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