What is Maintenance Machining?

Maintenance machining is a type of machining that focuses on the maintenance and repair of parts that may be integral to the functioning of larger automated manufacturing processes.  This type of machining reduces unproductive hours and maintains the value of automation equipment.

Maintenance machining usually starts with some type of onsite visit by a technician to possibly disassemble machinery and inspect the parts that may need to be repaired or completely rebuilt.  Maintenance machinists are often on call due to the emergency nature of the types of repairs needed in industries where non-stop production is critical.

This type of machining may also involve reverse engineering processes.  At times, plant managers will find that an OEM replacement part just isn’t available.  This may be due to the original manufacturer no longer offering replacement parts for the machinery.  In these instances, maintenance machinists reverse engineer (analyze a component to design one that does the same thing without having the original drawings) a part that may perform even better than OEM parts.  Maintenance machining ensures that manufacturers can get the most out of machinery until having to completely replace the equipment.

Industries such as:  food, medical, paper, printing, aerospace all require regular maintenance or emergency machining repairs.  Some parts that frequently require maintenance machining include:  dies, gearboxes, keyways, bolster plates, castings, bushings and housings.

To learn more about our maintenance machining team click here.

Bolster plates
Example of maintenance machining – showing how we extended the life of a bolster plate by repairing the holes by machining new bronze inserts.

 

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O-Rings & Go Fever: Avoiding Groupthink in Manufacturing

On this date in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of all seven members of the crew.  After an investigation, it was found that the disaster was caused by a faulty O-ring that allowed a gap through which combustion gases could leak and produce a deadly flame path.

The failure of the O-rings was attributed to a faulty design, whose performance could be too easily compromised by factors including the low temperature on the day of launch.  It was also determined that NASA’s organizational culture and decision-making process played an even greater part of the disaster.   NASA staff members revealed that they knew the O-rings had failed in the past and that they weren’t suitable for use at temperatures below 40 degrees yet still decided to launch on a 28 degree morning.  These employees expressed their feelings that management was not interested in any outlying opinions or viewpoints about the safety of the launch.  More disturbing than the catastrophic effect of such a seemingly simple part failure was the failure of NASA to overcome their “go fever”.

The term “go fever” is used in the space industry to describe a push to finish a project, sometimes at the cost of safety.  Go fever, a form of groupthink, refers to the overall attitude of being in a rush or hurry to get a project or task done while overlooking potential problems or mistakes.  It is due to the tendency of individuals to be overly committed to a previously chosen course of action based on time and resources already expended despite the possibility of reduced benefits or considerable risks.  It can also be due to the desire of members of a team not to be seen as the one who is not committed to the team’s goals or to be the one interfering with the team’s progress or success.

In a groupthink environment, rationalization, peer pressure and complacency lead to an illusion of invulnerability and unanimity.  NASA management became accustomed to these phenomena when no serious consequences resulted from earlier episodes of O-ring failures.  They thought they were invincible because as a team they rationalized that the risk from the faulty parts was acceptable to ignore.

The negative results of groupthink behavior can affect companies of all sizes and all industries.

Some ways to avoid groupthink in manufacturing environments include:

Diversify Your Team.  Make an effort to form a team of diverse personalities and strengths and avoid putting “yes people” in decision making positions.

Avoid Being Too Directive.  If you are a leader or project manager, avoid stating preferences and expectations at the outset of a decision making process.

Checks & Balances.  Create subgroups or departments to manage different parts of a process and play devil’s advocate.

Encourage Healthy Conflict.  Create an environment where ideas can be challenged without reprisal.

Brainstorm Regularly.  Brainstorming is a non-threatening way for ideas to flow freely without criticism

Analyze Risks.  Examine risks of preferred and alternative options and make sure the team understands the risks before coming to a final decision.

As manufacturers, the Challenger disaster can be used as a case study to examine groupthink culture in our industry.  The manufacturing industry makes parts and products that could very well mean life and death.  Making an effort to improve your organizational decision making process ensures that you will get the most out of your diverse team of employees and that your customers best interests are being served.

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Not Provided – What you need to know about Google Hummingbird

If your business currently uses Google Analytics to track metrics on your website, you may have noticed the infamous “not provided” where you used to see keywords.  That is because of Hummingbird, Google’s latest search algorithm, which seeks to provide a more human way to interact with users and provide a direct answer to search inquiries.

In the coming weeks and months the obsession with search rankings for keywords will begin to fade into the past.  Essentially Hummingbird has reduced the power of simple keywords as a determining factor when displaying your website during a search.  The idea of “long tail” searches is now the focus.  Instead of putting weight on the most popular single keywords, Google now focuses on the more infrequent (and more specific) queries which actually make up the majority of searches.

long-tail-keywords

Google Hummingbird is more sophisticated at understanding which pages are answering people’s questions.  Your page doesn’t even have to contain the exact question to appear in a search it just has to contain the information that answers the question.  Isn’t Google smart?

The bottom line is this:  although keywords do still matter in the latest Google search algorithm, keyword stuffing will no longer generate the traffic it might have in the past.  Google has come up with an extremely clever algorithm that seeks to first understand the user’s querie then to find a selection of sites that may answer that question.  The best thing you can do to increase online visibility is to create human focused content that seeks to answer the questions people are asking when searching online.

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