It seems that everyone is lining up to chant some sort of environmental mantra these days. This chorus of chatter ranges from international governments to every crack and crevasse in the private sector. Is the sky falling? Have we over reacted? Are there sensible ways to “go green?”
Often manufacturing sits in the crosshairs of some of the gravest concerns, and in many cases its well deserved. As owners and managers of CNC mill and lathe shops we have to ask the question, “what is our responsibility?” How can we take care of the planet and still turn a profit machining parts. Should we allow our concern over our carbon footprint to step on our ability to make a profit? At our core we want to machine quality parts and take full advantage of our mill and lathe technology, but I believe all of us want to do our part in setting up more sustainable practices for our day to day precision machining.
It seems that there is a positive pier pressure taking hold in most neighborhoods. A growing number of consumers are recycling and taking measures to move toward renewable energy sources. But since consumer recycling addresses only 1%-2% of the solution, business have to understand that we carry the burden for environmental care. We have to hold the business neighborhood to a greater accountability. Maybe machine shops will become the poster child for 21st century global environmental responsibility.
I read a recent post by Dan Goldsmith and he makes the following suggestions:
- On CNC machines with that are electrically controlled with advanced drives, change the parameters in the spindle drives so that they ramp up a little more gradually, saving energy and money.
- Use energy-efficient T-8 fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts to light your shop instead of the old-fashioned T-12 lamps (the bigger ones) that waste energy and money. “Every [lost] kilowatt hour translates directly into dollars of lost profit.”
- Recycle waste coolant and oil from CNC mill and lathe machines with companies that specialize in field. “I just spoke to a rep a couple of weeks ago about filtering our press oil into burnable fuel oil for our boilers to heat our plant.” Dan also suggests considering bio-degradable coolants.
- “Also what about all that scrap metal? Is it being properly recycled? This is a good area to consider renegotiating for best price.” Scrap companies are always looking for another machine shop to work with.
- Recycle used carbide.
- Run more work during second or third shifts on off-peak energy hours.
“Going green” can be about profit and global responsibility. Let’s choose both.
From time to time on our blog we are going to spotlight some of the team members of John Prosock Machine. As a precision machine shop that provides quality CNC milling and lathe machining, we know that we are only as good as the people that make up our team. Our team philosophy sits at the core of our ability to achieve on time delivery combined with tight tolerance quality from the first machined work piece to the last.
Tiffany Rafferty somewhat stumbled into the machine shop business back in 2000 through her cousin, Amanda, who also works at John Prosock machine. Tiffany started out in the machine shop where she learned to operate CNC milling machines and CNC lathes. Tiffany was a quick study and rapidly moved from not just operating precision machines but programming some of our vertical and horizontal turning centers.
Tiffany also had a knack for administrative tasks and the eye for detail necessary in the tight tolerance world of machining. Within a couple years, she had transitioned from the machine shop floor into the office environment. She now processes quotes for machined parts and serves as our Management Representative for our ISO 9001:2000. She was instrumental in the certification process and now works daily in making sure our precision machining meets these international codes.
Tiffany recently said, “With this job it always keeps you busy. There is never a dull moment. I like working with the ISO part of job because it helps me stay organized and think or new ideas for the organization of our machine shop.” Tiffany recently conducted our regularly scheduled ISO meeting where she reviewed practices in both our milling and lathe departments with all of our staff.
What does Tiff do in her spare time? “I have 2 boys so spare time right now is not an option, but I do like to read and go running – not away from the kids. Most of all I like to spend time with my family.”
Owner John Prosock believes that Tiffany has been a strategic part of the growth of his machine shop. Her precision skills help us make precision machined parts every day.
As our economy shifts toward globalization every CNC Mill and Lathe shop must address the issue of offshore competition with confidence and a healthy respect. We must say goodbye to the days where North America had dominance in precision machining. But we must not despair or grow bitter. We must innovate. Machine shops in America must rise to the challenge. Custom machining must be redefined by higher standards and better customer service. One important thing to remember is that companies are looking for CNC mill and lathe shops to supplement the machined parts they are sending over seas. They realize that quick turnaround is often a necessity for them to meet the custom machining needs of their customers. If all their parts are machined in China, they are left vulnerable. The manufacturing sector is exploding. Be creative. Look for niche markets where your machine shop can thrive.