Skip to Content

Author Archives: Steiner Technologies, Inc.

  1. Making the Case for Change: 4 Ways to Approach Change Management in Manufacturing

    Leave a Comment

    Your manufacturing firm is considering its largest capital investment to date: a new piece of equipment that will streamline an otherwise highly manual process.

    While the benefits look promising, the stakes are high: will it prove to be a sound decision that ultimately saves your company time and money – or will this decision put your firm in a financial deficit?

    The truth is, much of your success relies upon how well you plan to manage that proposed change. Whether it’s a large machine, a simple tooling solution or new software, both management and staff can be slow to adopt the very changes that could validate an expenditure and deem it successful. So what gives?

    In this blog, we’ll take a look at the top four challenges to change management that we’ve come across in the manufacturing world, along with the solutions to help overcome them.

    Challenge 1: Seeking approval

    Let’s face it — executives are never going to jump at the idea of spending money, and are even less likely to sign off on something that disrupts production. Without a thorough, thoughtful analysis to prove how and why a capital expenditure would be valuable to your company, your efforts for seeking approval will likely be futile.

    The solution: Gather all necessary details and present a thoughtful proposal that lays out all the benefits and the drawbacks of a particular solution. Do all relevant calculations upfront — for example, in the case of a new machine, what is the cost? How many hours in manpower will it save? What are the cost savings when compared to the old machine? How much will it increase throughput? Perform your cost-benefit analysis upfront, and if possible, try to provide alternate solutions as back-ups.

    Challenge 2: Getting your staff on board

    Seeking approval from management is just the beginning. Even once that is accomplished, staff can be slow to warm to anything that threatens “the way things are normally done.” Despite your efforts to explain to employees the potential value that a given solution might provide, it’s natural for people to push back on changes – especially if those changes feel suddenly forced upon them. Read more on resistance to change.

    The solution: Involve team members from the very beginning – especially those who will be most impacted. Show them how your proposed solution will directly benefit them. Ask your team for feedback and opinions, involve them in your cost-benefit analysis, and include key team members when you present ideas to senior management. By involving your team from the start, they are far more likely to take ownership in the decision and help champion the change for others.

    Challenge 3: Sticking with it

    You’ve made it this far: you purchased a new solution, demonstrated its benefits and trained your team on the new process. But it’s not too long before you realize that on the floor, things aren’t exactly going as planned: some of your staff has reverted to the old processes that you worked so hard to replace. This scenario not only creates inconsistencies in operations, but makes it difficult to validate the long-term value of your expenditure.

    Solution: Develop a validation plan that lays out guidelines and a timeline for your process change. Before you roll out your changes, define and formalize your goals and expectations, then share them with your team so they feel collectively motivated to hit goals. For instance, will a new tooling solution increase throughput by a certain percentage? From the time of the first run-off, how long will it take your team to achieve that goal? Once you define the criteria upon which to measure success, it will be easier to track and measure improvements and/or identify inefficiencies. It’s also important to periodically follow up with your team to check progress to make sure they are following through with the changes, as well as identifying anything that is not working as planned.

    Challenge 4: Proving value over time

    You’re eager to show senior managers how the solution you proposed improves operations over time — but not all solutions show immediate value. For a large capital expenditure like a large piece of new equipment, for example, it may be several years before your manufacturing firm realizes any financial or operational gain.

    Solution: Here again, it’s necessary to perform your cost/payback analysis early in the process. This will help you set reasonable benchmarks that can help you stay on track in measuring the value of your investment. You may even want to seek outside financial expertise to help you create accurate projections for your analysis.

    All in all, implementing a new solution and its accompanying new processes may feel like an uphill battle — but when you apply a thoughtful and strategic approach, the rewards can far exceed the risks.

    Whichever solution you’re considering, don’t forget to ask your vendor for help, too. A prospective vendor should be able to help you with a cost-benefit analysis and other key calculations to help guide your decision. (For example, take a look at our Cycle Time Calculator that helps manufacturers understand how much time and money they can save with the Autofacer®.)

    Try the Calculator

  2. How Today’s Trends Are Fueling Innovation for Automotive Manufacturers

    Leave a Comment

    With vehicle production on the rise, automotive manufacturers are feeling the impact. For many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), this means investing in new machinery and/or improving facilities to increase productivity and efficiency. Meanwhile, changes in consumer demand, technological advancements and environmental regulations also challenge organizations to refocus their thinking for the future. In this blog, we’ll explore current trends in the automotive sector and discuss what they could mean for manufacturers.

    Production & Spending: What the Numbers Say

    Recent research suggests that vehicle production is at historic levels, a pattern that’s expected to continue in the next couple of years. According to the 2017 Metalworking Capital Spending Survey1, annual vehicle production in North America is predicted to top 18 million vehicles in 2017, 2018 and 2019, up from 17.55 million vehicles produced in 2016. The survey also offers insight on how production is expected to impact spending throughout the manufacturing supply chain:

    • In 2017, facilities that serve the auto industry plan to spend $804 million on machine tools.
    • Predictions on overall spending by automotive facilities can be broken out by machine type as follows:
      • $370 million on machining centers
      • $48 million on turning centers
      • $103 million on grinding equipment
    • The automotive industry is expected to outspend all other industries in machine tool purchases by an excess of about $319 million (followed by the aerospace industry).

    Investing in Automation

    Under pressure to produce parts more quickly and in large volumes, it’s likely that many auto manufacturing facilities will continue to adopt tooling solutions that help automate and streamline operations. The trend could also open the door to various forms of additive manufacturing, which entails manufacturing a part using 3D printing technology. Another opportunity for cost reduction and automation is 3D modeling and design automation software, which allows manufacturers to speed up design time and increase consistency in their designs.

    Investing in automation goes beyond the automotive sector, too – in fact, according to another manufacturing survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, 75 percent of respondents said their companies planned to increase investments in automation or advanced manufacturing technologies over the next five years. ²

    Responding to Non-Traditional Demand

    Evolving consumer demand may also be a contributing factor for increased production. As consumers push for “non-traditional” types of cars, including those with green features and driverless technologies, auto makers may find their current vehicle line-ups are no longer sustainable. Even with the possibility of rolled-back mandates on fuel-efficiency from the new administration, the demand for electric and more efficient vehicles remains strong — with auto makers at the ready to move forward with green technologies to meet that demand.

    Electric-car maker Tesla serves as a good example of changing consumer demands. Widely known for the self-driving technologies of its Model 3, Tesla nearly overtook industry giant Ford in market value in recent weeks – and came within striking distance of long-time market leader General Motors.3

    What It All Means, For Now

    Of course, there are no guarantees that vehicle production will hit its expected targets; no guarantee that demand will stay its course. But even as trends ripple throughout the automotive supply chain and redefine the focus of numerous auto makers and manufacturers, one thing’s the same: despite both internal and external influences, the manufacturing world continues to adjust, innovate and move forward.

    If you would like to learn how automated tooling solutions like the Autofacer® can help you speed up high production volumes, try out this easy-to-use Cycle Time Calculator.

    Try the Calculator

    ¹Gardner Business Intelligence (the research division of Gardner Business Media, publisher of Modern Machine Shop). 2017. Metalworking Capital Spending Survey. Retrieved from [PDF].

    ²Belfiore, Michael. (2017, April). Automation Brings Manufacturing Back Home. Retrieved from

    ³Dwyer, Colin. NPR Contributor. 2017, April 4. Riding Hopes For Model 3, Tesla Overtakes Ford in Market Value. Retrieved from

  3. Steiner Q&A: The Best Reverse Boring Tool Solutions – And Why We’re So Excited About Them

    Leave a Comment

    Everyone here at Steiner has H. Bilz on the mind. And for good reason: our team is currently finalizing plans to add a new line of counterboring tools made by German manufacturer Hermann Bilz (H. Bilz). For both Steiner and H. Bilz, this is yet another chapter in a decades-old manufacturing partnership. And as our plans unfold, it has spurred several questions from both Steiner customers and outside manufacturers who are simply interested in learning more about H. Bilz tooling solutions. In this blog, I aimed to address some of those key questions with the most direct approach possible; that is, I talked to Steiner’s President, Andy Nolan, to capture his key takeaways about our new product line.

    Q: What prompted the decision to sell H. Bilz products in North America?

    A: The short answer is that it just makes sense — for several different reasons, really. For one, the Steiner-H. Bilz partnership is already about 35 years strong. Like Steiner, H. Bilz is a manufacturer of custom tooling solutions. Our two companies share similar values. We understand each other, and we know that we work well together. Despite geographic distance, we work in similar environments and share a similar customer base. Plus, the partnership is already happening with much success in our European and Asian markets, where H. Bilz has helped expand distribution opportunities for Steiner solutions. Now we’re simply reversing that effect, by serving as a distributor of H. Bilz products in U.S. markets. All in all, it’s a natural fit – plus a beneficial move for our customers as we will be stocking these items in the United States.

    Q: You mentioned a similar customer base. Can you describe how H. Bilz products coincide with the needs of Steiner customers?

    A: Every manufacturing company obviously has very different purchasing needs. There’s no single best tooling solution that works across the board for everyone. The Autofacer, for example, remains the heavy hitter for high volume, tough applications that require speed, reliability and automation. But for shorter production runs and less demanding applications, a manual solution might be the more economical choice. Ultimately, our customers appreciate having a single resource, much like a “one-stop shop,” that they can trust to help them find the best reverse machining solutions for their manufacturing needs. That’s the model we are hoping to move toward.

    Q: Can you highlight a few H. Bilz tool solutions that you’re most excited about?

    A: It’s hard to pick just one… H. Bilz includes a wide breadth of products, each with different benefits. I would say I’m most excited about the tooling solutions that fill the needs that the Autofacer® may not be ideal for. Here again, I’m referring to manufacturers who have less parts to produce and need a more manual option for short-run production. For this, H. Bilz offers the TU-Style Reverse Counterbore System, a manual system with a fast cutter head change-out that is easy-to-modify to special sizes and geometries.

    Q: Any other H. Bilz products that you’d like to mention?

    A: There’s also the RBS-Style Reverse Boring Bar for very fast back counterboring applications with “normal” length-to-diameter ratios, as well as the RFS Reverse Chamfering Bar, another automatic reverse boring tool that is perfect for creating back chamfers and countersinks. The RFS chamfering bar has high material strength and a large cross-sectioned body that allows for higher cutting data than some other manufacturing processes. Both of these tooling solutions can be smart, time-saving choices that greatly improve your operations.

    Q: When will we see H. Bilz products on Steiner’s website?

    A: Soon! Our Steiner website redesign, which will feature both Steiner and H.Bilz tooling solutions, is well underway and we look forward to launching it soon. It will also contain several helpful resources (videos, technical documents and more), to help manufacturers make informed decisions and feel connected to the manufacturing community. We’re very excited about all of these changes!

    Want to be in the know about H. Bilz and other tools that can benefit manufacturers? Sign up now (see form at top right) for Steiner updates and we’ll let you know once our newly redesigned website is ready! And as always, if you have questions or would like to discuss, don’t hesitate to connect with us at any time.

  4. Guest Blog: Building Your Manufacturing Website: Three Digital Marketing Essentials

    Leave a Comment

    Manufacturing Guest Blogger Precision Marketing Group, LLC

    While some manufacturing companies are still investing in more traditional forms of advertising, such as ads in trade magazines, only 32 percent are finding these tactics to be effective. This fact highlights the need for a strong digital marketing strategy. Yet the world of digital marketing changes at a rapid pace. And for industries other than.. well, marketing, keeping up with it can feel as if you’re chasing a moving train. This sentiment is common across a range of different B2B industries, and manufacturing is no exception. Of course, it’s not enough to simply have a strong website presence – to truly be effective as a marketing tool, your website should have the ability to attract more prospects, convert them into customers and gain the edge among your competitors. Here are three relatively simple but effective strategies to consider.

    1. Use Keywords to Lead People to Your Website

    You’ve invested a lot of resources in creating your website. And if you build it, they will, come, right? Not exactly. In reality, your prospective customers may never find you without a sound Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. The importance of search keywords cannot be understated. In today’s digital era, where your prospects look to online searches to solve many of their pain points, it’s essential to have a website that ranks high on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

    So how do you determine the best keywords? Take the first step by asking the range of topics your potential customers care about and are looking for. Are they searching for a customized tooling solution? A manufacturing distributor for stocked products or parts? General ideas on how to reduce manufacturing costs or improve manufacturing safety? Once you identify your customers’ needs, you can implement keywords throughout your website pages and meta data that show how your expertise relates to what they are looking for. Doing so will give you the upper hand in search results over your direct competitors.

    2. Provide a Streamlined Way to Submit Specs

    If your prospects and customers are going to buy directly from your website, be sure you have a simple, intuitive and organized way for them to submit technical specifications to your sales, engineering or production teams. If customers can see that they can upload application details and files with a quick click of a button, they’re much more likely to move forward with the purchase. Some ways to streamline this include:

    • Make sure all forms on your website are detailed but clear
    • Keep a safe amount of white space in between forms and other text on the same page in order to avoid confusion
    • Keep your required steps in the specs submission process to a minimum
    • Provide instructional cues wherever necessary (required fields, formatting rules for input fields, etc.)

    Additionally, to best understand and measure how much time and effort it takes a person to get from one end of this interaction to the other, you many also want to consider conducting basic user tests.

    3. Showcase Your Industry Portfolio

    According to a CMI’s 2013 content marketing report, 88% of B2B marketers cited case studies as the most effective form of content marketing. Case studies are a compelling way to sway a prospect that’s been sitting on the fence, between both you and your competitors, not quite ready to commit. By providing concrete and detailed examples of similar problems you’ve helped solve for similar types of customers, you can very likely tip the scales in your favor. Case studies are particularly effective in the manufacturing industry, where results (i.e., time savings, greater efficiency, increased output, etc.) are often quantifiable and directly attributed to a specific product or solution. Some tips for creating case studies include:

    • Focus on results and quantify your successes wherever possible
    • Complement your story with client testimonials that speak to the results
    • Make your case studies highly visible on your website and promote them (more than once) across various social channels

    Putting modern practices into action

    For manufacturers who often feel at odds with evolving digital marketing best practices, these strategies are relatively simple yet effective ways to get on board the digital bandwagon. Also keep in mind that many conventional marketing principles – like being sure to convey your company’s unique value proposition and highlight what sets you apart from your competitors – also still apply to your website.

    Want to see some of these strategies in action? Coming soon, Steiner visitors can enjoy one-stop access to more products for manufacturers, along with more helpful resources (blogs, case studies, videos and more) to help your business thrive. Plus a whole new look and feel! Sign up now (see form at top right) for Steiner updates and we’ll let you know once our newly redesigned website is ready!

    For more manufacturing inspirations, don’t miss our blog resource center. And as always, if you have questions or would like to discuss, don’t hesitate to connect with us at any time.

  5. Design Automation Software: What It Does and Why It’s a Game-Changer for Manufacturers

    Leave a Comment

    In the world of manufacturing, we tend to think in terms of faster, better and more cost-efficient. So when we find ways to significantly improve any one of these factors, well … it’s exciting. That’s how I would describe our experience in using DriveWorks design automation software. Simply put, it’s been a game-changer for us. In addition, the implementation of a design automation process has had benefits that go beyond our internal operations here at Steiner. The software offers distinct advantages that manufacturers at every level can benefit from. In this blog, we’ll take a quick look at what the software does and some of the key benefits.

    Design Automation Software: What It Is & What It Does

    DriveWorks design automation software works in tandem with the very popular SolidWorks 3D modeling and design software package. SolidWorks is used to design just about any custom product with a wide range of features and functionality. It provides a platform for designing parts, assemblies and drawings, giving manufacturers an impressive ability to visualize product designs upfront. DriveWorks enables engineers to automate and standardize the tool design process (As an example, Steiner uses both SolidWorks and DriveWorks for its back counterboring tools.) It’s the combination of these two types of software that presents real potential for a streamlined design process and a higher-quality product in the end.

    Why It Provides Value to Manufacturers

    For companies who create custom tooling solutions, and for manufacturing engineers who integrate those solutions into their processes, 3D modeling software and automation software adds value in the following ways:

    • Access to a 3D model file. Tools that are created with the aid of modeling and design automation software come with a definite advantage: they are typically accompanied by a model file. Manufacturers who order these tools can request this 3D model file, then import it into their own toolpath software to check for interferences between the tool and the part, the machine, the fixtures and so on. This, in effect, lessens the chance of crashes.
    • Consistency in product and process. Software like SolidWorks and DriveWorks improves consistency in a few ways. Automation greatly reduces the chance for design errors, which is particularly helpful when manufacturing different “families” of parts that have the same design across many different sizes. And the less variation in the product, the less variation in the process. Consider the time it takes to implement and document the process for running a new tool (speeds/feeds, operating sequence, etc). If you should need to re-order a new or replacement tool in the future, it’s extremely valuable to know that it will perform the same as the original one. 3D modeling software and automation software provides manufacturers with this added level of assurance.
    • Shorter lead time. Using modeling and design automation software drastically reduces tool design time, resulting in a shorter lead time for customers. This is obviously a huge advantage for both custom manufacturers (who are processing many orders) and for the engineers who are waiting on those tools to improve their own processes. At Steiner, for example, the software helped us reduce our tool design time by about an hour and a half per design, helping us turn around orders faster and with more accuracy.

    So far, the investment in SolidWorks and DriveWorks has been a valuable one for Steiner. We couldn’t be more excited about what it means for our customers as well as the manufacturing community at large – and I hope this blog helps you think about how your operations can benefit from it as well.
    For more manufacturing inspirations, check out our resource center. And don’t miss our follow-up blog on how DriveWorks software automates the quoting process.

    As always, if you have questions or would like to discuss, don’t hesitate to connect with us at any time.

  6. Reverse Machining: What Is It and What Can It Do for My Profitability?

    Leave a Comment

    Many manufacturing companies today already capitalize on the benefits of using reverse machining in their manufacturing processes. Yet at the same time, there are many others who are complacent in existing systems and therefore may dismiss the idea altogether. But reverse machining processes and tools (for example, back counterbore, back countersink and back spotface) can be a very effective way to increase profitability — so it may be time to reconsider whether or not they work for your company. To help, we’ll walk you through both pros and cons and offer some practical tips on the different types of solutions.

    Weighing the Pros and Cons

    First, the basics. Reverse machining is the act of machining a feature that exists on the opposite, more difficult-to-access side of a part. There are significant benefits for manufacturers who use reverse machining in their processes that are directly tied to profitability – here are the pros:

    • Speeds up the fixturing process. Reverse machining prevents operators from having to manually rotate and re-fixture a part in order to access a feature. Eliminating this step drastically cuts down production time.
    • Reverse machining allows a company to utilize existing machinery instead of having to invest in additional costly machinery that include features such as a rotary table for rotating the part.
    • Better part accuracy. Eliminating the re-fixturing process reduces the risk of manual error and helps ensure accuracy, as the relationship between critical dimensions is easier to hold when machined in the same setup.

    Conversely, there are some potential drawbacks and considerations as you explore the possibility of reverse machining. Here are the cons:

    • Special tooling is often required for the reverse machining process.
    • Fixturing requirements need to be reviewed. In reverse machining, the machine forces will be the opposite of what they normally are and will try to “pull” rather than “push” a part during the machining process – so you’ll want to evaluate your fixturing setup and make sure it is rigid.
    • Machine compatibility. Certain styles of reverse machining tools require a machine with a W Axis, which not every manufacturer has. 

    What are the different types of tooling solutions?

    As you weigh the pros and cons with your profitability potential, you’ll also want to consider the different types of solutions that are available to manufacturers today. It’s important to note that while the process of reverse machining has its own set of overall benefits and drawbacks, there are distinct factors to consider with each different tooling option. For example, some of the more widely known options like offset entry style tooling and two-piece style tooling greatly differ from specialized options like the Autofacer®.

    1. Offset Entry Style Tooling

    Also known as “flag style” tools, this option is characterized by the following process: an operator feeds the tool through a hole at a specific offset, returns the tool to the hole centerline, performs the reverse machining, offsets again, then removes the tool. This option is great for short length to diameter ratios; however, the design of this tool is typically too weak for heavy cuts or long length to diameter ratios.

    2. Two-Piece Style Tooling

    With a two-piece tooling system, an arbor is fed through the hole, then the cutter head is manually attached to the arbor. This process can potentially save you time and money, and is good for manufacturing small quantities or something to help you get by in a pinch. However, the process is extremely manual and prone to error. For example, an operator may forget to remove the cutter head, leading to tool, part, or machine damage. There is also a high safety risk, as an operator must enter the machine to attach the cutter head. Read more about the top 3 operator risks every manufacturer should know about.

    3. Autofacer® Automatic Back-Boring Tools

    With this automatic back-boring system, the tool is fed through the hole and the blade is automatically opened using a mechanical clutch system and spindle rotation. This solution is extremely robust and, unlike offset entry style tools, capable of very heavy cuts. It’s also versatile, with different activation methods that can be used on many different types of machines. Additionally, the Autofacer® has the fastest metal-removal rate in the industry, making it great for medium to high production runs. On the flip side, it may not be ideal for very small quantities – the higher the quantity, the better it pays for itself.

    For manufacturers, continuously evaluating your options to create faster, more profitable processes makes all the difference. Optimizing your processes through solutions like reverse machining not only saves you time and money, but gives you a distinct competitive advantage when bidding on jobs. Our team at Steiner has been helping manufacturers do just that for more than 40 years – you can learn more now in our Case Study Library

  7. CNC Machine Safety 3 Operator Risks Every Manufacturing Company Should Know About

    Leave a Comment

    ABefore OSHA was created in 1971, an estimated 38 workers were killed on the job every day. Today, that number is down to about 12 fatal injuries per day. While this is a drastic improvement, workplace safety still has a long way to go. Manufacturing companies in particular have taken huge strides by adhering to several common practices for machine safety. For example, most workers know to wear safety glasses, avoid loose clothing and jewelry while operating machines, clearly label fluids, and follow lockout/tagout procedures. But still, there are a number of risks that are far less obvious – and unfortunately very common. What’s worse, some of these are known hazards that machine operators recognize but dismiss because they are unsure of a way around them. Accident prevention starts with a general awareness – so let’s take a look at three risks in particular I’ve seen in past years:

    Risk 1: Forgoing Ear Protection

    Ear protection in the workplace is not typically a requirement. Yet hearing loss or impairment is extremely prevalent, even in work environments with relatively low (but constant) decibels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational hearing loss is the most commonly recorded occupational illness in manufacturing, accounting for 1 in 9 recordable illnesses in the U.S. More than 72 percent of these cases occur among workers in the manufacturing sector. To prevent this, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends removing hazardous noise from the workplace wherever possible and using hearing protectors in areas where dangerous noise exposures cannot be controlled or eliminated. Implementing standards for noise control will not only reduce occupational hearing loss, but create a better work environment where it’s easier to concentrate. For more information on hearing loss prevention programs, check out these resources from NIOSH.

    Risk 2: Reaching Inside or Climbing Inside a Machine

    Despite the potential risks, there are a number of scenarios that may require a machinist to reach or climb inside a CNC machine. A common example is a machinist who needs to swap out a three-jaw chuck. Rather than climbing inside, it’s best to use a crane or lift system to assist the machinist in lifting and installing the chuck. Another example can be seen when using a manual-style back counterbore tool, which requires a machinist to attach the blade by hand. This practices poses significant risk – operators may forget to take the cutter off after a cut (which can be harmful to both the machine and operator), and cutting fluids create slippery surfaces that lead to accidents. To prevent this, solutions like the Autofacer® are extremely effective, as they eliminate the need for operator intervention. Learn more about how the Autofacer® increases manufacturing safety.

    Risk 3: Overriding Door Safety Interlock

    Related to Risk 2, a CNC machine’s door safety interlock feature is designed to prevent machinists from climbing inside the machine when it’s running. However, despite the known dangers, there are a number of reasons that prompt operators to override this feature. For one, machine windows may have very poor visibility: they get cracked, worn, or sprayed by fluids, leading operators to open the door during a cycle to keep an eye on things and ensure programs are running smoothly. In doing so, parts can come loose and fly out; or the machine itself can break. Operators may also override a door lock for something as standard as topping off coolant while a machine is running. Ideally, no scenario would be important enough to warrant overriding the door safety interlock. At the very least, be sure you are aware of the risks involved, and you’re doing what you can to implement safer policies and workarounds for these common yet risky practices. Safety features and procedures exist for good reason, and should be enforced whenever possible. The more comfortable employees become in overlooking them, the more they are exposed to harmful workplace risks.

    Keep in mind, safety is and always has been a top priority for our team at Steiner Technologies – and we design our tools and solutions with the most discerning standards in mind. If you are interested in learning more about Steiner’s custom solutions, and how they contribute to a safer (and more profitable) environment, we’d love to connect with you.

  8. IMTS Chicago: 3 Top Inspirations for Manufacturers Everywhere

    Leave a Comment

    The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) is one of the most extensive industrial trade shows in the world. It spotlights more than 2,000 exhibiting companies and draws in well over 100,000 registrants. IMTS inspires people all across the globe – and this year, IMTS Chicago did not disappoint. Given the range of tools, solutions and offerings, it’s difficult to focus on any one product or solution that caught my eye. Rather, in writing this blog, I felt compelled to share some inspirations that I think all of us — as manufacturers, engineers, machine tool operators, shop owners and the like – can learn from and appreciate.

    For starters, the sheer breadth of manufacturing solutions is impressive.

    Two days at IMTS hardly felt like enough time to scratch the surface of new products, inventions, services and innovations. You could talk to a dozen attendees and chances are, each of them would have a dozen different highlights and perspectives. In and of itself, the range of manufacturing solutions is staggering: there’s everything from multi-million-dollar machine tools that streamline core processes, to nifty little gadgets that help with daily tasks — say for example, pre-set torque bits for applying the correct torque to an insert screw. I’ll admit, I’m always impressed at how even the tiniest, most inexpensive gadgets can offer huge potential in improving day-to-day operations. But whether large or small, costly or inexpensive, innovative products can truly offer significant value to our capabilities as manufacturers – and IMTS served as a welcoming and refreshing reminder of this.

    There’s no shortage of innovation in the industry – or its potential to drive profit.
    As manufacturers, we’re always looking for ways to have our machines run faster, better and more efficiently. Downtime is a killer, and our success partly relies upon our ability to make more of the parts that we’re paid to make, faster. I looked at inventive solutions in everything from CNC machine tools, to work holding and cutting tools, to inspection equipment, just to name a few. One interesting innovation came from SMW Autoblock, a chuck manufacturer that was displaying its CCS Quick Switch Chuck System. This new system allows chuck changeover from one type of chuck to the next very rapidly, drastically reducing the change-out process from about 45 minutes to just under 5 minutes. Pretty incredible. Another great innovation came from Rigibore, a specialized tooling supplier that uses wireless technology to perform micron adjustment of its boring tools without the need for an operator’s intervention. Both examples seem to offer profound potential.

    Like many other show attendees and business owners, I attended IMTS to learn about new technologies and innovations that can specifically help my company improve its manufacturing capabilities. And indeed, there were dozens of great products that I requested more information on; products that could potentially improve Steiner’s daily operations. But even for the tools that didn’t directly apply to our specific processes, it’s inspiring to see first-hand the potential impact these new innovations can have on profitability.

    The best tool of all: active partnerships that help drive sales.

    There’s no two ways about it: as manufacturers, increasing efficiency and productivity is always top of mind. But also at the top of the list is sales and market penetration. It’s easy to lose sight of this at IMTS, where there are products to dazzle you around every turn; internal solutions that help you streamline how you make your own products. But nowadays, when it comes to finding customers, well… that’s a different story all together. Toward the end of my two-day journey at IMTS, I ran into an old friend and colleague and we discussed the strong headwinds our companies are currently facing in this area. My friend mentioned I should talk to the folks at AMT (Association for Manufacturing Technology), and it proved to be the most valuable tip of all. Here’s what I learned:

    More than a century old, AMT represents and promotes U.S.-based manufacturing technologies and its members; those who design, build, sell, and service the continuously evolving technology that lies at the heart of manufacturing. The association (which, by the way, runs the IMTS show) specializes in providing targeted business assistance, extensive global support, and business intelligence systems and analysis through a variety of member programs. For example, let’s say your company is trying to locate new customers in a very specific niche industry. AMT can leverage its resources and apply statistical analyses to help you pinpoint those customers, both inside and outside US borders, then help you market and sell to them. For small companies who may not have the resources to dedicate to customer acquisition, this partnership seems like a no-brainer — not to mention the low membership fee and pay-per-sale model.

    All in all, IMTS is an important event for Steiner Technologies and the manufacturing industry as a whole.
    The learnings and takeaways mentioned here inspire us to continue to provide innovative solutions that help businesses build profitability, increase efficiency and reduce costly secondary operations and process time. If you would like to learn more about Steiner, or talk to us about developing an engineered tooling solution for your business, we’d love to hear from you.

  9. The Dilemma of a Back Chamfering Application

    Leave a Comment

    As a manufacturing engineer you are tasked with making it happen on the floor. There is always a machining challenge to face that requires you to reduce the cycle time. When it comes to back chamfering a part it can be a real head scratcher to improve the process. Normally you would have to use a two piece system. You know the kind, you insert the holder in the hole, stop the machine and have the operator stick his hand in the machine to attach the second piece. Then you wait until the operator is out of the machine. Run the part till the operation is done, stop the machine and detach the second piece by hand. Wait again until the operator is clear, start the machine up again and withdraw the tool.

    Wow that was easy

    Or maybe you have tried the so called mechanically opened tools that are using just coolant or centrifugal force to help them flop open after it passes the hole opening and then hopefully closes upon retraction. I say hopefully because there is a huge bin somewhere with parts (expensive ones) that have been scrapped by these well-meaning tools.

    .Back Chamfering using a mechanically activated tool isn’t science fiction or fantasy. Manufacturers have been using such a tool for more than 40 years. Of course those of you in the know – know what I am talking about. You have benefited from the elimination of the secondary operation, saving time and money and you have spared your employees the risk that comes with that secondary operation. You have drastically cut cycle times and increased part profitability. Some of you were promoted for bringing this tool onto your shop floor,and were viewed as a forward thinking, cost savings genius. What tool am I talking about? The Autofacer from Steiner Technologies. The only truly mechanically activated – fully automatic – back chamfer tool on the planet..

    This is the only tool that is customized for your direct application and machine. The time saving can be amazing, startling in fact. 80% reduction in cycle times or higher.

    If you aren’t familiar with the process check out this link,

    Watch Video

    the video will walk you through how it works and how you and your company can benefit from the Autofacer family of tools. Have a comment to make about back chamfering or chamfer tools in general, we would like to hear about them.

  10. Lean Manufacturing

    Leave a Comment


    Lean manufacturing is an important process improvement tool that formally or informally has made its way onto virtually every manufacturing floor in the 21st Century. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is the simple concept of eliminating steps or actions that do not bring value to the end user or customer. Take out these steps and your operation will run more efficiently and you should increase profits.

    Sometimes it is easy to spot these non-value steps and at other times they are buried in the marrow of the operation. Worse yet when the company’s own culture protects these steps as part of an ancient ritual or that it is protecting someone’s job. Take for an example a gate valve remanufacturer who, due to the oil price crash, has had to lay-off more than half their work force. They were still doing back spotfacing that incorporated a secondary operation. This required the operator to stop machining a hole to assemble and disassemble a tool. This operation took valuable time away from making chips and actually put the operator at some risk. With a reduced workforce they were pressured to re-evaluate their process. Thinking Lean, management decided to leverage an automatic back spot facer alled teh Autofacer that opens and closes mechanically eliminating the costly secondary operation. This sped up the cycle time and allowed the reduced work force meet their production goals.

    Heeding a lean concept of eliminating the unnecessary secondary operation the company saw a 280% speed improvement in the back spot facing cycle and that translated directly to increased profits and delivery schedules being met. If they had a risk management consultant on hand she would have told them that their liability risk had gone down due to the new tool. How? By eliminating a costly secondary operation they eliminated the risk to the operator. Think Lean. We would like to know what you think. Interested in learning how others have eliminated a secondary operation submit form below.