BERT MAES

The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

Posts Tagged ‘HTEC’

A weak manufacturing sector is like having a weak immune system

Posted by Bert Maes on April 5, 2012


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Every lost manufacturing job means the loss of around 2.3 other jobs in the economy (e.g. in research and design). Manufacturing’s decline slows economic growth. While manufacturing represents 10% of the jobs in the economy, job loss in manufacturing hits nearly 30% of the economy.

There is a structural weakness in our manufacturing. Our manufacturing is not competitive. Invasion of import competition from China was responsible for between one‐quarter to more than one‐half of the lost manufacturing jobs in the 2000s.

A new report – published by The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation – states that “the loss of manufacturing is due to underinvestment in manufacturing technology support policies (…), among others.

Underinvestment in medium- and high-technology is causing a structural decline of our economy. To be able to use those technologies, we of course need high-tech skills.

So the future of manufacturing begins with education, and with the resulting high-skilled top talent.

The current situation of manufacturing is like having a weakened immune system.

Without the right system of cells you will never keep the integrity of the body intact.

The body has soldiers, members of the immune system army:  the B-cell and the T-cell. The dutiful soldiers get into action the moment any foreign substance or agent enters our body. B-cells circulate all around the body in the bloodstream, and eventually bind to the agent. T-cells circulate in the bloodstream and lymph and kill the agent. The blood and lymph systems are responsible for transporting the soldiers of the immune system.

  • The blood stream is our education system.
  • The B-cells are our high-level technologies.
  • The T-cells are our highly-skilled workers.

They are our protective shields to combat infections. If our cells are not strong enough, viruses are attacking our vital organs.

Germany, Korea and Japan have transformed to high-skilled manufacturing. They have a significantly higher share of their manufacturing output in high-tech and medium-high-tech industries than the United States; they have transformed their manufacturing industries toward more complex, higher-value-added production. They face less competition, so they increase their manufacturing employment.

More and stronger cells, a better blood stream, a stronger immune system that shows higher productivity is required for strong health.

More students, more advanced technology, better education is required for economic success.

With a strong manufacturing immune system, the economy would be much healthier.

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Spanish and Portuguese Students: A Five-Axis Manufacturing Future

Posted by Bert Maes on July 28, 2011


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School principal Mr. José António Gomes feels that that investing in the Haas VF-2 isn’t just right, but is also risk-free. “First of all,” he says, “it’s risk free because of the quality of the Haas machines, but also because of the well-known service capabilities of After Sales. But, maybe more importantly, even when the economy is down, the best investment is in knowledge. With knowledge, there is no risk of devaluation or depreciation. Giving our young people the ability to make things with 5-axis technology will never be a waste of money.”

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As most readers know, Haas Automation’s European HTEC (Haas Technical Education Centre) programme continues to go from strength-to-strength, as more and more schools on the Continent invest in the latest Haas machine tool technology to create state-of-the-art CNC teaching facilities.

However, not every school that invests in Haas machines chooses to be an HTEC. Some have more specific requirements. In the case of two, recently opened teaching-workshops in Spain and Portugal, that requirement was for low-cost, high capability 5-axis machine tools.

The Centro de Formação Profissional of Águeda, Portugal, opened on July 7th, 2011, and the IES Politécnico de Vigo, Spain, opened on July 8th. Each school has invested in a Haas VF-2 CNC machining centre equipped with a Haas TRT160 – a tilting 160 mm, 2-axis CNC rotary table, giving 5, simultaneous cutting axes. Both machines are supplied and supported by the local Haas Factory Outlet, a division of Portugal-based After Sales, SA.

Águeda’s economy has a strong, metal processing sector. “Two things are keeping this region healthy,” says mayor, Mr. Gil Nadais: “agriculture and metal manufacturing. We need to increase our turnover in these key export sectors and investing in innovative technology is essential for the future of this region.” School principal Mr. José António Gomes feels that that investing in the Haas VF-2 isn’t just right, but is also risk-free.

“First of all,” he says, “it’s risk free because of the quality of the Haas machines, but also because of the well-known service capabilities of After Sales. But, maybe more importantly, even when the economy is down, the best investment is in knowledge. With knowledge, there is no risk of devaluation or depreciation. Giving our young people the ability to make things with 5-axis technology will never be a waste of money.”

The economy in Vigo, Spain, Galicia’s economic powerhouse, relies heavily on local automotive manufacturing.  Mr. Antonio Estévez is headmaster at IES Politéchnico de Vigo. “Our priority is ensuring the car industry can find people skilled in mechanical engineering and maintenance,” he says. “Each year we invest in the latest equipment to ensure our students have the most up to date and practical preparation possible. The five axis Haas VF-2 is the right investment to develop skills that Galician companies need.

Several Haas industry partner companies – including Mastercam, Sandvik, Chick and Cimcool, also supported the grand openings of the two new teaching workshops. Managing Director of After Sales SA, Mr. Carlos Vilas-Boas feels that the role of his HFO is, in many instances, one of facilitator. “We take service and support very seriously,” he says, “and we believe it includes connecting students, teachers, employers, technology companies and politicians. These two events are good examples of how, when we all work together, the benefits are better training and, ultimately, greater productivity and stronger economies.”

Haas Europe HTEC coordinator Mr. Bert Maes also attended the grand openings. “These two schools have forward-looking managers and top-quality, industry-experienced teachers,” he says. “Combined with the easy-to-use Haas 5th axis technology, the result is highly skilled and motivated students with the technical ability to build complex projects like the ones I’ve seen today: from small wind-powered generators to fully-functioning customised, computer mice. I am convinced that many companies in Portugal and Galicia will benefit from the time and energy After Sales is investing in these important schools.”

www.HTECnetwork.eu

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How to Support Teachers

Posted by Bert Maes on May 4, 2011


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Below is an infographic illustrating what teachers feel is most important toward improving instruction.

Absolutely essential or very important:

(1) 96% Supportive Leadership

(2) 90% Access to High-Quality Curriculum and Teaching Resources

(3) 89% Time for Teachers to Collaborate

(4) 89% Clean and Safe Building Conditions

(5) 86% a Collegial Work Environment

(6) 85% Professional Development that is relevant to Personal and School Goals

(7) 81% Higher Salaries

(8) 43% Opportunities for Alternate Careers

(9) 25% Pay Tied to Performance

We are supporting CNC Manufacturing Teachers with elements (2), (4) and (6) for effective and engaging technical education.

Source:  Jason Flom (@Eco_of_Ed) from the multi-author blog: Ecology of Education.

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What Skills are Manufacturers Looking For?

Posted by Bert Maes on May 2, 2011


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If it were even possible to sum up change to the real world of today’s manufacturing in one sentence, it would be: “Fewer employees on more teams, using more technology to make crucial decisions more quickly.

Most production operations no longer require legions of employees who simply push buttons and follow an only occasionally varying routine. The modern factory is no longer a just giant building filled with hundreds of interchangeable low-skill, low-wage full-time employees.

Many growing manufacturing organizations report a greater need for workers with teamwork, decision making, technology, communication, and customer service skills.

Which key traits are most important to the immediate present as well as the future of manufacturing?

Changes in the required skills and traits for manufacturing personnel

To read the full article, click here.

Another article titled “The Future of Learning” reports on a 2020 forecast that outlines five surprisingly similar  learning priorities:

  1. Ability to verify information, recognize patterns, analyze data sets, and synthesize.
  2. Understanding of free enterprise and personal finance; appreciation of and ability to produce quality work products
  3. Success in making and critiquing an argument, participating on a diverse team, and dealing with paradox
  4. Ability to communicate in a variety of media, to participate in networks, and to navigate distributed organizations.
  5. Track record of personal management and initiative demonstrating independent work and judgment

This shows that the need for CNC machining specialists will grow in the next decade(s) and play a significant role in the future of manufacturing.

Most importantly, young people will need to bring high-tech skills and the ability to create more efficient manufacturing and supply chain processes and evolve in automated systems specialists and manufacturing process experts.


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Finland Gets Its First Haas Technical Education Center

Posted by Bert Maes on April 11, 2011


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Finland is one of the world’s strongest nations for manufacturing and education. But often the link is missing between schools and the local CNC enterprises. Haas Automation now partnered with the North Karelia College of Technology  and Culture in Joensuu to build those connections towards the best professional training.

As well as being the most northerly, this is also the first Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) in Finland,” says Bert Maes, HTEC coordinator for Haas Automation Europe. “The OECD acknowledges that the country is one of the world’s strongest nations for manufacturing and the quality of its education. We’re delighted to support the next phase of excellence: building long-term collaboration between technical schools and CNC firms.

Jyrki Turunen, school principal said: “Our vision for the students and for industry in North Karelia is focused on one, very important goal: to create a modern learning environment that will enable us to encourage and nurture ‘super technicians’ who will go farther in their education and careers than they or anyone else can currently imagine. We want to make CNC so interesting that it absorbs them during the daytime, and so fascinating that when they go home they dream about it at night.”

In 2004 and 2008 North Karelia College earned the Quality Award for Vocational Education and Training from the Ministry of Education. Last year it came second. Ara Hayrabedian, international coordinator at the college believes that being part of the HTEC programme will help the school secure the number one spot again. “The partnership with Haas Automation and its Finnish representative Grönblom brings a new way of thinking. Their support is helping us to develop new methods of teaching, to increase the motivation and to improve the skills of the young people who study here. We will also benefit from the international connections that the HTEC program brings, when we establish links with other HTECs across Europe.

Representing the local Haas distributor Oy Grönblom Ab, Petteri Heinonen voiced the view of all those actively engaged in supplying and using manufacturing technology. “Technical education should closely follow industry’s development and needs,” he said. “In the future manufacturing will be more and more technology-driven. Students at the North Karelia College will get the best opportunities and companies will get the skills they need thanks to the professional training and the Haas CNC machine tools the college is now providing.

Students at the North Karelia College of Technology and Culture, Joensuu, Finland (Pohjois-Karjalan Ammattiopisto), will be instructed on three Haas CNC machine tools (a TL-1 Toolroom Lathe, a TM-1 Toolroom Mill, and an SL-20 CNC turning centre) and a range of state-of-the-art production equipment supplied by the HTEC industry partners.

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Don’t sell a product or a course. Sell a community. 12 Tips.

Posted by Bert Maes on April 7, 2011


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Since a long time I am thinking about the most important rules for success as a sales professional, success as a teacher, success as a principal and even success as a student.

My last month’s experiences during trips to schools in Portugal, Germany, Finland and Norway, and 2 articles (here and here) might have given me the answer:

  • Every single person is situated in the middle of potential resources.
  • And every single person is driven by two fundamental social needs: the need to belong and the need to be significant.
  • To meet those two needs we only have to strengthen the relationships with others, with those potential resources.

For sales professionals I believe this means:

  • Have a sales philosophy that emphasizes relationship building.
  • Top sales pros know that success in life isn’t the money you make, but the relationships you build.
  • Accentuate your product’s potential for relationship building.
  • Value the relationship more than making your quota. Think end-of-time friendships not end-of-month totals.
  • You’re first order of business: connecting your customers with each other. Think about how much our lives are driven by peer recommendation these days.
  • Become a trusted advisor that people seek out; not someone  pushing product to anyone that will listen.
  • Be passionate about share of customer not share of market.
  • Sell people a good product and they will like you. Connect them with their peers and they will love you.

For education professionals:

  • Engage students. Create flow experiences through projects and events that not only bring fun and excitement, but also help them to build social connectivity.
  • Get students involved as early as possible in deciding what to teach. It is a big thing for teenagers to have their opinion count.  In school, that can make a big impression with small but meaningful acts. Young people are looking for platforms on which they can tell their own story.
  • Create tools and projects that connect and make your students the stars.
  • If you can offer students a better way to belong, a better way to be significant, and a better way to connect to and impress their peers than what’s already out there, then your students will invest their time into the community, the project and the events you create for them.

Maybe the biggest challenge facing schools that want to attract more students to their manufacturing departments is the right focus on connectivity.

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Building long-term collaboration between education and manufacturing: Madeira, Portugal

Posted by Bert Maes on March 24, 2011


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A few weeks ago I established a new partnership with a school on the Island of Madeira. That is a most rewarding collaboration. See the story below.

Haas Automation Europe (HAE) is delighted to announce the Grand Opening of the first Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) on Madeira, Portugal.

The new facility was opened in Funchal on March 7th and forms part of the city’s Professional Skills Qualification Centre (Direcção Regional de Qualificação Profissional – DRQP). The Madeira archipelago is off the coast of North Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean, which makes this the most westerly of Europe’s 46 Haas Technical Education Centers (HTECs); almost 5000km by air from the most easterly facility.

As well as being covered by state TV, the HTEC Grand Opening event was attended by senior government official Sr. Francisco Fernandes, Regional Secretary of Education and Culture, and directors of DRQP Sra. Sara Relvas and Sra. Elda Pedro. After speeches and the presentation of the HTEC plaque, Sr. Fernandes told press and visitors why he thought the new workshop is important.

The DRQP now belongs to a network of engineering excellence,” he said, “giving students on the island access to strong international resources.” Sr. Relvas reiterated his comments, and added: “Because Haas Automation CNC machine tools are present at so many of the best international manufacturing companies, this HTEC will help our youth prepare themselves for opportunities in the rest of the European and international labour markets”.

The Funchal HTEC is in collaboration with the Portugal Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) – a division of After Sales, S. A. The director and owner of After Sales, Carlos Vilas-Boas, was instrumental in setting-up the new facility, and the other 4 on the Portugal mainland. “As with all HTECs,” he said, “this new laboratory and workshop houses the latest CNC metal cutting and precision engineering technology. We see that having access to these facilities inspires and engages the students and their teachers, which makes us very proud and committed to continue working with the DRQP.”

Madeira is the second richest Portuguese region after Lisbon and boasts a per capita GDP higher than the EU average. However, the island generates much of its income from tourism, and food and wine production, which means youngsters who want to pursue a career in manufacturing have, traditionally, had few options but to travel.

Many of Madeira’s young people will leave the island and work on mainland Portugal, in Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands,” says Haas Europe HTEC coordinator, Mr. Bert Maes. “We’re sure that the high-tech Haas CNC machine tools, the clean learning environment and belonging to our network of international HTEC centers will greatly contribute to the motivation, satisfaction and international career possibilities of these students.

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This is manufacturing’s moment – It is the moment to engage schools

Posted by Bert Maes on March 17, 2011


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At the March Leadership Summit from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute  and the new National Center for the American Workforce was pretty straightforward with a message we advocate since a decade:

She said that manufacturing simply can’t wait for the educational system to reform itself. It must take the lead and press for expansion of industry-education partnerships to infuse technology into school curricula, apply manufacturing principles in educational institutions and produce industry-based skills certifications.

Otherwise the lack of people coming through the school system with employable skills will continue to hamper the nation’s manufacturing’s competitiveness on the global stage.

She is confident about our ability to correct the problems and move forward to reclaim a leadership role in the world, but stated that it would take active participation by the manufacturing industry for this to happen.

On the other hand, DeRocco said in an earlier speech:

Manufacturers cannot do efforts in innovation and the workforce by themselves. Educational institutions at all levels must partner with the industry if we are going to produce both the technical and engineering talent that our sector demands and accelerate our innovation capacity. But we must be the ones to take the first step and now is the time. This is manufacturing’s moment. It is the moment to engage high schools, colleges, and universities as they are under pressure to reform. It is the moment to reach out to young people and offer them a job, a career, and future they can be proud of.

What is your opinion?

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Where is the well oiled education system?

Posted by Bert Maes on March 1, 2011


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Manufacturing strengthens the financing balance of a country. The countries that have a strong manufacturing base have a healthier financial situation. Loss of manufacturing contributes to debts and impoverishment. Manufacturing clearly is a must to keep the rest of the economy going. Over time, leadership in manufacturing determines the economic winners and losers.

But manufacturing, invention and innovation depend for a very large part on the highly skilled employees. The most important thing to grow the industry is the quality and availability of the labor force.

We fail to motivate young people to work in manufacturing.

We’ve got an entire generation of kids who are ready to make their mark in the world, and we’ve got them sitting at desks in schools and in cubicles in companies. Many young people do not desire to sit in a cubicle. They want to have their brain fully engaged in a safe, clean environment.

A good example of a manufacturing company that understood this is Sewtec Automation. The enterprise has 9 multi-skilled programmers working directly on the shop floor using the machines directly.  They all feel actively involved in producing the final product. Young people brought the computer skills that are essential to the modern factory. They made it possible with the performance of 5 new Haas CNC machine tools to increase the productive hours by 850%. “We’ve made Sewtec an attractive place to work.

This type of company and this type of work, Mike Boyer writes, “requires a work force with above average mental strength -“IQ”- and a well oiled education system”.

And then technical vocational and trade courses are being reduced to deal with the budget battles.

How do the youth get trained for the jobs that exist today and will grow tomorrow when our aging workforce retires?Bob Trojan says. “Someone, somehow, somewhere, has to train our future manufacturing workforce.” Someone has to invest in technical schools to enhance resources and infrastructure. How do we otherwise put young creative hands-on people in position to work in a leading edge company?

To ensure future prosperity it is best to invest in those future earners.

With the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) program CNC machine tool builder Haas Automation is offering professional support to create motivating and inspiring learning environments with better CNC machining equipment, a facility infrastructure improvement concept and support in international relations.

We cannot save the world. But we can support with the technology part. For sure that is good for industry and for schools. And we just see it motivates students. Just that aspect is a great support for teachers. Educators need every bit of support possible!

Isn’t that so?

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The Ideal Teacher and the Real Manufacturing Opportunities

Posted by Bert Maes on February 4, 2011


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Just yesterday I have been in France at what is called the WorldSkills France competition finals (Olympiades des Métiers), a big feast honoring young skilled craftsmen in industrial trades, including the trade of advanced manufacturing machining.

The hundreds of young students I have seen competing there were working so hard, so motivated, so energized and they were so proud of what they were creating. We actually made a video on the event that I will post later on when editing is done.

I was especially honored to also meet a machining teacher with 20 years of turning and milling practice and 24 years of teaching experience. For me he seems to be the ideal CNC teacher:

  • He doesn’t have a binder under his arm: he detests the teachers that focus all resources into book theory and do not offer a real hands-on degree.
  • He takes the time and has the kindness and patience to teach the practical basics in blueprint reading, engineering, design, metallurgy, materials, speeds and feeds, cutting tools, programming, math, safety, and communication. His students receive the breadth training that is required to sculpt a well-rounded, versatile machining specialist… far more than a button pusher, parts changer or a trained monkey at a CNC machine.
  • He battles constantly to always have access to the latest machining equipment. The world is changing at a dramatic pace and today’s young people are used to constant change and challenges. In order to attract them, the machining school department must continually develop to offer the tools and practices that show a future.
  • He lets students develop their own metal artwork for their final exams. He requires his students to be creative and to make anything they want to. Together they develop great projects. They never experience boredom.
  • He takes them outside the school to see metal pieces perform in the real world: planes, cars, medical devices, musical instruments, jewelery, all kinds of sports, and so on. That builds self-confidence and passion.

This guy makes schooling and the trade very interesting. Then, there is no end to the students’ engagement. He plants seeds for cultivating those young people to advance in the machining trade. His students even cried when he announced to leave his previous school. This teacher makes advanced machining manufacturing a fascinating career choice. All of his students were hired quickly.

This story is only successful because of the hard work of this teacher, school management, parents, and students. I hear many people say that young people do not want to work hard in school anymore: they take the route of least resistance; they want to make money with limited effort in no time. In this age obtaining information, communication, merchandise, food and practically anything is effortless at the touch of a button. So it should be the same for money, they think.

True, probably money can be made much faster by not pursuing a manufacturing career. But… who are the heroes of our economy? The talented, rough and intelligent individuals that start a manufacturing business in their garage and turn out amazing products. Computerized equipment, CNC machines, CAD/CAM, lean processes and the internet have greatly enhanced manufacturing job satisfaction, while reaching an audience they never could have 10 or 15 years ago.

An inspiring example is the story of Mike who started his own manufacturing company at the age of 15.

The opportunities to work, make money and grow in the metal manufacturing field are real.

  • Metals were one of the few durable goods where manufacturing increased in 2010. Employment in fabricated metal products manufacturing increased by 4.6%.

But those manufacturing companies have difficulties in recruiting the talented young machining experts having the right skills for their high-level job openings. All over France, school machining departments are being closed as they don’t get sufficient enrollment.

Considering that millions of people are actively seeking work and still cannot obtain employment and considering that in twenty years 90% of the current machinists are retiring, it is now more important than ever to do start better teaching with better equipment and better marketing for CNC manufacturing!

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High-tech machines greatly improve student motivation

Posted by Bert Maes on January 21, 2011


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  • “The aim in life is self-development; that is what each of us is here for.” (Oscar Wilde)
  • “Constant development is the law of life.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
  • “The human condition is growing without interruption, fulfilling a process that started in the female womb.” (Franco Ferrucci)

Are we motivating our students to develop? Are we helping our students to learn? Are we engaging students? Are we energizing them to develop every minute of class time?

Or are we too focused on reading and math standards, and forgot that learning and self-development actually seems to work via motivation?

The more I experience, read and reflect on education, manufacturing and my own job at Haas Automation, the more I am convinced that what we are doing is a right approach. I am in charge of implementing an innovation project in CNC manufacturing education, i.e. the Haas Technical Education Center program.

What we actually do is supporting students to learn. For that purpose we partner with technical schools using a framework of modern manufacturing technologies, classroom support materials and international student exchange opportunities.

There is a lot of controversy about the impact of ICTs on student achievement measured with standardized tests. The impact on student scores seems to be very limited. BUT about one thing there is general consensus: both teachers and students feel that access to and use of high-tech machines GREATLY contribute to student motivation for learning.

Exactly that is in my view the mission of teaching: maximizing motivation and supporting students to learn via – in the words of Dr. Jeffrey H. Toneycreating classroom environments for students that can enhance their learning experiences and motivation.”

Engagement (either in a school, either in an enterprise) is the key to innovation and competitiveness, says Human Resources Magazine.

So: for manufacturing innovation and overall economic competitiveness, we need to increase the number of schools that offer technology-rich learning environments staffed by teachers who are ready to translate those opportunities into fascinating real-world life-saving manufactured applications.

Without motivated and inspired CNC manufacturing teachers and students, every country simply risks losing its future economic vitality. In the next decade the most essential occupations for our society will require a lot of technology and manufacturing skills, says Linda Rosen. THAT makes us invest constantly in education.

www.HTECnetwork.eu

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Machine tool manufacturing and 15-billion years of cosmic evolution

Posted by Bert Maes on November 18, 2010


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Story by Matt Bailey

If you are machine tool manufacturing specialist or a student considering a long-term career as a CNC technologist, the following might spur you on and add a little inspiration to your day.

MATT BAILEY - Technology marketing communications and PR professional

In 1979, American astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan co-wrote and presented an epic, 13-part TV documentary called Cosmos, in which the Cornell professor contemplated the origins and the immensity of the universe, the wonders of the solar system and the possibility and likelihood of extra-terrestrial life. The show was a huge success, on both sides of the Atlantic, due in no small part to its host’s ability to communicate complex and fascinating concepts.

In the very first episode Sagan used the familiar Roman calendar to illustrate the enormity of time since the universe was formed, during what astrophysicists refer to as the ‘Big Bang’, 15-billion years ago. He asked his audience to imagine that each month, from January to December was equivalent to one-and-a-quarter-billion-years. Each day using this scale is ‘worth’ approx 40-million years and each second, 500 years.

Sagan went on to explain that if we imagine the Cosmos began on January 1st, it was in May that the Milky Way was born and September when our Sun and Earth were formed. Early life, he explained, began soon after, but the first humans only appeared on the cosmic scene sometime around the penultimate day of the year. It wasn’t until December 31st 11:59 and 20 seconds, however, that humans applied their ability to make and use tools, organised themselves into societies and built cites. ‘We humans, appear on the cosmic calendar so recently,’ said Sagan, ‘that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st.

The first, primitive tools were found in Tanzania, on the African continent, and have been dated at around 2 million years. Using Sagan’s scale, CNC machine tools, and all of the modern accoutrements and conveniences that we create with them, including aircraft, motor vehicles, domestic appliances, computers, medical devices, space craft and satellites – we’ve engineered and manufactured in the last seconds, just before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, where we live now.

We owe our standard of living to tools and their evolution and our future depends on how we choose to use them. When Sagan recorded Cosmos the world had a stockpile of 50,000 nuclear warheads, also made using numerically controlled machine tools, capable of destroying every city on the planet several times over. Thankfully, the world’s nuclear arsenal has been reduced dramatically and the global arms race is, we hope, forever behind us. But, unless we find new and better ways to engineer and make the things we take for granted; ways that do less damage to the environment and use less of our irreplaceable resources, we still run the risk of what came to be known in the Cold War as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

We are the legacy of 15-billion years of cosmic evolution,’ said Sagan. ‘We have a choice: we can enhance life and come to know the Universe that made us, or we can squander our 15-billion year heritage in meaningless self-destruction. What happens in the first few seconds of the next cosmic year depends on what we do in the last few seconds of this one.

CNC machine tools, and the people who operate them, will play a vital role.


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Some publicity for my own projects: Haas Continues To Support Schools for a New Generation of Young CNC Top Talent

Posted by Bert Maes on November 12, 2010


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European Commission Endorses First European HTEC Student Exchange

The groundbreaking Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) CNC training programme recently received a resounding endorsement from the European Commission, which has agreed to sponsor and support the first international HTEC student exchange, in Spring 2011.

Between March 27th and April 9th, ten students and two teachers from the Belgian HTEC VTI St-Lucas Oudenaarde will travel to Sweden where they will work and study at host facility HTEC-Bäckadalsgymnasiet, in Jönköping. This exciting exchange is being staged and managed by Haas Automation Europe and five partner organisations, including the 2 HTECs, the Swedish Haas Factory Outlet (a division of Edströms) and two Swedish manufacturing companies, Linto and Fagerhult.

This is a very exciting development for the two pioneer schools and its students,” says Haas Europe HTEC coordinator, Mr. Bert Maes. “The HTEC network is the ideal platform for connecting schools, CNC teachers and students at an international level. Any school that commits to the HTEC program can benefit from international exchanges, and with the backing of the European Commission, HTEC students have wonderful opportunities to travel and learn.

This exchange program will allow teachers from the Belgian HTEC to cooperate with their Swedish colleagues and exchange ideas and best-practice for training young people as CNC machine tool specialists. At the state-of-the-art Swedish HTEC, the Belgian students will be further familiarised with the latest Haas CNC machine tools, as well as with new techniques in CAD/CAM, automatic welding, industrial design, 3D scanning and vacuum modeling.

The Swedish companies Linto and Fagerhult have agreed to mentor students during the ten days, with each student spending five days at each company. During their time at tool manufacturer Linto, the students will experience how the company’s 14 Haas CNC machines are employed and optimised in a demanding production environment. At Fagerhult, the students will study the manufacture of lighting systems, from raw material through to finished product, with a special focus on energy saving solutions and techniques.

Mr. Maes concludes: “From its investigation, the European Commission has ascertained that this HTEC student exchange is significant for European industry. The students will not only be exposed to innovative technologies, but they will also practice their skills in problem solving and working in teams, as well as learning how to adapt to different work cultures. We believe that companies who eventually hire these young specialists will benefit tremendously from their experience and international outlook.

HTEC – The Concept

The HTEC initiative is a partnership between European educational establishments, Haas Automation Europe (HAE), its distributor-owned HFOs (Haas Factory Outlets) and an alliance of industry leading, CNC technology partners. HAE launched the HTEC programme in 2007 to counter what it regards as one of the greatest threats to the continent’s sustainable economic development: Namely, a shortage of talented and motivated young people entering the precision engineering industry with CNC machining skills.

The programme provides Haas CNC machine tools to educational establishments in Europe, so enabling HTEC students to become familiar with the latest CNC machining technology. This hands-on experience ensures students graduate with transferable skills and better employment opportunities. Haas Technical Education Centres also benefit local and national engineering companies by increasing the supply of well-educated apprentices.

Since launch, the HTEC initiative has expanded rapidly across Europe. Governments – from Sweden to Romania and from Portugal to Russia – have enthusiastically backed the programme and recognise the need to build a stronger manufacturing infrastructure.

The HTEC Industry Partners are some of the best-known names in precision manufacturing technologies and have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to the HTEC objectives, backing them with the investment of time and resources. Currently, the HTEC Industry Partner network comprises KELLER, MasterCam, Esprit, Renishaw, Sandvik Coromant, Schunk, Blaser, Urma, Chick, Air Turbine Technology, Hainbuch, and CIMCOOL.

http://www.HTECnetwork.eu

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The European Metal Manufacturing Hotspots

Posted by Bert Maes on October 13, 2010


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During the past 8-10 years companies in metal processing (manufacturing articles on turning and milling machines, treatment and coating of metals, and mechanical engineering) have prospered. Between 2000 and 2006 the European Metalworking and Metal Articles (MMA) employment have grown 8%, whereas basic metals and electrical engineering saw diminishing people. Split in sub-sectors the metal processing industry saw an increase of 15% in employment opportunities (from 1,5 to 1,75 million).

So even though technology has advanced, it has not replaced people. Even today, in the midst of the economic recession, the prospects for growth in metal parts output over the next 16 months look very good. EU added value metal products seem to be in demand!

But the European historically strong knowledge base is eroding. Companies report skills shortage as having a major negative impact on the competitiveness of the sector. It threatens the attractiveness of the EU to MMA firms as a place to locate production and R&D.

More and more technological development has lead to automation of production and increasing need of a capable force of hands-on, practical engineers with knowledge and skills in technologies, processes, management, languages and teamwork, with a focus on critical thinking, problem solving and adaptability skills. These skills will be the foundation for economic growth and prosperity.

Despite these well-known trends, only a few regions in Europe is stimulating the relevant streams of education.

GERMANY: South Westphalia

Germany -first of all- is dominant in manufacturing. It is the single largest producer of MMA goods, generating 25% of all EU27 metal output and responsible for 20% (860,000) of employment in the EU MMA industry.

The manufacturing hotspot of Germany is located in the south-west part of Nordrhein-Westfalen. The 600 MMA enterprises (with 140,000 employees) are focused on steelwork fabrication, vessels, containers, steam-generating boilers, cars, cutlery, wire and springs.

The region depends heavily on its metal sector: 53,8% of the companies in the region with more than 20 employees belong to the MMA sector. 1/4th of the region’s employees work in metal products and mechanical engineering. Manufacturing is THE generation of the regional wealth and prosperity.

Besides investments in slim administration, efficiency of equipment via automated processes, and personnel productivity, the region has got a very strong skills base due to the high number of quality vocational schools and universities.

Authorities see vocational schools and training institutions as a central piece for maintaining the competitive position of South Westphalia, as they are the prime source of innovation and knowledge renewal for many SMEs.

To strengthen the educational investments, NEMAS has been developed: a platform of cooperation between machine building firms and with colleges, universities and research institutions. The network develops projects towards

  • improved skills in engineering, design and management
  • collaboration in R&D
  • spurring children’s interest in technical subjects, already from the kindergarten years (see video Miniphänomenta).

ITALY: Brescia

Italy is the second powerhouse of EU MMA manufacturing. With the Italian output of 19,7%, Germany and Italy create combined almost 50% of the metal output in Europe.

The Brescia region is a cluster of 6000 internationally connected MMA SMEs in iron and steel industry, pots and pans manufacturing, weapons, machine tools, cars and industrial vehicles. The sector focuses on R&D investments, networking, internationalization (close contact with Germany), IT technology and niche products to maintain and grow its importance in the world. Consequently two service centers have been created:

  • AQM offering competitivity-enhancing technical and organization solutions, as well as technical training.
  • CSMT specializing in training and technical services and applied research from universities to the Brescian industry.

FRANCE: Pays de la Loire

France generates 11% of the metalworking output in the EU, in 45,000 companies with 462,000 employees. From them, 4000 companies and 120,000 employees are located in the Pays de la Loire region for the food machinery, aviation, shipbuilding and automotive industries.

In 2005, 71 innovative clusters were created in the area, initiating R&D projects involving 10,000 researchers.  One of the clusters is called ECM2, founded by a.o. Airbus and Renault around composite and metallic subjects, in association with inter-regional networks and 14 engineering schools. Together they develop better composite materials and processes via capital expenditures, set up collaborative engineering and local training programs for highly skilled manpower and share knowledge in new business opportunities.

SPAIN: Basque country

Spain is responsible for 9% of the metal manufacturing output in the EU, as well as 9% of the employment (378,000). As such MMA firms are important employers in Spain, delivering essential products and parts to other industries. For 60%, the Basque industry supplies to multinationals and other large international companies in the sectors rail and shipbuilding, automotive, aeronautics, aerospace and moulds & dies.

The Basque region is highly successful due to its long and focused support from the government. After severe economic recessions, dedicated strategic clusters were formed in 1988. One of them is the Machine Tool cluster that built a strong network and trust between machine tool companies and related industries. Especially the fundamental commitment to innovation (5% of the turnover is reinvested in R&D ), joint work in technology, promotion and training and the broad range of products with embedded flexibility and adaptability, are in this region the key to competitiveness.

  • The Machine Tool Industrial Research Foundation (INVEMA) offers technological and management services and promotes inter-company collaboration programs.
  • INNOBASQUE is the Basque Innovation Agency, a non-profit association established to coordinate and promote innovation throughout the Basque Country and to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and creativity at all levels.
  • IHM², the Machine Tool Institute, is focused on MMA training courses, fundamental to the competitiveness of the Basque economy.

AUSTRIA: Vorarlberg

Austria is another key player in European manufacturing. Vorarlberg, in the western-most region of Austria, is in economic terms one of the best-performing regions of Western Europe, with flourishing textile, clothing, electronics, machinery and packaging sectors. The 100 MMA companies in the region (12500 employees) manage to survive with investments in skills education and quality towards profitability. The V.E.M. (Vorarlberger Elektro- und Metall Industrie) is established to increase collaboration between enterprises and educational establishments. Companies, for example, are sponsoring the schools in terms of technical equipment.

The Economic Chamber of Vorarlberg has taken several initiatives to promote interest in technical qualifications:

  • The “Schaffar”-day in which children from the 3rd and 4th grades are invited to visit local companies. In 2008, 1700 children participated.
  • The “up2work”-day, a similar initiative for 5th to 6th grades in the primary school. In 2009 a total of 1900 children visited 160 local companies for a day of work.
  • 7th to 8th graders are invited to visit the BIFO fair for advice on education and profession.
  • FITFrauen in technische Zukunftsberufe (Women in future technological professions) which every year invites girls from the 7th to 9th grades to visit companies and technical schools along with their teachers.

Such actions support the development of a highly skilled workforce able to deliver high-value products with a high degree of customization.

CONCLUSION:

The Metalworking and Metal Aricles (MMA) industry is present in virtually every corner of the EU. And for many countries manufacturing is critical for its economy and wealth. Some countries are notably known for their low labor costs. But often substandard innovation and skills are the result.

Educational programs in which students from an early age get exposed to manufacturing technologies in an entrepreneurial manner, therefore, are central to stimulating the competitiveness of the industry and create innovative companies.

Main source of information: 2009 Report Competitiveness of the EU Metalworking and Metal Articles Industries

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Manufacturing is dead. Long live manufacturing!

Posted by Bert Maes on September 16, 2010


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CNC machinists have got difficult times. Although they are in general paid relatively generously (close to $20/hour), there are fewer job openings available for those whose formal education stopped after high school.

It’s not that jobs aren’t being created in manufacturing – they are. But they are fewer in number. Landing such work need certification after rigorous and lengthy course work.

Those manufacturers that are hiring again, demand advanced technical skills, linked with lean manufacturing techniques and labor-saving technology. The employers complain that they can’t find enough qualified workers, although the unemployed often want to find work.

Consider, for instance, the job of a machinist. The basic job function hasn’t changed: machinists produce precision metal parts. But the drills, lathes and mills and other tools they use on the modern factory floor are almost always computer numerically controlled — CNC for short — and only as precise as the instructions provided by their operators.

As a result, machinists today not only need to be able to write basic computer programs — they’re expected to be able to troubleshoot those programs, and rewrite them if necessary, if they encounter problems during production. They’re massively better educated, massively better trained and massively more productive today than they were back in the old days.

When you spend millions of dollars on a machine that does four things, and improves your productivity and accuracy, you can’t just hire somebody out of high school who can’t even do the computations to do the setup. You want someone highly skilled, very technical, very knowledgeable.” (Reuters)

To help bridge that cap, groups like the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, the National Association of Manufacturers and America’s largest machine tool manufacturer Haas Automation are working with schools around the world to develop programs to give workers the skills and certifications employers want today.

The Lorain County Community College for example offers an intensive, four-month program called “Transformations” that gives laid-off workers the core technology skills they need to find a job quickly. This program has been having a lot of success with laid-off workers like Mark Lute, a 48-year-old electrician who lost his job, after 22 years. Lute is now enrolled in a two-year program, where he’s learning wind turbine maintenance and automation robotics.

A second example: CNC machine tool builder Haas Automation has long been aware of the need for skilled CNC machining specialists, and the looming skills gap resulting from the decline of manufacturing training programs. As part of its service offering, Haas invests in strategic partnerships with all types of learning institutions to offer students a way of gaining production floor experience before entering the real world. Worldwide, more than 1500 high schools, colleges and universities participate in the so-called “Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC)” network.

Targeting inspiring schools with dedicated teachers searching for innovative technologies and the most effective way to teach, the HTEC program not only helps train skilled workers for modern industry, but also supports in developing the future owners and supervisors of operations with the right self-management skills, teamwork skills and -with frequent international student and teacher exchanges- international cultural awareness is covered as well.

From my experience in working with principals, teachers and students the past half decade, I know it is very difficult to get kids motivated into wanting to have careers in manufacturing given the fact that in every family there’s probably been some brother, sister, uncle, father, mother who has experienced a job loss and doesn’t speak kindly of the industry.

But think about it: can you build stuff as creative as you want, in those new jobs below $15/hour in service industries like retail sales, food preparation, waste removal, or health care?

Main source: James B. Kelleher (September 2010) SPECIAL REPORT- Blue-collar, unemployed and seeing red. http://link.reuters.com/heg83p

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Four strategies to unlock manufacturing innovation today

Posted by Bert Maes on September 14, 2010


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Both the U.S. and the EU will have difficulties to compete on large-scale manufacturing again, but it can still continue to unlock value in its capacity to innovate.

Instead of a forest dominated by a few large trees, it will be nurturing a garden with many small flowers”: crowdsourcing and web-based collaboration, virtual micro-factories, small batch businesses, high-mix/low-volume parts, cloud manufacturing, 3-D printing technology to revamp the hands-on production industry.

What would be needed to unleash our creativity? A competitive strategy for any country should have four tall tent poles, according to Andrea Belz, specialist in strategies that transform innovation into profits:

1. Fund research, education and innovation programs.

2. Educate for competitiveness: “We must aggressively train our students” with better and affordable equipment and better long-term support for teachers.

3. Tax incentives for small companies to purchase new technologies and other capital goods.

4. Retain foreign talent.

“The risk is not that large-scale manufacturing will leave us,” Andrea Belz says, but “this is the last chance to stop the innovation train from departing as well.”

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Manufacturing Machinist: 1 of the 7 Jobs Companies are Desperate to Fill

Posted by Bert Maes on September 6, 2010


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Source:  Gee, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to close all those shop classes after all? By Ryan Pohl on his blog “Change the Perception – Devoted to Building a New Respect For Manufacturing“.

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Manufacturing education IS economic development

Posted by Bert Maes on August 30, 2010


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Based on thoughts of Ryan Guina

There is no way to determine the absolute value of manufacturing education – it depends on the degree you get, how you use it, how productive you are, the exact career field you are in, the skills you bring to the table, the ability to continue learning, and many other factors.

Anyhow, many sources and research clearly shows that training and graduating in manufacturing and engineering usually means higher pay. As such manufacturing education IS economic development. “For a nation education is clearly as important as economics.” (Ralph W. Tyler)

  • Graduating, acquiring a diploma – no matter what field – adds an average additional income of €6000/$7600 per year. That brings increased investments and spending, generating tens of thousands extra jobs every year, and hundreds of millions of extra tax revenue per year. If all the students who drop out over a decade were to graduate instead, they would earn an additional $3 trillion in wages. That amount of money would do a lot to make the economic recovery that is now shakily underway sustainable in the years to come.
  • Manufacturing workers earn between 23% and 30% more than the average wage for the private sector workforce. Why is that? A lot of workers were pushed out of the industry due to automation and advanced manufacturing methods. The guys who can survive the automation and robot trend are more technically capable than anyone else. So they are paid very well.
  • Even if you do go to college, learn a trade in the summers. You’re likely to be less damaged, and quite possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling tender of information systems or low-level creative.” (Mathew Crawford in his book Shop Class as Soul Craft)

For example, Ryan Guina reports on one of his friends, an electrician in his 40’s, owning a small business focusing on residential and small commercial electric installation and repair jobs, employing a couple of people and making €200,000 a year. The best part is his job will never go away. People will always need electricians and mechanics.

But these kinds of jobs – electrician, plumbers, mechanics, CNC machining specialists – require

  • passion,
  • independence,
  • being a ‘contrarian’,
  • hard work,
  • challenging what is,
  • creativity to solve problems in ways that haven’t been done before at lower costs,
  • planning constructively in association with others,
  • willingness to share power collectively,
  • putting in that extra effort,
  • and a continuing desire to learn and improve.

Many schools don’t seem to teach that…

We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” (Tyler Durden, Fight Club)

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Forecast + List: The Most Durable Jobs of the Future

Posted by Bert Maes on August 3, 2010


We do expect continued growth in manufacturing of a fairly modest 5% or so this year and next year — which is stronger than the overall economy. I guess there are a couple of things driving that: One is exports have done well and we expect to continue to see growth in exports. Second, there is some recovery in investment in capital goods. It’s mostly metals inventory rebuilding and replenishing factories for equipment that has gone beyond its useful life. It’s not really adding to productive capacity; it is productivity improvement and simply replacement. Investment in equipment and software is growing, but still far below 2007/2008 levels. The only way to get faster growth in manufacturing is to bump up the export share.

I BELIEVE THIS SHOWS THAT THE MOST DURABLE JOBS OF THE FUTURE INCLUDE:

Energy-Efficient Automobiles
Computer Software Engineer jobs
Electrical Engineer jobs
Engineering Technician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Computer-Controlled Machine Operator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Operations Manager jobs

Building Retrofitting
Electrician jobs
Heating/Air Conditioning Installer jobs
Carpenter jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Roofer jobs
Insulation Installer jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Construction Manager jobs
Building Inspector jobs

Mass Transit
Civil Engineer jobs
Railroad jobs
Electrician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Bus Driver jobs
Transportation Supervisor jobs
Dispatcher jobs


Wind Power
Environmental Engineer jobs
Iron and Steel Worker jobs
Millwright jobs
Sheet Metal Worker jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Production Manager jobs
Production Supervisor jobs


Solar Power
Electrical Engineer jobs
Electrician jobs
Machinery Mechanic jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Installation Technician jobs
Laborer jobs
Construction Manager jobs

Of course this all depends on
(1)
increased confidence of companies and consumers to invest,
(2)
healthier demand from exports markets,
(3)
streamlined permitting processes to start up exports,
(4)
a permanent favorable government business tax & fiscal policy in R&D, new technology, product development, increased efficiency etc,
(5)
easier access to low cost credit finance conditions,
and (6)
heavy & smart investments in technology-based education and export training.

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[VIDEO] Right on! The Problems and Solutions in Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on July 28, 2010


Outsourcing is not sustainable, it is not a business strategy.


To overcome the cost difference with low wage countries, businesses can be competitive by investing in technology, training and new manufacturing methods to raise productivity.

Innovation, high productivity, quality and more skilled workers are critical for keeping businesses competitive internationally.”

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