The Evolution of Manufacturing Equipment – Specialized Machines for Specialized Tasks

Side Frame Drill FrontManufacturing equipment grows more sophisticated all the time. The technological revolution that turned your phone into a computer and that is sweeping through the other devices in your home has made its way to the manufacturing floor as well. In addition to mechanical know-how, today’s machine operators have to be familiar with programming in order to fine tune the various controls and protocols that govern an ever increasing array of machines.

As products become more specialized, machines need to follow suit. Just as a custom product will do a specified job better than a standard product tweaked to suit the task, a custom machine will more efficiently manufacture that product. Product dictates machine design, not the other way around. When we get a new project here at Gateway, our process engineer will often build a new machine from the ground up. And the customization doesn’t stop there. All of our production lines are purposefully designed around our customer’s specific project. Properly planning and laying out the production line cuts down on wasted steps and down time; ultimately cutting lead times, and maximizing margins for our customers.

Side Frame Drill BackLean manufacturing practices are helping companies survive and thrive in today’s difficult economic landscape. The key to successfully implementing lean practices is to design equipment and processes suited to the task at hand. This optimization hinges on having skilled engineers on staff to construct and manage manufacturing equipment, constantly adjusting mechanical components and software protocols to fit the changing parameters of a project.

What is the Importance of Mathematics in Manufacturing?

Mother of ClocksApril is Mathematics Awareness Month. To get an inside perspective on the importance of math, we posed the following question to the Gateway Manufacturing office and engineering & maintenance staff:

What is the importance of mathematics in manufacturing & in running a manufacturing company? How often do you use math in your job?

 The answers we received highlight the importance of math not just in manufacturing, but in everyday life. Check out what our employees had to say:

 

Scottie Elam – Plant Engineer, Engineering Degree w/ emphasis on Manufacturing and Robotics:

“I use Math all the time. In developing parts, reading gauges & building machines. I like it because it’s either right, or it’s wrong—black or white. Math was always fun for me!”

 

Dusty Goldy – Plant Engineer, Engineering Degree, w/ emphasis on Industrial Technology:

“Math is an everyday issue! I tell my 12 year old daughter, “Whatever profession you are going to choose, learn as much Math as you can. You will use it EVERYDAY!”

 

Vernier Scale

Vernier Scale

Ernest Barnett, Plant Maintenance:

A LOT!!! You gotta have math!! We use it for EVERYTHING we do around here! Reading gauges & Vernier Scales, gearing, belting, figuring gear ratios. Today I had to drill a hole for a part to within 1/1,000th”. You can’t do that without Math.”

 

Anna Wright – Customer Service/Order Fulfillment Manager:

“You have to be good at math, because with Order Fulfillment, it’s so automatic! Knowing how many products are in a carton, how many cartons are in the order, how many cartons will ship on a pallet… Without solid math skills, it would be much harder to do my job efficiently.”

 

Measuring a Crate

Measuring a Crate

Carol Gessford – Controller:

“Math is a major part of my job in accounting. All I do is work with numbers. Making sure amounts on invoices are correct and discounts are figured correctly. Payroll uses math in figuring how much to pay each employee. Payroll taxes have to be figured by multiplying by the correct per cent. Even though the computer program figures all this, I need to know it is doing it correctly by knowing math skills.”

 

Doug Gessford – CEO, Electrical Engineering Degree, Manufacturing Systems Engineering Advanced Degree:

“Math is part of everyday life. One cannot function through the day without using mathematic skills.

“Without math, how can you figure what something cost to buy because we pay tax on everything? And in Kentucky, you have to add 6% to the cost of something you buy.

“When you eat out, you need to figure the cost of what you’re buying to make sure you have enough money to pay for your meal. Then, if you are having a sit down meal, you need to figure out the tip to give your server.

“As a toddler, you started with math when you were asked ‘On your next birthday, how old will you be?’ You had to add 1 to your current age.

“General manufacturing labor needs to be comfortable with percentages to figure out how close to rate they are running, what your defect rate is. How far ahead or behind the production rate you currently find yourself.

“As an adult, you have to manage your money, and that involves balancing a check book to figuring out how much of a payment you can afford after paying all your monthly bills to buy something.

“Everyone needs to know, understand and be comfortable with using math in order to live in today’s life. Math is an integral part of everyday life.”

 

Above all, these answers highlight that math is a tool, one that when can be used to pursue a whole host of opportunities. As such a valuable tool, it is important that we continue to reinforce its value to the next generation. If they’re anything like our own staff, they’ll grow to find math more than just useful, but fun.

Looking Back on the Global Pet Expo – Invention and Opportunity for Manufacturing in the Pet Industry

This year’s Global Pet Expo had all the hallmarks of a booming industry. The show was HUGE. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) and the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) are reporting record breaking numbers for retailer booths, buyers, media, and New Product launches!    GMI® is pleased to report that opportunities for manufacturing and manufacturing services were found around every corner.  Pet ownership is growing throughout the US, and the Pet Products market is growing along with it, topping $49 billion in 2012.  More and more, people are treating their pets as members of the family. Now that the economy is recovering, people are spending huge amounts of money on their furry friends, celebrating their birthdays and adding them to the holiday shopping list.  Contract Manufacturers all across the US are taking note of the boom!
More new and innovative products are available for pets than ever before.  The Global Pet Expo’s 2013 New Product Showcase featured more than 900 new products, with over 3000 new product launches at the show.  Being a Pet Products Manufacturer, GMI® had an excellent opportunity to show off our Pet Products (Travel Barriers and Pet Gates) to retailers and buyers at the Global Pet Expo. But it also served as a platform to show off our expertise as a Contract Manufacturer in manufacturing, assembly, fulfillment and packaging.    The products exhibited at Global Pet are the work of small inventors, family owned businesses, and in some cases huge corporations. Attendance at the Global Pet Expo provides all of these diverse companies with exposure to a massive audience of retail buyers, but also to the possibility of lowering their manufacturing, assembly, packaging or fulfillment costs, expanding their manufacturing operations, or outsourcing them completely.  A perfect example from the show took place with a fellow exhibitor on our aisle. He is a pet furniture manufacturer who is quickly growing out of his US manufacturing facility.  He spoke to us about our Wood Manufacturing capabilities and his need to outsource some of his assembly work. We were happy to fill him in! We had many similar inquiries from Exhibitors at the show about our manufacturing, assembly, retail packaging, OEM and fulfillment capabilities, for both small and large scale projects.

 

The boom in the Pet Industry means that almost everything available for a person is now available for a dog or cat:  leashes, strollers, insurance, clothing, electronic devices that allow you to track your pet through your smart phone, camera security systems that allow you to talk to your pet when you’re away from home, and even custom pet beds made to match the interior of your home.  The possibilities for a skilled Contract Manufacturer are endless!