Navigating the maze of new digital manufacturing technologies can be difficult. Which is right for your business? What makes work easier for your team? Your customers? What will fix your problem? What will give you headaches? How much automation do you really need? Who can help you sort it all out?
Single Source Technologies (SST) offers advice on how to best approach the newest manufacturing technologies. SST Vice President of Michigan Sales, Keith Kauzlarich, works in Auburn Hills, Michigan and closely watches the digital shift in manufacturing right now. His team of experts combine their knowledge of CNC machine tools, engineering services, and the latest technologies in the machine tool industry to help manufacturers become more competitive.
Kauzlarich says the industry is changing fast and companies are under a tremendous amount of pressure. Business leaders have to rethink strategies every day, a challenge for every entrepreneur, and one that he feels can only be addressed by smart investments in game-changing manufacturing technology.
He explains that there are rough headwinds in the machining industry; many companies are facing an aging and retiring workforce and it’s challenging to find good skilled labor to keep companies growing with a new generation. SST finds this as an opportunity for its team to consult and bring new technologies, with automation when applicable, so companies can be more productive and competitive with the same team of people.
SST is keen to bring its clients into the process of improving a workplace, which is why it focuses on educating customers. Kauzlarich feels that many manufacturers sell a machine and assume that a customer’s knowledge is sufficient, whereas SST customers can find out more about how to get the best performance of a machine tool and what new technologies to apply. SST is creating new digital tools to help educate customers. Transforming SST’s approach to the market is just as important to Kauzlarich.
He adds that customers are often encouraged to incorporate analytics into their process for manufacturing. New technology gives a real-time tool for understanding machine spindle utilization and the customer’s potential causes of inefficiencies. SST frequently holds multi-day classes to inform users about high-performance machines and the ins and outs of how one works, which in turn helps customers optimize processes and better understand equipment and new digital technologies.
Kauzlarich touts Makino’s new digital technology, MHmax, as an effective tool for promoting health and predicting failure in machine tools. Using a series of sensors, MHmax can help to avoid unplanned downtime while analyzing potential hardware problems. He emphasizes that Makino equipment is worth the investment when factoring in the hidden operating expenses and the twenty to thirty percent less tool life customers would get from the equipment of some other manufacturers.
Kauzlarich recalls that the company has always approached customers as consultants. This involves visiting companies and analyzing their business to assess what technologies and process strategies will help them in the long run. He adds that it’s “not just about responding to customers’ questions, but [also about] giving counsel and direction to reducing lead times and improving quality and costs.
“Our job,” Kauzlarich notes, “is to make sure [customers] are equipped in every area, from programming to the right holder, cutter, strategy they’re using in programming, [or] fixture concept [in order to] get the best performance out of that machine tool and the best tool life and lower their piece price cost.”
Another piece of technology that has grabbed much attention is Athena. Athena is a platform which allows voice control of machine tools. Unlike current offerings, Athena is designed specifically for manufacturers and can allow even an untrained operator to safely and efficiently operate a machine tool. Kauzlarich calls Athena a “game-changing technology,” and one that routinely awes customers, as it allows workers of any skill level to operate complex pieces of machinery by voice or bring important manufacturing information straight to the machine.
Kauzlarich is excited about the ways in which this technology will help companies address some of its workforce challenges. Athena can teach inexperienced individuals to understand and use machine tools better while increasing productivity in the workplace. Customers are keen to reduce lead times across the board, and SST will continue to look for new cutting-edge technologies that operators can use on a daily basis to improve that.
Kauzlarich summarizes three differences between SST and its competition. The company has had great success with employee retention, especially among those with a tremendous amount of industry knowledge. The caliber of its equipment is something which he calls a “foundational difference” of the company. The third factor is its consulting capabilities, as it is more about analyzing a customer’s process and suggesting the right technology and direction rather than selling a machine. The goal is always to provide the best solution for the lowest piece price cost.
Despite the slowdown in the automotive industry in Michigan, there is still a great deal of excitement, as far as Single Source Technologies is concerned. This “digital transformation” of its clients is what SST is after most of all, but Kauzlarich admits that it takes both good machines and good processes to make it work. At present, SST has more than one hundred automated cells in the state of Michigan and Windsor, Ontario alone, and it plans to keep building on that success.
With exciting new technologies at the forefront and a solid philosophy of experience and education as its guide, Single Source Technologies looks to be a commanding force in its industry for a long time to come.