Reprinted from The Last Word, Production Machining January 2012
As the new vice president of Tornos U.S., I’ve had discussions with many of our customers and other Swiss turning shops in recent weeks about how business is going, what they like or don’t like about their machines, and what concerns they have today and for their future. The theme seems to be the same across all conversations—a lot of apprehension about the market and how to react.
Many companies tell us they are concerned about what they’re going to do tomorrow to keep up with the production requests that are coming in today. They know they need to expand (invest in new machines and bring in more personnel), but they tell me the economy is holding them back from taking any investment risks. They’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and are closely watching the steps other local businesses are making.
One way my company is helping is by finding ways our customers can take better advantage of the equipment they already own to increase their productivity. We have been working to develop programs that offer additional training. But we’ve also opened discussions with our technical group here and in Switzerland to review ways to better support our customers and pinpoint some of the ways they can improve processing. For many Swiss turning companies, a machine may run a particular process for 2 to 3 years, but during that time there can be big improvements (in tooling, new options or additional tool capabilities) that don’t necessarily cost a lot to implement. So we’re helping these companies identify new, more efficient processes that help their bottom line and improve their competitiveness.
These efforts, which may seem counterintuitive to an OEM’s goal of selling machines, are actually perfectly aligned with our larger strategy—to help our customers set themselves apart in their areas of expertise and to help make them more productive in an economy that’s forced them to be more efficient.
Another part of this plan is to push Swiss turning education within our local trade schools. In the coming year, you’ll see a big effort from my organization to increase our interaction with technical schools as well as the PMA, PMPA, TMA and SME. I am very interested in becoming part of these larger training discussions and want to work to establish Swiss turning courses in technical schools across the country.
I believe we have missed a real opportunity here in the past; and, as the tide is starting to turn with manufacturing slowly moving back to the U.S. in part because of the low U.S. dollar, it is important that the market has well educated operators ready. Already, many of our larger customers are working with us to enhance their in-house training programs so their personnel can spot and attack areas of potential process improvement themselves.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have been the North America business manager for Tornos U.S. since 2006 and have 26 years experience in the OEM manufacturing industry working directly with Swiss manufacturers for more than 16 years. I have directly managed service, applications, parts, IT and sales teams.
My focus has been strong on the machine support side, so I understand what it means when a customer is having difficulties and needs support. A target of mine is to focus on listening to our customers to help make my company a true partner, helping customers use all the tools available to remain competitive in today’s market.
Tornos is developing new machines and processes that walk hand-in-hand with what our customers are going to need for maximum productivity down the line.
We’ve had a successful introduction of the EvoDECO into the U.S. and world market, so that product line is expanding. New technology is being introduced like the Cyklos, a modular piece of surface processing equipment that can handle anodizing, phosphating, electroplating, deburring and more.
But the big news in new product development is the MultiSwiss sliding headstock multi-spindle with a small footprint. It’s basically a multi machine without the multi price tag and, for a lot of our customers’ needs, it’s a great fit. You can see all these modular, efficient, ergonomic products at IMTS 2012. We hope you’ll come see us!