Anticipation and Action: How UMC is Predicting and Preparing for the Future
Manufacturers are facing more changes, challenges, and opportunities than ever before. UMC President, Eric Gibson, shares insights on the key trends UMC is tracking and the goals we’re working towards to better meet the evolving needs of our customers.
Staying Ahead of Quality Requirements and Regulations with Recertification
We have been recertified to ISO 13485 and AS9100 (2015) standards.Going through these recertification processes ensure that we have an excellent quality system in play that is ready to meet the current and upcoming needs of our customers.
Streamlining and Improving Visibility of Quality Efforts with QualityXpert
We’ve partnered with an outside group to develop a state-of-the-art software solution that streamlines our quality efforts. We’ve moved a lot of our inspection to the machines so that we can address issues more quickly, and reduce scrap. By the end of the year QualityXpert will be our sole quality system, which will give us, and our customers a clear and comprehensive picture of quality across all of our machines and processes.
Adding Technology and Automation with Two New Matsuura 5-Axis Mills
We are continuing to upgrade our milling department with the addition of two new Matsuura 5-axis mills. One of those mills will be here shortly, and the other will be equipped with a vertical pallet machine and is scheduled to arrive this fall. The pallet machine will allow us to run the mill unattended for five to six days at a time. With all of our machines, we’re exploring automation to help maximize capacity and address the workforce shortage.
Decreasing Downtime with Crash Prevention Innovation
We’ve written new software that double checks every time we do a tool change on our floor. The program will recognize if an error was made during the tool change and will not allow the spindle to crash into our workholding. This effort alone has decreased the amount of time our machines have been down by 70%. Reduced downtime has helped us ensure better on time delivery -right now we’re running at 98%- and make our lead times more predictable.
Adding Flexibility with 3D Printing
Our customers need to make changes to their products quickly and efficiently. We believe that 3D metal printing will be a key tool in helping move from the expensive and time-consuming process of changing a mold to a faster and more cost-effective method. We’re researching and exploring all of the possibilities that 3D metal printing could open up for us and our customers.
Integrating Automation into Everything
A lot of work is being done on the machining side with automation. From robots to bar feeders to parts catchers, automation is there to help produce parts more quickly and efficiently with less manpower. Even more interesting is some of the software that is being developed to help machines talk to machines. We’ve done some of the pioneering work with our CMMs, that have allowed our machines to run unattended for longer periods of time with more predictability and have given us much more flexibility. It’s an exciting area that has revolutionized how we manufacture parts.
Anticipating the Effects of Regulatory Changes
There is a lot of rapid change happening in the regulatory environment. We recently recertified in AS9100, and that governing body has made a lot of changes that are going to affect business across the country. We’re also tracking what’s going on with tariffs and working to anticipate the implications of other possible developments coming down from that level.
Proactively Solving Workforce Challenges
If you look at what’s going on in the economy today, a lot of people are leaving the workforce and not as many are coming in to manufacturing to fill those vacancies. In addition to maximizing automation, we’re taking a proactive role in developing a pipeline of skilled workers for the future. We running apprenticeship programs and working with tech schools to ensure that we have the talent we need to deliver quality products and services in the future.
Our top priority is to make sure we’re ready to help you face the current and upcoming challenges in your specific markets. We’re constantly seeking out information, and making plans to be a more prepared and valuable resource for your business.