In this year’s American Machinist Benchmarks for Machine Shops survey, the topic of multitasking generated a significant number of responses. Out of all the shops that responded the question of which type of multitasking processes they used most, over half indicated that mill-turning was the primary type. This percentage is a significant increase compared with the responses to the 2008 survey.
Other types of multitasking-process responses included the use of multiple live tools, hard turning, multispindle machining, and hard milling. And again, the percentage of shops using these multitasking processes has increased over last year’s numbers.
As compared with last year’s survey, the use of cellular manufacturing dropped a smidge. Yet, about a third of all responding shops seem to still be incorporating cellular manufacturing. And over half of this year’s benchmark shops (those who scored highest in the survey) indicated they use cellular manufacturing.
When asked about how machiningspecific techniques have improved shop production over the past three years, 2009 survey respondents submitted encouraging numbers for five-axis machining. Almost half of the benchmark shops stated they use it and have experienced major improvements as a result. The percentages were also up for those shops using five-axis machining and experiencing some improvement. However, well over half of all shops responding to the survey noted that they didn’t use five-axis machining at all.
In last year’s survey, over half the benchmark shops stated that multitasking delivered major improvements to manufacturing operations. Conversely, only a little more than a quarter of this year’s benchmark shops concurred. However, for all shops taking the survey, the percentage of those not using multitasking dropped between 2008 and 2009.
For benchmark shops, median machining cycle times (start of cutting to completion of cutting for a typical product) remained essentially the same as compared with the 2008 survey. However, from 2008 to 2009, there was a significant spike in the average machining cycle times for all shops taking the survey. This jump could reflect the fact that there were more shops in this year’s study, especially more that were nowhere near to the benchmark set of shops. Also, cycle time is one measure that seems to move around a lot from study to study. Average machining cycle times for the 2009 benchmark shops dropped slightly from 2008.