106 episodes

Swarfcast is for listeners interested in the precision machining world. We interview owners of manufacturing companies, inventors, tooling experts, machine tool builders, robotics experts and whoever else we think our listeners/readers would find interesting..

Swarfcast Today's Machining World

    • Entrepreneurship
    • 4.5 • 2 Ratings

Swarfcast is for listeners interested in the precision machining world. We interview owners of manufacturing companies, inventors, tooling experts, machine tool builders, robotics experts and whoever else we think our listeners/readers would find interesting..

    Machining a Successful Product for 160 Years, with Howard Smith

    Machining a Successful Product for 160 Years, with Howard Smith

    Today’s Show is part one of a new season in which we’re talking about companies that produce their own products. Our guest is Howard Smith, owner and CEO of Wilson Bohannan, a 160-year-old padlock manufacturer.

    Scroll down to listen to the podcast. Or listen on your phone with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or your favorite app.



    Main Points

    Howard talks about Wilson Bohannan’s products. The company makes brass key padlocks with stainless steel shackles, as well as other locking devices. The padlock business is still the company’s most important product. The company began in 1860, making padlocks for railroad cars. At the turn of the century, as the railroads were consolidated, it turned its focus to utility companies and heavy industry. Its products are designed for extreme weather conditions—freezing cold, wet, desert, etc. The locks range in size from an 1-1/4” to over 2” wide. Howard says the locks vary in security, from a “glorified seal” to sophisticated highly secure locks with computer chips in the key and lock. (3:30)

    Noah asks if it’s possible to break locks by shooting them with a gun like in the movies. Howard says it’s possible to engineer a lock that when shot with a gun collapses the mechanism and the casing around the key barrel to stop it from breaking. He says that Wilson Bohannan actually won a customer who shot a magnum rifle at one of the company’s locks but was unsuccessful at opening it. (6:45)

    Howard discusses the company’s computer chip locks. The chip in the key and the lock talk to each other, allowing the owner to change the combination via computer or cell phone. (7:25)

    Howard talks about the history of Wilson Bohannan. He says the company was founded in 1860 in New York by Wilson Bohannan and his son Todd. He says it was a good time to start the company because from the 1870s to 1930s it was the Gilded Age of America, when manufacturing had few restraints, regulations, and taxes. (8:20)

    Howards explains that Wilson Bohannan was his wife’s great great grandfather. He started working at the lock company 47 years ago in the accounting department. He is the 6th family generation of owners, and his daughters are the 7th generation. (9:00)

    Howard discusses how locks have stayed relevant and how they have changed over the years. He shows Noah a few of the locks the company makes such as a cable lock, a shrouded lock that has a component around it that protects it, and an interchangeable core padlock. (10:20)

    Howard states that while innovations like computer chips and bluetooth have kept locks relevant and added functionality, the mechanical components remain the heart of the products. He says that computers can be hacked and magnets demagnetized, but a quality mechanical lock will still require a key, giving the analog components an advantage over other technolo...

    • 38 min
    Ep. 98 – How to Prevent Fires in Your Machine Tools with Mark Campo

    Ep. 98 – How to Prevent Fires in Your Machine Tools with Mark Campo

    On this week’s episode of Swarfcast, we’re talking about preventing fires inside of machinery. Our guest is Mike Campo, Midwest Regional Sales Manager with Firetrace International, makers of fire suppression systems and solutions. Fire suppression systems keep businesses, people and equipment safe by automatically detecting and suppressing fires in high-risk equipment, like CNC machines, vehicles and wind turbines.

    Mike says that machine tools are most at risk for fires when running oil based coolant while unattended. Suppression systems aim to hold back the fire, helping to mitigate the damage and allowing time for emergency personnel to respond.

    Scroll down to listen to the podcast. Or listen on your phone with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or your favorite app.



    Main Points

    Mike shares his background. He has been in the fire protection field for 43 years. He began his career in the engineered fire systems business, protecting data centers and telecommunications centers. He eventually went on to work at Firetrace International, a fire suppression system manufacturer that specializes in protecting critical small environments like CNC machines and wind turbines. (2:50)

    Mike talks more about the niche market of working with what he calls micro environments. He says that the Firetrace system is designed for small enclosures, not rooms or spaces where there are people, such as a residential structure. (3:40)

    Mike says that sprinklers are a valuable type of fire suppression for structures and are often mandated by local fire codes. He says Firetrace works heavily with the wind energy business to help protect wind turbines, which have structures that do not lend themselves to using sprinkler systems. He says that though an insurance company or local ordinance may instruct a business to purchase a fire suppression system for specific equipment, there are generally no official laws requiring a machine shop to install fire protection systems on its machines. (4:45)

    Mike says the biggest risk for fires in machine shops occurs when machine tools are running unattended using oil based coolant rather than water soluble. (8:40)



    Mike says that machine tools running oil create an oil mist that can ignite. Mist collectors can help evacuate some of the mist, but any kind of activity that would cause a spark in the oil mist such as a broken tool or failure of an oil pump, could lead to a violent fire. (10:50)

    Mike says fires often occur when machining titanium, stainless steel, and aluminum because a lot of friction can occur, which can lead to broken tools. (12:10)

    Mike explains that various Firetrace fire suppression systems correspond to different sizes of machine tools. Different volumes of space inside the machines require differen...

    • 38 min
    Reducing Machine Setup Time up to 50% with Paul Van Metre

    Reducing Machine Setup Time up to 50% with Paul Van Metre

    On today’s show we’re talking about how to set up machine tools efficiently.

    Our guest is Paul Van Metre, co-founder of ProShop ERP. ProShop produces a comprehensive web-based and totally paperless shop management system for small to medium manufacturing companies. Paul says that using a few best practices, guided by ProShop’s management system, can reduce a machine setup time up to 50%.

    Scroll down to listen to the podcast. Or listen on your phone with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or your favorite app.



    Main Points

    Paul shares his background. He grew up in New York and studied mechanical engineering in college. He says he found it dry, so he began looking for something more hands on. He found a program in Washington State that was heavily involved in the Formula SAE competition, which he fell in love with. He and his teammates decided to start a machine shop together right out of college. (3:10)

    Paul says that for their machine shop’s first three years (in late 1990s) the company used Excel to make its job routers and travelers. As it added more machines, it put a computer next to each one. (5:15)

    Paul explains that the idea for his company’s proprietary shop management system came out of desperation and need. As the company grew, introducing more machines and employees, Excel was not keeping up. His team researched shop management software in the old school Thomas Register books. (6:25)

    Paul says that none of ERP software firms his company looked at offered products designed specifically for managing the shop floor. The products also required paper printouts, which Paul and his team felt was a step backward from what they were already doing using Excel. Ultimately, they decided to hire a software designer to design a custom ERP system for the company. Paul says it took a little less than a year to develop workable software to handle the company’s needs. (7:35)

    Paul says it took about eight years before the company’s ERP software received outside attention. During the economic slowdown in 2008, a production manager from his company’s biggest customer came to the shop to work one day a week. When he tried using the ProShop ERP he liked it so much that he told his own company about it. (10:50)

    The customer convinced Paul’s company to let it use ProShop ERP. Paul says that within six months of using the system his customer’s productivity was boosted so much it was able to free up three full time employees, and it drastically decreased its lead-times on various jobs. Then the customer asked if Paul’s company would allow some of its vendors to use ProShop ERP. Paul and his team then realized the opportunity to start a new business selling their ERP, which they founded in 2016. (12:30)

    Paul says he misses the joy of the production process of running a machine shop, but he says providing ProShop to help other companies succeed is what he enjoys the most. (15:45)

    Paul says that by using a few best practices a shop can save up to 50% of machine setup time.

    • 37 min
    Best of Swarfcast – Ep. 73 – Tracking Your Machine’s Productivity with Eric Fogg

    Best of Swarfcast – Ep. 73 – Tracking Your Machine’s Productivity with Eric Fogg

    Today, we’re going to do a quick Throwback Thursday to March of this year, to a discussion about going digital with machine data.

    This week’s podcast is an interview we did with Eric Fogg, co-founder and head of machine connectivity at MachineMetrics. MachineMetrics produces an IOT device that connects directly with machine tool PLCs and controls to track realtime and historical data on equipment. Operators use the data to assess how machines are truly performing, which is often quite different from what they perceive.

    Scroll down to listen to the podcast. Or listen on your phone with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or your favorite app.



    Main Points

    Eric explains that MachineMetrics is a machine data connectivity data platform. The company makes a device (he calls an “edge device”) that connects directly to machine controls and sensors of production equipment. The device gathers valuable data on how the machines are performing and sends it to operators to analyze. (3:10)

    Eric talks about taking machine shop classes in high school. During high school he worked at a lot of different machine shops on nights and weekends and taught himself programming. (4:10)

    Eric says that MachineMetrics can gather data from all vintages of machine tools, not just CNC machines, though CNC machines provide the most data. He says right now MachineMetrics has a client using its edge device to gather data from a punch press that was manufactured in 1925. He says, “As long as it moves and has electrons flowing through it we can probably get some useful data out of it.”(7:00)

    Eric says that in college he majored in theology because he wanted to work in the field of corporate ethics. Eventually he started his own machine shop in his mid 20s that specialized in green technology products. (10:00)

    Eric says that when the 2008 recession hit he started doing more job shop type work with low margins. He eventually closed his company started doing Six Sigma consulting for job shops in Vermont. The experience of analyzing the processes of different shops inspired the idea for MachineMetrics. He says he observed that shops were often making decisions based on a gut feeling rather than based on data. He came up with the idea to pull the data that already was on the machines’ controls to create reports, dashboards and analytics to help machining companies make decisions. (14:00)

    Eric says the most basic data MachineMetrics tracks is machine utilization—how much machines are running versus how much people think they are running. He says the average perceived utilization of equipment by MachineMetrics’ customers is just under 80%. The actual average is in the high 20 percents to low 30 percents (the numbers are based on active shifts). He says that the numbers can be surprising as various markets differ. For instance, he says for some types of very low volume work (1 or 2 part runs) 15% utilization might be considered world class. He says for high volume shops utilization is often much higher. For instance, he says shops making millions of parts with much thinner margins sometime...

    • 41 min
    Precision Machining in Spain with Patrick Bosch

    Precision Machining in Spain with Patrick Bosch

    On today’s episode we are discussing the machining industry in Spain.

    Our guest is Patrick Bosch, Managing Director of Nagamohr, a 150 employee Tier 2 automotive company headquartered in Madrid, Spain. According to Patrick, despite Spain’s reputation as having a relaxed culture, its people are quite serious about manufacturing.

    Scroll down to listen to the podcast. Or listen on your phone with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or your favorite app.





    Main Points

    Patrick talks about his family’s German origin and about a subsidiary his company started recently, Nagamex, in Mexico. (2:55)

    Patrick talks about Nagamohr’s business, producing turned parts for Tier 2 automotive. The company has over 80 machines in its shop in Spain, including a large number of Hydromats, as well as CNC multi-spindles and other CNC machines. It has a turnover of around 15,000,000 euros per year. (4:05)

    Patrick says Nagamohr was originally a joint venture between a Spanish firm and a German firm, Nagares and Mohr, but the two could not get along, even while the company just existed on paper. Nagares, the Spanish division, wanted out of the partnership, so Patrick’s family took its place. Only a few years after the company was founded, the Bosch family assumed full ownership of Nagamohr. (5:25)

    Patrick talks about his background. He studied business administration and engineering at university. For a few years he worked in the finance field, but when the opportunity arose he decided to join his family’s company in 2011. He assumed a leadership role in 2013. (6:40)

    Patrick’s talks about why his family moved to Spain. He is the first generation of his family born in the country. In 1962 Patrick’s father originally visited Spain to study Spanish, but decided he preferred to stay in Spain than return to Germany. Patrick’s mother is also German. (8:00)

    Patrick says that the automotive industry represents over 10% of Spain’s GDP. He says Spain’s manufacturing is most significant in the country’s Basque region (in the north) as well as Catalonia, while his location in Madrid ranks third. 

    Patrick discusses the division between the regions of the Spain. He says half of the people in country identify themselves as Spanish, while the other half of people identify themselves by their region. (11:45)

    Patrick talks about the skills gap in Spain. He says it’s hard to find skilled workers in the machining field, so usually its necessary to train employees in house. (13:10)

    Patrick talks about the industries commonly found in Spain besides automotive, including the energy industry and engineering. (14:40)

    Patrick says unemployment in Spain fluctuates quickly and can be very high because of the country’s reliance on the seasonal tourism industry. He says before the COVID-19 crisis the country’s unemployment rate was around 11%, but right now it is around 18%. (15:22)

    Patrick dispels the myth that Spanish people are lazy workers. He says the Spanish work day is similar to that of other countries but the custom of the Spain is to operate one hour later than the rest ...

    • 29 min
    Graeme Sinclair on Precision Machining in Australia

    Graeme Sinclair on Precision Machining in Australia

    Our podcast team is taking a short break to enjoy Labor Day weekend with our families. In the meantime, in keeping with the international theme of Season 4, we hope you will listen again to the podcast we did with Graeme Sinclair, owner of Parish Engineering, a machine shop in Melbourne, Australia.

    Scroll down to listen to the podcast.

    On today’s podcast we interviewed Graeme Sinclair, owner of Parish Engineering, a prominent precision machining shop in Australia. Graeme has been in the machining business for 60 years, since he served his apprenticeship at age 14.

    In the interview, Graeme discussed the challenges faced by machine shops in Australia verses the rest of the world, his eclectic taste in CNC machines, and his passion for the game of squash. Sinclair explains that one reason he has many different types of equipment is that automotive companies have shut down their operations in Australia, meaning a lot of high volume work has disappeared.

    Scroll down to listen to the podcast. Or listen on your phone with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts,or your favorite app.





    Main Points

    Graeme talks about being a long-time fan of Today’s Machining World. He used to receive the printed copy of the magazine before it went digital and enjoyed sharing the printed articles around the shop. He talks about Lloyd offering him screw machines in the past. (2:40)

    Graeme speaks about Parish Engineering, which was created by Mr. Parish in 1932. Parish ran turret lathes and single spindle cam screw machines such as INDEX B60s. In 1968, with no one to take over the company, Parish sold the company but remained to train others. Graeme joined the company in 1972 but was laid off in 1975. In 1980, Graeme returned and bought the company with his brother-in-law. His business partner retired in 2010, leaving Graeme and his daughter as the current owners. (4:30)

    Graeme describes the company as a screw machine job shop with 28 CNC lathes and several vertical machining centers. The company owns Citizen, Star, Mori Seiki, Tsugami, Nakamura Tome, and INDEX machines. Graeme says he prefers Citizens for Swiss work. (6:00)

    Graeme says the company made parts primarily for the automotive industry when he assumed leadership in the 1980s. It still does some automotive parts, specifically for the Ford Ranger, because the gear shift is made in Australia. Forty percent of the company’s current business is making pneumatic couplings and air fittings for track braking systems. The remainder of the company’s business comes from contract jobs. He says he is pretty sure the Ford Ranger is assembled in South America, South Africa and Thailand. (7:00)

    Graeme talks about growing up in Melbourne, Australia, and how he got into the machining business. At 14, he left school because his parents were very poor and began an apprenticeship in fit...

    • 34 min

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