Maximizing work force.

Position:Industry outlook 2009

Q: Multi-tasking seems to be changing the face of manufacturing as we know it. What role is the workforce going to play as more manufacturers shift to automation?

The key to success, said Brian Papke, president of Mazak Corp., is rooted not only in the benefits provided by multi-tasking equipment, but also in the ability of programmers and operators to optimize its capabilities.

"The shortage in skilled labor, combined with the ever-intensifying marketplace has forced manufacturers to change the way they look at automation," Papke said.

Multi-tasking allows industry to ad dress two significant challenges: its understaffed workforce and ways in which to improve quality and throughput. With multi-tasking machining, companies can produce parts of varying size and complexity in one setup.

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"The significant reduction in part transfers and re-fixturing not only frees up manpower to work on other shop operations, but also helps to maintain close tolerances, improve part accuracy, and increase throughput," Papke said.

Although multi-tasking...

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