American Machinist reports that U.S. sales of machine tools dropped for the month of August by 10.2%. The sales figures represented the second consecutive month of decline for sales of everything from lathes to arc welding equipment, coming in at only $285.92 million for August. According to the Association of Manufacturing Technology, which issued the August U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report this month, this was a new low for 2015; in fact, the total number of units ordered was also low for the year, coming in at 1,747 total. However, it doesn’t mean that hope is lost in the manufacturing sector.
What could be the reason behind the decline in machine tool sales? It could signal lessened growth in manufacturing, but it also may point to something positive in the industry. As more companies focus their efforts on reshoring, or bringing their manufacturing jobs back to the United States, more companies may also be using machine tools and parts that were also created domestically. As a result, the high quality machinery that they order may be less prone to needing replacements.
However, that doesn’t mean that equipment can’t break down. These companies may still require machine tool services ranging from lathe repair to replacements of industrial machine parts. Reliable machine tool services can help prolong the life of equipment and give machine shops vital information about how to maintain their tools. This information can include things like:
- Maintenance: Maintaining equipment has less to do with simply repairing and more to do with making sure it’s operating properly on a regular basis. Much of this has to do with simple observation. For example, if you hear any unusual noises coming from a machine, like grinding or other metallic noises, this could be a sign that it needs to be inspected and/or repaired. If the machine is no longer functioning correctly and cannot perform the tasks it was designed for, this can also be an indication that repairs are needed. Be sure to regularly inspect machines and clear them of any debris after each use. Additionally, only using them for what they were designed to do can help keep them in good shape.
- Cleaning: It should surprise no machine shop supervisor that cleaning is crucial for equipment. Lathes, for instance, should be cleaned and wiped down regularly and have their wiper pads cleaned and re-oiled as needed. Also, make sure that these machines are cleaned properly, as using the wrong materials can damage them significantly. Because the chip/gram on the lathe is so sensitive, it should never be cleaned with high pressure air lest it enter the machine’s crevices and lead to a malfunction.
- Safety: Machine tools are often heavy and sharp. Therefore, emphasizing employee safety around these machines is crucial for any shop. Make sure that everyone understands how to stay safe around machine tools and understands how to use, clean, and maintain them.
If you have questions about how you can best maintain and clean your machinery, or how you can keep employees safe around this equipment, make sure to contact us about our machine tool services for repairs and more.