Ten years ago, in 2012, the Fabricators and Manufacturers’ Association (FMA) founded Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). MFG Day is a national movement to show the public (students, parents, and all others) just what modern manufacturing is all about, because as they say, “It’s not your father’s machine shop anymore”.  MFG Day is always the first Friday in October. This year we are celebrating all things manufacturing on October 7th, 2022. In addition to MFG Day, many states and manufacturing associations (including the International Trade Administration) consider the first week in October National Manufacturing Week or the entire month of October Manufacturing Month. But it doesn’t stop there for FlexTrades. We celebrate manufacturing all year long and hope you will too. Below are ways in which you can do so!  

  

  1. Open your manufacturing doors to the public. You can find tips and tricks to do here. 
  2. If you’re an employee, encourage your employer to open their doors!  
  3. Partake in trade shows as a visitor or manufacturer. Here’s a list of 2022/2023 tradeshows to get you started!  
  4. Visit or participate in a tour (or two) of manufacturing facilities. Find events to attend or ways to host an event at mfgday.com  
  5. Know the industrial revolutions to see how manufacturing has changed and why it’s so great!  
  6. Talk to the kids you know and tell them what it’s like, share your knowledge of manufacturing and discuss the vast opportunities within a manufacturing career. Show them some of these great How It’s Made videos so they get time on their electronics and they’re learning!   
  7. Share positive messages about manufacturing to your social media accounts. 
  8. Follow and reshare positive messages from manufacturers and those in manufacturing on your social media accounts.  
  9. Shop and buy American made products. 
  10. Donate or volunteer to the Nuts and Bolts Foundation (also known as Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs ® – NBT). NBT is on a mission to bridge the skills gap in manufacturing, keep American manufacturing alive and strong, and provide students the opportunity to learn how they can do great things by working in manufacturing.  
  11. Donate your time and knowledge by visiting technical or trade schools to spread awareness about manufacturing and opportunities in manufacturing. Bring brochures with you (here’s an example). 
  12. Encourage your coworkers or employees to share their own stories with each other.  
  13. Curate an Employee Appreciation Day – managers can genuinely thank their workforce, provide pizza for lunch, or organize a cookout, send thank you cards, give gift cards, sponsor a team outing, or film a video of thanks.  

 

And as you celebrate, keep in mind the words of Alan Mulally, an American aerospace engineer and manufacturing executive, former executive vice president of Boeing, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and former President and Chief Executive Office of the Ford Motor Company, Alan is well versed in manufacturing and once said:   

 

“No country is very successful in the long term…without a really strong and vibrant manufacturing base”.  

 

Happy MFG Day (or week or month)! 

On September 11th, 2001, the unthinkable happened when four airplanes were hijacked by militants associated with the extremist group al Qaeda. Of the four planes, two were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.  Almost 3,000 people were killed during these terrorist attacks resulting in not only major US initiatives to fight terrorism but also paths of grief for all Americans. To recognize that grief and commemorate the victims of these 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Navy commissioned the USS New York (LPD-21), one of six Navy ships with New York in the name. This ship was different though. This ship, the USS New York (LPD-21) is a massive ship with 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center and Ground Zero. The steel is forged into its bow of the ship which is significant. It symbolizes the strength and resiliency of citizens as the ship sails forward, around the world. In fact, the motto of the USS New York (LPD-21) is “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.”  

Although named after New York, the USS New York (LPD-21) was not constructed there. This mighty ship was constructed at the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems/Avondale Shipyard in Avondale, Louisiana.

Avondale Shipyard sold, now called Avondale Marine | WorkBoat 

The steel from Ground Zero was melted down at Amite Foundry and Machine in Amite, Louisiana. Not only was Amite Foundry and Machine close to the shipyard, they also had the capacity to do a job of this size. You could say the foundry specializes in jobs of this size. They’ve been known to turn down molding jobs for product weighing less than 1,000 pounds and are also known to make mold products that weigh as much 119,000 pounds. Depending upon the economy, Amite Foundry and Machine has a goal of producing 24 million pounds of metal per year. How did they make the bow stem? By melting a total of 24 tons of steel (7.5 tons of that being from Ground Zero) and molding it into the bow stem. With the bow being front and center of the ship, the steel from Ground Zero will lead the way everywhere it goes.  

With the bow completed, the rest of the ship was constructed. To construct a ship, the process starts with steel plates longer and wider than an average bus. These plates are cut into panels, bent on hydraulic presses to match the shape of the ship (or rolled to form the needed contour). Once formed, these panels are painted then welded together to form sub-assemblies of the ship. Once complete, the sub-assemblies are moved by large cranes and transport vehicles across the shipyard to the final build location of the ship. While all of this is occurring, the ship is also built out with internal mechanisms, equipment, cabling, etc. You can find a great video of this process (and really understand the sheer size of the process) here. Once the ship is close to being completed, it will be launched into the ocean where the final touches are added internally and it’s prepped to start sail.  

Final touches include:  

  • A New York City subway sign from the station beneath the World Trade Center  
  • A display case of hats and uniforms from first responders (including a firefighter’s helmet) 
  • A mural of the twin towers with the words Never Forget 
  • A banner with the many  names of the victims of 9/11 

A general timeline of the USS New York (LPD-21) is as follows:  

  1. August 2002: New York’s Governor (George e. Pataki) receive approval for his request that a United States surface warship bestow the name of New York to honor the victims of 9/11. 
  2. August 2003: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems is awarded the contract to build the USS New York (LPD-21). 
  3. September 2003: Amite Foundry and Machine melted steel down to form the bow stem of the ship.   
  4. March 2008: the USS New York (LPD-21) was christened in a ceremony at shipyard. 
  5. August 2009: the ship was delivered to the Navy. 
  6. October 2009: the ship set sail for Norfolk, Virginia.  
  7. November 2009: the ship passed the World Trade Center site for the first time. 
  8. November 2009: a commissioning ceremony took place in New York City.
     

From the very beginning to the very end, it took 7 years to build out this magnificent ship. There were many hands involved in the process including those who poured the metal at an unheard-of foundry in Louisiana to every welder who brought the plates together down to the last crew member to board the ship. This 9/11, let’s remember those who made this memorial ship possible in addition to the first. 

 

The prices at the pumps have been higher than ever recently. In fact, US gas prices were the highest they’ve ever been which has many people wondering why they’re high and if the prices will go down. Some are also wondering how it’s made. In reality, the two go hand-in-hand.  

 

Gasoline is made from crude oil (also known as petroleum). Crude oil (or petroleum) is a fossil fuel which means it is produced from the remains of plants and animals. These plants and animals lived millions of years ago and are covered by sediment which when exposed to weather, erosion, and other environmental factors, produces hydrocarbons.

 

Hydrocarbons can be liquid or gas. In this case, due to high pressure levels, the hydrocarbons formed under the ground are liquid hydrocarbons. These liquid hydrocarbons are what we know as crude oil (or petroleum). So, how does that become gasoline for vehicles? Let’s check it out!  

Step One 

When a crude oil source is found, drilling begins. Drills bore holes under the surface of the Earth in the area where crude oil has been found. Fun fact: these drills can go as far as one mile deep! The hole created by the drill acts as a well. With the addition of water into the soil, mud is created and this mud pushes cracked rock to the top of the hole at which point it is removed. This also ensures the crude oil stays below the surface. Once it has been determined the reservoir is ready for oil extraction, a pipe is inserted into the hole.  

Step Two  

This pipe is called a casing. This casing has holes in it that allow oil from the reservoir to enter the pipe and bring the oil to the surface of the Earth. Once recovered, the crude oil is stored in large tanks. From those tanks, oil is transported to a refinery via pipeline, ship, or tank cars on rail.  

Step Three 

At the refinery, crude oil is broken down into a variety of other materials to include gasoline and diesel fuel. In fact, gasoline was discovered when crude oil was originally refined to produce oil and kerosene for lamps, prior to the invention of electricity. With the addition of heat (ranging from roughly 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 1100+ degrees Fahrenheit), crude oil is distilled. Distillation is where we create the various byproducts of crude oil. The byproducts made are dependent upon carbon atoms. Remember, crude oil consists of liquid hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons consist of carbon atoms that link together. These links of carbon atoms can vary in length and depending upon the length, will have different properties, characteristics, or behaviors. 

 

Examples of these chains: a chain with one carbon atom is known as methane. Kerosene consists of 12-15 atom atoms in one chain. The more atoms in one chain, the heavier the byproduct. 

Oil Distillation Process

Step Four 

Once distilled, the byproducts require further refining. Additional refining processes include catalytic cracking, coking, reforming, and alkylation. These are all fancy words that describe the different ways in which the crude oil coming out of the distillation column is further refined and purified. Once finished, it is sent to refinery storage tanks.  

Step Five  

This step is all about blending. From the refinery storage tanks, gasoline is sent to smaller blending tanks via tanker, barge, or pipeline. Here, gasoline is typically blended with ethanol. Blending is done to create different grades of gas. Remember, when you pull up to the pump at a gas station, you see a variety of options. Diesel, E87, E88, etc. These are the grades of gasoline. Different grades of gasoline are made to meet different performance requirements of a vehicle. An example of this is gasoline produced for use in the winter. To improve a vehicle’s ability to start with a cold engine, gasoline is blended to a consistency in which it will vaporize more easily

Step Six 

Once blended and ready for use, tanker trucks deliver the finished fuel to a gas station. The gasoline is stored in tanks underground at each gas station and from these tanks, are pumped up and out of the gas pump once you start it up. If you’re interested in more about that process, check out this article from howstuffworks.com. 

Flow of Crude oil and Gasoline to your pump

So, how does this all tie into the cost of gasoline prices? Well, it comes down to supply and demand. If supply is low but demand is high, prices are higher too. Therefore, if we are not drilling (onshore or offshore) for crude oil or if we are not receiving imported crude oil, we are not refining. If we aren’t refining, the supply is low while demand stays the same or increases. Of course, drilling is a hot button topic and when it comes to importing, supply chain and geopolitical events (which we’ve recently seen) will decrease supply. Thus, gasoline prices and gasoline production go hand-in-hand.

G&M Code vs. Conversational Programming  

When you get down to the nitty gritty, there are MANY ways to program a CNC machine. Deciding which one is the best for you depends on a wide variety of factors. The following options are available.  

  1. CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software programming (such as Mastercam) 
  2. G&M Code programming  
  3. Conversational programming  
  4. Macro programming  

 So, what are all of these?  

CAM Software Programming 

 Having CAM software such as Mastercam is very helpful. Oftentimes, you can use 3D models and blueprints to not only create the program but also simulate and verify the program. CNC programmers access CAM software through a computer (either at the machine or in an engineering/programming office). 

G&M Code Programming 

List of G&M Codes for machining

G&M Code programming is done on the machine. Rather than working on a computer or laptop, CNC programming occurs within the controller screen. 

G&M Code programming uses a series of codes, either G-codes or M-codes.  

  • G-code stands for Geometric Code.  
  • These codes direct a CNC machine to perform the operations needed to create geometries and profiles in the material.  
  • An example of a G-code is G84 which directs the machine toward a tapping cycle.  
  • M-code stands for Machine Code or Miscellaneous Code. 
  • These codes direct the functions of the actual machine rather than the geometry or feature requirements.  
  • An example of an M-code is M05 which directs the machine to stop the spindle.  

Conversational Programming 

Conversational programming is a type of programming that uses prompts. The prompts are questions asked of the programmer or machinist. These prompts gather answers regarding part geometry, type of material or metal, as well as the tooling needed to complete the desired features. In summary, someone performing conversational programming is answering questions which allows the machine to create a program from which the machine will operate.  

G&M Code Programming vs. Conversational Programming 

So, what’s the difference between the two? A fitting example is the process of giving someone directions to an agreed upon location.  

  • In G&M code programming, directions are given in a step-by-step nature. If someone needs to get to the local grocery store, as a direction teller you will share all the lefts and rights that need to be taken, the stores that you’ll pass by, the miles to travel, etc.  
  • In conversational programming, directions are less specific. In this example, as a direction teller you will tell someone the cross streets at which the grocery store is located (I.e., Main Street and First Avenue). However, the traveler will determine the best route needed to get to Main Street and First Avenue. 

Macro Programming 

metal drill bit make holes in aluminium radiator on industrial drilling machine. Metal work industry.

Macro programming is done when there are repetitive operations on a part but different variables for each operation. In this type of programming, the main operation (or repetitive operation) is programmed via CAM, G&M, or Conversational programming. Macro programming creates a “sub program” to alter that main program.  

  • An example would be a part that needs multiple holes drilled but the holes are of different depths. Typically, feed rates change according to depth. Therefore, you program the machine to “drill a hole” as your main operation but the macro programming within that program details the depth and the feed rate for each individual hole. 

You now have a tight grasp on what differentiates these types of programming. It’s easy to see why they were all created. Each programming style lends itself to greater job efficiency depending on the task at hand. Perhaps you’ve been searching for a better way to program the task of hole drilling in a project you have. You now know that Macro may be the way to go. 

If you find that you have a propensity for any of these programming styles, and need employment, don’t hesitate to reach out to our hiring team via this website! We’d love to have you join our team of talented technicians. 

This history of Memorial Day is long but not complicated and dates back to the Civil War. The Civil War ended on April 5th, 1865, but the suffering and the pain of loss didn’t end, even in 1868. The Civil War left the US with a high number of casualty rates for soldiers not provided personal identification which left family members without any idea of what happened to their loved ones. As a result, former U.S. Army Major General John A. Logan (also an Illinois congressional representative and the commander-in-chief for the GAR – Grand Army of the Republic – the nation’s largest organization of Union veterans) designated May 30th as a day of national remembrance and called it “Decoration Day”.  

Shortly after, in 1873, construction of an amphitheater was completed near the Arlington House with its intended use for Decoration Day remembrance and commemoration. This amphitheater drew in large crowds every year resulting in a 1903 proposal by Judge Ivory Kimball (also a civil war veteran) to expand the amphitheater. The expansion was approved in 1913 with construction beginning in 1915. In 1920, the Memorial Amphitheater was formally dedicated and opened to the public. Over the years changes have been made to the amphitheater and Decoration Day has become better known as Memorial Day but the purpose is still the same, a space given to share in the reflection of the lives given by Americans at wartime and to grieve for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  

Located in the Memorial Amphitheater is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, also known as the Tomb of the Unknowns. The tomb is located atop a hill and is nearly perfectly geographically centered in the Arlington National Cemetery. This majestic marble tomb dates back to December of 1920, when New York Congressman and World War I veteran Hamilton Fish Jr. proposed legislation that would provide a place of rest for one Unknown American Soldier from World War I, in the plaza at Arlington National Cemetery.  This idea was likely based off France and Great Britain’s Armistice Day (November 11, 1921) in which one unknown warrior was buried at the Arc de Triomphe and another inside Westminster Abbey. Congress moved forward with the legislation and an Unknown Soldier was buried in memorial, in the plaza, on November 11, 1921.  

That wasn’t enough though, it was always meant that the memorial be larger than it already was. As a result, the United States congress held a design competition. This competition delivered 73 total applicants with the wining designers being Architect Lorimer Rich and Sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones.  

Lorimer Rich’s design was approved and shortly thereafter, the search for marble began. It was a long process to find the perfect marble but when found, it came from the Colorado Yule Marble Quarry and the Vermont Marble company quarried it with the help of 75 men. Fun fact: this quarry is the same quarry that provided the marble for the Lincoln Memorial and due to metamorphic factors geographically in the area, this quarry created some of the best marble in the country. 

To pull this block of marble from a quarry 10,000 feet above sea level would be complicated today, let alone in 1931. The pure white marble block when pulled from the mountain weighted 124tons and was cut down with a wire saw to a weight of 56 tons.  

Once quarried, the marble was sent to the marble mill in the town of Marble, Colorado which although only 2.8 miles away took an entirety of 4 days to complete. The marble mill crated the block and then shipped it to Procter, Vermont. Upon arrival in Vermont, the architect, sculptor, a representative from the Quartermaster General’s Department, and a contractor inspected the piece and approved that work could begin. 

The tomb was partially sculpted in Procter, Virginia by Thomas Hudson Jones. From Procter, it was shipped by rail to the Arlington National Cemetery for final sculpting. In all, it was a total of seven months to move the marble from the quarry and land it in its final resting place. The last of the sculpting was completed onsite by the Piccirilli Brothers under the direction of Thomas Jones. Fun fact: the Piccirilli brothers also carved the Abraham Lincoln statue as well as the lions you see outside of the New York Public Library.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier early in the morning at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, August 7, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)

About The Tomb

  • A formal ceremony was held on April 9, 1932, to commemorate the finished tomb.  
  • The tomb honors and remembers those who died at war without any witnesses beared. 
  • The tomb has four levels (cap, die, base, and sub-base) with the die being the largest block of marble and in which you can see the design. It is 11’ high, 8’ wide at the base, 6’8” wide at the top, with a total length of 13’11” at the base and 12’7” at the top.  
  • The North and South panels are sculpted with inverted wreaths. These wreathes represent a “World of Memories”. Each wreath has 38 leaves and 12 berries.  
  • The West Panel is inscribed with “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN ONLY TO GOD”.   
  • The East Panel has three Greek figures sculpted which represent Peace, Victory, and Valor. 
    • The female figure of Peace is holding a dove to symbolize peace and friendship. 
    • The center figure is that of Victory, who is extending an olive branch towards the male figure while holding the hand of Peace.  
    • The male figure on the right is holding a broken sword and represents Valor. 
  • The budget for the tomb was approved at $50,000 but in the end, it was completed for $48,000. That’s approximately $860,000 in today’s money. 
  • It was Mr. Jones who sculpted the wreaths and the Greek figures while the Piccirilli brothers completed all other sculpting tasks.  
  • The memorial is placed in such a place that a visitor’s first view is from 20’ below, which is considered to be the most impressive angle. 
  • Every president since 1921 has stood in this spot to commemorate Memorial Day.  
  • There has been a total of four unknown soldiers buried at the tomb, all from different wars. World War I, World War II, The Korean War and the Vietnam War.  
    • The last soldier buried at the tomb (from the Vietnam War) was disinterred from the tomb in 1998 and his identity was determined with help of a DNA test. Where this soldier used to be, there is now a crypt cover inscribed with “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Serviceman 1958-1975”.  
  • Over 250,000 US flags adorn the Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, with one small flag at each headstone and along the bottom row. This takes 4 hours to accomplish. 
  • Since April 6, 1948, the tomb has been guarded by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) for 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, with absolutely no exceptions. These military members are called The Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and undergo extensive interviews, trainings, and tests.  
    • This regiment is called The Old Guard because it is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving the nation since 1784. 
    • All Sentinels must be in “ superb physical condition” and be within a certain heights  
      • Men: 5’10” – 6’4”  
      • Women: 5’8” and 6’2” 

If you are a CNC Programmer or would like to become a CNC Programmer, you’ve likely heard of or read about Mastercam. Mastercam is just one many computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software packages available for use when CNC programming, but Mastercam is the most common. Whether it’s the best programming software is a topic for another time, for CNC Programmers. I won’t get into that here, but the prevalence of Mastercam in manufacturing cannot be denied. As of 2020, there were 274,096 installed seats of Mastercam in manufacturing, with the closest competitor at just under 150,000 installed seats. Mastercam has shaped the past and will continue to shape the future of manufacturing but how did it get here and why?  

One Tool for Every Machine 

  • With Mastercam, you can program a wide variety of machines including CNC mills, lathes, routers mill turns and multi-axis machinery, and wire EDM. The ability to program so many machines with one universal software is of great benefit for manufacturers across multiple industries.CNC Mastercam Machine-operator-programming

Leading CAM Package in Education  

  • Not only is Mastercam the leader in manufacturing, but they are also the leading CAM software in Machine Tool Technology programs throughout technical and trade school in the US. As of 2020, there are 142,969 seats installed for educational purposes with the next competitor at just under 75,000 seats.  

A Long History  

  • Mastercam was founded in 1983 and is one of the very first PC-based cam software in manufacturing. Mastercam started as a 2D cam tool and over time, has evolved into a 3D CAD/CAM package. With 39 years in the industry, it’s hard to deny the reason for Mastercam’s dominance in CNC programming.  

Interested in learning Mastercam? Check out local trade or technical schools for available opportunities or learn from the comfort of your own home with incredibly helpful online courses from Titans of CNC Academy, a free CAD/CAM and CNC Machine Training program by Titan Gilroy.  

The future of manufacturing lies in the hands of automation. Industry 4.0 is where it’s at and that means robotics, PLCs, and CNC. If you’re in the CNC machining trade now, or would like to be, growing your career from CNC Operator or CNC Machinist to CNC Programmer is a great way to pave your career path and going back to school is a great place to start.The operator setup the CNC machine milling machine by press the controller keypad. The CNC machining center operation by skill operator.

If you’re committed to becoming a CNC Programmer, start by enrolling into a local technical college to get a CNC Programmer or CNC Programming certificate, diploma, or degree. Consider the following items when you’re determining where to go.

    • Does the school have curriculum approved by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS)? NIMS establishes standards for CNC Programming and CNC Programmer Certifications within trade schools.  
    • Does the school have quality equipment and software for hands-on experience? Mastercam is a very common programming language in the CNC world and will open doors for you in the programming world.  Operator working at programmable machine. CNC machine.
    • What is the length of the program? What amount of time can you commit to this endeavor? Getting a CNC Programming certificate will take less time than getting a CNC Programming Diploma which takes less time than getting an associate degree.
    • What is the cost of the program, can you commit to the cost, and is there value in what you’re getting for the cost?
    • Location, location, location. Do you need online options, or can you do in-person learning?
    • Consider working for PMG. One of the great benefits we offer our technicians is training reimbursement. We have a great program in place that allows you to build upon your current skills and education by reimbursing up to $2,000 for approved courses relevant to your trade.

It’s a common misconception in manufacturing that production numbers and output are of the utmost importance. However, that’s all wrong. First and foremost, safety is the number one factor in manufacturing. Right behind safety comes quality (PMG’s Project Manager Stephen D. talks about these priorities) and critical to quality are CMMs.   

What are CMMs 

CMM stands for Coordinate Measuring Machine. In short, CMMs are machines that measure physical dimensions and geometric characteristics of manufactured components. These same dimensions, features, and characteristics can be measured manually with precision hand tools and instruments. Unfortunately, manual inspections leave room for error (human error), so CMMs were created. CMM Machine Wensel LH87

At the most basic level, a CMM consists of a table on which the part is set for inspection processes and a probe that performs the inspection with a computer program that guides and controls the inspection probes.  

CMM Programming 

When explained, CMMs seem very simple. However, there is much more to it including the way in which the CMM is programmed. Some parts have very few characteristics needing inspection while others have hundreds. Regardless of the number of characteristics to be inspected, a CMM cannot perform the inspection tasks unless it’s been programmed to do so. Similar to PLC programming or CNC programming, CMM programming is a sequential set of instructions directing the machine in all of its operations. A CMM program is written through software designed specific for CMMs and will seem like a foreign language unless you are a CMM Programmer.  

CMM Programmers 

CMM Programmers write the long list of code and sequential instruction needed for a CMM machine to operate. CMM Programmers ensure that each and every feature, characteristic, and dimension of the part is measured by the probe on the CMM and in the way that keeps the inspection process as efficient as possible. Not only does a CMM programmer determine the path of instruction, but a CMM programmer will also ensure that the program clearly outlines the dimensions and tolerances required of the part. These two details (dimensions/tolerances and inspection path) must align once the machine is running. If these two factors are not aligned, the part does not pass inspection. Does this still sound easy? It’s not. This process has gotten increasingly more difficult over the years, due to the much more complex and geometric forms of machined components. CMM Programmer in background automatic coordinate measurement machine (CMM) during inspection automotive or motorcycle industrial part in quality control manufacturing process

Interested in Being a CMM Programmer?

A great place to start is school where you can earn degrees or certificates in Quality and Manufacturing Technologies. You will need to gain work experience (as a Quality Inspector or CMM Operator) once you receive the degree or certificate of course but it’s still a great place to start. If you’ve already got work experience in manufacturing (in the field of quality or elsewhere), make it clear that you’re interested in operating CMMs and/or programming CMMs. Often times, CMM Programmers become CMM Programmers through on-the-job training.  

Are You a CMM Programmer or CMM Operator?  

Join the PMG team for the opportunity to travel and explore new places, learn new techniques, create flexibility in your schedule, and work with some of the greatest manufacturers in the US. Apply Here! 

FAQs for PMG 

PMG provides labor solutions to American manufacturers. That’s what we do in a nutshell and we take the “solution” part of that equation seriously. As a result, all of us here end up asking a lot of questions to make sure we find the right way to solve the real problem. Additionally, the community asks a fair amount of questions too. In this blog, PMG answers the most common questions. 

Do I need a forklift certification? 

Great question! Forklift operation certifications are very common in the manufacturing industry, but you don’t need to carry an “active” forklift certification to be eligible to work on a PMG project. However, having been previously certified to operate a forklift is very much preferred experience for our technicians. This is simply because anyone who uses a forklift on our projects will have to certify to that client’s in-house standards while onsite.  

There are other certifications that are occasionally required for a technician to be eligible to work on PMG projects. The most common of these are OSHA and/or MSHA safety certifications as well as Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs). 

Interested in More? 

There are many other licenses and certifications, besides those previously mentioned, that can significantly help a technician qualify for a position or help themselves stand out amongst all those who do.  

  • Zippia has also selected a list of 20 that production workers should consider getting for a leg up on the competition in 2021.  

Rubber stamp forklift certifiedLooking to join our team? 

Recently graduated from a technical training program? Please consider joining our team through PMG ReTool. 

If you’ve got experience, we have opportunities for you too! Join our PMG Talent Network now. 

Have a question of your own? 

We want to answer your questions. If you have any at all, send them to writingteam@pmgservices.com and we will get them answered in future FAQs! 

Nearly everything around you is made in a manufacturing facility. These facilities combine the power of human hands and machinery to produce the consumer goods you want. With consumer demand comes the need for not only reliability, but also repeatability. As a result, manufacturers look to automate production processes as much as possible and with automation comes PLCs.

What are PLCs?

PLC stands for Programmable Logic Controller. In short, PLCs are computers connected to machinery to automate and monitor the machinery and its operations. To do this, PLCs scan input devices from the machinery, process what that input means, and send reactionary (programmed) functions to output devices. This process creates the desired operation in the machinery. Input devices include sensors, switches, thermometers, etc. while output devices can include valves, pumps, fans, and alarms, among others.

For a simple example, think of a light switch and a light bulb. When the switch is flipped (input), a PLC would realize that a light needs to turn on. The PLC sends a programmed action to the lightbulb (output) and the lightbulb turns on.

PLC to Lamp on wall

Another simple example (specific to manufacturing) would include a temperature sensor (input device) reading that the machine is operating at levels that are too hot. The PLC then analyzes that input and determines that a fan (output device) needs to turn. The PLC program pushes out a programmed command to the fan which then turns on and cools the temperature to an acceptable level.

In addition to scanning the inputs, programs, and outputs, the PLC also performs what’s called housekeeping. This step is where the PLC consistently monitors itself and internal diagnostics among other items.

The PLC scan process is continuous and cyclical in nature. It’s a never-ending loop.

PLC Scan Process

The PLC Scan Process

PLC Programming

When explained, PLCs seem simple. It’s an “if this, then that” equation. However, it’s complicated work to determine all of the potential “if this, then that” occurrences in a machine, especially in high-tech or complex machinery. Writing this “if this, then that” PLC program takes careful thought, an in-depth understanding of the machinery (which can include all mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, and/or hydraulic systems and components), an in-depth understanding of the desired machine operations and knowledge of every input and desired output. Once these details are attained, the program is ultimately a long list of “if this input, then that output,” but a complicated list.

Picture of a programmable logic controller in working state.

How is this done? By a PLC Programmer or a Controls Engineer.

PLC Programmers

Not only do PLC Programmers write the long list of code for machine operations according to inputs and outputs, but they’ll also create and design schematics, install (or assist) in the installation of the PLC (remember, it’s essentially a computer connected to the machine), and also test the PLC and the program that’s written to ensure it’s operational.

Interested in being a PLC Programmer? A great place to start is at school. Employers prefer master’s degrees in electrical engineering, computer science or other similar programs. However, relevant experience would include a bachelor’s degree in either of those studies with hands-on PLC experience, as well. If you’re already working in manufacturing, make it clear that you’re interested in PLC programming or want to be a PLC Programmer. Often times, PLC Programmers become PLC Programmers through on-the-job training.

Are you a PLC Programmer? Join the PMG team for the opportunity to travel and explore new places, learn new techniques, create flexibility in your schedule, and work with some of the greatest manufacturers in the US. Apply Here!

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