How a different machining perspective can make Australian manufacturing more competitive

An international expert advises Australian manufacturers to take a
holistic approach to business to become more competitive and profitable in machining
and manufacturing. This involves having a willingness to look at it from a
different perspective and embracing new ideas and techniques.

Phil Russell, the Application Expert for Materials/Strategic Accounts at
the Solid End Mill division of Seco Tools came to Sydney specifically to meet
with more than 30 representatives of local manufacturers from the medical
industry. His presentation, Advancement in the Machining of Medical Components,
provided advice on how they could improve their competitiveness in an
ever-changing global industry.

Presenting a case study, he informed his audience about a project in
Sydney in which Seco Tools helped a medical manufacturer reduce their cycle times
by 45 percent and increase productivity by 55 percent. These outcomes were
achieved not by changing cutting tools or cutting paths, but more by having a
broad solution view of their business.

Taking a strategic approach, Seco Tools examined the entire
manufacturing process, not just the cutting of materials, enabling them to identify
areas where completely new ways of doing manufacturing could be introduced. By
removing four processes from further down the line by improving machining
quality and productivity at the front end, the manufacturer was able to almost double

Instead of improving the quality of the medical product progressively as
it passed through each stage of machining, the quality levels were dramatically
increased in the early stages of production, eliminating any need for extra
surface cleaning and polishing at a later stage.

Phil observes that the medical industry is one of the most difficult for
introducing new changes in manufacturing due to tight government and health
authority regulations. Operating within a sealed process, some manufacturers
don’t advance their technology or techniques for years.

According to Phil, it’s important to update manufacturing processes and
tools every one to two years. Medical manufacturing is one industry where
output cannot be grown by simply increasing cutting speeds. Medical
manufacturing involves dealing with the finest tolerances and dimensional and
surface integrity and finish that must meet strict requirements.

Seco Tools works directly with some of the largest medical device
manufacturing OEMs around the world, using the same approach presented in
Sydney to help them increase performance, productivity and profitability.

Phil noted that Australian medical manufacturers are keen to embrace
change, and want to be self-sufficient without having to rely on importing products
from Asia.

Phil also mentioned the increasing popularity of 3D printing in the medical
manufacturing sector. He commented that 3D printing technologies have become affordable
to engineers and designers and are more than just prototyping machines. Seco
Tools is also embracing this technology through collaboration, helping their clients
around the world to stay competitive.

Advising Australian manufacturers to accept
change to ensure their sustainability into the future, he said Seco Tools, with
their in-house expertise in cutting tools, can help the industry take a
strategic approach to improve manufacturing processes and consequently, their
productivity and profitability.