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Adapting to change; CNC milling and machining operations face some difficulty finding qualified CNC machinists

[May 2nd, 2013] At Advanced Precision Machining, a cog in the corporate responsibility machine involves the sharing of relevant information; most often times the good news, but also the not so good news. This machine shop blog is a means to that end. Our pattern recently has kept our customers informed of the economic realities faced in the precision machine industry, and this month is no different. In our last post, we reported on good news that growth returns via durable goods were increasing according to Gardner's Metalworking Business Index (MBI). This month, a recent Federal Reserve report revealed that the production index for all durable goods set an all time high for March of 2013. Precision manufacturing, including the precision machining of metal parts, not only experienced growth but accelerated growth. Encouraging news to be sure, however information of this sort is often tempered by other economic factors.

As demand increases for CNC milling, many Colorado machine shops are facing an unfamiliar reality; lack of qualified labor. After a slower than average start to the year, production is up at APM, and our staffing levels are adequate. However, the economic downturn from which we are in the midst recovery was especially difficult for many machining companies. Shops across the country were forced to shut down operations, and many CNC machinists were forced out of work. A highly trained and highly specialized workforce it is theorized sought employment in other industries, never to return to a machine shop floor. Today, as demand and production ramp up, many shops which weathered the economic storm find themselves in a unique situation; with a lack of qualified CNC machinists to meet demand. At APM, as we look forward to expansion, we are doing our part to put more qualified machinists into the job pool.

The operation of a CNC mill, lathe, or CNC router is a highly skilled profession, and requires years of specialized training. Machinists typically train as an apprentice, at a community or technical college, or in vocational schools. Fully trained CNC machinists typically require 4-5 years of instruction and on the job training. An aspiring machinist must be a problem solver, good with math, and have specialized computer skills. The economic downturn resulted in a void, and now APM co-founder Kirk Tuesberg wants to fill that void. Kirk has applied for a part-time instruction job at Front Range Community College here in Colorado to help people become job ready. Please take the time to read the College's very informative article on the challenges faced by Colorado machine shops, and join us in wishing Professor Tuesberg success in his anticipated endeavor.

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About the Author

Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised on the emerald isle of Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he partnered with his friend and colleague, Kirk Tuesburg, currently APM’s machine shop manager, together launching what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.

 

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