Tag Archives: US manufacturing

Manufacturing Needs Skilled Workers

A rather common ‘theme’ for U.S. manufacturers in today’s workplace is the difficulty in finding trained, qualified talent to fill a variety of skilled labor positions.

Whether it is painting a part or turning a wrench, or now, operating intricate machinery, specific skill sets need to be acquired through training or schooling for high quality demanding manufacturing. With the increased  level of automation and sophisticated controls has arisen the need for trained and qualified workers more than ever before.  So what has been the recent trend?

  • Specialized Skills – One of the reasons the skills gap has occurred is that new technology and improved processes require higher, more specialized skill sets. At best, the manufacturing of 25-35 years ago would have been considered semi-skilled. Now, the majority of unskilled or semi-skilled jobs and processes have been outsourced, meaning that the jobs that have been retained require advanced skill sets.
  • Lagging Education – Over the last 25 to 30 years, the manufacturing education system has been reduced or eliminated, so it has become harder for potential manufacturing employees to get training. Manufacturing has also reduced apprenticeships programs. Both of these need to be revitalized to improve the number of skilled and qualified workers.
  • A Rebounding Industry – The layoffs and cutbacks that date back to before the recent recession are now being looked at as likely having been too drastic, forcing manufacturing workers into new careers. Many of these ex-manufacturing workers will be hesitant to return to former careers.
  • Different Mindsets – Both manufacturers and potential employees need to change their mindsets. Manufacturing is no longer the dirty plants of years past, needing mid-level skill sets to earn mid-level wages. Many members of the boomer generation still look at manufacturing this way, and pass on that idea to their children, when manufacturing has actually raised working conditions as well as skills. However, not all manufacturers have been willing to produce wages and incentives that should coincide with the increased need in skills. Both sides need to work on this issue.

Here at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we are always searching for more skilled and qualified CNC machine operators, along with engineers, programmers, and many other positions. As a leading manufacturer in the high-growth field of both aerospace and power generation turbine engine components, we are constantly growing and developing as the demand continues to increase. We are committed to growing the manufacturing workforce, training new workers when needed, and offering wages and packages fitting the skill sets required. Check out our careers page for more information!

Growth in the Aerospace Industry

After a few rollercoaster years, in 2016, the aerospace industry across the United States and the world looks to be showing strong growth, and return to the power it was in previous decades. This is great news for companies, including us at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, involved in the manufacture of hot gas path aviation turbine engine components.

Faster, Farther, More Fuel-Efficient

With the global economy fairly stabilized after a few years of ups and downs, the aerospace industry continues to work towards developing and producing next-generation aircraft. With many fleets across the globe aging, or using older designs, there is a need for newer airframes that can go faster, carry more over a long distance, but that also get better fuel efficiency than current models.

Factors Driving Growth

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has forecasted that 2016 will be the year that the aerospace industry returns to positive growth, after a slight decline in 2015. In the coming year there are a number of factors that are expected to spur this growth on, including:

  • Relatively stable growth in gross domestic product throughout the world, meaning there is more spending capability.
  • Lower crude oil and other commodity prices, reducing cost of manufacture and operation.
  • Continued increase in passenger travel demands, which necessitate development and construction of next-generation commercial aircraft.
  • Global security threats have driven an increase in defense budgets worldwide, with an expected increase in aerospace demands.

Next Generation Jobs

The next-generation planes will need workers with next-generation skills for research and development – these are not the low-paying, low-skill jobs that so many people think of when they hear the word “manufacturing.” In fact, these are jobs that pay well above the national average, and rely more on math and science skills than one’s ability to turn a wrench. The jobs that are being created by the growth in the aerospace industry are jobs that will power the economy into the future. Some of these jobs are in new, emerging occupations that have not even been part of manufacturing before

Here at Hi-Tek, we have been providing manufacturing solutions and comprehensive support of hot gas path component production for gas turbine engine manufacturers, so growth in the aerospace industry means there is great potential for our company to grow. We look forward to expanding capabilities and tackling the growth head-on, to continue to provide the highest standard in aircraft turbine engine components.

Delivery of First New Generation GE Power HA.02 Gas Turbine

General Electric Power and Water have recently delivered the first HA.02 unit to the Exelon Wolf Hollow site in Granbury, Texas.   Groundbreaking for the new power generating station was held on July 9, 2015.  The new CCGT (combined-cycle gas turbine) will provide an additional 1,000 megawatts to the existing 704 megawatt natural gas power plant.  The new unit is to be one of the most environmentally friendly and efficient CCGTs in the state and nation. It utilizes GE Power’s most advanced gas turbine technology and an air cooling system, which eliminates the use of water to cool the unit.

HA.02 unit

The HA.02 unit is seen being positioned at the facility.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. worked to develop the manufacturing of several critical components for the HA.02 hot gas path engine section.  The components include stage 1 and stage 2 vanes, baffles, and near flow path seals, and were developed with an extremely fast track New Product Introduction (NPI).  Hi-Tek Manufacturing’s engineering, quality, and manufacturing team developed the processing of these critical hot gas path components in the shortest time frame in the company’s history.  Utilizing the latest developed technology in laser, CBN grinding, fast hole EDM machining, and in-house braze and heat treat was the key to Hi-Tek’s success.

“It was a collaborative effort,” stated Barry Nehls, Sales and Marketing Manager.  “The General Electric Power and Water need dates for qualified, finished components was critical to the engine assembly and test schedules. Working with the GE team from engineering, sourcing, quality, and production required constant detailed communication in order to achieve our common goals.”

The HA.02 gas turbine power generation turbine is the first of two to be installed at the Wolf Hollow facility.  An additional 1,000 megawatt CCGT is being constructed at Exelon’s existing Colorado Bend Generating Station in Wharton, Texas, approximately 60 miles outside of Houston.  Both sites are expected to achieve commercial operation in 2017.  Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. is pleased to be a GE Power and Water global supply chain partner to provide manufactured components for this exciting new HA.02 engine program.

The Name in Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) is Hi-Tek!

EDM, an extraordinary technology, alternatively referred to as “spark machining” or “wire burning”, is a manufacturing process in which innumerable kinds of shapes are obtained utilizing electrical discharges or, what laypeople might call, sparks. In this seemingly magical process, material is removed from the piece being worked by a series of rapidly repeating current discharges between two electrodes that are separated by a dielectric liquid,  which is basically an electrical insulator in liquid form that can be polarized when an electric field is applied.

Electric Discharge Machining is surprisingly quite simple to explain when broken down:  An electrical spark is initiated between an electrode and the piece that is being shaped. The spark that is visibly emitted produces extreme heat that melts almost anything it contacts. This electrical spark is highly controlled and localized so that only the surface of the material being worked is affected. The liquid medium serves to cool and flush away any eroded metal particles eventually leaving behind a finished product.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing’s state-of-the-art electrical discharge machining services offer over 100 EDM machines that perform a wide variety of processes from the most staggeringly complex to simple, one-off operations. Hi-Tek’s equipment list consists of in-house designed and built fast hole machines, multi-axis CNC sinker machines, 3-axis sinker machines, a variety of EDM plunge equipment, and wire EDM machines. Holes can be produced as small as 0.001” and hold the true position to +/- 0.0005” and diameter tolerance to +/- 0.0002”.

The electrode manufacturing capabilities at Hi-Tek can produce stamped copper, brass tubes and rods, graphite, and tungsten rod electrodes and process holes in various forms such as cooling, round, shaped, pin seal, tip and non-line of sight, as well as non-hole features like slots, grooves, pockets, and notches. In other words, Hi-Tek is a one-stop shop!

To learn more about Hi-Tek’s cutting-edge electrical discharge machining (EDM) services, call today and discover why Hi-Tek lives up to its name.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing’s Precision Grinding is Unmatched!

There are numerous types of grinding techniques used to produce specific shapes and finishes on a variety of both metallic and non-metallic components.  Specializing in the manufacture of hot gas path turbine engine parts, Hi-Tek Manufacturing has developed unparalleled grinding technologies in the areas of continuous dress creep feed and plated wheel CBN profile grinding.

The company’s grinding equipment includes a continuous dress creep feed that operates up to a staggering100 HP with a 20″ wheel, 4-axis continuous dress creep feed, 5-axis CBN, 1 & 2 spindle cylindrical verticals, and CNC surface grinders.

Creep feed grinding is similar to a milling operation where large stock removal is possible to exacting shapes and profiles.  Various types of abrasive wheels are used from aluminum oxide to ceramic composite.  By employing diamond dress rolls to continuously dress the wheel surface, precise shapes are achieved by the clean cutting abrasive wheel.

With CBN (cubic boron nitride) plated wheels, radial shapes and features can be easily produced on intricate turbine engine nozzles, blades, and other components.  Sometimes referred to as “superabrasive” grinding, Hi-Tek Manufacturing utilizes a number of these CNC 5-axis grinding machines on a variety of parts.

A key to the successful grinding by Hi-Tek Manufacturing is the use of central fluid filtration systems.  These filters provide water soluble coolant for creep feed grinders and grinding oil to the CBN or superabrasive grinding operations.  Each machine receives fluid to the grinding or cutting zone at the same concentration, temperature, pressure, and cleanliness to ensure uniformity in grinding operations across all machines.

Contact Hi-Tek today to learn more about the high quality grinding services provided by an ISO 9001:2008 certified company.

5 Myths About Manufacturing Jobs

There are plenty of myths regarding manufacturing, the jobs available, and the future of the sector. Some of these myths are no big deal – the myth that the U.S. can’t compete with China, for instance, doesn’t drive people away from a manufacturing career path. In truth, we do compete with China, but while we can’t beat them when it comes to sheer quantity, we can beat them in quality. What hurts the most are myths that drive people away from manufacturing careers; careers that could be great for them to get into. If you are considering launching into a manufacturing career and you hear these myths, you need to ignore them.

Manufacturing Jobs are Low-Skill Jobs

In the past, many manufacturing jobs have been simple, hands-on, singular tasks. Turning wrenches, hammering, and manual assembly jobs were representative of the activities a worker would be required to do every day. In the modern manufacturing climate, workers are just as likely to be programming machines as welding pieces together. They will shift from one task to another, sometimes over the course of a single day. These are skilled jobs and require flexibility and highly developed skills.

Manufacturing Jobs are Dead-End Jobs

Most manufacturers are not interested in hiring workers who do not see themselves growing within the company. Innovation, the evolution of talent, and ideas are leading the sector into the future, and companies get it. Many companies hire with the idea that the new employees will learn and advance within the company as well as offer various educational opportunities for continued growth.

Manufacturing Jobs Don’t Pay Well

A century ago, manufacturing jobs were low-paying jobs with few benefits, and that has been a characterization that has been difficult to shake. Today the average manufacturing job is worth a combined $17,000 per year more in pay and benefits (including health benefits, retirement funds, pension plans, and more) than the average non-manufacturing or service industry position.

Women Aren’t Welcome in Manufacturing Jobs

Manufacturing is a male-dominated sector, and has been historically – that can’t be argued. However, manufacturing companies have been working to change that, and are not only open to more women joining the workforce, but have been actively pursuing it. This falls in line with the pursuit of innovation and evolution – manufacturers want the brightest minds, regardless of their gender.

The Manufacturing Job Means Working in a Dirty Environment

In the early days of manufacturing, many times the conditions were deplorable.  Lighting and air quality was poor at best, and unsafe working conditions were the norm.  No longer.  Today the manufacturing work environment is clean, safe, with temperature and humidity controlled environments.  Modern machine tools are computer controlled and ergonomically designed to reduce fatigue.  Companies realize that in order to produce the highest quality products, the work environment and operating conditions have to be of the highest standard possible.

What debunking all these myths demonstrates is that a career in manufacturing has a lot to offer. Whether at Hi-Tek  or any of the thousands of other manufacturers across the country, manufacturing workers are incredibly satisfied with their jobs, and continue to demonstrate that a career in a manufacturing job was their best choice. Manufacturing offers great jobs, and manufacturers are looking for more workers to fill them.

CNC Turning Technology- Hi-Tek is on the “Cutting” Edge!

The average lay-person is not well informed as to the great strides made in the latest computerized milling capabilities. A case in point is CNC turning, which is a form of machining in which a sharply pointed cutting tool is placed parallel to the surface of a material that is simultaneously being rotated. The rotation (or “turning”) is executed by a lathe that securely spins the part being machined. This process allows for one single-point tool to cut, remove and shape the material being machined into a myriad of parts.

The beauty of “turning” is in its ability to create a myriad of complex shapes. Examples include shapes that are tapered and contoured, threaded and filleted to name just a few. Once upon a time, (not too long ago), this process required the skilled and steady hand of a trained operator who applied the cutting tool manually. Now, with computer numerical controlled technology or “CNC” computers, automation performs these tasks resulting in near perfect creations that cut waste, errors and labor costs.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing has adopted the latest in technology to ensure the best in precision CNC turning services and the company capably handles a variety of parts of various sizes and materials to meet the most exacting of standards demanded by customers. Hi-Tek’s vertical and horizontal turning centers have 2, 3, and 4-axis capabilities offering the finest in live tooling. The in-house equipment includes features such as large swing turning, central cooling systems, automatic tool changers, tool probing and more.

At Hi-Tek, turning requirements can be met beyond expectation with such services as contour, taper or straight turning and boring, and also external or internal threading applications. Hi-Tek also excels in the utilization of high-temperature aerospace super alloys, cobalt and nickel based metals and alloy forgings.

Give Hi-Tek a call today to learn more about reaping the benefits of the very highest standards in turning technology.

The Latest in Milling Technology- Hi-Tek Lives Up to its Name!

Should you not be familiar with this cutting-edge technology, CNC milling is a unique form of “computer numerical controlled” (or CNC) machining. This advanced form of milling is a machining process that performs both drilling and cutting, (as do traditional cutting and drilling machines), but in this case there is sophisticated and highly accurate automation of the machine tools. All operations are undertaken by precisely programmed commands that are encoded into the machine’s computer memory. In other words, human error is greatly diminished as there is no longer any need for manual control utilizing hand wheels or levers. Even mechanically automated cams are vastly improved upon with this state-of-the-art equipment. With computer numerical controlled technology, computers, rather than people, perform the integral part of the process of milling control, resulting in fewer mistakes and savings on labor.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing is a prime example of a cutting-edge company that utilizes the most advanced tools and technologies, like CNC machining. And Hi-Tek provides their customers with the very best in the latest CNC milling services, even with large and complex parts having thin cross-sections. Equipment utilized includes 3, 4, and 5-axis vertical machining centers and 5-axis horizontal machining centers, all of which make Hi-Tek one of the most comprehensive milling service providers in the country!

Hi-Tek performs masterfully such tasks as drilling, boring, contouring and profiling, counter-boring, countersinking, reaming, and tapping and works with components up to 60″ long, 48″ wide and 44″ high so clients can be assured that what they need can indeed be provided. Hi-Tek works primarily with high-temperature aerospace super alloys, cobalt and nickel based metals, and single crystal and conventional castings. Contact Hi-Tek today to learn how they can help you to realize quality and quantity at competitive prices.

HI-TEK OFFERS CUTTING EDGE MULTI-AXIS LASER MACHINING FOR PRECISE AND CONTROLLED APPLICATIONS

Boasting compounded efficiency and pinpoint precision, multi-axis laser units work extremely well with Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machines to create 2D and 3D custom welded and cut parts. From producing stamped components to metal spinnings and unique part designs, flexible and easy to manipulate, multi-axis lasers have expansive XYZ travels and are put to a large number of uses in the aircraft, military and small and large land-based turbine engine industries.

HI-TEK MANUFACTURING AND ITS CAPABILITIES:

Hi-Tek Manufacturing was founded in the 1980s and since then has stood for unparalleled customer service excellence and the adroit use of technological advancements to create custom goods that adhere strictly to the specifications set forth by clients.

Where laser processing is concerned, Hi-Tek possess years of experience in dealing with single axis Nd:YAG and CO2 units. Of late however it has started specializing in multi-axis prototypes that can bring to life the movements specified by the G-code of CAD programs and render them with exceptional accuracy to produce trepan and percussion cooling holes, among other features.

Hi-Tek multi-axis lasers bring power outputs that vary between 400W and 4000W to the table and allow engineers and specialists a vast range of heat intensities to utilize. This flexibility results in etchings that vary from barely conspicuous product codes and company stamps to intricately carved spirals that retain their form yet do not break free from the larger surface of the super alloys, cobalt and nickel based ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and non-metallic materials that are deemed robust enough to serve as the blank canvas for the lasers.

An additional capability pioneered by Hi-Tek is laser ablation, the removal of thermal barrier coatings or TBC’s from hot gas path turbine engine components.  The precision and control of the laser beam allows the operator to “scrub” away the TBC while leaving the conductive bond coat in place for subsequent drilling operations.  Diffuser shapes are easily scrubbed into coatings of various thicknesses to meet the most demanding airflow requirements.

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS MET:

Hi-Tek Manufacturing Laser Processing end products are at par with ISO 9001:2008, AS 9100 and NADCAP standards. With impressive axis travel numbers of 96″ x72″ x 36″, the multi-axis lasers are ideal fits for the production of hot gas path and structural components like high pressure and low-pressure turbines and combustors.

If you would like a custom quote please contact us here and allow us to serve you as per our industry best practices.

US Manufacturing Orders Increased 2.2% in February

Hitek mfgThe manufacturing sector has certainly seen its share of ups and downs, but so far this year is proving to be a strong year in sales for the industry. While there was a 1.3% drop in January, the Commerce Department announced that orders for durable goods rose a promising 2.2% this past February, the highest the industry has seen in three months.

It was reported that the increase was driven by a surge in commercial aircraft orders, and generally that particular market fluctuates on a monthly basis. In fact, demand for commercial aircraft jumped to 13.6% after seeing a drastic 22.1% drop just the month before. Meanwhile, orders for motor vehicles increased as well, jumping 3.6% in February after seeing a 1.9% drop in January. Demand also rose for primary metals, including steel.

The Institute for Supply Management’s original estimate of manufacturing activity grew faster than expected in February as the manufacturing index rose to 53.2 in February, up from 51.3 in January. Analysts predict that the growth rate in the manufacturing will continue to rebound as much as 3 percent for the remainder of the year. Economists believe that manufacturing output will strengthen this spring thanks to better weather after the US suffered through truly severe snow storms this past winter. If the manufacturing industry continues on this trajectory, it will turn out being the fastest annual economic growth since 2005.