The machinery was shined up, the food and drink were plentiful, and the carpet was rolled out for one of the industry’s most important events Wednesday: the 16th annual Joint Open House (JOH) taking place at four of the industry’s largest machine suppliers—Ferro Technique, EMEC Machine Tools, DMG Mori and Elliott Matsuura. The event continues Thursday.
Technology from 22 different builders was on display along with dozens of equipment suppliers showcasing everything from cutting tools to metrology solutions from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We have invested a lot in getting our showroom modernized and we are showing some interesting technology,” was the upbeat mood from Matt Fleming, president of Ferro Technique. “We had good registration and our competitive partners all seem to have great registration as well.”
With conditions starting to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, all four of the Tier 1 suppliers were eager to interact with customers in customary fashion.
“We want to show customers behind the scenes at EMEC and show some of our leading-edge technology. We also try to keep it a little bit light, make it more of a social event. They get to meet some of our principal partners, meet our internal service team, our CFO and myself,” says Tejal Mehta, vice president of operations at EMEC Machine Tools. “It’s a great way to interact and to solidify our strength in the marketplace over 26 years in business.”
With the shortage of skilled labour being a primary concern for most Canadian job shops, there was a definite focus on automation solutions at the JOH.
“We are trying to show the small to medium sized shops that if you invest in automation via robots or different versions of cells you can run lights out and we can show them the big family of parts they can manufacture. We are trying to educate our customers on the savings and ROI of technology that can run all the time,” Mehta says.
At Ferro Technique, JOH attendees could see five-axis automation in action and how that frees up skilled workers to do task humans perform best, such as programming, or work on other manufacturing processes. There was also a display of a two-spindle machine fed by a gantry, allowing it to handle two processes at once at high speed. He points out investment in automation doesn’t have to come with a high price tag.
“We’ve got a cobot feeding a five-axis. You don’t need a huge industrial robot to manage the machine tending. It can be an inexpensive investment, which obviously ramps up the ROI. On the other side, the gantry unit is included with the machine. It’s an investment under $100,000 so the return on these investments can be realized in less than a year,” Fleming says.
What’s unique about the JOH is that the four participating suppliers are competitors, yet they come together once a year in the spirit of industry cooperation to put on the event.
“When we first implemented the JOH many years ago, we wanted it to be a level playing field. It works because we know each other, and we try to approach it with integrity. In today’s market with Internet and open borders, a customer has the ability to look at many different types of assets and it’s good for customers to see all of the facilities if they want to so they can make the best decision for themselves,” says Mehta, adding that the JOH also provides each of the four participating suppliers access to a much larger pool of customers than their own.
“It leads to four times the traffic coming in and that’s what we are looking for in showcasing our company and products. It’s great value and we are excited about it,” Mehta says.