Author Archives: Jeremy Kirkpatrick

Wrapping Up 2019: West Texas Oil Economy in Review

M&M Sales & Equipment supports our local communities and one way that we do that is by staying informed on the issues that matter to you. We provide products of all kinds including cutting tools like end mills, face mills, grooving inserts and drill bits to various industries, and we have a special relationship with those working in oil and gas. As 2020 kicks off, we wanted to take a look back and reflect on how the oil industry has impacted West Texas residents and beyond over the past year.

Oil Activity in Early 2019

Back in March of 2019, we explored West Texas’ boom-bust oil industry and shared some expert insights on the status of crude oil production and where it was headed. The U.S. Department of Energy expected the Permian Basin to pump 3.9 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), with futures anticipated at 9 million bpd by 2021.

We also shared examples of how the oil boom was impacting West Texas and its residents. Rising employment rates were a welcome relief to many who were impacted by massive layoffs in 2016, but food and housing costs also skyrocketed, hitting those same residents square in the pocketbook. Though market conditions looked good, West Texans are used to the ebb and flow of the oil industry and remain cautious. The old saying, “Oil giveth and oil taketh away” is one that’s always on the minds of those who live here.

Related: 2019 Oil Forecast in West Texas: Boom Expected to Continue

Year End Oil Report

As we continued throughout the year, the outlook remained positive overall. Energy technology company Baker Hughes recently reported an increase of four rigs bringing the active U.S. rig total to 667. Our own Texas rig count remained unchanged from the week prior at 400, but down 132 from 2018.

What’s interesting is that according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States exported 90,000 bpd more total crude oil and petroleum in September 2019 than we imported. This marks the first recorded month in U.S. history that the United States exported more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported. This supports the 2019 Annual Energy Outlook that forecast that the U.S. would become a net energy exporter by 2020.

While crude oil production looks healthy, coal consumption continues its decades-long decline.  Reports show that U.S. coal production employment has fallen 42% since 2001 (EIA). That seems to align with the decrease in Texas coal production from over 40 million short tons in 2014 down to roughly 25 million short tons in 2018.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, employment in oil and gas extraction jobs in Texas remain steady around 78,600. The Permian Basin maintains healthy crude oil production numbers of around 4.5 million bpd, meeting and exceeding the U.S. Department of Energy’s prediction earlier in the year. (View 2019 Energy Slideshow here)

Looking Ahead to 2020

As of the Dec. 10 report, the U.S. is still on pace to average 13.2 million bpd in 2020, a 0.9 million bpd increase from 2019 (EIA). It’s important to note that this is a slowdown from 2018 numbers, and the decrease in crude oil production is due to a continuing decline in drilling rigs. A decline in drilling rigs and wells drying up are factors that could impede the United States’ race to become a world’s leading oil producer. To keep pace, technological improvements must continue to support sustainable growth.

There is anticipation that because of rising global oil inventories, crude oil prices will be lower in 2020 than in 2019, but that remains to be seen. In a December article in the New York Times, it was reported that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia agreed to make cuts in production to compensate for higher oil output. But their cuts have done little to raise crude oil prices in the past due to the steady increase in U.S. shale oil production, especially those barrels from the West Texas area. Only time will tell.

Stay in the know with us. Keep on the lookout for future articles discussing both the local economy here in West Texas, as well as what’s happening in the world. We would love to hear your insight and how you are impacted by our regional and global oil industry. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

We are your cutting tools specialists and are committed to helping you remain profitable and productive in a changing world. Have questions? Reach out to us by clicking here.

Lessons in Commonly Used Commercial Valves from Apollo Valves

A valve is a valve, right? That may be true to the rest of the world, but out here valves are as complicated as they are necessary. The ordinary person probably doesn’t know there’s a different valve for almost every need, and choosing the right valve can quickly become confusing in an industrial setting. Valves can be categorized in several ways, including how they operate, how they function, and in which applications they are to be used.

Fortunately, we have some helpful tips on understanding the six main types of valves from industry-leading valve manufacturer, Apollo Valves.

We’ve been partnering with Apollo Valves in Odessa, Lubbock, Amarillo and Ft. Worth, Texas, for many years. You may be familiar with Conbraco Industries, leading manufacturer of American Made flow control products. Today, they are housed under the Apollo name and together blaze the trail to create the innovative products that drive American industry, one valve at a time.

Understanding 6 Types of Valves and their Applications

  1. Gate Valves
    Industrial and residential piping applications, as well as sewage pipes and water distribution pipe systems commonly use gate valves because they have the capability for more substance flow and lower pressure drops within the valve. The new Apollo International™ cast iron gate, globe and check valves provide full flow capabilities.

  2. Ball Valves
    Otherwise known as quarter-turn operation valves, ball valves are designed with a spherical ball with a hole that goes through it. When the valve is open, the substance passes through. When the valve is closed, the hole becomes perpendicular to the opening and stops flow. The Apollo® 70 Series is the most widely used and trusted bronze ball valve in the industry.

  3. Butterfly Valves
    Butterfly valves are similar to ball valves in that they are also quarter-turn operation valves, but have a butterfly disc that allows the substance to flow aerodynamically around it. They are ideal for regulating flow and can handle thicker slurries or suspended solids because there are no open cavities where particles can settle. The large diameter Apollo International™ LD141 Series Ductile Iron Butterfly Valves are ideal for use in Industrial and Commercial/HVAC/Mechanical applications.

  4. Globe Valves
    When you need to control the flow of fluids that are more viscous in nature such as oil, globe valves are often your best bet. They can control both on and off operations, as well as flow rate control. Just remember that the S-shaped nature of the passageway often leads to more high pressure drops than other valves.

  5. Needle Valves
    For fine adjustments in regulation and control of flow rate, needle valves use their tapered, needle-like valve stem to act as a control mechanism. They are often used in pressure pump governors, automatic combustion systems and instrumentation controls. The Apollo® 60A Series Steel & Stainless Steel Barstock Globe Valves are ideally suited for use in instrumentation, sampling lines and flow control applications.

  6. Check Valves
    What is a check valve? Check valves are used to prevent backflow in piping systems and activated by the pressures of what is running through the system. When fluid flows in a certain direction, the value opens; but if the fluid were to reverse direction, the valve would close.

View the Apollo’s Commercial Product Lineup here.

Match the Valve Type to the Function It Performs 

If you’re looking to get the most out your equipment (and who isn’t?), there’s three things you need to know when choosing a valve. First, you need to match the valve type to the function it performs. Not doing so will lead to leaks, damage and subprime performance.

Second, you must evaluate the material flowing through the valve. What temperature is the material? What is the pressure? Is the valve in an open or closed position? Do you need a shut-off valve or regulator?

Lastly, consider the pipe size, operating flow and piping material and match it to the valve that not only fits, but performs. For instance, the size of a copper pipe is different than a PVC pipe. An adapter may be required if you want to use a copper valve on a PVC pipe rather than a PVC valve.

Have more questions about selecting the right valves for your needs? M&M Sales & Equipment is here to help in West Texas, with locations in Odessa, Amarillo, Lubbock and Ft. Worth. Reach out to our knowledgeable sales representatives and they’ll be happy to discuss your needs and help you find the best solution. Contact us online, by phone or stop in and say hello.


5 Ways to Reduce Scrap in Your Metal Cutting Operations

What is scrap? For starters, it can be anything that results in wasted material and a need to perform rework of some kind. In the metal cutting world, scrap can take the shape of discarded or excess material, non-returnable components, metal shavings, unusable parts and nonmetal waste. Scrap is often considered an inevitable part of the manufacturing process and may not seem like much in the short term, but over time can add up to major losses. Think about all the time you spend reworking entire batches of parts due to machining mistakes or operator error. Some scrapped parts may be able to be refinished and put to use so the loss in time and labor is minimal, but other times the pieces may have to be thrown out.

Scrap can be a serious problem, but let’s not focus on the negative. If you’re experiencing levels of scrap that are costing you time and money, there is a HUGE opportunity for you to make a few changes to your operations that will reduce scrap and lead to cost savings. In fact, setting your sights on scrap reduction may be the single greatest thing you can do for your company this year.

To get started, consider hiring a consulting firm to help you identify areas of waste leading to excessive scrap. If you would rather go it alone, here are a few tips to begin improving operations and reduce your scrap rate:

1. Electronically document material usage.
Are you still using pen and paper to manually log material usage and machining data? While documentation of any kind is certainly better than none at all, let’s take a look at why paper documentation isn’t ideal. One reason is human error. Sometimes, data isn’t recorded accurately. Without this key data, how can a company realize the root of a problem and decide on a solution? Paper documentation also limits the availability of information for certain members of the team. Imagine the confusion that happens when your team must hunt down critical information to perform their tasks. Storing and sharing this information electronically ensures all members of your team communicate effectively.

2. Optimize machining processes.
If you haven’t been documenting material usage, then it’s impossible to know where and how materials are being used or misused. Once you develop a plan to thoroughly document all the moving parts in your manufacturing process you can begin to optimize those areas that are generating the most waste. This requires a hands-on approach. Head down to the production floor and watch each stage. Take note of areas you feel could be improved, machinery that should be replaced or ways you could streamline the process. Sometimes, all the data in the world won’t provide the information you can capture with your own two eyes.

3. Automate when possible.
Not only can automation improve worker safety in your facility, but it can improve the safe handling of parts through reduced employee touchpoints. Machines can be calibrated for precision cuts and bends in various types of metal, reducing the amount of scrap generated. You can also install sensor technology that can alert you immediately to any machinery issues that could interfere with optimum production.

4. Use the right tool for the job.
When trying to stay in budget on an order, it can be tempting to cut costs with cheaper tooling and machinery. Unfortunately, using inferior equipment typically leads to increased scrap costs, machine downtime and higher material usage. By choosing the right tool for the job, you can be sure to machine parts correctly the first time, rather than waste precious resources on rework.

For tips on how to reduce machine downtime in your facility, read What’s Machine Downtime Really Costing You? (And How to Avoid It)

5. Involve the entire team.
Any time that you make changes to standard operating procedures is a great time to roll out those changes to all affected employees. Not only is it critical for safety, but the more knowledgeable your workers are about the new processes, the less mistakes and costly errors your operation will experience. Take a page from the lean manufacturing playbook and consider performance-based bonuses for employees that identify areas of waste and offer solutions to reduce scrap rates and inefficiency.

We understand you have a tough job to do, and we want to help improve your operations and increase your profitability. If you have questions on how M&M Sales & Equipment can help your business succeed, call one of our four Texas locations.

New Product Alert: TRIM® E923 Metalworking Fluid from Master Fluid Solutions®

If you’ve been following us for a while, you would know we are always talking about how to get the most out of your metal cutting operations. We’re big on efficiency and maximizing productivity. Maybe it’s because we’ve been in your shoes. Many of our own team members have worked in the metal cutting industry and that experience drives us to find solutions that helps you operate at peak performance.

So, when we came across a new product from Master Fluid Solutions® we knew our friends in the automotive, energy sectors and the manufacturing industry at large needed to know about it. The TRIM® E923 is their proprietary blend of new vegetable-based technology and very high levels of chlorine-free extreme-pressure (EP) additives.

Earlier this year, UK-based publisher, Manufacturing Machinery World, ran an article about the release of TRIM® E923, No Compromise Coolant For The Toughest Of Applications. In it, they said that TRIM® E923 is in a class of its own as a complete coolant package for harsh applications.

What’s so great about it? It’s designed to extend tool life in your most difficult metal cutting operations like Inconel®, titanium and high-tensile-strength steel. TRIM® E923  is designed especially for applications such as boring, broaching, deep-hole drilling, down the hole work, drilling, heavy-duty machining center work, screw machine operations and much more. Plus, it offers extreme lubricity for clean and accurate cuts without the need for costly additives.

TRIM® E923 helps in the following ways:

  • Delivers exceptional lubricity and EP performance
  • Has the necessary performance to replace neat oils in certain applications
  • Very long sump life
  • Low foam even in soft water areas
  • Hard water tolerant
  • Compatible with all materials excluding magnesium
  • Easily recycled or disposed of without special handling or equipment
  • Will run effectively for long periods without the need for costly additives

Learn more about TRIM® E923 from Master Fluid Solutions.

Have questions on this new product from Master Fluid Solutions®? The team at M&M Sales & Equipment would love to help you find the solutions you need to work more efficiency and profitability in your facility. Contact us, give us a call or stop in.

End-of-the-Year Savings on Select INSIZE Precision Measurement Instruments

M&M Sales & Equipment - Insize Promo 2019We’re excited to roll out some serious savings on the measurement instruments you rely on for accuracy and precision. INSIZE has been supplying the world’s manufacturers and machine shops with the measuring instruments, calipers and gages they need to compete since 1995. Known for their quality, innovation, service and value, INSIZE understands the rigorous demands of today’s machinists and fabricators, and for a limited time they are offering a substantial discount for M&M Sales & Equipment customers.

We’re excited to roll out some serious savings on the measurement instruments you rely on for accuracy and precision. INSIZE has been supplying the world’s manufacturers and machine shops with the measuring instruments, calipers and gages they need to compete since 1995. Known for their quality, innovation, service and value, INSIZE understands the rigorous demands of today’s machinists and fabricators, and for a limited time they are offering a substantial discount for M&M Sales & Equipment customers.

Save 15% on Select INSIZE Precision Measurement Instruments

Selection includes:

  • Electronic Calipers (waterproof & non-waterproof)
  • Electronic Depth Gages
  • Outside Micrometers
  • Pistol Grip Three Point Bore Gages
  • Telescoping Gage Sets
  • Bore Gages
  • Universal Protractors
  • Feeler Gages
  • CNC Vision Measuring Systems
  • Manual Rockwell Hardness Testers
  • Digital Microscopes
  • and more!

Don’t miss out on end-of-the-year savings. Promotion ends Dec. 31, 2019. Talk to your local M&M Sales & Equipment representative today and kick off 2020 with the precision tools you need to win.

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The Upside of Better Inventory Control through Industrial Vending Machines

Everyone wants to run lean these days. But few companies actually succeed.

It’s no secret that lean management strategies can reduce costs, increase productivity and help companies compete. Yet, many companies fail when trying to implement these strategies in their production facilities.

One of the first steps in implementing a lean management program is effectively managing inventory, but without complete visibility into usage those efforts often fall short. Management rarely understands exactly how and where inventory items are being used without some form of tracking in place.

The result? Ineffective inventory control processes that rely on spreadsheet data or the honor system typically resulting in missing inventory, shrinkage or excessive inventory that ties up cash flow and collects dust.

Thinking about improving your inventory control processes? Here are 5 reasons to stop thinking and start doing:

  1. Reduce costs associated with inventory purchasing.
    Without a clear view into the consumption of inventory items, how do you know what material is necessary for optimum production? The short answer is: You don’t. When you can track where and how inventory is being consumed, you can dial in just the right amount to hold in stock, saving time and money in purchasing.
  2. Improve production rates and decrease worker downtime.
    When you have mission-critical items on hand, work gets done. Think of the time it takes employees to search for missing items or procure them at higher cost. Not only does this result in delayed production, but it also wastes manhours and increases inventory costs. Better inventory management ensures you have the tools and supplies you need on hand when you need them.
  3. Reduce lead time and make customers sticky.
    If you are constantly running out of inventory, then you know how frustrating it is to wait for items to be replenished.From the time the items are ordered to the time they arrive on your doorstep can take days and, in some cases, weeks. Yet most companies fail to account for this delay in their project estimates. The longer this takes, the more it impacts your ability to deliver and the more customers start to look elsewhere.
  4. Free cash flow.
    Ineffective inventory control can tie up cash that you could be investing in other areas of your business. Crazy to think that what may be holding your business back from increased success are covered in dust in a storage room. By implementing a better inventory control program, you can boost your cash flow almost immediately.
  5. Improve customer satisfaction rates.
    You are in business to make money and part of doing so is making your customers happy. By knowing exactly what inventory you have on hand at any given time, you can meet customer demands, improve order fulfillment and create sustainable pricing models based on accurate cost analysis, rather than relying on guesswork.

Many manufacturers are introducing vending to their facilities to vend commonly used consumables such as disposable earplugs and gloves, as well as high-value, returnable items such as drills, saws and cutting tools. With traditional coil machines, locker units and combination coil and locker machines, there’s not much that can’t be vended. What does that mean for production facilities? It means your team always has the equipment they need to work efficiently, and improved visibility in the inventory items you need to control.

M&M Sales & Equipment is excited to partner with vending and inventory control specialist 1sourcevend to offer a simple, yet powerful inventory control solution. Learn more now.

If you would like to learn whether vending might be the inventory control solution you’ve been looking for, reach out to your local M&M Sales & Equipment sales rep or branch here in West Texas.

The Guide to Choosing the Right Saw Blades for Optimum Productivity

Choosing the right saw blade is critical to a manufacturing facility or machine shop’s profitability and productivity. Not doing so can lead to shorter blade life or complete blade failure diminishing any potential for efficiency. So, we created a handy guide that can help break down the terminology surrounding saw blade selection, as well as provide tips on extending blade life and how to properly break in your new blade. Whether you are sawing large workpieces or difficult to cut materials, knowing your blade can mean the difference between making money or losing it.

Common Saw Blades

Source: Lenox Tools

Circular Saw Blades: For use with miter saws, table saws, radial arm saws, cut-off saws and standard circular saws, these blades come in a variety of materials that can cut metal, wood, cement, glass or laminates. We sell a variety of metal circular saw blades from names like Lenox, Fein and Evolution! Be sure to ask about our Fiber cut-off wheels from Pferd and United Abrasives/SAIT.

Carbide Tipped Band Saw Blades: Designed to cut composites, metal and wood. High-performance steel and optimized carbide grades cut faster and last longer in a wide variety of sawing applications. For band saw blades, we offer a wide selection of blades from Lenox, Starrett and Arntz.

Bi-Metal Band Saw Blades: Bi-metal band saw blades are among the most versatile choice for most metal sawing applications involving a wide variety of materials such as aluminum and non-ferrous metals, carbon and structural steel. They’re cost effective, perform well and have long blade life with high-speed tooth tips and flexible alloy steel back.

Carbon Band Saw Blades: Economical and reliable, carbon band saw blades are great for general purpose and utility sawing. They are used to cut a variety of materials from carbon steels and aluminum to abrasive materials such as wood and fiberglass. Ideal for small maintenance and light-production shops.

Reciprocating Saw Blades: Whether it’s tile, clay, wood, cast iron, bricks or metals there’s a reciprocating saw blade for the job. Reciprocating saws are versatile in that you can swap out different blades for different materials. Ideal for maintenance, demo or repair applications.

Cold Saw Blades: High-speed steel cold saw blades are often used for cutting pipes, tubes and other solid steel materials. Many types of cold saw blades can be re-sharpened and used several times before replacing. The name comes from the transfer of heat energy during the cutting process. The blade and work material stay cold and the heat is expelled in the chip.

Grit Edge Saw Blades: Carbide Grit Edge Blades offer a seamless cut into abrasive and hardened materials, fiberglass, steel belted radial tires and other composites.

Hole Saws: Hole saw blades cut clean and accurate holes in a variety of materials from metals, woods or plastics.

Annular Cutters: Similar to a hole saw but runs in a magnetic drill. We offer a variety of premium annular cutters from FEIN.

Did you know? M&M Sales & Equipment can weld ¼-inch to 1 ½ inch wide saw blade material to any length on site; we also have the most popular lengths in stock from our supplier partners.

Understanding the Parts of Your Saw Blade

The Gullet is the space between each saw tooth that allows for efficient chip removal. The larger the material or the faster the feed rate, the deeper the gullet (such as in a 2/3 variable tooth blade that has a much bigger gullet than an 8/12 variable tooth’s gullet) and the more chips that are expelled.

Tooth Construction is another critical part of how your saw blades are made. Different tooth constructions offer different advantages. For instance, a carbide tipped tooth offers a longer lasting and smoother cutting blade.

Tooth Form refers to the shape of the tooth. The shape impacts how a blade cuts through material and can extend blade life, control noise level and provide a smoother cut and chip capacity.

  • Variable Positive shape offers variable tooth spacing and gullet capacity for less noise and vibration, while simultaneously allowing for faster cuts, longer blade life and smoother cuts.
  • Variable shape is similar to Variable Positive, but can be used for slower cutting rates.
  • Standard is a good multipurpose shape that can be used in many various applications.
  • Skip shape has a wide gullet ideal for non-metallic applications.
  • Hook shape is similar to the Skip, but can be used on metal and non-metal applications.

Tooth Set refers to the number of teeth and the angle that they are offset. Different tooth sets impact cutting efficiency and chip carrying ability. For a clear visual on how tooth set can differ, refer to this guide from Lenox Tools.

Kerf Width is the width of the cut made by the blade into the desired material. Full kerf blades remove about 1/8” of material, while thin kerfs generally remove about 3/32” of material. Because the full kerf removes more material, it’s best to use with a more powerful saw. Thin kerf blades can be used with saws that use less horsepower.

Other consumables that can help or hinder cutting conditions are choices of hydraulic oil and cutting fluids. But it always comes down to blade selection. Choosing a better crafted blade designed for an application results in better wear and heat-resistance, fewer changeouts, better accuracy and less waste.

Learn more about blade maintenance in “How Do I Choose the Right Saw Blade for My Project? 

To avoid blade failure and get the most out of your new saw blade, remember these blade break-in tips:

  1. Choose the proper band speed for material to be cut.
  2. Set the beginning band feed rate at 50% of normal/recommended feed rate.
  3. Begin the first cut and once 50-70 in2  of material has been cut, gradually increase feed rate to normal.
  4. If chatter/noise occurs, adjust cutting speed.

To learn more about the different types and brands of saw blades we offer, reach out to M&M Sales & Equipment representatives or stop in at one of our four locations in Texas.

The Rise and Fall of Crude Oil Production and Its Impact on the Permian Basin

All eyes are on the U.S. oil production rates and prices per barrel. Where will they go next?

According to an article published in Forbes magazine, U.S. Crude Production Returns to Record Levels, the recent attacks on Saudi’s oil infrastructure had a lesser impact on the world’s oil markets than expected. The reason? Over the past decade, oil production in the United States has experienced steady and, at times, explosive growth. The resulting oil production stabilized world markets despite recent events and has kept all eyes locked on the future of U.S. oil. The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) did experience an increase of $2, however, bringing the average price to $57 per barrel. (Dallas Fed: October 2, 2019

You may remember an article we posted over the summer that discussed pessimism over oil well productivity. We shared an article from Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ) where Rystad Energy indicated that they could not find sufficient evidence that oil and gas well performance showed any signs of decline. They also concluded that average new production per well matched all-time highs found earlier in the year.

Production growth did appear to be slowing during the summer months, but it has started to rise a bit. Speaking to the constant ebb and flow of oil production, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the final week in September showed weekly U.S. crude oil production numbers that tied the all-time production record of 12.5 million barrels per day (BPD) experienced a month prior.

At the beginning of October, the numbers fell slightly but remained 1.3 million BPD higher than the previous year. During the second week of October, the EIA reported the 332,000 BPD decrease in U.S. crude oil production in July was geographically isolated to the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico. This was due to Hurricane Barry and is likely temporary, they say. They also anticipate production to continually increase each month resulting in 13 million BPD in December 2019.

So, where does that leave the Permian Basin and West Texas?

Well, that’s tough to say. Robert Rapier, a senior contributor for Forbes, reports that nearly half of the reported 400,000 BPD increase since the summer months hail from the Permian Basin. However, Permian rig counts continue to fall and that seems to be in line with overall U.S. counts (see chart below). On the other hand, production is climbing and well completions have picked up partly due to recent pipeline capacity.

Baker Hughes Rig Count as of Oct. 4, 2019:

Area Last Count (2019) Count Change from Prior Count Date of Prior Count (2019) Change from Last Year Date of Last Year’s Count (2018)
U.S. Oct 4 855 -5 Sept 27 -197 Oct 5 2018
Canada Oct 4 144 +17 Sept 27 -38 Oct 5 2018
International Sept 2019 1,131 -7 Aug 2019 +127 Sept 2018

Source: Baker Hughes

With all the ups and downs, there’s quite a bit of chatter about a slowdown throughout the Basin. We caught an article on Bloomberg that spoke about the loss of oil jobs in the region, fewer hotel proceeds and a 19 percent drop in drilling. A drop that’s affecting everything from the building of well-site roads to the chemicals used to kill bacteria during hydraulic fracturing.

Slowly, unemployment rates are creeping up as well. According to the Dallas Fed, the rate was 2.3 percent in August, an increase of 0.3 percent from May. The Permian Basin’s unemployment rate is still well below the Texas rate of 3.4 percent, but employment growth has slowed. The number of home sales are also slowing, but the prices of homes are climbing, bringing the median home price to $308,634.

These projections are a far cry from the hustle and bustle the region experienced just a year earlier when radio ads were filled with companies looking to fill shale-patch jobs. We’d love to hear your projections for what’s next in the Permian Basin. In what ways are you feeling the impact of the everchanging oil market? How will this impact your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

What do you expect in 2020?

Please answer these two questions. Your response is anonymous.

Best Practices for West Texas Machine Shops: Machine Parts Right, the First Time

Texas has a long history of crude oil production as far back as 1543, but West Texas and the Permian Basin have steadily yielded large quantities of oil since the early 1920s. One of the biggest discoveries for Texas happened in 1936 just west of Lubbock in Cochran County and was later named Slaughter Field. Since then, an entire industry has sprung up to support the needs of the oil industry, supplying everything from nuts and bolts to precision parts and instruments used in exploration, drilling, extracting, production and refinement.

Our local machine shops here in West Texas help the oil and gas industry run smoothly. Combine the tight schedules companies keep with even tighter turnaround expectations, and machine shops are under the gun to deliver the goods fast and accurately. That’s why machining parts correctly the first time around is so critical to staying on budget and retaining customers.

Consider the cutting tools you use.

Using an inferior or poorly spec’d cutting tool results in increased machining time and cost. It can also dramatically increase material passes and the load you put on your tooling, requiring replacement more often. Cheaper tools not only have a shorter lifespan, but they can damage workpieces causing you to start over. Talk to your cutting tool supplier and schedule an on-site consultation to determine what specific tooling requirements your operation requires for optimum performance.

Consider the machinability of certain material.

The higher the machinability, the faster and less costly the material can be machined. That depends on the physical attributes of the material. Often, the softer the metal the easier it is to machine. For plastics, stiffer material is often better for accuracy and low friction. Minimize redo’s by assessing your material usage regularly and adjusting tooling and machinery to match.

Don’t underestimate the cost of machine downtime.

Even a few short hours of machine downtime can have catastrophic effect on revenue. Invest the time to evaluate your machines’ performance, regularly schedule maintenance and replace when necessary. Many shops try to make do with outdated or underperforming machines, thinking that it’s saving them money. That line of thinking rarely pays off and can be costly. You have limited floor space and that real estate should be home to machines that are generating money. Evaluate your facility and try to optimize your floorplan to get the most bang for your buck.

Hire smart and train machinists regularly.

The more machines you have in your facility, the more machinists you need to run them. Not only is equipment failure a major contributor to revenue loss, so is operator error. That’s why it’s critical to have knowledgeable machinists on staff. Today’s growing labor shortage may make that seem impossible, but there is another way to secure good talent. Look for potential employees that show initiative and a willingness to learn. Then train them on your processes. Not only is it sometimes easier to mold a less experienced worker to your specific processes, but investing in workplace training and development is linked to increased employee longevity and satisfaction.

Whether you’re creating a one-off piece or looking to produce large-scale volume, the accuracy and effectiveness of your machined parts can make or break your operation. The longer it takes to machine a part, the more money it costs you. Not only do you need to look at machining time, material costs, start-up costs, but you also need to consider the special cutting tooling you need. Getting it right the first time saves you time, money and unnecessary machining steps.

Are you a machine shop in West Texas or beyond? Do you have a part that is difficult to make or struggling to turn a profit? M&M Sales & Equipment has technical experts on staff to help you choose the right cutting tools so that you can machine parts right the first time. They understand the technical nature of the work you do because they’ve been there. Stop in or call one of our four Texas locations, and let us help you maximize output and profitability in your shop.

Related Reading: What’s Machine Downtime Really Costing You? (And How to Avoid It)

Aerospace Alert: Run Longer and Cleaner with New TRIM® C390 Coolant

The aerospace industry comes with strict requirements when it comes to the use of lubricants, and for good reason. We’re talking about lubricants used in machining components for expensive machinery, often carrying valuable cargo. The industry demands high-performance, lightweight and dependable lubricants that can ensure the highest level of performance and safety in your operations.

The latest solution is here and it’s good. The new TRIM® C390 High Performance Aerospace Synthetic is designed for the machining of composites for global aerospace industries. With a name like Master Fluid Solutions, you know this synthetic coolant has been designed specifically to offer both cooling and lubricity, without all the oily residue common in other synthetics.

TRIM ® C390 can improve your machining operations through:

  • Resisting corrosion on ferrous and nonferrous materials
  • A low-foaming formula even in chilled environments up to 60° F
  • Meeting nuclear and aerospace chemical content and machining requirements
  • Performing in wide range of operations including general grinding, spar milling and turbine blade manufacture
  • Providing low carryoff and long sump life
  • Easy cleanup and removal for decreased operating costs

Learn more about TRIM C390 from Master Fluid Solutions.

Watch this video from Master Fluid Solutions to learn how to extend your coolant life:

The team here at M&M Sales & Equipment would be happy to speak with you and uncover all the ways we can help you improve and maximize operations in your facility. Contact us, give us a call or stop in.