On a recent trip to Houston, we found ourselves in a room with industry leaders, all marveling at the astounding technological leaps in one shop’s capabilities. We congratulated the shop’s owner, asked questions about the new technology, and learned how the shop has grown.
In discussing the shop’s decision to expand, one phrase kept coming to mind:
Technology waits for no one.
The pandemic, for all its turmoil, revealed an unexpected silver lining; it offered many manufacturers the chance to dive into R&D, reassess their services, and move forward with key investments. Today, the shops that opted to embrace technology are soaring ahead of those that flatly refuse to acknowledge its importance in this new manufacturing age.
Stay Ahead to Stay Alive
Technology is evolving at breakneck speeds, stretching to the floor of the modern CNC machine shop, where automation and robotics are
revolutionizing the industry’s equipment and machinery. We often hear that today’s technology doubles every three years, and we don’t doubt it; shops that refuse to keep pace are falling behind—fast.
While it’s true that technology can boost growth and profitability, it’s now also true that complacency blocks growth and profitability. The choice is no longer about expansion; it’s about survival.
Add Technology to Increase Value
The latest technologies are capable of dramatically enhancing efficiency and productivity in shops that embrace them. But our industry is plagued by the fear that technology will replace people—and they’re wise to be worried.
Automation and robotics technologies can and are filling certain shop positions that people have historically occupied. But these technologies definitely don’t eliminate the need for human workers in the modern CNC machine shop.
Manufacturers should be looking ahead at ways to redeploy workers into new roles that add even more value to the shop. Automation done right is about optimizing resources, not eliminating people.
Automated systems offer enhanced speed, accuracy, and precision to many processes, but people are still the problem-solvers. When machine shop management teams proactively explore redeployment solutions, they prepare their people to embrace automation.
Forgo the Status Quo to Remain Relevant
There was a time when replacing equipment every 20 years made sense. When many of today’s manufacturing leaders first entered the industry, machines didn’t change significantly from decade to decade.
However, today’s rapid technological advancements demand that machine shop management rethink the old way of doing things. The technology you bought five years ago is already outdated.
Are we suggesting you have to replace everything in your shop every three to five years? Definitely not! But you should be aware of what’s new and how that new technology could benefit your business.
Pick a technology evangelist
Place someone in your company in charge of technology awareness—that’s half the battle. Assign that individual the responsibility of researching and updating the team on new advancements.
When you know what’s hitting the market, you can evaluate your numbers to determine whether an update makes sense.
Will adopting a newer technology drive manufacturing efficiency? Expand its capabilities? Increase production? Raise revenues? If the answer is yes, it’s time to invest in an upgrade.
Cultivate a forward-thinking company culture
We won’t deny that updating is daunting. New technologies mean new learning curves, some of which can be quite steep in a shop that hasn’t made a major change in a long time. Yet, just as our predecessors witnessed life-changing milestones—commercial air travel, space flight, personal computers—we, too, are in the midst of a revolution.
You can hide from the big, scary unknown, or you can embrace advancement and its promise of growth for the modern CNC machine shop. By cultivating a company culture that values innovation, you’ll be ready to work with cutting-edge customers, too.
Leverage your NTMA network
Are you attending NTMA Chapter meetings? Do you log in to NTMA Connect to ask questions? Have you read the latest featured articles? Countless resources are at your fingertips through NTMA alone! Other machine shop management teams are walking the same path; they have the same concerns and goals. Together, we can build better and be better.
Adapt to Advance
As shops fight to keep manufacturing jobs here in America, technology is the great differentiator. Companies that stay alert and adaptable will gain the advantage over those that willfully refuse to change.
Here at NTMA, our call to action is clear: Shed the comfort of old approaches and take hold of a technology-rich future. You’ll do more than survive. You will thrive.
Join us on the front lines. Become an NTMA member!