Automation is the future for modern CNC machine shops, promising immediate and long-term solutions to help shops:
- Hire despite a shrinking workforce
- Cut costs to mitigate economic challenges
- Enhance manufacturing efficiency to maximize output
I’m convinced that automation can help precision machine shops of every size achieve their growth goals, develop a talented team, and further the cause of reshoring manufacturing to American workplaces.
How Automation Helps with Hiring
We’re all well aware of the hiring challenges facing today’s machine shops. Too few skilled manufacturing experts are in the job market. The number continues to decrease as the most experienced machining professionals retire and new workers aren’t around to fill their shoes.
In the short-term, automation allows you to run a highly productive shop without hiring more manufacturing professionals. Long-term, automation can buy your shop time while you bring on apprentices and train for new positions.
As your team grows, you can expand other aspects of your business, from buying more equipment to adding new capabilities with the goal of accepting more customers.
How Automation Helps with Cost Cutting
Soaring prices are impacting every aspect of our lives, from the home to the workplace. Even a simple kindness like buying lunch for your team now costs as much as 100% more than pre-pandemic.
While it’s true that there are upfront costs associated with embracing automation, the long-term advantages are well worth the investment. Automated processes are invariably faster, more accurate and precise, and less susceptible to human error, allowing shops to increase production and accept more jobs—all without upping the price per part.
Even if you can’t beat your competition on price, many customers will gladly pay more for increased speed and superior quality. Delivery delays and quality concerns carry hidden costs that today’s machine shops (and their customers) don’t always account for; you can avoid the
se issues altogether with smart investments in automation.
How Automation Helps with Manufacturing Efficiency
What do your current manufacturing efficiency metrics tell you? Is your shop’s actual output regularly failing to meet its anticipated output? Automation can help you meet—or even exceed—your shop’s optimal manufacturing efficiency targets.
Precision machine shops that embrace automation do spend more money up-front, but the long-term efficiencies guarantee increased profits that stretch far into the future.
With automation-supported 24/7 “lights out” manufacturing in place, today’s machine shops can increase production—not labor costs. Before you know it, you’ll be operating at a maximum output rate that blows away your previous goals!
How Today’s Machine Shops Can Get Started with Automation
In NTMA’s most recent Business Conditions survey, we learned that “only 35% of the survey’s respondents invested in automation solutions during the first two quarters of 2022, and only slightly more (42%) intend to add at least one automation solution before the year ends.”
Those numbers are alarmingly low for an industry in desperate need of automation solutions to perform machining operations, reduce long-term spending, and increase production.
Maybe you’re hesitant to spend or aren’t sure how to get started, so allow me to offer this advice:
There’s no need to automate everything all at once. Automation implementers like Kinetic Technologies provide incremental options for shops looking to scale over time. By starting with lower-level automation solutions and “going as you grow,” you can build a sophisticated shop with a secure future.
Start Small, but Start NOW
Your customers won’t force you to automate, but they may move their business to a more modern CNC machine shop that has updated its technology. Eventually, automation will be so widespread that shops will no longer have a choice but to automate—and in full; “starting small” will no longer be an option.
For today’s machine shops, the time to start automating is now.
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