As the economy rages on and the workforce becomes tighter and tighter, there are a few choices manufacturers have regarding the future.
- Press on full-steam with the people and equipment you have. Make hay while the sun shines and take advantage of this economic BOOM
- See #1 + become strategic about how you can set your business up for long term success.
We can all agree that having good processes in place make a business run smoother. Having great customers who keep your machines running while working with you on forecasting, planning, and a “teamwork” mentality minimize sleepless nights. In addition, we are focusing on two additional aspects of business that also set us up for continued success in the years to come:
Equipment – For many years, having a plethora of 3-axis VMC’s and a handful of 2-axis turning centers were able to handle most of our demands. Add in the CAM software, wire EDM machines, grinding equipment, de-burring, etc and we were ready. Aside from moving the oldest equipment out for a new machine, life didn’t change much. We then noticed some pain points that started effecting our production:
- Older machines with very little internal memory.
- CAD/CAM software quickly surpassing machine memory (see above)
- Limited tool magazines causing additional setups and productivity stall.
- Machine capability – speeds, RPM, rigidity, etc.
We knew we had to make some changes. Over the past few years, we’ve added a 5th Axis mill with large computer memory, Horizontal Machining Center with large tool capacity and increased our CAD/CAM seats among others.
Employees – Just as important and possibly more often overlooked is the investment in employees. Especially when the job market is so tight, investment is critical. For this reason, we have:
- Increased outside training for employees (machine tools and software)
- Increased vendor and customer tours for employees to identify best practices.
- Discuss Continuous Improvement Projects during monthly quality meetings.
- Encourage employee engagement and suggestions to improve shop organization.
- Provide team-building and company outings to promote team unity.
At the end of the day, to stay competitive, you have to invest in your business. Many times this theory only pertains to technology and capital equipment. Just don’t forget human capital.