In the employment world, the phrase “manual labor” is often associated with jobs which are dirty, psychologically sickening, or worse, both. Small to medium-size manufacturing enterprises are moving towards using the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) in their major manufacturing processes because of its fame in accuracy, flexibility and automation. If you’re one of these entrepreneurs, don’t jump in the bandwagon just yet. Acquiring a CNC machine is more than just buying additional equipment; it also has a social aspect in it. Here is the low down:
PEOPLE-WISEFirst, you have to consider the people who are working in your shop. How many people will be displaced if you buy a CNC machine? Keep in mind that a CNC machine is multi-operational; so it’s possible that a couple of laborers will be erased from the production team. Experts say that the healthy ratio is at least one-sixth (1/6) of your whole labor force. You will be saving time and effort, yes, and that is the best thing about having a CNC machine. However, you might be worrying about actually terminating people because of the stigma behind the use of the machine. A CNC machine, just like any machine, will need an operator. Instructions used by a CNC machine for operational execution are composed of CNC “words/codes” and is in the form of a “sentence”. Does one of your people ever have experience with a CNC machine before? Can s/he formulate CNC instructions? If the answer to both questions are “yes”, then that’s absolutely good news. However, if you answered “no” to at least one of the questions, then there are more things to evaluate. Are your people capable of fast-learning? If it pains you to terminate them because they have been good employees in the past, train them on how to use the CNC machine and how to compose instructions for it. There are plenty of free training kits online.
COMPANY-WISEThere’s a corporate adage that goes: “Innovate or die”. There’s a lot of truth in that. A purchase of any CNC machine symbolizes a company’s decision to innovate to increase productivity. However, there are a few things that you need to note. Review your company’s history. How long should you innovate drastically in terms of production? CNC equipment is expensive. It is an investment. In the long run, you may be forced to buy new equipment more often. Consider CNC heavily if you feel that your company innovates faster than other companies in terms of the industry that you belong to. After all, you can easily alter designs and material when you have CNC powered operations. In most companies, “Innovation” is another word for “saving”. It means saving time, effort and space. In using CNC machines, the first two factors are sure savings while the third is not. People doing the labor and CNC machines often occupy the same amount of space. Do not romanticize a “clearing of clutter” effect when you buy a CNC machine. You will keep up, in terms of production; but CNC equipment also occupies a lot of space. So in that aspect, it’s pretty much the same thing. Another thing that you have to be reminded of is the level of accuracy that your company needs to produce. Intricate patterns on metal/wood will DEMAND CNC accuracy. So any time that you feel your company is ready for such innovation and accuracy, consider employing CNC in your manufacturing. At the end of the day, the last aspect that you need to evaluate is you, yourself. As the owner/head manager, you have to KNOW AND UNDERSTAND the CNC machine and the software well. This is the biggest battle that you have to face. The equation to improvement is simple a really good machine plus a really good operator (you). Do not easily be blinded by the salesmen’s poetry.
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