You can achieve high-performance without resorting to new or improved software or process control technologies, but why would you try that approach? That’s a simple conclusion of the details available from American Machinist’s fourth annual Benchmarks for Machine Shops survey, specifically relating to matters of software and control.
Asked how “proprietary software” products have improved shop production over the past three years, 37 percent of all survey respondents note “some” or “major” improvement. Less than 10 percent of respondents have found no improvement from their use of such software.
The surprise here is that 53.2 percent of all respondents have not availed their operations of such technologies, and what is more surprising is that nearly 40 percent of the Benchmark shops also have not made the choice. In this case, however, the advantages are clearer: Over 55 percent of the Benchmark shops note “some” or “major” improvement in their shops’ performances as a result of their software choices.
This inquiry leads to an obvious, if abstract, observation: How is it possible to run any machining operation — not to overemphasize the performance of the Benchmark shops — without proprietary software?
The answer is that it cannot be done.
Look elsewhere in the Benchmarks survey: the capabilities and technologies with which shops arm themselves are directed or driven by advanced software and control systems. Among all shops responding to the survey, 68.5 percent are using CAM systems; 90 percent of the Benchmark shops make the same claim.
As for CAD systems, 61.8 percent of all responders use 3D CAD, and 54.2 percent use 2D CAD. Among the Benchmark shops, 82.5 percent use 3D CAD, and 60 percent use 2D CAD.
Beyond production technology, there is information technology. CMMs, machine monitoring, vibration analysis, thermographic analysis, and more metrics are keyed to software for modeling, recording, and reporting. Shops that set benchmarks take every advantage of the process technologies available to them.