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CNC machine shop workers in conversation.

Three New Year’s Resolutions to Make Your Business Better

Jan. 5, 2023
Now is the time to commit to improve machine shops’ performance and results, by enhancing competitiveness, increasing throughput and/or revenue, and attracting skilled workers.

Every January many people make New Year’s resolutions. I know I do, and yes, the typical things many of us commit to such as going to the gym, eating better, and other such promises are standard. Once again, I’ll be making those commitments and hoping to stick to them. But what about that other part of our lives where we spend so much time? That is, our workplace, and if you’re reading this then let’s safely assume you spend quite a bit of time at machine shops and similar operations.

Let’s face it, many of you arrive early and leave late. If that’s the case, 10 or so hours are spent thinking about work and doing the work. Compare that to the eight hours or so you’re awake at home, and it may make sense to consider workplace resolutions just as much as we make personal resolutions.

What are some resolutions we can make that would make our work lives or business better?

For years, our interactions with machining businesses and contacts at all levels have identified three main pursuits which are the catalyst for operating a thriving and growing company. These are the things that machining businesses strive for most commonly:

1. Improving competitiveness. The ability to make parts at the lowest cost, of course, yields higher profits and greater competitiveness. Through improved profitability, organizations can invest in people, new technology, and other worthwhile endeavors that create cyclical returns and results.

2. Enhancing throughput and/or revenue. Being able to make more parts in less time is key here. Actually, the ability to improve speed across your organization allows more to be done in less time. More customer contact through marketing and social media, more quotes in less time, more parts in less time, etc. All of these can contribute to fantastic revenue gains.

3. Hiring and retaining skilled employees. For years we’ve all heard the manufacturing skills gap was coming, and certainly many of you are experiencing it: baby boomers are retiring, and it is increasingly difficult to attract and retain skilled employees. There is no shortage of discussions and recommendations about closing the skills gap.

Given these common pursuits and challenges, what New Year’s resolutions can machine shops make to address each of these common goals or objectives?

Resolution #1: Focus on an area of your machine shop where improving performance would yield more profit.

What aspects of your facility can be assessed to reveal ways that will improve productivity? Quoting, tool selection, optimizing tool performance, production, finishing, improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) are just a few ways to lower costs. There are many new technologies and innovations on the market that can have a quick and lasting impact.

Resolution #2: Assess current processes to identify where increasing speed could transform throughput. Analyzing set-up times, identifying higher stable feeds and speeds of cutting tools, or automating processes, among many other strategies, can help with this very important goal.

Which tools on your machines are used most? Which operations on longer running jobs take up the most cycle time seconds or minutes?

Resolution #3: Assess the current state of operations and identify where improving employee and equipment productivity is possible. Identify training or content that is readily available and that can improve the knowledge and skills of your workforce.

SME’s Tooling U is fantastic and comprehensive, and ACE (America’s Cutting Edge) is free and covers a wide variety of manufacturing aspects. Consider developing a mentorship program that allows an avenue for the “tribal knowledge” to be passed down to future generations of machinists.

As industrial distributors, we’re hearing end users are considering robots/cobots, machine monitoring systems, quoting software, quick change strategies, automation, and training to take their machining business to the next level. You’ll see and hear about a number of ways we can all help with these important business imperatives over the course of the year. Again, that’s our commitment … and our resolution.

There’s quite an opportunity for all of us – manufacturers, distributors, and end users – to join together to raise this industry up to new and greater heights. When that happens, we all win.

I wish each of you, your families, your friends, and yes, your business the happiest of new years!

Jamie Goettler is the Senior Director of Metalworking Sales and Innovation with MSC Industrial Supply Co.

To find out more about how new technology can support your goals for 2023, contact the MSC Industrial Supply Co. innovations team.

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