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CNC Machines

Are You Buying A Machine Tool Or A Solution? 5 Questions To Answer.

March 17, 2017

There are many compelling reasons to invest in a new CNC machine tool including: replacing an older model that, literally, just can’t cut it any longer, expanding capacity and/or capabilities to take on new orders, and improving productivity. However, before you start comparing speeds and feeds and other performance indicators, step back for a moment to consider the bigger picture. Ask yourself five strategic questions, the answers to which will help sharpen your perspective.

  1. What is your goal for this machine? Sometimes we short-change ourselves if we don’t look beyond an immediate need. Should you replace an existing machine with one that simply does the same things a bit better and faster? Or is this an opportunity to expand your capabilities by investing in a machine that enables you to perform additional processes, leapfrog the competition, and even break into new customer markets? Are you going to use the new machine to crank out similar parts, or would it be wise to invest in a more flexible system that enables you to run a variety of jobs? Fact is, determining the kind of machine tool you need is as much about your long-range business goals for your shop as it is about making an equipment purchase.
  2. Are you buying a discrete machine tool or a complete solution? It’s important to look at your entire machining processes – upstream and downstream – when considering a machine tool purchase. Would it reduce cost-per-part if the new machine performed multiple operations in one place, without the need to move the part to other machines? If so, would it be even more productive by automating part loading and unloading? Would a bar feeder be the best solution? Or does it make more sense to work from pre-cut blanks loaded and unloaded by a robotic arm? Should you rethink the flow of work throughout the entire shop before determining the kind of machine tool you need?
  3. Which peripherals will you need? If your new machining center will work with a variety of materials, for example, you may need a filtering chip conveyor capable of handling a variety of chip sizes and types, rather than a basic hinge-belt unit. Depending on the metals you’ll be cutting, you may also need a high-pressure coolant system that you can program for various applications.
  4. What about data sharing capabilities? The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is upon us and all signs point to machine tool communications as the next frontier for enhancing productivity. If you plan to continuously improve your shop’s performance and competitive edge, you’ll want to consider the machine tool control system’s abilities to communicate with peripherals, CAD/CAM systems, host computers and more.
  5. What kind of help do I need? Since few of us have all the answers, it makes sense to work through these questions with an experienced partner who can help you find a solution that precisely fits your needs. The Gosiger family has been serving the metalworking manufacturing community for more than 95 years. They provide access to a broad range of machine tools from leading OEMs, factory automation design and integration, plus engineering services that determine the most efficient solutions for any application. Contact your local Gosiger facility to learn more.