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CNC Machine Shops, Manufacturing Strategy

7 Secrets of Successful CNC Shops

January 21, 2013

Horizontal Machining CenterA survey of 358 CNC machine shops conducted by Modern Machine Shop Magazine sought to identify reasons why some shops are more successful than others. These “Top Shops” had gross sales almost 20% higher than average and grew gross sales from 2009 to 2011 by 51.6%, on average, versus 25.1% for the industry as a whole. They typically have fewer employees per dollar of income, and they spend a larger percentage of gross sales on capital equipment.

So what are the common characteristics of these higher performing shops? Some key findings are:

  1. More Horizontal Machining Centers (HMC). According to the survey, 53% of the high-performing shops have Horizontal Machining Centers versus 42% for other shops. By eliminating much of the part handling associated with Vertical Machining Centers (VMC), these shops can greatly improve productivity. A study by The University of Michigan found that the average VMC utilization, as measured by spindle run time, is only 25% versus 85% for Horizontal Machining Centers.
  2. Use of multitasking CNC machines. 48% of the high-performance shops use mill-turn machines versus just 29% for other shops. The ability to reduce part handling and operator time leads to greater productivity.
  3. Ability to perform more sophisticated machining. Top shops had more 5 axis machining capability than others, and 60% perform high-speed machining versus 46%. Not only does 5 axis machining enable the high-performance shops to compete for more demanding work, they also save considerable setup time and the cost of special tooling and fixtures.
  4. Use of advanced fixtures. The more successful shops report median setup times of 2 hours while others report 3-hour median setup times. One reason for the savings is that 63% use quick-change work holding devices to easily change parts while maintaining accurate positioning.
  5. More in-line measurement. More top shops apply the concept of in-process measuring by using on-machine probes (43%) than their counterparts (27%) to reduce post inspection time and to enable Statistical Process Control (SPC).
  6. Continuous Improvement. The more successful CNC shops continuously look for new and better ways to machine parts. They are early adopters of new technologies and upgrades to existing equipment.
  7. Emphasis on education. The higher-performing companies are more likely to invest in employee training to maximize the productivity of their equipment investment, and to become more capable of employing new machining methods.

Gosiger can help any shop become more successful with advanced machine tools and peripherals, in-depth training and applications experience, and unmatched technical service and customer support. Contact Gosiger today to learn more.