My grandfather used to look at newer cars and say that they were too complicated. He was looking at the car as it would be in a few years when it would need repair. He was not afraid of the new technology but rather what problems it would bring later. Other than, the robot overlords taking over the world part, the rest of his argument made sense. Just because you can get a new anything with all kinds of add-ons and upgrades does not mean you should. If you get that new machine can your current staff operate and service it? If you need to bring in an outside factory tech for every little thing that goes wrong, the cost will certainly pile up over time. Keeping points like this in mind are important, as they are part of the big picture and the machine's True cost. It may not be an upfront cost but you are going to pay for it one way or the other.
When it comes to manufacturing there are an untold number of "Buzz words" that get thrown around. Just in time, lean manufacturing, value added and list goes on. When we take a look at these "ideals" as a whole, the basic point is make the best quality product you can, while maximizing profit. From happy customers to happy employees and everything in between it all makes a difference. Keeping it as simple as possible is not always easy or possible given some of the complexities running a business in general. Looking at inefficiencies or where the process and situation can improve is always a good idea.
Looking past the surface of any machinery to see "What will it be like to live with this machine?" is a sound practice. The costs of needing to bring in outside people for service or repair is just one point. Can your staff operate the machine? Is it CNC or robotic and do you have some one who can program and run the machine? Looking for a machine that is designed with these points in mind, can make a big difference in the long term. You can buy a machine cheaply that is made in Asia but can you get parts and support for it? Are the manuals complete and written in a language you understand? Who can you turn to when there are issues? These questions are just as important as the price question.
Work with someone who listens to what your problems are and helps you to resolve them. Look at the process as a whole and don't just focus on one part. Adjusting the Laser or tweaking its program can lessen the defects to clean up later saving time down the line. Also don't over look the basics like how you stack or store parts. Parts just thrown into a box or pile will scratch and dent each other causing more work down the line. Many times just looking at the process as a whole will locate many places to save time and costs. A good finishing machine is that final touch to make your product stand out and show you want to be the best. Many times that first visual impression makes a big difference and it should not be over looked.
Please feel free to send any questions and I am always happy to help.