One of the sticking points you will likely run into is how do you know what you need? Finishing is what we know so we are going to stay on that branch of machines here. Many of the general concepts will apply to all manner of machine but finishing is the topic here.
The stroke sander is one of the machines that some may not have ever even seen before. Then there are some that will have seen one in the past but were not sure what it was for. Lets dip into what a stroke sander is and what its for. I will just touch the high points to give a general feel for the machine. Never hesitate to ask questions as its the best way to learn more.
A question I get often is robot vs CNC for finishing work. While there is not a clear yes or no type answer there are a few points that can help to guide the person faced with the question.
I thought I would share some of the most common questions I get and the related answers. This will not be a deep dive by any means but rather a few of the most common.
Automating a finishing process is one of the more complicated things you can take on. When it comes to finishing the definitions tend to be more in the eye of the beholder. There is not one clear standard for finishes and in some cases the end user will confuse all manner of words. It is not uncommon for companies to say they need to polish something and when you dig a bit deeper you find they need a standard #4 type grain. To them that is polishing but to someone else it would not be. This is what complicates finishing processes the most. With bending or cutting the specs and tolerances are more clearly defined for example. The labor consumed by finishing makes it a prime candidate for automation. Being able to free up 3 to 5 people by automating finishing is common and it allows the labor to be moved to other areas of need. It is also an area that tends to have poor retention as it can be some of the dirtiest work in the facility. You can gain repeatability and more consistency as well as speed while reducing labor needed and improving retention.
Well here we go “the salesman” trying to pitch me his machine above the others, right? Well no, we want you to buy the machine that has the most impact for you and your business. You may not believe it but I have advised plenty of people that one of our machines is not the solution to their problem. Selection of the machine that is going to have the most impact on our business and our bottom line is always a challenge. Whether that is a new laser, punch press, brake or a finishing machine.
Choosing a machine can be complicated. From floor space issues to getting everyone up to speed and able to use it successfully. Then there are the details such as how much is it? And when can I have it on the floor. There are an untold number of people selling finishing machines and it can be tough to sort through them. You want a machine that will do the job and not be out of service every time you turn around. This is where you can help yourself by weeding through the different avenues available to you.
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.
In an effort to to provide more and better information on the Loewer machines I will be putting together more video content. The hope is to provide a repository of information to help you with a machine you have or one you are looking to purchase. These will range from a basic walk around to single topics in more depth. I will do my best to get content produced and uploaded on a consistent basis and add to it topics presented as areas of interest. So if you have ideas for content you think would be helpful please feel free to share your suggestions. The videos will be on our website as well as Youtube to make it easier to find where you may be looking for it. So feel free to post comments or to let me know what you would like to see covered.