Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is the shop floor TOO Complicated?

Article after article I read today talks about how manufacturers are having such a hard time finding people to fill their shop floor openings. And time after time it hits me ... the shop floor today has become way to unnecessarily complex ... and as a result, the requirements needed for shop floor personnel has become unnecessarily complex as well.

It was brought home to me the other day when I was having a Webex meeting with the personnel of a major machine tool builder regarding our G code conversion software. After my presentation ... the applications manager's first comment was "What about our blah blah machine? " ( machine name deleted to protect the innocent ... but suffice to say it was one of the multi-function, turning machine with a milling machine attached fancy contraptions that cost about a gazillion dollars ). Come on really? Is this the REAL WORLD?

How many of these machines do you sell in a year? And to who? ... Boeing, Lockheed? Probably ... but the reality on the ground is that there are thousands of metalworking shops ... that drive real worlds manufacturing ... that are still using your standard 2 axis lathe, lathes with live tool, 3 and 4 axis VMC's and HMC's ... that are producing most of the metal parts that touch and run our lives every day.This is the REAL WORLD !!!

Granted ... these high cost machines are what make you the most profit ... but they are not the driving force behind manufacturing in the real world. %$&^%**&^^

But I digress ... back to the main point about today's shop floor ... in the real world. But this point is related.

Today's shop floor ... the 90%-95% of real world shops ... could be streamlined and made more real world ... would be even more competitive ... and made more accessible to workers with varied skills. Machine tool dealers present these machines as the "new wave" and shops think that this is how I stay competitive ... this is what I really need. This brings a whole host of issues .... buying machines I really don't need ... spending more $$$ than I need to .... now I need someone to run them who will demand big $$$ and require lots of skills ... and on and on.
Over the next couple of weeks, months, whatever ... as therapy for my aggravation and for my desire to wake up manufacturing ... I would like to post some thoughts to further prove my points.

I'm going to start by re-referring any readers back to my last February post regarding CAD/CAM overkill ... which starts the ball rolling. But over the next weeks we will hit on quite a few topics ... some you might agree on and some you might not.

If you have any comments, anything to include ... please let us know by email ... follow us and comment through Twitter @Kipware ... and of course stay tuned to this blog ... maybe even spread the word by re-tweeting.Help us ... let's get a movement started ... "Manufacturing in the Real World" ... raise your voice ... or your glass if that's where you are at.

I feel a little better at least for now ... but I'll be back !!