Scalable CAM Technology Helping Small Shops Grow – Part Two


Scalable CAM Technology Helping Small Shops Grow

How small shops can use advanced CAM software features to achieve steady incremental growth


Part 2: Basic strategy—one good part deserves another
With increasing frequency today, small startup shops are adopting advanced CAM-centric approaches to manufacturing out of necessity to compensate for the limited funds available for investment in capital equipment and employees. Ironically, this approach often results in a surprising advantage when sales growth allows the shop to move into an expansion phase.

The shop may decide to grow by incrementally adding help, increasing shifts, implementing a new workholding solution, or another CNC machine. Whatever the case, the best practices already in place to support advanced manufacturing technologies are readily scalable so the transition is likely to go smoothly and quickly.

Most new job shops start out with limited resources. Typically one or two people buy a mill and perhaps a lathe and start taking on work, usually from people who are already acquainted with them. Initial jobs are followed by others, if the shop meets three simple requirements:

  • Quality: Make a part that meets the spec. No exceptions allowed, at least not for a start-up.
  • Price: Come in at or, better still, below the competition.
  • Delivery: Meet your customers’ delivery expectations — often responding with very short lead times.

Quality will allow the owners to keep their new customer. Price will keep them near the top of his list as new projects are considered. Fast deliveries will differentiate them and grow their business faster than others. More work will come sooner. After awhile, other factors impacting the small shop’s growth potential will come into play.

  • Volume: Consistently meeting Quality/Price/Delivery expectations as the queue of work being processed through the shop becomes larger and larger.
  • Complexity: Responding to requests for making parts with more complex geometries and surfaces or making fast-turn, short-run families of parts.
  • Value-Added: Taking on more secondary operations, making sub-assemblies, or providing design for manufacturing guidance to help make parts perform better or cost less.

Startup shops that arrive at this phase of development have really begun to solidify their standing with their customers, transforming the relationship into more of a manufacturing partnership than a simple vendor/customer relationship.

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