We have an architectural woodworking shop and have most of the steps required to fabricate casework down to a science. Everybody has their specific duties and casework goes through the shop pretty efficiently. We recently acquired a CNC with all the bells and whistles. I'm wondering which duties should be assigned to the CNC to make things go faster. Unless there is an odd shape, the old fashion way of cutting things seems to be faster than programming the CNC. But this shouldn't be the way, right?
From contributor G:
Productivity can be sliced into many categories. If you have been running a shop proficiently, a CNC may not be an improvement to your system. If you have had quality issues in the past that may have made your productivity poor, then the CNC would be an asset. I think the sales guy who sold you the machine needs to spend some time with you to show you how your investment is going to pay off. I'm sure he did his best to show you all the benefits before the sale. Now I would think it's time for him to walk the walk.
In order to answer your question with any kind of valuable response, I would have to have much more information.
1. What products are you making?
2. What exactly are these processes that you have down to a science?
3. Anticipated volumes?
I can say, however, that once you are past your learning curve and have competent willing programmers and operators, a well-run CNC will be more efficient and productive than a well-run manual system.
The biggest challenge will be changing your mindset. Your statements all revolve around what the fastest way is to do something. There are many more factors to consider than that simple comparison.
Here is what you want to strive for. You want to make as much product as you have sold with the highest quality, shortest lead time, and with the lowest overall cost.
I recommend that you find a part or family of parts that you could set up on the CNC where you could combine several manual operations, but keep up with sales. The key to holding your costs down is to have the operator doing secondary operations while the CNC is running. For example, set up a sanding booth or edgebander next to the CNC and have the operator do this operation during the cycle time.
Programming time can be reduced with practice, subprograms, parametrics, and automated routines, to where it is almost a non-event.
Believe me, in two years you will wonder how you got along without a CNC router, and you will also see that having two of them is even better! I hate to use the phrase "been there, done that", but we have three routers ,and I wish we had four.
Once you are past your learning curve and have competent willing programmers and operators, that is a major statement right there!