There are many factors to keep in mind when hiring an employee: skill level, experience, background, availability, and more. The perfect candidate is hard to find, and with unemployment, at such low levels, the odds are against manufacturers trying to keep up with growing demand. A key solution to this is through utilizing automation, but what does that really mean nowadays?
In the past, CNC machines were expensive to automate and required dedicated personnel to get running. This gave large shops a serious advantage and enabled them to automate processes that smaller shops couldn't. These days, with the introduction of easy-to-use robots, automation is no longer a dream. In fact, they can be deployed faster than it would take to hire and train an employee. Here's a perfect real-world example of that from an installation we did last year:
9/12/17 - Received call from machine shop interested in automating a machine tool. Scheduled a visit and demo for that same week
9/14/17 - Visited the shop to demo the robot in the morning and followed up with a system quote that afternoon guaranteeing a finished install within 4 weeks from order. This price was within 5% of the finalized quote that came later.
The customer created their budget for 2018 and found that the less than 1 year ROI made the solution a no-brainer. From here on I'll compare our actual dates (Shop 1) to a theoretical machine shop (Shop 2) with a perfect hiring scenario using numbers from this article:
11/10/17 - Shop 1 received the final quote and began the paperwork. Shop 2 posted some ads online and locally.
11/13/17 - Shop 1 sent the order and had it processed the same day so that the material could be quickly put on order. Shop 2 received some applications from potential candidates.
11/20/17 - Shop 1 received the accessories needed for the workcell and finalized the layout. Shop 2 conducted phone interviews with the top candidates and scheduled an in-person interview with their favorite.