Jim Lee, Tool Gauge general manager, faces the stark realities of doing business in a global market. Even though the company is close to many of its customers in the Pacific Northwest, those customers can do business anywhere in the world, including in much lower-cost labor markets. “It became clear to us that the way that we can compete is not by adding more bodies but by adding more technology, and then adding more value using that technology,” explains Lee who was looking to hire as many as a hundred new employees that simply weren’t available in the tight Pacific Northwest labor market.
Not only was it difficult for a Tool Gauge to hire human operators, the required tasks were also difficult for manual labor to perform – especially dispensing glue into plastic extruded parts. “The area the glue needs to be applied is incredibly narrow, so over time, operators were seeing fatigue in their hands with potential injury being concern. Scrap rates were also high,” says manufacturing engineer at Tool Gauge, Steve Ouzts.