This is a question that should be analyzed step by step for each individual situation and company.
There are companies for which it could be more correct to use CNC Machining Centers, and companies where it is more intelligent to use CNC Flexible Machines instead.
But generally, the concepts of Lean Production can be easily adapted if we have the right information to help find the right solution for the specific situation.
Basically, in our Blog we talk about Small and Medium lots of production and therefore we will use the example of these situations and those that have a production company managing small and medium lots.
If you use CNC machine tools then you know how important it is to manage these 3 macro problems in the best way:
- Space management
- Production costs
- Specialized personnel
And certainly, these problems cannot be managed with an old business model or with the classic approach of the CNC Machining centers in battery.
If you continue to entrust the fate of your production department to Machining Centers, you know that this business model alone cannot support a “Lean Production” mentality and that you need to implement a new strategy to better manage the situation.
Machining centers are very flexible machine tools, which allow for quick production changes and retooling.
The problem is that they are very slow and this aspect is detrimental to productivity, which makes companies marketplace competitiveness suffer.
While on the one hand I have the advantage of being very flexible, on the other hand, this advantage balances in the negative sense from a lack of productivity. It causes a “price battle” in which I clash with other companies that are perhaps more competitive. I am then forced to lower prices and margins to survive in the market. A market that is becoming increasingly aggressive.
Lean Production: What are the disadvantages of CNC Machining Centers
As mentioned above, relying on CNC Machining centers to achieve the goal of the basic concepts of Lean Production brings with it many disadvantages.
The first of all is the space, because to become more productive you have the tendency to continue to buy Machining centers.
Too often I see production departments invaded by these unproductive machine tools with the only way they have to increase their productivity is precisely to join forces and create the negative phenomenon that I call “Working Center Batteries”.
If you have thought about the concepts of Lean Production, you know how the management, saving, and optimization of space is one of the cornerstones of bringing results to your production system.
Obviously, the more space is managed well the more production costs will be optimized as a direct result.
What is certain is that 3 Machining Centers occupy a very large and difficult to manage space.
Imagine having the only solution to increase your productivity by buying more machining centers. Understand that it is an unmanageable situation in the long run and that it will force you to buy a larger facility prematurely.
This makes little sense.
Lean Production VS Direct Costs
The production costs increase more than proportionally compared to the increase in the machining centers and the company’s liquidity is undoubtedly affected by this trend.
The more Machine Tools one has in the production department and more robots, equipment, and direct production personnel there will be, which, as you well know, are all heavy costs for a company.
Not to mention the variables that are in production with the increase in production changes and the number of retoolings.
Many machining centers = many variables to produce a single family of pieces.
Many variables = many errors that are expensive.
Three machining centers involve the use of multiple machine tools for the production of a single family of parts and you can well understand that the variables and errors associated with each are difficult and expensive to manage.
Last but not least, is the direct production personnel who, with a department based on the CNC Machining centers, constantly increases proportionally.
The direct staff is expensive and increasingly difficult to find, because fewer and fewer people want to do this job (and less and less do it well).
Am I saying that you do not have to hire staff or that human intervention is not necessary?
I’m just saying that there is a more suitable and correct way to increase your productivity in a more than proportional way compared to the increase in costs.
And all this for the benefit of liquidity and corporate margins.
Basically, increase your productivity, become more competitive, and earn more.
The goal of each production department should be first of all to earn. If there is no profit it is not possible to do business properly.
So, the question should be:
How can I improve my production department and earn more?
Understand that 3 Machining centers often bring with them 3 robots to manage and therefore the number of people needed increases directly.
Lean Production applied with CNC Flexible Machines
What is the definitive solution to best apply the concepts of “Lean Production”?
If the Machining centers alone are not enough and their business model can not be sustainable, then it is necessary to integrate and implement in the company a technology and methodology that helps the production departments.
The goal of each production manager should be to find, by reading the numbers, the correct relationship between flexibility and productivity, in order to lower direct costs and increase margins.
But how can this goal be achieved?
Relying not only to the machining centers but also integrating the CNC flexible machines in order to achieve a perfect balance between flexibility and productivity.
The Flexible Machines are CNC machine tools for metalworking that incorporate multiple Machining Centers into one machine and therefore with a productivity that reaches up to 3.5-4 times more than a single Machining Center.
And they have a very rapid production changeover, around 15 minutes (even less) on the 4 pallets.
So, it is a productive and at the same time very flexible platform.
They are perfect for those who want to better manage small and medium batches on production of simple to complex parts.
The goal is to increase productivity and also lowering fixed costs, to give the company more margins and liquidity to be reinvested in the company.
Having a flexible CNC machine in the department entails a number of advantages, including:
1. Increased productivity;
2. Flexibility with a change of production in less than 15 minutes;
3. Space saving, because with each Flexible Machine you save the space of over two Machining centers;
4. Staff savings, because you have to manage only 1 robot compared to 3-4 robots for the machining centers;
5. Less production variables, because being able to do an entire process on one machine, many handlings using human intervention are avoided;
6. More margins and liquidity for the company;
And many other advantages …
One Flexible Machine versus three Machining Centers brings a number of tangible and indisputable benefits, which will help your production department make a quantum leap.
And it’s not just me saying it, but there are many entrepreneurs and production managers who have changed their minds about what I’m telling you.
Lean Production and Flexible Production Go Hand in Hand
When I developed the Production Flexibility method, I based it on the concepts of “Lean Production” for metal working and with users of CNC machine tools in mind.
In fact, I realized that the concepts were very beautiful and enlightening, but at the same time the insiders of our industry found a certain difficulty in putting them into practice.
My goal has always therefore been to make these concepts simpler and usable for those who work in our sector.
Those who use Machine Tools for metalworking must have the possibility of easily accessing this information.
Precisely for this reason I decided to invest years in the study and implementation of the Flexible Production method.
And today we are creating the first training school for professionals in this sector, to give the opportunity to those who use CNC Machining centers, Flexible Machines, or Transfer Machines to understand how to best apply the concepts of “Lean Production” to achieve the best relationship between automation and productivity.
And you? Are you ready to enter the world of Flexible Production?
If you want to go deeper on the topic of “Flexible Production”,
My book, dedicated to users of machine tools that want to make the leap in quality & productivity, is waiting for you!!!
MASTER TRAINER Method FLEXIBLE PRODUCTION