In the past I have written about the machinery we were purchasing as a way to increase efficiency and quality as the cabinetry side of our business grew. (Read about the first wave of machinery purchases.)
Within a few months of purchasing the machine, a Grizzly sliding table saw, chronicled in a previous blog entry, I was back at it again. The reason we seem to have gone on a machine purchasing spree is directly related to our small company’s story: consistent growth over the past 2.5 years. This was never an issue of machine envy or unwarranted desire. All “new” machinery must either either increase the efficiency or the quality of the process being performed, preferably both.
A third factor must also be considered, and that is the cost of the machine in question. Just because a new machine can do the job better and faster, does not mean one should immediately go out and buy it. The value of the machine must be taken into consideration. Notice that I said value and not price.
If you purchase an inexpensive machine, simply because you are unwilling to spend much money, you may be causing yourself more headaches and stress by using a machine that is past it prime. On the flip side, if you decide to only purchase the newest and the “best” machinery, you may tax your cash flow so much that it threatens the livelihood of your business. Each machine purchased is an investment in the business, not a personal toy. When you treat each machine as such, the sticker price becomes less of a factor, and the utilitarian value of the machine takes center stage.
Yet another factor that must be considered by any business owner when purchasing machinery is the question of “who will be using this machine?” When I was a one-man operation, I was able to use older machinery that took more finessing to achieve good results, and I was able to use shop-made jigs with pretty good results.
Fast forward to when I had one, then two, and now three employees fabricating products for my company. The story has changed significantly. Just because I could overcome the obstacles and limitations of a machine to achieve good results, does not mean my employees could or should have to. One of your jobs as a boss is to make the process of completing the task assigned as simple and repeatable as possible. We are always analyzing whether or not a certain process is being completed as simply and as efficiently as possible, and when necessary, we look into purchasing a machine that will solve some of our limitations.
Next week I will discuss the machines purchased for the shop.