What's new
What's new

Employee or Robot?

Just shortened it because I hate pawing through long sections of what's already been said. If it changed the meaning I'm sorry but all I meant was, he said he's picking steel up already so we can be pretty sure it's not 20' lengths, so anyone with a pickup could do it.

Easier to get a guy with a pair of gloves and a pickup than someone trained to run a vmc.
Sure, that'd fall under point #3, get some help. The hired guy can grab metal, load parts, do scrap runs, whatever. Of the OP's 18 hour days I'd bet a small part of that is high level tasks of business owner/programmer/skilled machinist time.
 
Jeez, with damn near the same shop dynamic, and lots of years experience doing it, I could type forever here. Late to the party, so I only scanned it real quick so far. My quick response is: read Wrustles post several times! He nailed it. Then forget about the automation unless you are willing to dive in the deep end of the pool head first. And understand that your chances of coming out the other end successfully are pretty damn slim. Especially with a cobot. (Yes I have experienced this). Not sure about socal, but here in AZ temp service wont even consider residential based business. And, I stronly disagree with the whole raise your prices till you loose work mentality. Tried it, many times, went backwaqrds every single damn time. There are caveats to this, like: do you have that one job you hate? Or jobs that just are not profitable? I absolutely do not mean "race to the bottom" just to stay busy! But, a bunch of okay paying work will always be more profitable than no high paying work. This is a razors edge you have to walk on. And only you can figure out how to walk it. Unless you open your shop and books for all to see. So far Ox & customizer have given the most applicable input I saw in my quick glance. Trust me, the bathroom issue is REAL!
WORK-FLOW-EFFICIENCY is key in your situation. Every single aspect of your time needs scrutinized. Starting with, limit your steps. Even in a tiny garage shop, zig-zagging all over the place is not efficient (just an example of a simple thing a lot of people overlook).
I also agree 100% with the Brother pallet changer! There are caveats to this as well. Like: be prepared to load the table with parts. Otherwize the cycle times will be so short, you are married to one station with no time to multitask.
Pallet-changers in general should definitely be on your radar long before a robot. It doesn't have to be a Brother. My first pallet machine was a haas with sliding pallets. I have made more increases in efficiency, and money! with that POS than any other machine I have owned. Including the all-mighty Brother R650.

Having said all that, I will end with: I freaking hate employees! Ox nailed it there from my perspective. Part-time older gent has been the best thing that happened to me. I have gotten very lucky several times in my journy. But my current part-time guy (used to be full-time 50hrs) tops the list by far.
BUT! As eluded to earlier, if you want this employee to be legit and on the books, be prepared for a shock when you figure out what one employee really costs you.
And, $18/hr will not get you any worthwhile help in a 100-105deg environment. Just saying.


Mr. King:

Dare I ass_u_me that the blow gun is not overly employed when changing parts on the Haas Pallet machine?

Chips would seem to be a build-up issue even for the human here?

Doo you just keep a dust pan and 55 gal drum close by, and just be very reserved in blowing (or even flushing) the fixtures out?


------------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 
Mr. King:

Dare I ass_u_me that the blow gun is not overly employed when changing parts on the Haas Pallet machine?

Chips would seem to be a build-up issue even for the human here?

Doo you just keep a dust pan and 55 gal drum close by, and just be very reserved in blowing (or even flushing) the fixtures out?


------------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
Chip fan helps a ton.............git 90% clean before the pallet leaves the machine............
 
Wow, this is awesome seeing all of the insight and everyone throwing out different points of view, thank you! I think everybody is completely accurate with their statements. I’ll give a little more insight, I’m in a small garage shop in Socal, Temecula to be exact. I could definitely use a helper but as some have pointed out, no A/C (can’t morally make someone work all day in this heat) and it’s my house so it’d have to be someone I already know and trust. Plus all of the extra BS regulations in regards to osha and hiring an employee in this screwed up state. The cobot on the other hand I don’t think is this magical solution that will solve all of my problems either. As a lot have pointed out, even though the salesman and YouTube shows how “fast” setups are, I know 9/10 times that’s not the case and there are a lot of unforeseen little issues that can arise. I am definitely in need of help though from something, whether it be a person or robot. These hours suck. Sometimes it’s active setup/work, sometimes it’s just staying up to keep loading parts and keep machines running. I currently have two jobs, a 70 piece order and a 60 piece order where a cobot would be very nice to just run them out as well as a handful of smaller jobs that are 25 piece and less. I definitely agree as well with the people saying to up the hourly rate, which id love to do, but I would lose majority of my work by doing that, so until I can manage to add some better clients to my list (actively working on) it’s just going to be a lot of hours. One response I saw made a very good point, and that is even though I’m working as many hours as I am, a lot of those hours are spent on other tasks besides just the machining. I try to do as much as I can while the machines are running, but when I have to go pick up material (half day event) or run to plating or any other thing that pops up, there’s a lot of hours those machines are stagnant waiting for me to get back. My wife and I also just had a newborn so now we have lots of doc appointments and family stuff like that calling me away from the machines. I’m going to check out some doosan cobots next week to at least see them in person and get a real feel for what’s involved with setup, this would solve (at least I think) the issue of machines being down while I’m gone. The coolant top ups, chip clearing, packaging, etc, I can handle usually while machines are running and don’t take too much time. I guess the best thing would be to at least look closer at what involved with a robot, do a time study on myself and see where the most waste is, and also keep my eyes open for a good candidate for a helper. As stated previously, I’m also actively looking for better clients by doing a lot of cold calls, linkd in searches and door knocking. I’d really like to get into medical and semi conductor stuff. I’ve done work and quotes for a few automation/robotic companies and they were all extremely cheap and constantly price comparing my quotes with a Chinese shop so I kind of gave up going after the robotic/automation companies. If anyone has any tips as far as how to “get in” with a good medical company or any good company for that matter, I’m all ears! If I reached out to a lot of my old contacts from my previous employer, I could fill my machines with extremely high dollar, low stress work with a phone call, but I don’t want to step on any toes with my old employer, not because they necessarily treated me the best, but just because it feels wrong to do. What are your thoughts on that? Have you ever reached out to contacts from previous jobs? Just curious, thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to read and respond, this is all extremely valuable and very much appreciated!


Think people missed this part I highlighted with the change to marxism/fascism conversation. I am curious as well what people think on this.

If I didn't have any signed contracts to not go after that work, I would lean towards business is business, and I would make the phone calls and shop visits to get some of that good paying work.

Also price out using a delivery service for some of your running around. I find a lot of times its way cheaper time wise and fuel wise, to get a courier service to do some of my errands. On the other hand, visiting suppliers and customers, has gotten me more work when i am making deliveries or picking stuff up. There is a balance for sure.

Our shop needed to pick up a small but heavy 1000lb skid of laser cut and formed mild steel parts, laser shop is an hour away, so two hours driving, wages plus fuel to get there and back add up. We didn't need the parts shipped directly to us, so putting on a truck that would get to us the same day or next morning, cost us roughly $65us
 
Think people missed this part I highlighted with the change to marxism/fascism conversation. I am curious as well what people think on this.

If I didn't have any signed contracts to not go after that work, I would lean towards business is business, and I would make the phone calls and shop visits to get some of that good paying work.

Also price out using a delivery service for some of your running around. I find a lot of times its way cheaper time wise and fuel wise, to get a courier service to do some of my errands. On the other hand, visiting suppliers and customers, has gotten me more work when i am making deliveries or picking stuff up. There is a balance for sure.

Our shop needed to pick up a small but heavy 1000lb skid of laser cut and formed mild steel parts, laser shop is an hour away, so two hours driving, wages plus fuel to get there and back add up. We didn't need the parts shipped directly to us, so putting on a truck that would get to us the same day or next morning, cost us roughly $65us


I too made a point to not go after any work from my past employer, as well as to not knock on doors that I knew that my customers or friendly shops were supplying.

This really did reduce the amount of available work for sure. And this is one reason that I actually prefer to NOT go into my customer's, or friendly shop's _ shop.

A) If I see something stating one of their customers names, I will not go knock on that door.

B) And also, I am (was?) also concerned that maybe I did NOT know that Friendly Shop worked for Factory A, but I was in their shop recently, and then I knocked on Factory A's door - not knowing it... Could look bad, even tho it was not intentional.

Yeah, I have an overactive sense of ethics, and I'm sure that it has cost me in some ways.
It may have benefited me in other ways that I don't even know.


------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 
Fine line going in getting work from past employer's customer.............small town...you will be the Butt.
Big town....might not be the Butt, but talk may go around............
Now, if for some reason you had the customer come to you...well, that changes the game.
Maybe the OP should take up some activity ( or wife) that his perspective customers are involved in....and do a little talking about the shop.... :D
 
I too made a point to not go after any work from my past employer, as well as to not knock on doors that I knew that my customers or friendly shops were supplying.

This really did reduce the amount of available work for sure. And this is one reason that I actually prefer to NOT go into my customer's, or friendly shop's _ shop.

A) If I see something stating one of their customers names, I will not go knock on that door.

B) And also, I am (was?) also concerned that maybe I did NOT know that Friendly Shop worked for Factory A, but I was in their shop recently, and then I knocked on Factory A's door - not knowing it... Could look bad, even tho it was not intentional.

Yeah, I have an overactive sense of ethics, and I'm sure that it has cost me in some ways.
It may have benefited me in other ways that I don't even know.


------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox

I would never go after my customers or friendly shops work. I guess past employers customers would depend on the relationships I had with them.

Seems many people, their whole business came about by their relationship with their old employers customers, who became their customers when they parted ways.
 
Fine line going in getting work from past employer's customer.............small town...you will be the Butt.
Big town....might not be the Butt, but talk may go around............
Now, if for some reason you had the customer come to you...well, that changes the game.
Maybe the OP should take up some activity ( or wife) that his perspective customers are involved in....and do a little talking about the shop.... :D


Yeah, I guess I didn't get that far in my haste.

If THEY come to me - then absolutely - game on!


------------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 
Looking through the OP's post history, we find Xometry mentioned as a source for work. Perhaps the best advice would be to (again) set the record straight about what Xometry, MFG, etc were supposed to be in the beginning: a source to back-fill cheap work into shops that had holes.

Uber and Lyft were supposed to be ride sharing apps: I'm going to drive 30 miles to pick something up. Does anyone else need a ride? I can pick someone up, have a chat with people of diverse cultures, share the ride, pay for some of my vehicle's operating expenses. They became a taxi service when people started actively wearing out their personal automobiles trying to be public transit. This is the trap the OP has found himself in. He can make a living if he just drives a few more hours a day. Maybe hire another driver and another car! Oooh, maybe a self-driving car!

That's what Xometry has done and it appears the OP got sucked in. He found out people will "pay for a ride to the airport" in his new DN Solutions machine but, he's just wearing it out at his own expense.

@Miller846 hear me: I have an early 30s friend who works for Xometry, who might end up reading these words some day. He wants to buy a Brother for his garage and do exactly what you are doing. He tried to talk me into bidding work. I won't even look at it. It's not possible to live on those scraps. You can back-fill a healthy business with it but, it's not designed to start or maintain a business. That's the reality you've run into with all these hours and low bidding jobs. Don't keep digging the hole deeper with more machinery. Again: densification and programming strategies, looonng before buying more spindles.

It's already been mentioned but, another vote here. Watch every single one of this guy's videos. Watch his videos on robots first:

He has the manufacturing tiger by the tail and he's not using a shop full of robots. Densification, fast changes and programming.

I have another friend who tries to get me to bid work for him. It comes in and I tell him to take it to the shop next door, let them bid and complete it, bring it in, wrap it 50% and it'll still be cheaper than whatever I'm going to quote. I'm absolutely floored by what some shops will bid work for.

One was a pair of stabilizer fins for a boat: ball contoured, about 18" long and 0.5" thick and it knife edged at the back. Tolerance was going to stack up at that back edge and cause issues achieving the final outline. Left and right parts. Material included, I think the shop next door bid $1,200. Like absolutely WTF? Assuming $100/hour, $200 in material & cutters and two hours of programming and setup, it was bidding eight-hours, to complete both parts. Four hours per part, ball contoured both sides.

I would have wasted my time, bidding at least double and (obviously) not got the job. They are paying crap wages to low-skill workers who can barely do the job. They probably netted around $50/hour when they were done. No idea how they even keep the lights on, much less eat and live indoors.
You nailed it on the head, been running a lot of Xometry work as well as work for some other brokers and it really is cheap work. We do make our own line of parts as well, but sales figures aren’t near enough to pay the bills, it’s more of a side thing for now. I’ve been actively seeking clients and it’s difficult without an “In” but difficult doesn’t mean impossible. Just need to find the time to do some good old door knocking with some flyers and my best sales face. I think I’m going to start backing off some of the broker work and spend some real time in the very near future going to places in person rather than just cold calling while machines are running.
 
Taking up some wife that your prospective customer is involved in will end poorly.
Just to be clear.....dont go after the guys wife...that's a no brainer :wrong:

The OP has his wife mingle with their wife/wife's and women talk , she drops hints about her hubby 's shop and you go from there.
"Yea my hubby is doing good, he's looking for some other things to do.. Yea he really does good work etc etc.."
 
Mr. King:

Dare I ass_u_me that the blow gun is not overly employed when changing parts on the Haas Pallet machine?

Chips would seem to be a build-up issue even for the human here?

Doo you just keep a dust pan and 55 gal drum close by, and just be very reserved in blowing (or even flushing) the fixtures out?


------------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
Thanks for the great opportuninty for me to give an excellent example of efficiency improvement!

Haas pallet machine with sliding pallets, where part changes happen outside the enclosure: YES! You would think that would be a nightmare, and huge time suck.

Well, I spent the time and $ on the front end to minimize that issue as much as possible. Orange Vises which have smooth sides and no flange. Held down with locks in the center of the vise. No holes between the vises in the pallet. I use .030" banding material to clamp between soft jaws when I cut pockets for the smallest gap possible so they dont load with chips. Packing foam (the stiff styrofoam looking stuff) between first op gripper jaws so they dont pack with chips. And during production runs, every cycle ends with a chip fan. The pallets come out pretty much chip free. Yamazen Andy (2of3) has been in my shop many times. While that machine was running production. He will vouch for how effective these tricks are to minimize time spent at that station. It is hard to believe that it adds up to many hours at the end of the week. But, it certainly does! Every time Philibuster comes around, he compliments how clean the floor is. Well, thats not because we are constantly sweeping, LOL. We (usually Joe cause he is bored) sweep once a week if that. We just keep the chips where they belong in the first place.

So, yea, there are two blow guns at that station. One for each pallet. But the only thing we have to do with them is blow coolant off the parts, and gently blow OP-2 pockets out. I am not saying there are no chips. There are. But, we absolutely dont have to blow it off like it was still in the machine with no chip-fan. And we were filling that encosure to the point the way covers were plowing chips twice daily in 12 hrs.

Now, after all that, I will say the Brother pallet machine is way, and I mean WAY cleaner at the work station because it is in the enclosure. But, the coolant-tank/conveyor is a distaster. Messier than the haas pallets. Good thing its hiding and hard to see!

I don't know why, but process improvement is one of the things I really nerd out on, LOL. Everybody is focused on MRR, and im here one guy running 3 & 4 machines that all total many times the MRR the other guys are getting in one machine. With 99% reliable cutting processes and minimal labor. At a relaxed pace. I have end-mills that have been in the same machine for years (not holder, machine). Because I don't lean on them to go fast. I don't lolligag them around either. When I was working with Scott, the at the time Yamazen apps guy, bringing the robot in: Scott is sharp as a razor. And used to working with Brother. So he knows fast. I did the programming for the parts that were going in the machine. And even he told me: "Holy shit dude, you are flying with these programs". But, it wasn't speeds/feeds. It was the process. I look for speed in other much cheaper areas than the carbide .Why is this? And why have I gotten so good at it? (self proclaimed HA) Mostly because I hate employees. Sometimes it isn't how fast you go, rather how you go fast.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_1358.jpg
    IMG_1358.jpg
    164.3 KB · Views: 27
Last edited:
What can you do to expand your own product line? That's pure profit. You're not making a part that someone else still expects to profit from. It's all yours.
Wrong! You haven't covered marketing, sales, shipping and customer service. I'm not saying retail isn't where the big money is. But, the point at which it becomes profitable (and less work) is quite high. Most cases the time spent covering the things I mentioned will easily cover time spent running parts. So it puts a guy in the same boat! Or worse, usually much worse judging from the situations I've witnessed. I would rather be at the machine myself.
 
Last edited:
I too made a point to not go after any work from my past employer, as well as to not knock on doors that I knew that my customers or friendly shops were supplying.

This really did reduce the amount of available work for sure. And this is one reason that I actually prefer to NOT go into my customer's, or friendly shop's _ shop.

A) If I see something stating one of their customers names, I will not go knock on that door.

B) And also, I am (was?) also concerned that maybe I did NOT know that Friendly Shop worked for Factory A, but I was in their shop recently, and then I knocked on Factory A's door - not knowing it... Could look bad, even tho it was not intentional.

Yeah, I have an overactive sense of ethics, and I'm sure that it has cost me in some ways.
It may have benefited me in other ways that I don't even know.


------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
Same here! And I very clearly expressed that a long time ago in "the thread" when I was transitioning to full-time @ B&A. Aren't ethics a bitch! LOL. At least we die with a clear conscience.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Ox
To the OP,

I don't know how it is in your region, but factories of all sizes around here have trouble finding good help. And thus they tend to run behind on work, which is good for their employees if they like overtime, and it's good for regional machine shops if they need work!
You gotta pound the pavement. Be friendly, be direct, be brief. Adapt your approach and personality a bit, to better suit whom you're talking to when trying to get some RFQ's.
Good luck, and just keep at it. Time flies, just don't work your life away.

ToolCat
 








 
Back
Top