Advice on Starting CNC Support Business
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    Question Advice on Starting CNC Support Business

    Hello to All,

    I am a capital project manager at a larger US manufacturer but have recently branched out into my own business. My only problem is outreach and I figured this was the best place to get advice.
    My business, SaveMyMachine LLC, reverse engineers components of obsoleted CNC machines for which the spares market supply has been exhausted.
    Rather than being forced to buy an expensive new machine, customers can provide my team drawings, prints, and/or the broken part, and from there we get them back running again.

    My thoughts are my customers are likely smaller machine shop owners and maintenance managers from larger companies, but I am stuck on how to get in touch with these demographics.
    I built a website SaveMyMachine but am unsure of how to get the word out, so to speak.

    Does anyone have any recommendations? This is my first independent business but I feel like I can fill a need and help some people avoid seriously expensive unplanned capital purchases.

    Best Regards,
    OJ

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    My advice would be to develop a solid functional Control upgrade/replacement kit for Haas VMC's built from the 1990's through about 2007. Haas is no longer supporting the main board. Their upgrade path is about $20K, maybe a bit more. I think if you had a plug and play setup, no glitches, easy to tupport, for a fair price, you would have solid business.
    There are people out there that have used Centroid controls, and I think perhaps Mach3/4?, but I don't know how solid they are. Perhaps if you used a Fagor, Siemans, and had support for them, that might work.
    There's also a LOT of of Bridgeport and YCM machines with Bandit or Anilam controls. Same thing. Price of course would be an issue. I started with an YCM knee mill with Anilam control, and did very well with it, for close to 20 years. Anilam was purchased and support for parts (and to some degree tech) pretty much went away. There's still times I wish I had that one working for some work. The Anilam G control would run pretty much Fanuc code, and had some pretty cool canned cycles (pocketing, spiral, etc) built in.
    Older Hardinge lathes supposedly have great iron, but the controls are often dead or lost parameters. Another market.
    Even if you are just reliable and service Fanuc, you will get all the work you can handle. Here in SoCal it's hard to find reliable support.
    Just one viewpoint.
    Good luck!
    Last edited by eaglemike; 04-12-2021 at 09:25 PM.

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    Oh, and I bought a package of M&Ms at Menards
    Haas wouldn't allow that. Before you finished you typing HAAS
    on your website you would probably have 10 lawyers
    knocking on your backdoor.

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    Only way I see it working is if you market your services to independent repair techs, not machine shops.

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    If a machine shop knows what needs to me made, they can make it. You going to sell ice to Eskimos next?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobw View Post
    Haas wouldn't allow that. Before you finished you typing HAAS
    on your website you would probably have 10 lawyers
    knocking on your backdoor.
    Maybe, but they'd be shooting blanks. As I understand it, Haas is on record as saying they can't get the necessary chips to support the old controls and are therefore not selling parts.

    In court, you have to prove damages to get a judgement. After you've said you have no intention of selling something, it's hard to say you were damaged by someone else selling that item.

    Of course even winning can be expensive ... fricking court system sucks. But that's another subject. He could just make the product then make sure the company selling the product had no assets. Sue me, baby. See what you get.

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    Why not approach Haas directly? If you are willing to re-engineer a solution for older machines at your expense, they might end up being one of your customers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drcoelho View Post
    Why not approach Haas directly? If you are willing to re-engineer a solution for older machines at your expense, they might end up being one of your customers.
    But that would kill their market for $20k control upgrades.

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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by mhajicek View Post
    If a machine shop knows what needs to me made, they can make it. You going to sell ice to Eskimos next?
    That's kind of the basis for the business. The reason manual lathes and mills last so long is you can make a cam or wormgear. Where you run into trouble is when electrical components go out. If you know a machine shop that can make a prox switch or an encoder, let me know, I want to meet them....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobw View Post
    But that would kill their market for $20k control upgrades.
    I think the $20k price tag kills their market for $20k control upgrades.

    Honestly, has anyone actually taken them up on that offer for a 2007 vintage machine? There is a sucker born every minute, but I really can't see many people finding the ROI on that prospect very compelling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhajicek View Post
    If a machine shop knows what needs to me made, they can make it. You going to sell ice to Eskimos next?
    I know a lot of skilled machinist that couldnít design and install a whole control retrofit. Itís a totally different skill set


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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    Thank you for the constructive feedback!

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    What would be the best way, in your opinion, to get in touch with that particular subset of people?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    I think the $20k price tag kills their market for $20k control upgrades.

    Honestly, has anyone actually taken them up on that offer for a 2007 vintage machine? There is a sucker born every minute, but I really can't see many people finding the ROI on that prospect very compelling.
    "Gee Mister, that new transmission is going to be awfully expensive, why don't we just
    get into a nice new car".

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    Its an ambitious undertaking. I would think most shops with an old haas that wont spend 20k on a control update really are not that successful and would probably balk at 500.00 for a repaired control. So how much reverse engineering can one do before you have to charge the customer time and materials. I am all for you winning! But reality will set in quick when you have a piece to replace that was never really that good to start with and a customer is hounding you because it broke a 2nd time...all while you went negative on the job

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    Default Advice on Starting CNC Support Business

    Mechanical parts for older CNCís are not the problem; it is electrical parts!

    Control retrofits are a specialized task that most shops will not undertake.

    However, shops of all sizes are constantly having electrical parts rebuilt, repaired, or replaced.

    Turn-key spindle and servo drive retrofits for Mazaks would be a huge seller. (Mitsubishi sells upgrade kits, but the prices are astronomical).

    Most machine shops have no clue as to how to diagnose and repair the very CNCís they run to make their living. Iíve always found it astounding how highly-skilled machinists and engineers just turn into blank stares when a machine hiccups.

    ToolCat

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    Quote Originally Posted by ripperj View Post
    I know a lot of skilled machinist that couldn’t design and install a whole control retrofit. It’s a totally different skill set
    OP never mentioned electronics. Sure sounded like he's talking about mechanical components. He mentioned drawings, prints, or broken parts, not schematics or boards.

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    Choose some machines. Haas, Mazak, the ones with high populations.
    Do the reverse engineering upfront. Mechanical or electrical, verify no patent violations.
    Pay practical machinist for add space.

    I think electrical would sell well.
    Haas mechanical parts maybe, but they are not too overpriced from factory. Controls, vfdís vector drives....
    pick something make it and adds on practical machinist is a good start. After paying for add space, troll the forms here and when you can help, point to your professional service.
    One thing Iíve noticed here is if you offer services and donít pay for add space you may get a bad reputation with everyobe

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    Electrical/controls repair troubleshooting has huge potential. Not making machined parts to fix a machine. Unless you are mass producing a part that solves a common problem. Your website needs to vet your experience and skills. Similar model different industry Americas Energy ServicesOur Team - Americas Energy Services
    Your current site really does nothing to sell your experience. You have talent on board you have to sell it!

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    Send me an email so I can communicate privately: [email protected]
    Bill


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