Things to Consider before Investing in New Technology

MoldMaking Technology editorial advisory board member Will Cipkar of Crest Mold breaks down considerations for new technology investments.

Will Cipkar, MMT EAB member and Crest Mold technical sales manager, shares his factors to consider before investing in new technology. He believes that as technology evolves, so must manufacturers to keep pace with customer expectations. However, companies often see the next big thing and make an investment before fully understanding its capabilities, potential and impact. Instead, companies need to take an initial pause and ask the question: Is this new machine or new software going to drastically improve the business?

I’ve seen companies buy new technology and assume it is going to take the business to the next level. While that is often the case, there are real instances when that same approach ruins a company. It is always a good idea to take a step back and evaluate your business for areas to improve before buying a new product or piece of equipment. This includes identifying personnel challenges and bottlenecks. 

It is always a good idea to take a step back and evaluate your business for areas to improve before buying a new product or piece of equipment.

People. If you have talented people pushing the limits of the equipment you currently have on the shop floor, then the burden of performance falls on the company to empower these people with better tools for continuous improvement.

You know that a new machine has its own costs, but what about the personnel required to operate it? Are you bringing in a technology that is completely foreign to the team? If so, you are now looking at another big investment in people, which entails either providing training on the new technology or hiring new staff that have more experience with the new technology. 

That fancy new technology is only as good as the person who is driving it. Investing in people will always pay far more dividends than the technology itself. This is because a talented employee will grow with your business and become an asset, whereas machines have hard limitations.

That fancy new technology is only as good as the person who is driving it.

Bottlenecks. Improving current workflow is always a win. If bringing in a new CNC machine will drastically improve quality and efficiency because it cuts faster and offers more options (like multi-axis capabilities) that can reduce other operations that require longer cutting (like EDM and polishing), the machine will pay for itself quickly. 

Another workflow consideration is outsourcing. Most shops outsource work because of the ebbs and flows in the industry. How do you know if it is time to bring that work in-house by investing in the technology to do it yourself? Outsourcing can be tracked and assigned a dollar value. Simply put, if the cost of a new machine is less than the average total work you send out each year, then new technology may be a worthwhile investment.

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