Shop Smart - SNIPS Magazine
Lean forces new thinking when buying machinery
Spending money for equipment is always a challenge for contractors. Everyone wants top value for his or her investment.
Typically contractors compare the cost of the equipment to the projected return. Considerations usually include the capacity and speed of the equipment — more is considered better — maintenance costs and warranties.
Steven L. Streimer, vice president at Streimer Sheet Metal Works Inc. in Portland Ore., says they would look for “one machine for a given purpose that is capable of a broad range of product variants. Such as a spiral machine that produces duct in 28-gauge through 14-gauge materials.”
At Streimer Sheet Metal they have been implementing lean practices in their shop for several years. Lean has changed how they look at everything.
Streimer puts it this way: “Knowing about lean, we now realize our previous decision criteria has been all wrong. Not only have we, in many cases, paid too much for a machine capability which is only used 10 percent of the time, but by doing so we have also handcuffed our ability to streamline the setup process. Looking further at our historical decision criteria, we now know it makes little sense to have a fast machine when the operator has to stand at the machine anyway and could be used for a different task and/or only to have the fast machine now sit idle while the rest of the process gets caught up. We now find ourselves looking for equipment which fits a specific task, has limited setups and fits well within the rest of our value stream.”