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CNC Machine Shop Expansion

CNC Machine Shop Expansion has only moved into numerical control in the last three or four decades. There has been so much new development with multi-axis machines, Industry 4.0, and growing demand for precision parts it is almost impossible to keep up. When you are thinking it may be time for your CNC machine shop expansion there are several factors you should consider to make the jump at the right time. There are different views towards expansion and growth and your business may not follow the same path as another.

Scalable Growth

There is great value to working in a niche market so you aren’t competing only on a price or re-organizing for each new project that comes in. This is a solid place to start. One approach to growth is to take a small step out of your niche with something that closely aligns to test the waters. While it may be considered risky to work outside your area of expertise, new projects may be just the thing to scale your business. Be sure you assess and review them for a cost-efficient approach that adds diversity. Not only can this approach grow your business, but could also provide a haven in a market downturn.

Business growth may also present itself with value-added services. Evaluate the parts you provide and see if you can add value with a processing component, packaging, or a complimentary product that streamlines your client’s business and adds additional volume to your facility. Satisfied customers are a great place to look for areas of growth since they already trust your quality and service.

Knowing is Growing

A key element in finding areas of growth is staying connected to the industry. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to attend events. While this has been a challenge over the past 18 months, look for events that are starting to open up again. Connect through online forums and industry publications. Not only does this keep you apprised of industry news, but can align you with potential partners and keep a close eye on your competition.

Industry connections allow you to witness successes and find opportunities. Making good parts is only a piece of the puzzle. Relationships are often what fuel the ember of an idea to flame or produce the initial spark that you then develop.

Partners

At Rapid Enterprises we are big believers in over-delivering in service and quality. We succeed because of key partnerships with brands like DMG Mori and Mastercam who allow us to use the tools and technology we need to provide consistent products on time every time. Our expertise grows through their expertise.

Partnerships might also look like referrals from related businesses. If you haven’t made that transition to complementary products or services you can provide, those could be referral partners for you. Keep communication channels open to discover what their clients need and how you can help. Partnerships like this are easily established by growing your network at trade shows and other industry events.

Finance

We dug deep into finance in a previous article, but it is worth mentioning again in terms of expansion. A common mistake with many businesses is not creating a business plan. This should be the first step before you even start a business, let alone, try to expand. Business plans provide you a target, allow for measurement and assessment, and lead to revisions as needed. They are also necessary when you apply for loans, grants, or joint-venture partnerships.

Smart financing includes a realistic review of necessary and unwise spending. New machines, new technology, or physical shop floor growth must consider cash flow, booked business, new markets, downturns, and cash versus loan payments. New technology is enticing, but a practical risk versus reward analysis is needed.

Technology

While it can be beneficial to be on the leading edge of new technology it can also be expensive. Be sure you are using what you have at the maximum performance level first. While a 5-axis machine is enticing, maybe a look at waterjet cutters or electrical discharge machines to provide the precision you are looking for at a lower cost. But do consider all aspects of what technology can bring. Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution pairing technology with manufacturing. Smart CNC machine shops can provide feedback data that schedules maintenance and self-diagnoses problems improving efficiency. If this directly relates to your competitive edge, it’s worth looking into.

The other side of technology to look at is off the shop floor. Use technology for promotion with tools like a recorded video of your shop to send clients or post on your website. Invite clients to meet on Zoom to walk through the shop with you. Have an online presence. Be sure your website shows samples of your work and provides valuable customer information that is easy to find. Also, understand in this age of technology a website is not enough. You need to leverage technology to drive people to your site. Sources like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allow you to inspire, entertain, and educate your clients to incite their curiosity about your business.

Expansion

A CNC machine shop hopes to achieve three levels of business to establish the goal of minimizing downtime. The first is that solid client, or client group, that keeps one or two machines running year-round. The second is projects that recur in a predictable pattern throughout the year. And the final workload comes from those test markets or slight deviations from your normal business. This provides the structure to review if you are ready for CNC machine shop expansion. But we know business models are never quite true in the physical world. Assessing your business plan, your niche, and potential expansion markets should help establish financing that can handle expansion when the time is right for your CNC machine shop.

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