Faster cutting is an important factor to take into account when buying new machinery, but there are other criteria that should also be assessed, writes Patrick Turpin.

The Austrian educator and management consultant Peter Drucker once wrote: “Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”

There are two types of machine tool manufacturers: those who offer machines that cut faster; and those who say cutting faster is unimportant. When looking to buy new equipment, the ability to process parts faster IS an important consideration because it affects the bottom line. It seems obvious that when a machine can process parts 30% faster, it will reduce the cost of labour, consumables, and utilities.

On the other hand, when a machine tool is not fully utilised, there can be a tendency to dismiss faster cutting as irrelevant: when in fact it is relevant. If a machine tool cuts 30% faster than the competitor, and the cost of operation is $38.00 per hour for consumables, then over the course of 1,000 hours machining time, faster cutting will save $11,400.00 in consumables alone!

Faster cutting is one consideration when buying a machine tool and it is important to prove cutting speed claims before plunking down the big bucks. To these ends, time studies and test cuts that prove or debunk the manufacturer’s claims need to be a priority in the purchasing cycle. For example, when looking for a machine tool to cut Bisalloy, do not accept time studies or test cuts that show how fast aluminum is machined!

However, faster cutting should not be the only criteria used to purchase a machine: the availability of factory-certified local support is critical to machine uptime and the bottom line. During the ongoing pandemic, the criticality of local support has been amplified, and not just between countries, but across state borders as well. Having consumables and technical support in state to support a machine tool has been the harbinger for a company’s on-time deliveries: the fastest cutting machine in the industry is worthless when consumables are stuck over the border.

Today’s reality is that air freight shipments from the US can take up to seven days longer than they did 18 months ago. With more companies competing for limited space, shipping delays can translate into critical downtime for a machine tool, which makes having a local source for consumables an important factor to consider when making a capital investment.

One final thing to note is that having a “technician” to support a machine is not the same as having a factory-certified technician. When it comes to maintaining machine tools, the adage that “parts are parts” does not apply. Every new machine tool has learning curves for its applications and its maintenance. Local service should mean that factory-certified technicians are available in-country to support that learning curve – which will translate into better machine uptime. In the final analysis, you need to research both performance and local support, as you make your capital investment decision.

Patrick Turpin is Asia Sales Manager at OMAX Corporation. Headland is OMAX’s exclusive supplier in Australia