Advanced Precision Machining

Solving Short Lead Time Machine Shop Jobs

Engraved logo on steel[January 24, 2019] No doubt about it, scheduling milling and machining work in a CNC machine shop environment is fraught with challenges, and it works to everyone’s advantage to have a go-to operation you can count on when time, accuracy and cost counts. At Advanced Precision Machining’s (APM) Colorado machine shop, we’re dedicated to manufacturing the highest quality precision parts while providing the best customer service in the business. However, lead times often present certain obstacles to success, customer satisfaction, and remaining competitive in today’s burgeoning manufacturing industry. A custom job shop like APM doesn’t have the luxury of producing the same component over and over again, and while there may be some low-volume production runs, typically we’re faced with one one-off, custom products for a specific customer, or a small batch of work in quantities usually less than those of mass-market products. Lead-time, or more specifically, solving short lead time jobs in a pinch, is a major barrier to production efficiency.

Put simply, manufacturing lead time is the period of time between the placement of an order and the shipment of the completed order and consists of wait time and throughput time. Minimizing lead times can help any machine shop gain a competitive advantage, because what customer wants to wait excessively for the delivery of their order? There are many variables affecting lead times; Milling machines, spindles, and tools break, customers needed their part yesterday or may change their minds, vendors drop the ball, processes may break down, the finished product may not meet QC standards, etc. That’s just a sampling! Unfortunately, all activities whether they’re wasteful or not can add up to increased lead times and unhappy customers. Some great advice and on shortening lead times, improving efficiency, and reducing waste can be had from our friends at American Machinist.

Learning how to make everything work together synchronously and efficiently is a balancing act, so they recommend:

  • Keeping your process up-to-date in alignment with current trends and standards.

  • Better educating your employees on worker health and safety.

  • Re-examining your workflow and implementing a lean methodology.

  • Organizing your shop better and collaborating on it as a team.

  • Maintaining realistic expectations for your employees as well as yourself.

  • Upgrade your machining tools with the right equipment for the job.

  • Investing in routine maintenance, aka preventative maintenance, to stay in top shape.

  • Preparing for the "machine shop of the future" by embracing new technology. 

While far from perfect as it applies to implement these measures fully, Advanced Precision Machining has maintained a reputation for quality parts, on-time reliability, and exceptional customer service by solving short lead time jobs in a pinch. Since opening our doors in 2005, we owe a lot of our success based on the recommendations listed above. We’ve nearly tripled in size and sales capacity and continue to grow to this day!  

Want to learn more, or have a question about our range of services? Contact the expert CNC machinists at APM’s Colorado machine shop for all of your milling and machining needs.

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About the Author

Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised on the emerald isle of Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he and a partner began what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.

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