Why Manufacturers are bringing Laser Cutting In House
Over the last few years a lot has changed in the manufacturing landscape. Businesses of all sizes have evolved and learned the value of controlling more of their manufacturing process. As companies strive for increased control, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, more and more are deciding to bring laser cutting jobs in-house. This strategic move allows them to significantly streamline their production processes and increase their competitive advantage. In this blog, we’ll delve into why this trend is accelerating, discuss the benefits it offers, and explore the challenges companies may face during this transition. Whether you’re a decision-maker in a manufacturing firm, a curious industry insider, or someone with an interest in industrial trends, join us as we uncover the reasons and repercussions behind this exciting shift in manufacturing strategy.
Lower Operating Costs
Bringing laser cutting in-house will lead to substantial savings in operating costs. Initially, the purchase and installation of laser cutting machinery may seem expensive. However, over time, the cost benefits become apparent. Firstly, there’s an immediate elimination in expenses associated with outsourcing, such as transport costs and potential price hikes from third-party suppliers. Secondly, companies can save on material costs since in-house laser cutting allows for more precise utilization of raw materials, reducing waste. Additionally, having immediate access to laser cutting equipment means no time delays waiting for parts to be delivered, leading to lower inventory costs and faster order fulfillment.
A University of North Texas study completed for an elevator manufacturing company shows exactly the potential for annual savings. The elevator manufacturing company was outsourcing 118 parts to various vendors in the area. Their report accounted for things such as operator wages, compressed gas cost, electricity and all other variables associated with operating the laser. The study concluded that this company would save $312,502 per year in manufacturing costs with the purchase of a 3000W Fiber Laser cutting machine. The cost for some parts were up to 75% cheaper with in-house laser cutting after accounting for all associated machine costs.
In this study, UNT also found a major reduction in turn-around time as well as higher customer satisfaction for the manufacturer’s clients.
One of the most compelling advantages of bringing laser cutting in-house is the enhanced quality control it offers. Fiber Laser cutting machines can produce high levels of accuracy and repeatability. The purchase of a fiber laser comes with expert training for operators to quickly begin producing high quality end results. By managing the entire process under one roof, manufacturers can monitor every stage of the operation and quickly rectify any potential issues. This close supervision eliminates the risk of inconsistencies or errors that could occur when outsourcing, as external providers may have different standards or protocols. Moreover, the direct control manufacturers gain allows them to ensure that each product meets their precise specifications, leading to better consistency and fewer product rejections or returns. By integrating laser cutting into their own facilities, companies can secure a higher level of product quality, fortifying their brand reputation and customer satisfaction in the long run.
Another notable benefit of in-house laser cutting is the acceleration it brings to the prototyping process. Traditionally, developing a prototype involved designing the component, sending the design to a third-party cutter, and then waiting for the parts to be cut and delivered back. This process typically takes weeks and many shops require order minimums or charge a premium for prototyping services. However, with an in-house laser cutting system, the turnaround time from design to physical prototype can be drastically reduced to a matter of hours. This is because the manufacturing team can immediately cut new prototype designs, experiment with different materials, and adjust the design as necessary in real-time. With immediate prototype feedback on the fiber laser cutter, companies can realize a significant boost in efficiency, a decrease in development costs, and a faster time-to-market for new products – a winning combination in today’s competitive manufacturing landscape.
Scaling and Flexibility
Flexibility is another significant advantage that comes with purchasing a laser cutting machine. This flexibility manifests in several ways. First, it permits the manufacturer to quickly adjust to changes in product design or customer demands, as they no longer depend on third-party production schedules or capabilities. When outsourcing, design changes can take weeks to process, but with a laser in-house this process should only take a few hours. Second, in-house laser cutting can be set up to support short runs or custom jobs, providing the ability to diversify product offerings without major logistical challenges. The ability to do small jobs is only limited by the company’s own desire, no longer dictated by a third-party vendor. Third, if a machine malfunctions or there’s a sudden increase in demand, in-house operations can react and adapt much more quickly than if they were waiting on an outsourced provider. Scaling up can be done faster by adding more shifts or even adding another laser cutting machine. In today’s fast-paced manufacturing environment, this level of flexibility can be a game-changer, allowing manufacturers to stay agile, meet customer needs effectively, and keep up with market dynamics.
Perhaps one of the most encouraging factors for manufacturers considering this transition is that the entry costs for in-house laser cutting technology are lower than ever before. Rapid advancements in technology and increasing competition among laser cutting equipment manufacturers have led to more affordable and user-friendly systems. Many of these machines are designed with small to mid-sized manufacturers in mind, offering features and capabilities that once were only accessible to large-scale manufacturers. The availability of various financing options and potential tax benefits can yield cost savings immediately. Experienced laser cutting sales reps will help to show the cost of ownership over time versus existing outsourcing costs. Therefore, even though purchasing and installing laser cutting machinery may involve upfront cost, it’s much more within reach for many manufacturers compared to a few years ago. The lowering of this entry barrier is a significant factor in the growing trend of businesses of all sizes purchasing laser cutting machines.
Myths About Complexity
The idea that laser cutting machines are overly complex is a common myth that can deter manufacturers from bringing this technology in-house. While these machines are indeed sophisticated, featuring advanced technology, they are designed with user-friendliness in mind. Modern laser cutting systems come with intuitive interfaces, easy-to-understand control panels, and detailed user manuals. They are often equipped with smart software that simplifies the design and cutting process. Moreover, the suppliers of these machines typically provide comprehensive training as part of their service, ensuring that your team understands how to operate and maintain the equipment effectively.
Finding a laser company with a good reputation for customer service is important to ensure quickly transitioning from installation to production. In short, while laser cutting machines are technologically advanced, they are not excessively complex to operate, dispelling the myth and making them a feasible option for many manufacturers.
Selecting the Right Machine
Selecting the right laser cutting system supplier is a crucial step in transitioning to in-house operations. Here are a few important factors to consider:
- Product Range: Look for a supplier that offers a variety of machines to cater to different needs. They should have options in terms of power, size, and capabilities. This allows you to choose a machine that’s perfectly suited to your production needs. Think of it as creating a partnership. As your business grows and your needs expand, it is good to have a relationship with a manufacturer of many different types of lasers to support your growing capabilities.
- Quality and Reliability: Research the supplier’s reputation. Are their machines known for durability and performance? Do they comply with necessary industry standards? Reliable machines will save you time and money in the long run.
- Training and Support: A good supplier should offer comprehensive training to help your team get up to speed with the new machinery. They should also provide ongoing support services to ensure the machine continues to operate optimally.
- Software Compatibility: The laser cutting machine should be compatible with the design software you currently use or plan to use. This will ensure a smoother integration into your existing processes.
- Pricing and Financing: Of course, the cost of the machine and the available financing options are important considerations. Remember, the most expensive isn’t always the best. Compare prices, but also consider the machine’s features, the supplier’s support services, and potential future operating costs.
- Reviews and Testimonials: Lastly, consider the experiences of other businesses who have purchased from the same supplier. Positive reviews and testimonials can provide reassurance about your investment.
Remember, the goal is to find a laser cutting machine and a supplier that fits your specific needs, budget, and long-term plans. Take the time to thoroughly evaluate your options before making a decision.