A continued rise in the demand for customized systems and integrated solutions was predicted back in 2014 by a survey of German manufacturers of plant and machinery, in a study on the future perspectives for the industry in Germany. This is not surprising given the huge “Industry 4.0” trend, as extensive automation in the form of customer-specific system solutions is a fundamental prerequisite for the digitalization of production facilities. The machines used then form an integrated system that production planners can control from a central point. Moreover, many companies need to respond ever more quickly and flexibly to technological developments. Numerous different versions of parts and fluctuating unit volumes are typical for small and medium-sized production companies in the automotive industry.
Today’s competitive talent marketplace requires small and medium contract manufacturers and OEM’s to make the most of the talent they have. Skilled, experienced machinists are hard to find and having them tied up hand-loading parts into a lathe is seldom the best use of talent. So – how does a successful small to mid-sized shop meet their customers’ production requirements with the existing talent pool?