Many shops looking to replace their sheet metal fabrication equipment experience some sticker shock when they first look at upgrading to CNC machinery. Probably the most frequent complaint we get from some potential customers is the price tag: “But I can go with (insert second-rate equipment manufacturer here) and get a machine (insert dollar amount here) cheaper. Why should I buy from you and spend so much more money?”
That is a perfectly understandable question. But to be candid, it’s also a pretty ignorant one – at the very least, it’s a question asked before taking all the facts into account. Consider at least the following:
- Accuracy. If you don’t read any farther into this blog post, you will at least have hit the single most important factor to consider, bar none. Sure, you could go with a gently used mechanical press brake over a CNC hydraulic press brake, which is technically a faster machine. But that mechanical press brake won’t have CNC back gauging and a range of other digital features to give you first part accuracy. And that rocker arm press brake may sound like a good deal, but as we covered here, it just can’t compete with a closed-loop CNC press brake.
- Labor. Newer machines such as plate shears have a number of features designed for simpler operation, meaning reduced training needs and, in some cases, reduced head count as well.
- Reliability. Be honest: you’re replacing that old turret punch for a reason. You can go with that cheaper machine, but depending on where they cut corners to get that lower price, it could come back to bite you in the form of increased maintenance costs.
- Safety: Many machines lack more modern safety features, putting your employees at risk. And new machine or not, a workman’s compensation claim – or worse, wrongful injury or death lawsuit – can be awfully expensive, not to mention damaging to your reputation.
If you prefer to buy a machine requiring a lot of coddling, shimming dies here and there to make do, go right ahead. But realize that if time is money (and in the manufacturing world, it absolutely is), then all that futzing with a substandard machine isn’t merely time spent, but money spent as well – money in the form of increased down time, more hassling and testing to produce the part you want, and higher labor costs.
Look, we’ll be very blunt: South Coast Machinery does not compete on price. If you want the low-cost machinery provider, look elsewhere. But we do compete very aggressively on quality, and we have no problem saying we offer some of the very best CNC metal fabrication equipment you’ll find anywhere. And every single SCM customer has found that paying up front for quality machinery ends up paying for itself over time.
In summary, we’ll answer the question with one of our own: How expensive is it to go with the low-cost option?