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Carr Machine and Tool Expands Success Footprint with RoboJob CNC Automation

Success is increasingly dependent on your ability to serve the customer. Adding the right robot moves you in the right direction.

Published on

Dec 26, 2023

Craig Zoberis of RoboJob USA had the opportunity to sit down with Jim Carr of Carr Machine and discuss his CNC automation journey.

CZ: Why did you decide to automate your machine shop?

JC: It runs unattended through the day and night! We're here to make money, we are having trouble finding skilled labor, and it's much easier to implement automation than before. That was the whole impetus for buying and investing in automation for the future.

CZ: I know it's a journey when you're looking at automation. We discussed earlier the notion of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) automation. After investigating this further, you discovered that you had to buy a lot of different components from several different suppliers, engineer, assemble, integrate to the CNC, and program from scratch, without in-house automation talent. Please tell me more about that thought process.

JC: That’s one of the reasons why I went with RoboJob-USA; the implementation process was so streamlined. It concerned me years ago when I first started looking at it because I had to hire a 3rd party custom integrator and then rely on my limited internal resources to help execute on the implementation. There's none of that with RoboJob-USA. That was the struggle years ago when the standard CNC automation products did not exist in the market. One of the main reasons I chose RoboJob-USA was because the implementation was clean and streamlined.

CZ: You are saying that you knew that you could hire one company to complete the entire integration and be automated in days, not weeks, with this feature-rich productized automation solution.

JC: Yes. The worst thing in the world is to have that CNC sitting there and have the automation sitting there, and three months later, it's not running yet because you had a job that was supposed to go in there a couple of weeks after it was delivered. We had RoboJob-USA on our floor, and within five days, it was running. That was impressive!

CZ: Now that you've installed it, tell me more about what you have experienced.

JC: First and foremost, we name all our machines here. So, we named our RoboJob Rosie (from the Jetsons), and it is attached to Jarvis, our Haas VF-2. The installation went extremely well; she was up and making parts within five days. The reason why we love having her in the shop is obvious. We're working an 8-hour shift, and she's working a 24-hour shift. I'm not paying her through the night; the lights are out, she doesn't take a bathroom break, she's not a 1099 employee, and she doesn't have health insurance. It's another piece of technology that you're adding to your shop floor to raise the throughput of what you can do in your facility. It's impressive when people come in. Not only are we using Rosie for throughput production and automation, but we use her as a sales tool as well. I'm always excited if we have a new customer or new prospect coming in. People stand there in disbelief that this is happening in our world. We're still fine-tuning what the right parts are for the machine, and we've identified small quantity runs because the ease of set-up is unbelievable. We have identified the size and material, and that's the perfect thing. We just ran a 3,000-piece order through that machine, which was fantastic. It will be a very profitable job. Just the other day, I ran a job with only 15 pieces. Adding the robot was a smart move.

CZ: Can you tell me more about how your staff embraced automation?

JC: At first, they thought it was a threat, but then they saw what she could do; they were interested in learning more about how to set it up. They experienced the ease of the set up they were completely sold on this investment. Also, it attracts a younger demographic of employees; the younger demographic is attracted to this type of technology in machine shops.

CZ: Do you believe that automation will grow your business?

JC: Yes! You are taking mundane tasks away from humans and giving it to a robot. It makes their lifestyle better, right? Who wants to stand at a machine running 3,000 parts, loading, unloading, blowing the chips, etc? We have fully automated that process. It's boring. Now we can take that guy, train him or her up, and have them work on maybe a 5-axis setup or program a job, or go into inspection and run a CMM. We're doing a lot of up-skill training lately.

CZ: Interestingly, you talked more about the workforce. What I'm finding with automation is that it allows the younger generation of workers to impact the shop floor immediately. From what I'm hearing, they'll take less of an hourly rate to know that you're committed to them growing their knowledge of machining, not doing mundane machine-tending work.

JC: They want to work for a progressive company. They don't want to come into a company, work for 5-10-15 years and not see that company grow. Not grow physically, but grow in throughput, in technology, in culture, and all those good things that companies should do.

CZ: What advice would you give to someone who's on the fence about automating?

JC: Why be left behind? You're going to have to do it someday. Think about the jobs you're running today. Think about whether you can automate these processes to run throughout a shift unattended to free your staff or, even if you can gain three to four hours into the night.

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