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NTI and CNC Automation Success

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 sat down with Scott Harrington, the president of NTI, to discuss why he chose RoboJob-USA to automate his machine shop.

CZ: Before you learned of us, you previously automated some of your equipment here. There was probably an AHA moment when it came to automation. Can you tell me more about what happened at that time that made you want to automate?

SH: Simply, it is labor. Not having enough people to keep the machines running. We have a limited number of people, and we need to enable them to do more. The automation helped them keep the machines running at predictable run rates.

CZ: Were there other people in your organization who helped you through this transition because you probably couldn't do it on your own?

SH: For sure. I needed help from numerous people, and nobody had automation experience previously, so we had to seek out the right people in the company to implement.

CZ: Then, obviously, you started out with using Cobots with a local custom integrator. I know we helped transition a little bit of that and made it work for you too.

SH: Yeah! You guys saved it! They set it up okay, but the ongoing support on any kind of new set ups, any trouble shooting, or service calls they were a bit lacking on and you guys did a much better job there.

CZ: Good to hear. As we transitioned, I know that you came down to our facility in Chicago to see the RoboJob unit. What triggered the path from going from a collaborative robot to the RoboJob product?

SH: I think it was just the ease of overall installation that was in days and super quick change-over from part to part. The collaborative was a pretty lengthy programming and re-programming to complete each time, but with RoboJob, the software, unique parts stacker table along with the integrated robot, it is now much easier to go from one job to the next.

CZ: Now with you putting more and more automation in, how has the culture been about adopting, because a lot of people sometimes think it's a threat?

SH: It's not. What we've zeroed in on is we're going with one automated machine, and one manually loaded machine with one operator running both. That's what we found to be the sweet spot for what one operator can handle. When we first started, we wanted to have one operator running four automated machines, but that was too much. The sweet spot is one automated machine with one manual machine. People seem to like that. It takes a mindful operator. It's not for everybody, some people just like to run one machine and that's all they want to do.

CZ: There are some other intangible pieces, I’m sure that you have encountered such as a predictable output each week knowing that you have the automation there. Have your customers noticed that you've done this?

SH: They love it. They think it's the golden ticket to the labor crisis. It's not really, it's more of a boost but it's not salvation, you still need people. Customers see it as a real positive seeing that we are investing in automation, which is helping their company, so they love it.

CZ: As you're moving forward with more and more automation on your shop floor, do your people have more job satisfaction?

SH: Yeah. Absolutely. With an operator unloading and loading parts to one machine and watching over the automated machine simultaneously, they're able to get more done throughout the day. I don't think we're asking more of them, but we're enabling them to do more without working harder. It helps them quite a bit. They're happier with it.

CZ: If you were to meet somebody else that doesn't have automation in their machine shop. What would you recommend their first steps to do in that journey.

SH: Just research the CNC automation market and consider the product and the support after the sale. We bought a RoboJob and a Halter at the same time and put the two head-to-head. Our biggest decision factor in choosing is more about the service and support than the actual equipment, so it's really who we're working with, and I think you guys did better than the competition, so that's why we chose RoboJob-USA. The equipment was very similar, but the after-the-sale support was far superior.

CZ: Thank you, Scott!

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