Hypothetical question on topic

Ok.....Lets say you work in a shop for a decade or 2. Long enough to be "part" of the company. Long enough to know the company and what it does. So here you are making parts on 1985-1995 equipment, simple but deadly parts, easy to gage for time. And of course you get pushed...welcome to the real world. No biggie. Ok... Now, It's 5 years later and the equipment is 2000 - 2005, and those same parts that took 15 mins approx now take 1.hr a piece, same quality. Triple setup time and the stuff is literally falling apart from lack of maint. Imagine this is across a few different types of equipment.

Now here's the question: Do you ignore what you see and just concentrate on your own work or do you raise a flag. Lets say you already went to your manager (s). So now the only option is to go to an owner(s) to raise the flag.

Lets add more to it... It will only hurt you going to the owners, you will be targeted by the management and it will cost you money somehow. Your job will get worse not better from it.

If you ignore it...aren't you "stealing" as much as watching from your living room a robbery in your neibors house? Or if you ignore it are you being a good worker because thats what your managers want you to do since you work for the managers not the owner(s)???


I bet it's a 50/50 survey. And there lies the problem.

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Hypothetical or not. In my experience, the owner IS aware of the problems. The owner has accepted the situation for what it is. You "bringing this to his attention" is pouring salt on his/her already festering wound. You suck it up and stay another brain dead 10 years (or they close the doors which is the norm) or you move on. It is the owners company not yours. You have the right to leave anytime - for any reason. Changing jobs keeps the industry fluid and dynamic. It keeps wages competitive. It keep you AND THEM on their toes. Here in Cali, the at-will state, it's cool to change jobs every few years. I like it!

BTW, contrary to popular belief, shops are still looking for skilled folks. Look in Monster, or Career Builder, or CA Weekly. Still lots of openings though you may need to be open to traveling.

-- Bill

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wow....kickass reply. All I can say is AMEN.

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This isn't hypothetical, this is real life. We have CNC lathes built in the late 1870's to early 1980's still running 2 shifts a day. The ways are worn out so bad that if you run the carriage toward the tail stock it would lock up on the gibs. Setups take longer because you have to alter programs to compensate for taper in the parts. The machines no longer face flat, but dished.

When I was asked to be in a meeting with some of the office people to discuss problems in the shop. I told them the life of a machine tool was 7 to 10 years and larger machines with bigger ways may go to 15 years. I also told them that they run the machines at that time 3 shifts a day 6 days a week. (They had been running 24/7 prior to this for years.) Since none of the office personnel that I knew of at the time were able to run mills and lathes, I needed to give them an idea they could understand I told them. If they drove their car 24 hours a day 7 days a week that in 90 days they would have 118,800 miles on it. I said there are no 30 year old cars in the parking lot with 14,454,000 miles on them. So why do you expect that of your machines? One of the office people said he had been their for years and no one ever told him this. Then he wanted to know why he was never told this from some of the other office people who were in the meeting. He quit a few months later and moved on. I was never asked to be in one of their meetings again.

On down the road 10 years later they buy a new CNC mill and discover they can cut the machine time by 1/3 on the new CNC mill. Compared to the old CNC mill. They sold 2 old CNC mills that were about 30+ years old and bought 4 new ones. Some one finally gets it, at least for the mills. They only got 1 new CNC lathe and still have all the old CNC lathes.

I also met a guy who owned a shop that was loosing all his customers to CNC shops. He was afraid to buy one because he didn't know anything about them. He closed up shop a few years later.

Richard W.

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Richard W.

Really quite an eye-opener, that the age/shape of a machine would affect production not just by %, but by *factors*!

Did everyone else know this?

Does it pay to recondition an old-ish (not ancient) machine?

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Proctologically Violated©®

============= Why do you assume that the owner is not aware of what is going on? More than likely this is the end game of an effort to wring the maximum possible return from the business before liquidating it. If this is indeed a proprietorship or sub-s corporation the owner has complete control over the operation as opposed to the "normal" corporation where the management is largely isolated/insulated from the owners [stockholders].

Folk wisdom advises: Never teach a pig how to sing. It wastes your time, and it annoys the pig.

Stop investing your concern in a lost cause. The only way to fight this is with your hat. You grab it and run. Given the current job market, keep your options open but make no rash moves, and try to get an outside hobby to occupy your spare time. Given the economic conditions I suggest gardening.

Unka' George [George McDuffee]

------------------------------------------- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?

Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, "Of Innovations" (1597-1625).

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F. George McDuffee

Based on my experience over the last 10-12 yrs as a machine repair tech...George again displays superlative observation.

Many...many of the shops Ive tended over the years...who kept fixing the old crap...were exactly that. Rendering the last farthing before the owner retired.

When one of their kids bought the company..all the old shit went away NOW and in came the new hip slick and cool shit. The big problem was...out went most of the employees along with the old machines they have been running for the past 15-20yrs.

One in particular lost a LOT of their employees.....Magnavon Industries.....


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Gunner Asch

Went to an Auction 25 years or so ago, it was a OEM Pneumatic Hand Tool Mfg. Reason for BK and closing the plant "they couldn't compete with foreign competition". Had nothing to do with not being able to compete and everything to do with their manufacturing process.

I looked at the machinery, turning, drilling, milling & grinding. Not one machine was newer than 30 years most 40-50 years old and all were poorly maintained. The company was known for quality tools, I saw some of the prints and patents that were part of the sale. They were working to some close tolerances .0001"-.0002". AMAZING skill level it must have taken to get quality parts out of those POS machines up till the point it was impossible.


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Well... I've been brought up in small shops, you let this shit go unchecked and you get a surprise Monday morning, the shop is locked with your last check inside. But everyone is right, they don't want your help. And if they don't see things that are obviously favored...their a hopeless cause anyway.

Damn it used to be easier when you got bonus's for doing good. Clarity.

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The people on the shop floor understood the problem, but the office people who control the spending didn't know this. Now they do.

They tried on a large horizontal machine and had problems for years with it. The controller wasn't upgraded nor was the wiring. Lots of little electrical problems and when you need parts, you have to wait for the manufacturer to make them. The machine doesn't have to very old for parts to not be available off the shelf. Sometimes the parts you need were made by other suppliers of the manufacturer and they don't remember who those people are. We have this problem a lot.

So in my opinion it's not a good thing to do. The faster processing of the controller and increased rapids, tool changes and spindle speeds are a big advantage over old iron.

Richard W.

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Richard W.

I always read this works best on very large machines, not the small stuff I run here. If the iron is all good but just worn, a rebuild with new controls should be the better deal.

Learn from Richard's post, new control and all new wiring and motors would be the way to go.

With the cost of electonics so low now, maybe even smaller machines could be done cost effectively????

Thank You, Randy

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