Currently I have a Haas VF3 vertical cnc mill with a 4th axis, and a Haas SL30 Big Bore cnc lathe with parts-catcher and tailstock. I am interested to hear from those in the know, what their suggestions for replacement would be or if i should bother thinking of replacement. I machine a lot of different things from agricultural impliment stuff, to land-scraping machine parts, to oilfield and small automotive custom parts. i guess i kind of do it all. My VF3 is only about 2 1/2 years old with no crashes and in mint shape but only does 7500 rpm. My SL30 has been rebuilt once about 4 years ago from a crash, is about 6 years old and only does 2400 rpm but does just have the capacity to do a 16" tire rim and has a 4 1/2" drawtube.
It is fun to be a gear head and to own a machine shop. It can also be expensive and dangerous as there is no one to tell you "not only no, but HELL NO!"
The machinery salesmen always have something that is bigger, better, faster, guaranteed to attract good looking women, etc., and the banks or commercial finance companies are always willing to lend money (at credit card rates).
Unless you are turning work down, additional capacity either because of faster or additional machines will not improve profits but will increase your fixed costs.
One place to start, is to estimate what your shop profit would be, if you had "zero cycle time" machines. That is the operator puts the part in the machine, and magically it is done. Generally, there is only a small (if any) profit improvement showing that particular "gold mine" has been depleted.
As labor is typically a big slice of the variable costs, unless you lay off the people, decreased cycle times without additional work simply means more "break room" time....
It may be that additional capability *COULD* lead to additional business, such as 18 or 19 inch car rims and motorcycle wheels, but considerable market research and conversation with existing customers is indicated before putting your chips in that particular pot.
Upgrading machine controllers and CAD/CAM software *MAY* be a better investment if you are limited by programming.
You may also want to consider upgrading/retrofitting your existing machines with high-speed spindles, but only after careful cost justification/analysis. What will a 30k rpm spindle do for you other than bragging rights down at the donut shop?
Would rotary tables / indexers be a better investment?
Everyone wants the newest, best, and biggest for their machine shop, however from a business survival standpoint, "cash money in the bank" may be more important. As Ben Franklin observed "There are three true friends, an old dog, an old wife and ready money."
Good luck with your forecast/business plan and I hope you do a better job than FoMoCo and GMC.
Unka George (George McDuffee)
...and at the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, and the epitaph drear: ?A Fool lies here, who tried to hustle the East.?
Rudyard Kipling The Naulahka, ch. 5, heading (1892).