October 5, 2023
Another week — another interesting conversation with a concerned company president. Bookings are down and he has been thinking of ways to broaden the product offering while bringing sub-contracted processes in-house. Unfortunately, cash is tight and he cannot just write a check and buy new equipment. After brainstorming a bit, I suggested “bartering” the machines they do not use much for the machines they needed — even if they had to settle for off-brands. In custom manufacturing it is all about capabilities; no one cares about the nameplate on the equipment as long as the part quality is there. As many readers know, Gear Technology was started by a lifelong machine tool dealer. Our chairman enjoyed great success in that often complex business by finding ways to put deals together, even when times were tough. And there have been lots of tough times in the last sixty years, along with some very abrupt changes in technology that obsoleted lots of machines. Turret lathes were once the mainstay of custom manufacturing; the shop I apprenticed in probably had fifty or more. Seven years later there might have been two left, because a single tape-controlled lathe could out-produce six or eight turret lathes. The changeover was swift and complete. A similar situation occurred with gear grinding machines; you could not afford to keep running the old manual machines. Entire suites of great old Maags went to the scrapper because there was no secondary market for them. Fortunately, machine tool dealers know value when they see it and many great old machines have been rebuilt, restored, or refitted for future service. Many of them advertise in this magazine as well as Power Transmission Engineering. If you need different machines than you have, why not contact them and try to work out a deal? Chances are, they, too have inventory they would like to move.