Free, independent advice

By Dan Hodges, CNC implementation manager, BM Aluminium.

We are starting to see the impact of the ongoing skills shortage in almost every part of the country now and across almost every sector of the industry. In our experience, it is probably most acute in fabrication and is becoming particularly evident in the shortage of skilled CNC operators available to hire as businesses look to replace or expand.

As we all know, there are lots of reasons for that, from an underinvestment in training over many years, to the uncertainty over Brexit, which is limiting the number of skilled migrants heading for the UK. The industry does seem to be taking action to address the issue of training now, and there are lots of really encouraging initiatives and training programmes being announced.

However, there is still a long way to go and, in the meantime, fabricators are increasingly responding to the shortage of skilled CNC operators by investing in more automated machinery and more advanced software options with links to our LogiKal software. Their aim of course is to de-skill the operator role so that less training and experience is required, and that makes perfect sense.

While the ongoing investment is great news for machinery and software companies like us, too many fabricators are ordering new machines without consulting us beforehand, and are missing out on what we know is really useful advice and support. We are entirely independent and have absolutely no vested interest in promoting one machine or machinery company over another, but we are vastly experienced in setting up CNC machines and we know that our help can be really valuable to fabricators of any size.

When they involve us in the decision-making process early on, my colleague Perry Mace and I can go to visit customers, talk about what they are looking to achieve, and then recommend the best options to suit their specific factory set ups.

More importantly, we can ensure that the installation of any machine they do choose is properly scheduled and coordinated so that when it arrives on site to be installed, we are primed and ready to organise the software links immediately.

Getting the installation scheduling wrong just wastes time and causes frustration, and we know that it can be avoided very simply by including us at a much earlier stage in the buying process.

We are not looking to encroach upon our customers’ own territories, we are simply demonstrating how they can get more value from us as their software partner and benefit from free, independent advice.