Should You Outsource or Automate Finishing Manufacturing Operations?


Finishing manufacturing operations can be time-consuming. If you’ve been performing finishing operations by hand in house, you can likely benefit from deciding to outsource or automate your operations. Which one would be the most beneficial for your business?

Advantages of Automating

Automating your finishing operations can improve quality, save time, and increase profits. Reducing processes performed by hand reduces human error, resulting in better quality and less waste. Automation can also provide tolerances that would be difficult or impossible for humans to achieve. It’s also much more efficient. Machines can often perform tasks quicker than their human counterparts and don’t require breaks. All of these factors can increase your bottom line.

Automation also allows employees to avoid chemical exposure when parts are being finished or coated. When these processes are done by hand, personal protective equipment is often needed and can add to your costs.

Challenges of Automating

There are some challenges to automating finishing manufacturing operations. Deburring or trimming using machine processes can be difficult. The complexity of parts and difference between expected machine path and actual deburring or trimming needs can occur. However, this can be overcome with special tools designed to more closely mimic the human process.

Automating processes can certainly save you money long term, but it can be costly to set up. You may need special equipment and engineers to set up the equipment. The initial cost of equipment and labor can be prohibitive, especially for smaller businesses or limited production. The more use you get out of automated processes, the more money you will save.

Advantages of Outsourcing

Many businesses find outsourcing to be the ideal solution. Companies that offer outsourcing often have everything required to automate processes. This gives you the precision of outsourcing without having to invest in the initial costs of automation. This ensures you get top quality finishing at a lower price than you could achieve by doing the finishing manufacturing processes in house.

Finishing companies also have access to more finishing options. They have the capability to choose between powder coating, anodizing, and electroplating for example. This allows you to choose which process is the best fit for a particular part, instead of needing to choose one process for all your parts.

Outsourcing is also very useful if your demand fluctuates. If your production needs vary, outsourcing can help you keep up with increased demand without the expense of hiring more employees and purchasing new equipment. It allows you to easily keep up with the increased demand which can improve your reputation.

When it comes to automating finishing manufacturing operations or outsourcing them, for many businesses the correct answer is both. This gives you precision and flexibility while maximizing profits.