It’s emblematic of a fiercely competitive manufacturing industry that state-of-the-art technologies are often pitted against each other. This certainly is the case when it comes to waterjet and fibre laser cutting. In an exclusive interview, we spoke with Arion Vandergon, Product Marketing Manager, Waterjet, OMAX, about how it got this way and if there is a better way forward.
SHOP: In your view, when fabricators are looking to invest in new equipment, is there too much focus on whether waterjet or laser is the better cutting option and not enough focus on understanding how the two technologies can be complementary to each other?
VANDERGON: Very much so. You hit it spot on. There is so much focus on picking one or the other instead of really looking at the near term needs of the business, what the shop is going to be doing and what they’re trying to achieve. If you’re cutting thin plate, laser might be your best bet, but if you’re going to have a variety of materials you could really utilize both technologies. We have quite a few customers who go one route first and then as their business grows and they want to take on new opportunities they realize one technology isn’t going to be able to meet the full needs of the business and they end up expanding into multi technology cutting.
SHOP: Why do you think industry thinking got so focused on choosing one technology over another?
VANDERGON: With any large capital piece of equipment, where it’s a big expense for companies right out front, I think the natural tendency is to try and find that one solution that’s going to work for all your business needs. Ideally, if buyers could have the insight to look at the long-term goals of the business and how they want their business to grow and progress, the better approach would be to look at near term needs and invest in those now while understanding they may need to expand in the future and a multi technology approach is what will get them there.
Also, if you look at the manufacturers, there really isn’t a large manufacturer who produces all of the technologies. Most manufacturers are either focused on laser, or plasma, or waterjet. So, you also get that competitive input from each company wanting to push the technology they’re selling. To a certain extent that’s changing in some areas of the industry with taking a more holistic approach. At Hypertherm we have account managers whose role is to walk the value stream within a customer’s business and identify areas where we can help or areas, we can refer them to others. I think it’s slowly going to naturally progress that way, where it’s really focused on customer application and business needs that drive the decision.
Stay tuned to www.shopmetaltech.com for more of our exclusive interview with OMAX’s Arion Vandergon in the coming weeks.
When looking to purchase new equipment the focus should be on the near term needs of the business, what the shop is going to be doing and what they’re trying to achieve, says Arion Vandergon.