Three Truths about Machine Tool Research

The story of one engineer reveals how Techspex saves time as a centralized apparatus for preliminary capital equipment acquisition research.


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I was recently talking with an engineer working in the oil and energy sector. Back in the 1990s, he was working for a machine tool manufacturer as part of a small team in charge of purchasing capital goods. Their task? Decide whether to replace or rebuild a large CNC horizontal turret lathe (HTL). To offer a purchase proposal, the team needed to compare between the options, which entailed comparing between the specs of comparable machines from various manufacturers. As a matter of course for working at a machine-tool OEM, he had a database of machine specs from international machine builders already available.

“As a young engineer, it was an asset to me to be able to quickly see what other manufacturers made,” he says. (I am leaving him unidentified, since he spoke to me off the record.) After looking up comparable machine specs, the team ultimately decided they’d be better off rebuilding the lathe.

Once he moved on to work for different companies, such a comparative machine database was no longer ready at hand. Sometime in the 2000s, he found Techspex, which proved to be the closest thing to what he’d had working for an OEM. He’s been using it ever since to quickly identify builders of any particular machine he’s looking for.

The story of the HTL decision reveals a few important truths about research.

  1. Access to thousands of machine specs for comparison doesn’t always lead to a decision to buy one of them. Nevertheless, a decision for or against acquisition (and of exactly which machine) will always profit from having as much data in hand as possible.
  2. Data can be hard to get ahold of. Before he found Techspex, the engineer I was talking to had no other option than to browse individual OEM websites and trade journals—hardly a systematic process!
  3. Time is a complicating factor of critical importance during the research process. This is why Techspex is so valuable to the engineer: “It allows me to quickly sort specs by work envelope, spindle speed, horsepower, rapid traverse rates, standard tool capacity, etc., in order to make a short list of potential machines to evaluate for my projects.” Besides the database’s automation of the data organization process, he appreciates that Techspex simplifies contacting suppliers and distributors for information and quotes. “Techspex provides a lot of information with minimal effort, allowing more time to focus on the process and finalizing the scope of the project.”

For him, Techspex has proven beneficial as a centralized research apparatus whose design saves time in preliminary machine tool research. Techspex users get free access to these tools and more by registering for a free account.

This blog post originally appeared at techspex.com.