Knowledge Center


Practical Approaches to Automation for the Job Shop

Automation isn't just useful for large volumes of the same part. Today, it is increasingly being used in machine shops for high-mix, low-volume jobs.




"The applicability of automation is changing. It's becoming more of an option for small facilities and smaller batches."

The Case for Automation

Varying degrees of automation are now feasible and practical in machine shop applications in which small volumes of a variety of parts are produced.

Levels of Automation

The key to implementing automation is to recognize that machine shops don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach.

An Automation Roadmap

The first step in automation is often the hardest: beginning. Many shops choose to start with simple forms of automation technology and build it step by step, process by process, to meet future needs.

Stabilizing and Standardizing Processes

Automating the production process often involves tradeoffs. Making small concessions here or there can enable shops to simplify and standardize their production process, leading to long-term productivity and capacity gains.

Lights-Out Machining

For many machine shops, the most promising avenue of expansion is not a new market or an addition, but instead the untapped nighttime hours that could be captured for automated, “lights-out” production.

The Human Factor

Automation can be a hot-button topic. Some believe it is taking away jobs; others believe it is making jobs better for skilled workers. One thing is undeniable: Automation is transforming human jobs.


Attend a Live Automation Demo

One of the best things about IMTS Spark? Live Technology Demos. Get a tour of the latest in automation tech firsthand from companies like SAP, Makino, FANUC and 3M.

Search IMTS Spark Automation Exhibitors

IMTS Spark is host to more than 300 Automation and Material Handling Exhibitors. Explore their new technology offerings here.

Join the Shop Talk Educational Series

Join Modern Machine Shop each Tuesday in October for a series of discussions about what it takes to run a successful shop. Learn how shops have innovated within their organizations and worked through the same struggles you have.