Contributed by Peter Mate, Planit President.
Times change. There’s no debate. We can like it or hate it, but it’s happening. Yes, we have a labour shortage in the woodworking industry. Every industry is saying the same. I don’t know anyone in any sector that is telling me that they have too many people in their industry and there’s is a lack of jobs. It’s time to stop talking about it and accept it.
We can work to slow the trend down, but I feel that’s like swimming upstream. Why fight it? Yes, traditionally we had a more human workforce that was happy just to have a job and put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Those times are gone. Let it go…
It’s time to re-focus our attention and energy on solutions and not slowing down the inevitable. There are more and more machines and technology solutions that optimize the people that you still have. Technology removes the tedious or gruelling stuff and enables you to use the people you already have for more rewarding things.
If you have someone loading and unloading the CNC or saw, maybe it’s time to invest in a loader and/or offloader? Perhaps a robot to do both as well as ancillary operations like edge banding, doweling, and sorting? There are plenty of opportunities to automate and free up some space on the human bandwidth you already have. This gives you the opportunity to offer some professional growth to the people that already work with you and love your company.
Why not take someone from the shop and teach them some of the software tools you use? They already know how things work downstream, and that’s a huge asset. You already know they are good employees and show up to work.
So, get to the trade show, buy some technology, a robot, a CNC, or anything else that will free up your existing employees’ time and automate mundane tasks to empower some keeners that want to level up.