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IWF Woodworking Today

The Correlation Between Automated Technology and Manual Labor: 1 to 4


August 23, 2023 | Dan Wellens

One of the most common questions I encounter is the relationship between automated technology and manual labor, particularly in the context of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines. People often wonder about the tangible benefits of integrating CNC technology into their operations. How much time can a CNC machine truly save? Will it significantly transform their business? The crux of the matter lies in comprehending the day-to-day tasks of your workforce and comparing them to the roles a CNC machine can undertake.

In my experience, the transition to CNC machinery can be a game-changer. When optimally utilized, a CNC machine can effectively replace the efforts of four manual labor workers. However, this isn’t an instant metamorphosis. Just as you would nurture a new employee’s skills over time, integrating a CNC machine necessitates adaptation and strategic alignment with your business processes. If you acquire a CNC machine but fail to rescale your operations around its capabilities, your CNC investment ROI will miss the mark.

In woodworking, purchasing a CNC machine may initially be geared toward specific tasks. However, the astonishing versatility of these machines can astound you. Many woodworking businesses find themselves expanding their horizons within months of adopting CNC technology, necessitating revised business plans to accommodate the newfound capabilities. I, too, personally underwent this transformation. Initially, my CNC purchase was intended for slabbing and edging tasks. Nevertheless, the machine’s adaptability spurred me to explore innovative manufacturing avenues that I hadn’t previously considered.

So, how much time can a CNC machine save? In my business, I stand by the 1 to 4 ratio; one CNC machine equals four human laborers. However, the answer lies in its optimal utilization. Transitioning from manual labor to CNC technology is a paradigm shift, where an adeptly integrated CNC machine can effectively stand in for multiple human laborers. However, success demands that you align your business processes with the machine’s capabilities, just as you would onboard a new employee and nurture their skills over time.

The transformative impact of CNC machines exemplifies the correlation between automated technology and manual labor. They possess the potential to revolutionize operations, rendering the work of multiple manual laborers obsolete and a dynamic force in the ever-evolving business landscape. CNC technology necessitates a commitment to learning, adaptation, and harnessing its potential to take your business to new heights.


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