Reply by Tony_S

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Posted on Automation. Taking jobs aways from the skilled

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1041 posts in 3641 days

#1 posted 01-24-2017 11:34 AM

In the woodworking industry, robots and CNC machines don t replace skilled workers.
- Ger21

In the custom stair industry, that’s just simply not true. Particularly with custom straight stairs. MANY skills have been shifted away from the guys on the floor, to the point where probably 75% of the straight stairs we build, are built by employee’s that I would call ‘unskilled’ in wood working. I can pay them half the wage, and they can assemble 2 to 3 times faster.
Most of the previous skills that these guys had to know in the past haven’t necessarily just disappeared, but been shifted to skilled draftsmen, programmers and operators who can perform these same tasks in a fraction of the amount of time it used to take by hand with far greater accuracy, and in most cases, fit and finish as well.
Today, I can produce the same $10,000 dollar straight hardwood staircase, better quality, in half the amount of time, all hands included, without what I would call a ‘skilled stair builder’ ever laying a hand on it.

Curved staircases haven’t been effected to nearly the same degree, but that’s changing all the time.
The video you watched of the robot cutting out the curved stringer…..It’s been sped up, but more than likely took no more than 15-20 minutes max(and that’s a stretch). What it executed in 20 minutes would take a skilled stair builder 3-4 hours at best.
I definitely still need highly skilled builders on the shop floor, and on site. Just not as many as I would have in the past.
I stay fairly close with a couple (one in particular) large(70+ on the floor), high end cabinet shops that do both residential and commercial work. Much of the high end(high skilled)detailed architectural millwork, corbel’s column’s etc. is done with a 5 axis cnc now.

-- “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

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