Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Getting Closer

Ouch - this is the part of our system that I tend to forget. Purchases over $5K must be put out for bids, or a compelling argument must be given for a "sole source."

Here is what I submitted:

During our search for computer controlled routers, there were two companies that seemed to provide what we were looking for: ShopBot and Shop Sabre. Both of these companies provide what are considered to be “entry level” machines. (by that we mean a $20K price range. After that pricing jumps up to +$75K) Each of these companies machines have different nuances, and each has both proponents and detractors. In considering what would be the best fit for our shop, we looked at the following: Cost, ease of use, adaptability, and customer support. In each of these categories, ShopBot came out on top:

In our price range, the ShopBot had many more features that came as standard in the package. Shop Sabre had these items as well, but as add-ons. The Shop Sabre touts itself as being a more rigid machine for the price, but since we are not a production shop we are not as concerned with that aspect. We are buying this machine for its capabilities, not how many units it will be producing in a day. For its price the ShopBot package has more features and functionality.

East of use:
The ShopBot company has had an ongoing commitment to education, and in doing so has strived to lessen the learning curve for their system.

In our department we don’t want to limit ourselves to the shaping of wood. I see us using this device for a variety of applications such as scoring plastic sheet for folding, drawing, etc. ShopBots’s open source software can be hacked to suit our needs. In fact, the company encourages such activity.

Customer support:
From reviews that I have read and people I have talked to, the ShopBot company offers stellar customer service. This is reflected on their website which features not only the their documentation and support, but blogs and wikis of current ShopBot owners. It is a very active user community that wants to share their knowledge and successes. While the Shop Sabre company is supposed to at least as good customer support, no such support community exists as of yet.

Am I making the right decision? Is this the right machine for us? Writing this justification made me go back over my research and do a reality check. I am convinced that we are on the right track. This machine will not be all things to everyone, but neither will anything else (short of spending$75K.)

No comments: