What's the best way for you and your company to ride out the recession without crippling your ability to compete when business picks up? Machine builders have some answers, as do the system integrators and vendors that serve them. Staffing is a major concern, but other issues can also take precedence.
"During a slowdown we look for cost-cutting or other design improvements in our existing products, and we also get started on offerings that we think will be important when business picks up," says Scott DeVore, Ph.D. and vice-president, of engineering for Data I/O Corporation (www.dataio.com) in Redmond, Wash.
Data I/O's equipment robotically handles programmable electronic devices like flash memory chips and microcontrollers. They also build in-line programmers that replace tape feeders on assembly lines .
"We also spend more time assisting our sales people with additional application engineering and product customization to meet the needs of specific customers," adds DeVore.
Staffing in a slowdown is a balancing act. "We see the recession as a great opportunity to pick up good engineers, but mainly if we have an opening. We are not looking to increase staff unless we can experience a near term increase in revenue," concludes DeVore.
Like DeVore and Data I/O, many in the industry are cautious when it comes to staffing in a slowdown.
See my February 2009 cover story for more.