Help Needed! How do you inventory tooling for a small job shop??
I desperately need some help/ideas on how to keep inventory of tooling. Not sure if tools are being lost, misplaced, or if employees are going through them like candy but they are disappearing. I am constantly ordering new tools which is costing lots of money especially when we need to request expedite shipping. I've been approached by some of our vendors about putting in a vending machine however, being such a small shop I'm not convinced this would be cost effective for us and I'm nervous about the commitment associated. Any ideas
Keep tools locked in one place. One person has the keys and is responsible for reordering. Any tools for repeat jobs go in a bin that is labeled that is only for that job.
I keep a stackable bin like container to keep my endmills nice 'n tidy and the guys have to come by me to get some new endmills, so I have a pretty good idea on what gets used.
One thing to keep in mind too is that these are perishable items, so what may seem like a lot to someone who pushes paper isn't really all that much. When we quote a job we quote somewhere aroung $100-$200 in tooling per job. Some jobs the cost is much greater and some jobs the used endmills in the drawer will get you by. Cutting metal wears out tooling, so most jobs need new tools to start.
Originally Posted by brian.pallas
What he said.
I once ran a small r+d shop for a mid sized company, and the first thing I did was lock up all the disposable tooling. Guys were pissed. Guy comes to me for 2 #43 drills in 5 minutes, I said, watcha doin? Drilling out a tap. Sigh.
Guys were very shortly amazed that we always had what they needed.
Lock it all up.
If you want a new tool, you have to provide the old tool in return, well at least enough of it to know it was consumed.
One person and a back up on each shift. Back up accesses ONLY if the primary is not available for a GOOD reason.
I have this exact problem, small job shop, lots of different tools required, inserts disappearing like pez. I have lazy operators who change inserts at the first sign of dimensional change. Every job is different, but most of our work can tolerate a few bums of the offset before the inserts get bad enough to cause a problem. I buy good stuff and these guys change out $15 inserts like they are free. I also run the equipment myself so I know what is and isn't appropriate tool usage. When you run 10K pcs of the same part you can predict tool life pretty well.
I have a Kennedy box that houses all of my tooling for the CNC's, a select group of people have keys and are held accountable for tooling. I keep track and ask questions. If tool wear increases we need to stop and figure out why. It reduces tooling cost and makes the operation of the equipment better all around.
Nobody can have their toolbox....
No personal property in the shop.
You provide it all...
I have seen employee toolboxes brimming full of endmills, and tooling, taps, and drills, chucks..
And yet had never ever heard of any employees ordering or buying anything.. ?
If they don't have their own box, they are not as likely to hoard it.
Having it in a common area makes them take ownership of that common area, where all the tools are supposed to be.
Now, they are protecting the company tooling, instead of hoarding their own stash.
This is what we had to do. We also use AutoCRIB (I'm sure they make a similar free software out there somewhere) to issue out our tooling. Our tool setter (only guy with the keys grabs the tool out of our vertical retrievers and scans however many he gets out). The software automatically keeps up with the quantity on hand, usage, tells us what we need to order, who checks out the tooling, etc etc. We have had pretty good success using this method. Hope this helps. Thanks!
Originally Posted by countryboy1966
You should look into one of those vending machines. Or rather, you should have a VENDOR look into one of those vending machines. Get the tooling contract with the vendor to state that the vendor owns the machine and all the tooling in it until it is checked out. Vendor reorders all tooling and sends you information on tooling usage.
Even if you are a small shop and your tooling volume may not be that high, you might be able to "lease" a vending machine and it's service. For the price, it might be worth it to you just to have it handled and be able to track it.
I'd go a step further and document everything. If a guy is eat'n up tools on jobs, you can 'prove it' to him when he gets the boot. And if the job itself is eating tools, you can accuratly quote the job and find out what processes need to be changed. In my mind the only difference between job shops and production shops is that production shops have higher quantities of 'stuff' and need to be able to repeat a part at a moments notice. The tools are the same for the most part and can be stored the same. Fixturing isn't as universal but same story.
Sandvik's course called Modern Metal Cutting is an interesting way to understand tool wear, and a really cheap microscope can help a guy understand the different causes of tool break-down / failure.
10 years into the trade, and I'm still regularly shocked that the majority of machinists have absolutely no knowledge of speeds and feeds except a vague "feel". I watch them ruin tools every day, and they can't estimate a job because they'll run right into a wall when it comes to drilling a number of holes and then several guys are standing around scratching their heads...
Another big surprise is the screw index, that cheap sheet-metal cabinet of drawers, used instead as a good place to store carbide end mills. Maybe it would be a good place to store them, if you didn't throw the plastic boxes away and drop once-used end mills into a drawer full of chipped-out carbide.
As an employee, tool life is a matter of pride, and principle. As a matter of practicality, I'll use consumables as carefully as possible so I can afford good stuff for the cuts that really matter.
I really don't know how in the hell shops use and lose so much tooling. It's a combination of laziness and ignorance, for the most part. Super simple stuff. Adding a layer of complexity with a vending machine for consumables sounds like a really astoundingly bad idea in a number of ways...
1) the problem is lack of knowledge of correct use, not lack of access
2) the vending machines are a good way to get money out of you, that's why they make them.
3) no combination of vending machines and pay walls is ever going to encompass all the different consumables you need
locking all the tools up, or any other sort of punishment feels like the wrong approach. maybe that's because good tool wear and longevity is a matter of pride in my workmanship. reducing that pride by treating me like a child is probably not going to result in an increase in tool life.
I vote for countryboy1966's answer, but don't neglect a little leadership and training. the guy who quotes jobs knows that the materials are expensive and the margins are thin. nobody else probably cares... if the shop can't make money, that's not the fault of the guy who runs the bridgeport... unless he gets a piece of quoting the jobs. changes the attitude.
tl;dr: speeds & feeds are unknown to 80% of machinists, all the carbide in the drawers is chipped out, insert vending machines are ridiculous, most machinists don't care how much bits cost.
Last edited by apestate; 06-22-2012 at 04:10 PM.
Reason: name of sandvik's book
We've looked into just buying the vending machine and the software so that we can inventory with whatever brands we like. Guhring sells a nice system.
We run dedicated tooling. Meaning that each tool is set up in a holder and given a number and is never broken down. Many machines share tooling. Our horizontal has over 150 dedicated tools.
Our tooling is organized in an Access database. Each dedicated tool consists of a holder, collet, pull stud, cutting tool, and any relevant set up information, such as gauge length.
For lathes, we also inventory the repair parts such as shims, levers, and screws. We run Capto tooling in our lathes, so tools can be removed and replaced without losing offsets.
It is still a mess, even though it sounds organized.
You might want to take a look at The Tool Crib Assistant - not expensive and does a good job for a small to mid-size shop.
Getting a vending machine and doing nothing else will solve nothing, except give you a monthly total of your tools costs, which you could do yourself by totaling your tool purchases.
You need to do something along the lines of, give the employee the blue print/program and the amount of inserts, drills, etc that are calculated for that job. When he runs 25% of the parts and has broken all the drills and worn out the inserts, he will have to come ask for more. Thats when you ask why and you say they should have lasted the full part qty, you go out and teach him about feeds and speeds.
When you go back to your desk you make a note: employee #2 ran out of tooling at 25% of part qty, you will eventually see a trend who is using/abusing more tools and can have a serious talk about the issue. When you sit them down, show them in the last month you used an extra $300 worth of tooling than expected, tell them you would rather have a BBQ on Fridays with that $300 or give them a raise than give it to the tooling supplier. If they don't seem concerned, show them the door. You have documented proof they weren't doing there job right, so there is no need to be scared of showing them the door.
Sometimes you just need to sit down and talk about the problem with the employees rather than bending backwards around the problem. They will have more respect for you, and you will gain more respect for them. When that doesn't solve the issue, then you start treating them like babies.
Some other thoughts, especially if you suspect theft/resale.
Perhaps the vendor can have the expen$ive tooling laser etched with your company name & phone number.
Serialization isn't a bad idea, either. You may see patterns of a tool that disappeared several months ago, pop up in tool holder.
Check craigslist frequently.
Each shop has its own balance sheet, but in our shop, the down time from missing tooling is much more costly than the tools themselves.
We try to buy everything in quantities of 3.
Kind of tough to keep machines going when someone has to either hunt or find a checkout person, sign for a tool then get the tool back into the machine. I have taken a different approach and so far its working. I got a 90 some drawer cabinet from MSC. Each is labeled with the tool on the outside. On the inside, bottom of the drawer there is a label with all the tool info, order info, minimum amount to order and the minimum "emergency" quantity that is behind the last divider in the drawer.
One thing i do NOT put up with is a thief. Someone steals, don't care what it is they wont be around 5min later.
How much does your machine time cost per hour? How much is 10min? At 60/hr thats 10$ you just spent having someone hunt or figure out how to get a tool. 10 min extra every time we broke a tool would be more costly than a few extra tools and waaaay more headache...and we run thru ALOT of tools.
Just something to think about. .... Choose your battles wisely there are lots of them to choose from running your own shop!
The Air Force method (most workcenters are "small shop"-sized) works well.
If it's expensive (you pick the threshold) it gets signed out and returned at end of job/shift.
If it's consumable, one-for-one swap (G.I.s are natural hoarders).
One machine shop owner I know keeps the drill bits and milling cutters in his office. Workers must walk by him to get replacements.
They can have their own toolboxes, but he has full access.
First is find the problem, or make sure there really is a problem.
If there's a thief, get rid of it.
If tools are not used properly, some training is required.
If the wrong tools are bought, that's another issue to solve.
Look for better sources at more reasonable prices for certain items, that can be a good saving right there.
If you hand a box of 10 inserts, I'd require all 10 worn ones come back in the box as that carbide can be recycled, and tool wear can be looked at, handing them out 1 by 1 would be a bit of a PITA, and ok yeah sometimes we drop one and who knows where it went.
But the most important thing is to have people you trust and that are able to make the shop $. You can throw money at everything else but it will not solve this core problem, if there is one. Types of materials make a huge difference. Some should need next to no tooling at all, while other stuff with eat a box of inserts in a few hours easy.
Other part of it is this is just a plain pricey business to be into, so what seems like a lot of $ to some, is really just normal for others.
If it takes $100 of inserts to make a $10 part, well...
Originally Posted by AutoCrib
The way I look at it, if an employee is not able to put back a worn insert in the box he already has opened to get the new one out, that employee should go in the abyss.